LSMinute – Google Possum Update = Expanded Competition & Ranking Opportunities

Take a minute to learn about what’s new in digital marketing!



What Happened? 

  • Google is now applying filters to reward businesses that are not only physically closest to searchers but that also are optimizing their web presence for search far better than anyone else.
What This Means For You
  • More chances to rank highly. If your site is SEO-optimized, then Google will let it rank on more localized searches regardless of your physical location. For example: when I search “tennis store Nashville,” I now see a store located in Franklin (16 miles outside of Nashville) rank #2 in the Local 3-Pack search results.
  • Greater competition for high organic rankings. It’s even more important to have an SEO-optimized web presence to prevent other businesses from overtaking your position in the search results.
Next Steps
  • We’ll review your rankings and investigate 1) new search queries you may want to try and rank for and 2) which competitors may start challenging you for rankings more often. It’s updates like this that help demonstrate the value of an award-winning SEO agency!



What Happened?

  • Google’s Knowledge Graph now shows reviews about your business from multiple sources, not just from Google. For example, if you search for “Massage Envy Green Hills” and look at their location’s Knowledge Graph, you’ll see their composite review scores on Facebook, Foursquare and If you type in “CertaPro Nashville” you’ll see their composite review scores on Home Advisor and Customer Lobby.

What This Means For You

  • It’s even easier for people to see multiple reviews about your business.

Next Steps

  • We’ll check out which composite review scores show up in your Knowledge Graph. It’ll then be your job to acquire more positive reviews about your business on those respective websites. Need advice on how to acquire more reviews from customers? Ask your account manager.



What Happened?

  • A recent study was discussed at SMX East 2016. It showed that the most important factor for getting a website to rank in the Local 3-Pack / Map search results is having excellent inbound links. It accounts for 50% of the ranking equation, with various link metrics taking 10 of the top 15 ranking factors.
What This Means For You
  • This reiterates the importance of link building for SEO purposes. Without consistently getting new, quality websites to link back to your website, you won’t be able to obtain/maintain high rankings on competitive search queries.
Next Steps
  • You’re ahead of the curve because you’re paying us to build links to your website. To acquire a few more quality, local links to your website, watch this video we made at Google HQ about 9 “low hanging fruit” link building opportunities for small businesses, and then get back with us on how we can work together to develop these links.




LSM’s portfolio of work with Amazing Lash Studio, a national eyelash extension franchise brand, was named a finalist for the ‘Best SEO Initiative – Small Business award at the 2016 Landy Awards. Presented by leading industry publication, Search Engine Land, the Landy Awards recognize individuals, agencies and Internet marketing teams who demonstrate excellence in organic and paid search marketing initiatives.

For LSM, it feels like we’ve been nominated for an Oscar! It wouldn’t have been possible to earn this recognition without the excellent communication and support provided by the folks at Amazing Lash Studio, so behalf of everyone at Local Search Masters:

LSMinute – Facebook Upgrades Advertising Platform

Take a minute to learn about what’s new in digital marketing!



What Happened? 

The social network is adding multiple new features to its advertising platform that will:

  • Track whether your Facebook ads result in store visits and offline purchases.
  • Let people navigate their way to your brand’s nearest store from within the ad itself.
  • Offer the ability to optimize ad creative, delivery and targeting based on store visits.
  • Provide results across individual stores or regions.
What This Means For You
  • You’ll have access to real-time data on the offline response to your Facebook ads.
  • It’ll be easier for multi-location businesses to obtain and analyze the results of their Facebook ad campaigns at the local and regional levels.
Next Steps
  • We’re a Facebook Partner and a scheduled beta tester for these features. We’ll be learning and testing out these new features over the next few weeks, and then begin implementing these new features into our clients’ Facebook ad campaigns as they officially roll out.



What Happened?

What This Means For You
  • This could be another great spot for your business to run ads.
  • This will increase the Local Pack section’s size, from 3 listings to 4 listings, meaning it’ll the take up more top-shelf space on Page 1 of the organic search results.
Next Steps
  • We’ll evaluate this feature further as Google continues rolling it out to their partner network and let you know it’s something your business should consider trying out!



What Happened?

  • Google officially announced the release of Campaign Groups, which lets advertisers group AdWords campaigns with common targets to monitor performance against those goals.
What This Means For You
  • We’ll be able to make better recommendations for your business’ Google AdWords campaign based on aggregated data across multiple accounts. Pretty good timing on Google’s part since we just mentioned how Facebook’s now providing results across individual stores or regions.
Next Steps
  • We’ll begin implementing this feature into our multi-location clients’ campaigns over the coming weeks.




We’re proud to announce that we’ve made the 2016 Inc. 5000 list of America’s fastest-growing private companies in the United States, coming in at #1282 with a three-year growth rate of 301%. Our agency could not achieve this recognition without the support of our clients and partners, so on behalf of everyone here at Local Search Masters:

LSM a Featured Speaker at Nashville Entrepreneur Center

Local Search Masters was asked to be a featured speaker at the Nashville Entrepreneur Center‘s ongoing “How To Workshops,” a hands on training series taught by community mentors in order to help new companies and entrepreneurs learn specific business skills at a high level. Earlier this month, LSM’s Business Development Executive, Luke Myszka, spoke to the group about digital marketing best practices entrepreneurs should consider applying to their business’ marketing strategies.

Key takeaways from Luke’s presentation include:

Over 85% of consumers use the internet to find local businesses according to Yelp, and that trend is only increasing as the population becomes more and more integrated with technology. Even if the point of sale does not occur online, a customer’s journey to purchasing your product or using your service will almost always include some kind of online component. For example, a customer might see an ad for your retail store on their favorite news website, click on to your ad, navigate to your “Contact Us” page, and then drive to your retail storefront to make a purchase. Long story short: your business needs to be online, and it needs to look great too.

Providing your audience with quality content is a terrific way of establishing trust between them and your brand. Great content converts search visitors into sales. When a potential customer finds the information they were looking for on your website, they stop browsing, and and they take action.

Customers are more likely to engage your brand on platforms where they already have an active presence. This concept usually comes up when a client asks whether they should support newer social media channels (ie. Instagram) or advertising platforms (ie. Facebook ads). If your customers are on that platform…yes….if they aren’t on that platform….probably not.

LSM Gives Guest Lecture at Jack C. Massey School of Business

Dr. Kyle Huggins is an Assistant Professor of Marketing at Belmont University’s Jack C. Massey College of Business.  One of the graduate classes Dr. Huggins is teaching this semester, ‘Social Media Marketing” shows students how to promote businesses with social media and content marketing. Throughout the course of the semesters, students explore various marketing topics, including pay-per-click advertising, email and content marketing.

Gabe Wateski, Director of Search Engine Marketing at Local Search Masters and a graduate of the Jack C. Massey College of Business, was invited to give a guest lecture to Dr. Huggins’ class on July 18th, 2016 titled,  “Search Engine Optimization (SEO) 101.” Over the course of 60 minutes Gabe explained such concepts as:

Everyone in attendance seemed to enjoy the presentation. As Dr. Huggins noted, “”Gabe did a great job not only demonstrating the intricacies of search engine optimization, but he went as far to instruct the students about how to optimize their own class projects.  That step above and beyond was most appreciated.”

Given the growing need for companies to market themselves online, the discussion provided students with a foundation of search engine optimization knowledge that they can utilize in internships and full-time positions in digital marketing. For more information about Local Search Masters and our internship opportunities, visit

4 Reasons Why Remarketing is Important for Franchise Sales

Remarketing is quickly becoming the tool of choice for businesses looking to increase online conversions. An estimated 43 percent of companies are using some kind of remarketing tactic to bring back former website visitors. Applying these ideas to franchise recruitment marketing allows you to target prospective franchisees as they go through the research and decision-making process.

What is Remarketing?

If you’ve ever searched for something on a website and were served ads for the same product or service somewhere else later on, you’ve seen remarketing in action. A remarketing campaign displays ads for your brand across the web. Ads may appear in search results, on other websites, and on social media networks. The goal is to bring people back to your website until they “convert,” which typically comes in the form of a phone call, form submission, shopping cart purchase, or newsletter subscription.


The Google Display Network (GDN) has one of the widest reaches for remarketing. Its display ads appear on 90 percent of all websites. Popular social sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube also offer remarketing tools. The takeaway? A properly managed remarketing campaign ensures your brand is in front of prospective customers no matter where they are online.

Benefits of Remarketing for Franchise Recruitment

Here are some reasons why franchises should strongly consider implementing ad remarketing campaigns for their franchise recruitment efforts.

Keep Top of Mind When it Matters Most

Determining which small business or franchise concept to purchase is a major decision, not to mention expensive. The decision-making process often involves extensive, in-depth research.


The sales process doesn’t always end when the prospect makes contact with the brand; almost half of qualified leads are not ready to buy just yet. They need more time to evaluate all options, attend open-houses, revisit their finances and life-goals. With an effective ad remarketing campaign, you can ensure that your brand and your message keep top of mind with all potential prospects during the entire decision-making process.


Remarketing = Non-Pushy Sales Rep

Most people don’t like having their days interrupted by sales reps that are contacting them about purchasing a product or service; we have enough on our plates already. Sometimes sales reps do more harm than good by constantly reaching back out to the prospect for an update on their decision. With remarketing your ads act as a gentle reminder about the benefits of choosing your brand, allowing prospects to easily reconnect with you on their own time.


Prospect Knowledge

The GDN and other remarketing platforms help you acquire valuable data about your ideal franchisee prospect, including demographics, hobbies, interests, locations, and device usage. Brands can use this data to enhance their overall marketing campaigns. For example, if your remarketing campaign shows you that a majority of your leads visit cycling related websites, then you may consider buying ad space in a particular cycling magazine or sponsoring a cycling-specific event.

When remarketing through Facebook, use their “Lookalike Audience” feature to reach out to a wider audience by displaying ads to people with characteristics similar to those of your targeted audience.



With traditional advertising, you pay for every ad even if people don’t act on it or even see it in the first place. Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising campaigns, however, allow you to only be charged if someone actually clicks on your ad. If they see your ad and don’t click on it, then the end result is a free branded impression. Furthermore, thanks to Google’s recent updates to AdWords, impression based ad campaigns will only charge you for ads that are viewable. This means that your budget will only be spent where it can have an impact.  

Without a good remarketing campaign, you may lose most of your prospective franchisees when they navigate away from your website. Understanding how to take advantage of remarketing’s perks can put you a step ahead of the competition.


Tips for Running an Effective Remarketing Campaign

Successful remarketing relies on a number of factors working together to bring your brand to the right audience:

  • Diversity in ad types and channels to meet people where they are. Use a combination of the GDN, Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube based on the data you gather about your target audience.
  • Categorize ads by dividing visitors into specific lists. Show different sets of ads to people based on how they engage with your franchise recruitment website. For example, consider setting up one set of ads to those who only view the homepage, and another set for people who submit a request to learn more information about your franchise opportunity.
  • Monitor your campaigns and make changes to your ad copy and your targeted audience on regular basis. Allocate more advertising funds into the channels and ad types that create the most quality leads and less on ads that are not generating new conversions.


Remarketing sets your franchise brand up for growth by keeping you in contact with potential franchisees. A strong campaign creates a consistent brand image and a positive reputation. Together, these draw visitors back to your website and prompt them to get in touch with you. Local Search Masters gives you the tools you need to create, deploy, monitor and manage a successful remarketing campaign for franchise sales. Contact us today at to get started.

Don’t Get Blocked: 6 Tips to Stay in Front of Consumers

According to a May 2015 report from the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), a specialized agency of the United Nations, nearly 3.2 billion people use the Internet worldwide; up from 738 million in 2000.

How does one go about introducing all of these potential consumers to their brand? Through effective digital ad campaigns of course! Google’s Display Network already reaches 90% of global Internet users. Mix that with ads on Google’s Search Network, Facebook, and YouTube and you’re in front of almost every viable customer in the world.

Effective ad campaigns can do wonderful things for a business. Among other things they can:

Benefits of online advertising

Pretty powerful stuff!


Businesses Flew Too Close to The Sun

Remember Uncle Ben in Spider-Man? He said, “with great power comes great responsibility.” The same message applies to digital advertising and, unfortunately, we’ve seen too many companies abuse this great power. These bozos:

  • Put the wrong message in front of the wrong person at the wrong time.
  • Send people to poorly designed landing pages that have little to do with the originally advertised message.
  • Direct people off web browsers and into mobile app stores. Everybody loves that one, right?

People need something to combat these maddening ads ruining their digital experiences; a “digital advertising Spider-Man” if you will. Our hero doesn’t come in the form of a guy web-slinging around town, unfortunately. It comes in the form of ad blocking softwares and new privacy features that block brands from showing up on the Internet’s most popular sites.


Witness to The Blocking Revolution

Over the last few years we’ve witnessed the rising availability of softwares and new personal privacy preferences that modify who and what gets to track your “online persona” and place their ads in front of you:

  • According to a September 2014 report completed by PageFair and Adobe, nearly 150 million people have downloaded ad-blocking software.
  • Overall add blocking software downloads are increasing by 43% each year.
  • Popular search engines and social networks such as Google, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn give users the ability to close ads immediately, effectively blocking that brand from ever showing up in front of them on that site again.
  • The new Apple iOS 9 software allows ad-blocking software to be distributed in the App Store, and they’re dominating the Apple download charts.

The takeaway: ad-blocking technology is here and growing in popularity. Between ad blocking software and website privacy features, businesses that continue running poorly managed digital advertising campaigns will end up wasting money and hindering their brand’s ability to flourish.


How to Avoid Being Blocked

All is not lost! On many sites people still need to manually remove your ads from ever showing up again, and many people are still too busy or too lazy to take that extra step. Even when someone purchases ad blocking software, they can modify their personal settings and allow certain ads to show up on certain sites. Your responsibility as a business is to get the right message, in the right format, on the right sites, at the right times.

Here are 6 tips that can help your ads stand out and decrease your chances of being manually blocked:


1: Be a Good Business!

This one isn’t rocket science. If people loathe your business they’ll most likely block your online ads, even if you’re running a terrific campaign and offering a product they desperately want. So remember to provide an excellent product or service along with excellent customer service on the back end!


2: Follow The “3 C’s” Principle

The ‘3 C’s’ principle states that a strong digital advertisement will be compelling, concise, and clear:

  • Compelling: include clear pictures, video elements, animation and/or interactive elements in your ads. It requires more time and effort, but can result in an increase in traffic compared to standard banner ads.
  • Concise: convey key points about your solution and use language that’s easy to read and understand, ideally involving words and phrases used by your customers.
  • Clear: communicate one strong message about one particular solution that will resonate with the consumer.


3: Make Sure You Have a Quality Landing Page

Make sure that the web page(s) you direct your visitors to reflect everything that initially interested them about the ad. It should be engaging, simple to navigate, informative and easy for visitors to convert into new leads. Use conversion optimization softwares like Optimizely and VWO to help you improve the effectiveness of your landing pages.


4: Show Up In The Right Spots

Research where your target audience spends their time online, and then set up advertising campaigns that gets your brand onto those sites. Before advertising on the Google Search Network, do some keyword research to see which keywords make the most sense for you to buy ad space on. If you’re doing Display Ads, make sure that your ads are showing up on sites likely visited by your target audience. Don’t spend money or energy buying ad space on sites that your audience never visits.


5: Don’t Be Afraid to Make Changes

Continually running poorly performing ads isn’t helping your cause. Track the results of your ads, analyze the findings on a regular basis and then spend more money on what’s working and less on what’s not. Rinse and repeat.


6: Don’t Overload Your Customers

Pushing the same message in the same place for too long can overwhelm consumers and make them lose interest in your brand. Changing the format and placement of your ads keeps them from becoming stale, and gives an entirely new group of people the opportunity to learn about your brand.



The increasing popularity of ad blocking software and online privacy preferences will make it more difficult for brands to position themselves in front of the online population. The best way to minimize your brand’s chances of getting blocked is to create compelling ads that show up to the right people, with the right message, at the right time.

Snapchat in a World of Paid Ads

The Sowell Train Awards aim to provide a little insight into the latest developments in the digital marketing world. From Google algorithm updates to the newest social media features, I take a look at the biggest trends and changes in the field, give a little analysis, and apply a rating system based on the value that each development provides to marketers. Highly valuable developments are awarded a whopping 5 choo choos, and not-so-promising changes get only 1.

Snapchat’s recent rejection of Facebook raised some eyebrows and got the world wondering whether a company that relies solely on donations for revenue is potentially worth more than $3 billion. What many would call a risky move implies that Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel has his own plans for the app’s growth and development. Presumably, generating a consistent flow of revenue will be a major goal.

Snapchat has ventured into advertising by providing limited advertising capabilities, and some companies, such as Taco Bell, have started to dip their toes in. By creating an account, adding “friends,” and sending Snapchats to their “friends,” these companies have been able to market their products to users who accept their “friend requests.” However, there are a number of serious limitations associated with advertising on Snapchat.

All of this leaves us wondering – what should marketers expect in terms of paid advertisements on Snapchat?

Facebook’s offer to buy Snapchat isn’t the first time that the social media giant has made moves to purchase a successful picture and video sharing mobile app. In 2012, Facebook purchased Instagram for approximately $1 billion. More recently, Instagram announced that it would start to feature advertisements.

Perhaps a clue to the answer lies in the development of ads on Instagram. The most blatant similarity between Snapchat and Instagram is that both focus on drawing the user into a visual experience. It makes sense that both of their ad formats will not only rely heavily on pictures rather than text to convey messages but will also cater to the individual characteristics of each service.

Still in its infant stages of development, Instagram features ads from select brands such as Burberry, Ben and Jerry’s, and General Electric. The success of these ads will probably lie in their ability to convey an idea with little to no text – a picture that is worth a thousand words, if you will. Because these ads will have to be visually appealing, this presents both a challenge and an opportunity to marketers. Products like clothing, cars, and delicious ice cream, the value of which already lies partially in the ability to be visually appealing, will probably have an advantage in the Instagram ad world. Consequently, marketers will have to be smart about deciding whether to market a given product on Instagram.

This leaves us to surmise the future of advertising on Snapchat. Like other social channels, Snapchat will have to adapt ads to a format that fits the characteristics of the app without being excessively annoying to users. Thus, while keeping in mind the (albeit limited) success of their current advertising ventures, it is important to consider how – and if – Snapchat will provide value to marketers as time goes on.

Limited insight into user data is a major challenge for Snapchat. With Instagram’s access to at least some of Facebook’s massive conglomeration of user data, they are set up nicely for ad targeting. Snapchat? Not so much. While companies can add users on Snapchat, and one could argue that users who accept a company’s “friend request” are a decent market because they have already expressed interest, adding random users is by no means sufficient for ad targeting moving forward. Since user data is crucial to a successful ad campaign, Snapchat will almost certainly have to figure out a way to obtain this information. The current model of Snapchat is simply not conducive to gathering data. Whereas Facebook users express their personal preferences through page “likes,” personal profile data, and more, Snapchat users simply send pictures and videos that disappear and don’t provide much information in their user profiles beyond their phone numbers, email addresses, and ages.

The most distinguishing feature of Snapchat is its use as a medium for content that isn’t intended to be lasting. This presents another challenge for marketers, who will presumably have to create ads that somehow match that characteristic. Unlike Instagram, where users can publically express their approval of an ad by favoriting or commenting, Snapchat cannot offer a similar service without changing the very nature of the app because everything disappears so quickly.

Although the advertising future for Snapchat certainly looks less promising than for Instagram, I don’t think that hope is lost.

The new “My Story” feature could be a lifeline for the future of Snapchat advertisements. With the new “My Story” feature on Snapchat, users can choose to allow pictures and videos to last for 24 hours before deletion – much longer than the previous maximum of a few seconds – and users can view a “My Story” multiple times within the 24 hours of its creation. “Friends” of any user who has shared a Snapchat on “My Story” will get a notification of the “My Story” and will have the option of whether or not to view it.

While the option of viewing an ad multiple times might not improve the effectiveness of most ads, users presumably will want to watch a few highly interesting or humorous ads more than once – you only have to look to the hype of Super Bowl ads to see the evidence. And although many users might not choose to open the “My Story,” human curiosity will probably get the better of many of us.

Additionally, the “My Story” feature allows users to string Snapchats together in a particular sequence, and the sequence can be longer than Snapchat maximum length of 10 seconds. Although successful ads certainly can be 10 seconds or less, the ability to create a longer ad increases the versatility of Snapchat advertising.

Even more than with Instagram ads, Snapchat ads will have to be able to grab a user’s attention and convey a message immediately – and be at least mildly entertaining at the same time. The challenge to marketers utilizing Snapchat? Your ad must make an impression that is not only immediate but has enough of a lasting impression that your message lives in the mind of the viewer long after the advertisement has disappeared from the screen.

While I am skeptical of Snapchat’s ability to grab a large audience in a reasonable way, I think that the widespread adoption by so many young people means that it could be viable option.

Therefore, I give Snapchat advertising three choo choos for future digital marketers.

Hannah on Google+

Check out these posts for more information!

SEO Moneyball Series

Using Social Media to Generate Franchisee Opportunities

Writing for SEO Checklist

Enhance Your Advertising Strategy with the Updated Google AdWords

Google AdWords

Google continues to expand its AdWords program, this time adding a plethora of options for advertisers with its Enhanced Campaigns feature. The changes are the most extensive in the ten-year history of the platform and users must adjust their strategies to meet the new features before July 22, when all AdWords users will be automatically upgraded to Enhanced Campaigns.

Perhaps the most lauded of these features is the ability to differentiate your targeted advertising spending between desktop computers and mobile devices. Some industries see widely different conversion rates on different devices, so this ability can help you maximize your advertising dollars by ensuring that its being spent in the right places.

However, the most useful of the new changes to users will likely be what Google is titling “Flexible Bid Strategies,” which offer a wide variety of options in customizing your PPC bidding strategies. These strategies are:

Target Search Page Location

This function will automatically try to get your ads onto the front page of search results and/or the top of the page. This strategy can be extremely useful for branded searches and maximizing your hold on the front page of select search terms.

Maximize Clicks

Google describes the function of this feature as, “Automatically sets bids to get you the most clicks, within a target spend amount that you choose.” This is actually an update of a previous Adwords feature, Automatic Bidding, and is ideal when simply getting as many pageviews as possible is your goal. This strategy is also useful if you have a limited budget, and are looking to get clicks and recognition, if not retail conversions.

Target Cost-Per-Aquisition

This function is also an upgrade of an old AdWords function, Conversion Optimizer. As the name implies, Target CPA is a tool that will automatically set bids to get as many conversions as possible to reach a set CPA goal. While similar to Maximize Clicks, this feature is best used if you have a dollar amount you are willing to pay for advertising to convert a new customer.

Enhanced CPC

Another automatic bid adjustment, Enhanced CPC will adjust your bid on the likelihood of generating a click. This almost functions as a more flexible version of Target CPA, as you have control over certain keywords.

Other Features

Another great feature added to AdWords in this update is the beta version of Image Extensions. This plugin will allow advertisers to add visual elements to search results. Since one in six Google searches turn up visual content, this could be an important resource for retailers and other companies in the near future.

Google Enhanced Campaigns

This latest update of Google AdWords increases the flexibility marketers have in selling their companies, and their products, to the public. Today’s advertising world doesn’t allow for a “one-size-fits-all” approach to marketing, and the new version of AdWords reflects that.

Jackson on Google+