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Local Search Talk Series Part 5: Ed Reese Interview

It’s a new week and we are back in the saddle bringing you more Local Search Interviews than Babe Ruth brought home runs. Today we are hearing from another North Westerner that is an up and coming power house in Local Search. That man is Ed Reese, the authority on Spokane SEO. He is the big chief behind Sixth Man Marketing, a regular speaker at Getlisted University, and an all around great guy to know in the local search industry.

How did you initially get involved with internet marketing?

I actually remember the exact moment.  I was producing online videos and training modules for Check Point Software and knew that our clients loved them and used them as sales tools.  But at every internal marketing meeting my videos would get bashed compared to the almighty white paper.  So I bought our IT guy some beers to generate a report (which took 3 days back in 2002) to figure out what was really driving lead generation.  My videos were generated 3X the leads as the whitepapers.  “Ha!” I was hooked.

What made you loco for Local?

It was just so incredibly underserved.  I still have no idea why more people aren’t paying attention to local search.  I remember going to SMX West in 2008 wanting to hear what the experts had to say about local search (cue crickets chirping).  There was nothing!  I knew I had to start experimenting with local myself.  I was also fortunate enough to find a few marketers that were starting to publish about local search.  I read their blogs, tested techniques, tested again, and then came up with a few of my own.

Do you have someone who has helped you along the way in learning local?

I have been very fortunate in that regard.  David Mihm was one of the very first people I met in search.  His help and professional encouragement has been invaluable for me.  I also connected early with other great local search sensai’s at SMX Local in San Franciso the Summer of 2008 and have followed them ever since.  That’s where I met Mike Blumenthal, Mary Bowling, Chris Silver Smith, Gib Olander, and others that have really helped my local search education.

Tell us about your consulting firm up in Spokane, Sixth Man Marketing? How did you come up with the name?

The name was the product of a 5 minute brainstorming session with my wife.  I’m a basketball fan, so my first thought was to use some sort of basketball term or metaphor as a name.  Companies hire me to assist in marketing challenges on the fly.  So it felt like I was the sixth man coming off the bench into the game.  Also, “Slam” was already taken.

You recently paved the way for the first ever GetListed University event that debuted in Spokane. Can you explain how the concept came about, and the process of putting the event on.

It was something David Mihm and Pat Sexton of GetListed had been thinking about for a while (putting on a local search series).  I got involved by talking with David at an after-party at the SEOmoz Advanced Training last August.  After a few beers, I said “I’m tired of having go to San Jose, Seattle, Las Vegas, etc., for conferences.  Let’s do one in Spokane.” David called me last November to remind me of my beer-fueled commitment and before you know it we’ve got LocalU in Spokane.

The process was quite an undertaking.  I’d never put on a conference before, so I really had no idea what to expect.  Our team (David Mihm, Mary Bowling, Matt McGee, Mike Blumenthal, Pat Sexton, & myself) collaborated regarding content, logistics, and overall conference planning.  But I was responsible for the local side of things, which included the venue, creating marketing partnerships, and ultimately getting butts in the seats.

Your a big fan of using stick drawings in a couple presentations I have seen you do. What’s the deal?

I embrace my complete lack of artistic talent.  It started pretty randomly.  I had some hand-drawn notes that I’d asked my wife (a graphic designer) to make look professional and put into Power Point.  She said my stick figure drawings matched my personality and presentation style and said I should just go with it.  I actually think she was just trying to get out of doing the slides for me, but I’ve been going with the stick figure thing ever since and it’s become my signature presentation style.  People would be really surprised at how long it takes me to draw my stick figure presentations.

What is your favorite, and least favorite, part about being a local seo consultant?

I love the work, the testing, the research, and the results.  I’m really fortunate to have found something I’m passionate about that I get paid to do.  Sure, I’m not a professional athlete (that would’ve been my first choice), but it’s pretty sweet.  No complaints here.

I know you are a big fan of analytics and reporting. Do you have advice for local search + reporting?

  1. Get your hands dirty
  2. Read this:
  3. This:
  4. And this:

What do you do in your free time (and you have to mention Frisbee golf)

Yeah, I try to play as much disc golf as I can with my family.  I’m also up for any foosball, ping-pong, bowling, or basketball.  There was a period in my 20s where I thought I was going to be a professional foosball player.  I didn’t make any money, but I have played the #2, #5, #12, and #20 ranked foosball players in the world and lost,… Badly.

Have you ever killed anything with a frisbee…like oddjob could do with his top hat?

No, but I’ve come close.  My sister lives in a very rural area with a lot of deer and wild game.  My drive is about 350’ so I can get close enough to get a shot off before they run.  I can actually get 2-3 shots off before they run. They give me this look like, “Dude, are you throwing frisbee’s at us.  Seriously?” I seriously doubt it would take down an Elk, but….

In your opinion, what do you think is the biggest challenge facing local search?

Mapspam.  The engines are making strides, but it’s still a big-time problem in the local search industry.

Can you give us an idea of what you think 2010-2011 hold in store for Local Search?

This year is going to be HUGE for local.  With the adoption of mobile devices and big improvements from the engines it’s going to be a very interesting year.  The testing Google is doing with local is an indication of their intent in my opinion.  And Bing is just killing it right now in terms of rapid addition of features.  Look for local advertising to be a big deal as well.

What is the best advice you would give someone that is wanting to learn about local seo?

Research, Test, Repeat.  I’d get started by following the local search community on Twitter and read their recommendations.  David Mihm’s Local Search Ranking Factors is a must read as well.  But the most important thing is just to dive right in and learn/observe real search efforts in action.

Thanks for the awesome info Ed. You can meet up with Ed by simply going to Spokane an asking anyone you meet for the Best SEO in Spokane and they will guide you in the right direction.

If you are new to the local search talk series make sure you check out these other great interviews!