5 Years of Local Search Blogging

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My first blog post was 5 years ago today.  276 posts ago.  Time sure flies.

I’d already been in “local” for a couple years by that point.  But my posts are the heart and lungs of this thing, so I consider 6/1/11 to be the real DOB of Local Visibility System, at least in its current form.

It’s been fun to see how the industry has evolved.  Only a handful of people were writing about local search seriously, and only a couple of those people still are.  Most people writing about it now have popped up in the last couple years.

A lot more people practice local SEO now (at least nominally).  I see that fact reflected in many of the business owners I work with and talk with, who are much more familiar with the basic concepts than they were 5 years ago.  Over time, I find myself having to explaining less and less – or at least explaining different things.

Local search itself hasn’t changed as much as you might think.  Google is still the 800-lb. gorilla, spammers still get away with too much, and success often comes down to solid organic SEO (links and on-page) and common sense (don’t spam, do be serious about reviews).

I hope my posts have improved.  Many of the early ones were rough, dashed off, and too Google Places-centric.

A few lessons I’ve learned in the last half-decade of posting – which I think are relevant whether you’re a business owner or an SEO who’s considering taking the plunge:

  • Start before you feel you have much to share. It will take you a while to hit your stride, no matter what.  I wish I started blogging around 2009, when I started working with clients.  On the other hand, starting today is better than starting “someday.”
  • Jot down every idea you have, every question you ask yourself that stumps you, and every question someone asks you that stumps you. Those are your raw materials.  You probably won’t write on all of them, but you’ll want the ability to cherry-pick.
  • Write posts that are useful because they address specific problems, rather than vanilla mush that everybody’s supposed to like. If all you do are link roundups, “Ultimate Guides,” and 97-person survey posts, soon your whole blog will be as forgettable as your posts.
  • Never write down to your readers. If you assume they’re dumb, it will be a self-fulfilling prophecy.  You’ll attract the cave-dwellers and repel the readers who can hang with you for long enough to learn and apply and become fans (and maybe clients).  I’m not saying it’s fine to sound like a 10th-grade English teacher, or to assume the reader knows your jargon.  All I’m saying is you shouldn’t hesitate to explain a technical concept or term, or to write a long post that needs to be long, or to throw in a literary allusion or big word when it makes for a better read.
  • Keep reading – and not just stuff by other people in the industry.  Be omnivorous.  You’ll be better with words.  Also, it can help you stick with writing long-term.  Why?  Because every now and then you’ll read something so heinous you know you can do the topic more justice, and because occasionally you’ll read something so good that the light bulb goes off.

Speaking of reading, thank you for reading my stuff – for however long you’ve been reading it.  Hope it’s been useful so far.  Without people like you, I’d probably be stuck in a Dilbert cube somewhere, rather than doing what I love.

What do you think would make for another 5 years of readable posts?

What’s your favorite LVS blog post?

How about one that needs a remake?

Leave a comment!


  1. Congrats on 5 years of local search blogging, Phil! We’re all lucky that you chose local search as your area of focus, and not something else, like cigars, or cats. You’ve made a crater-sized impact on the industry.

    My fav and most linked/shared Phil post has got to be your post on city pages:

    And the one that is in most need of a remake is definitely this one, which is super outdated, but still gets cited all the time:

    We love you, Phil. Thanks for continuing to pump out the hits. Here’s to 5 more years!

    • Well, shucks. Thanks for the kind words, brother Darren!

      The feeling’s mutual, as I’m sure you know. You’ve been reading my stuff for most of the 5 years, and I was pumped (and surprised) when I discovered you were actually a fan – because I’d been a big fan of the LCF since it launched and of you and Whitespark in general.

      By the way, Whitespark is still the only place I’ve ever guest-posted, and I don’t plan to change that.

      I do have to update that Definitive Citations List, though (again). That thing has the shelf life of sushi.

      Thanks again, man.

      To 5 more years!

  2. Congrats Phil! Your blog is one of my top 10 favorites for sure.

  3. Congratulations, and thanks for doing it!

  4. Congrats, Phil! Your blog’s been a great addition to our little community.

  5. I can not believe it is only 5 years you have been blogging here.


  6. Hey Phil,

    Congrats on 5 years. Thats an eternity in digital marketing/SEO time. I’ve been reading your posts for a while and am glad we finally got to meet and work together a bit. Your knowledge in the industry is tough to match and inspiring. Happy to be in it with you.

    Here’s to at least 5 more years!

    *raises scotch glass*

    • Hey Brian,

      Thanks! It was great meeting you earlier this year, too.

      You’ve posted some good stuff in the last year or so, and hope to keep reading it.

      Bottoms-up on the Scotch!

  7. Congrats Phil! Your blog is a bright light in the fog of local SEO.

    Looking forward to more great insights in the next 5!

  8. Congrats Phil. Your writing has been an inspiration to me and has helped expand my knowledge exponentially. I appreciate your insight and look forward to many more years to come!

  9. Your work has helped in many situations! Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge.

  10. Phil,
    It has been an amazing 5 years! You have contributed so much value to the industry, and always with a spirit of generosity and good will. Your blog is a shining beacon in Local. Please, give us all at least another 5 years of coverage of developments. You are needed!

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