The ByTraject Podcast with Garrett Sussman

Building a Local SEO Business with Claire Carlile

It was such a pleasure to be interviewed by Garrett Sussman for the Agency Ahead podcast.  Garrett is honestly the best podcast host and such a great guy – I hope one day we get to meet in real life 💌 

We talked about:

  • Why local SEO is more important to small business than ever
  • Google product posts
  • The importance of UTM tracking
  • Is it a good idea to start a Local SEO business right now?
  • Honing your pitch
  • Positioning and pricing your local SEO services

As well as a little bit about the recent Fanbooster webinar I had the pleasure of being a part of.

You can watch the webinar here – and you can listen to the Agency Ahead podcast here!

Google’s Featured Snippet-Apocalypse, FAQ Schema, No Snippet &  Max Snippets Tags

Google’s Featured Snippet-Apocalypse, FAQ Schema, No Snippet & Max Snippets Tags


After having ‘experiment with FAQ schema’ on my TO DO list for bloody ages, and Martha’s email starred and at the bottom of my inbox since June 2019, I found a cool use case scenario and set about making it happen.

Martha.  I’ll get around to it.  It’s just going to take a little while.


I have some pages that perform really well for informational search queries, and these pages often win the featured snippet for those queries.  Organic traffic to the site via these pages rarely has e-commerce revenue attributed to them but they do drive other micro conversions, such as newsletter signups, clicks through to social media profiles, and clicks through to the various ‘money pages’ on the website.

These pages REALLY suit FAQ, in fact they’re packed with FAQ content.  Adding FAQ schema to these pages allows me to also include a range of bone fide ‘informational transactional’ questions in the schema, these questions already appear on the page and link through to the related transactional pages.  By adding FAQ schema I can link directly through to these transactional pages from the SERP itself, and I can tag up my schema so that I can measure the impact of this strategy. If it’s successful I can work out other use case scenarios.  Sounds good, right?


You read that?  Danny is talking about DE-DUPLICATION.  The URL won’t appear again in the SERP for that query.  Apart from it might.  For a bit.  At the top of page 2, as Dr Pete tweeted.  But that’s water under the bridge…

I only had my double whammy of FS and FAQ schema showing for a day before this kicked in.  Bad timing or what?

It was pretty easy (for me, on this page, in this case) to have a quick re-jig of the page format in order to lose the featured snippet across a swathe of search queries, and instead to of the FS have my FAQ schema showing:

‘Un-optimising’ (de-optimising?) isn’t something I’d necessarily recommend, in this case it was a way for me to test the relative merit of appearing in the FS (and not having me FAQ schema show) and having the URL appear further down the SERP, with the FAQ schema showing. 

There is lots of testing to do here.  The loss of the double FAQ schema / FS whammy 👭 appears to be something that a few people are thinking about, mourning, and starting to measure in terms of impact…

No snippet and max snippet meta tags

I wanted to test both of these tags (more details of the tags if you’re unfamiliar with them on SEL) – just to see how they’d work out in terms of suppressing the featured snippet.  Again, I wouldn’t recommend applying these willy nilly, you’ll need to consider your own situation on a page by page, search query by search query basis.

If you want to see where your page would rank organically if it weren’t the featured snippet then this is a cool way to do so (hat tip Aledya’s Crawling Monday vid)

No snippet tag

This was a bit too much of a broad sword.  I added the no snippet tag to the page and I lost the FS, got my FAQ schema, but also lost my meta description snippet.  This makes my SERP result look much less appealing (in my mind) and much less clickable:

Max snippet tag

I set the max snippet tag to a little more than the character count of the meta description, and this did the trick.  My URL with the FAQ schema is showing here, along with the meta description snippet:

I’m interested to know people’s thoughts about the change and how it has impacted their FAQ schema / FS combos.  Hit me up on twitter @clairecarlile with your thoughts!

Search Engine Journal – the one where I’m included in SEO Trends 2020 🔮

Search Engine Journal – the one where I’m included in SEO Trends 2020 🔮

This is such a great read, with contributions from some amazing folks including Lily Ray, Cindy Krum, Aleyda Solis, Martha Berkel, Alexis Sanders, Arrej Abuali, Britney Muller and a load of other of my SEO crushes 💌

You can download the complete ebook here.


    The One Where I Get Interviewed for the SEO SAS Podcast 🎙

    The One Where I Get Interviewed for the SEO SAS Podcast 🎙

    In this episode, Sarah and I discuss many things local SEO and marketing, chewing the fat on what businesses should be doing to make the most out of local digital marketing opportunities and we also discuss the results from research carried out before the podcast, where we asked those in the industries about the day-to-day realities of marketing local businesses.

    And of course there’s the traditional SEO SAS forfeit – which wasn’t as scary as I had thought it would be – you’ll have to listen because it’s all too random and ridiculous to explain here!  It involves UK geography and some ridiculous foodstuffs 🍲

    Links to resources discussed in the podcast:


    Google’s Street View Summit – Some News and What This *Might Mean* for Local SEO

    Google’s Street View Summit – Some News and What This *Might Mean* for Local SEO

    Recently I’ve been spending quite a bit of time advising small and medium sized businesses on images and their importance, and this of course extends to their Google My Business images.

    Google is very clear about how images positively affect the interactions made and actions taken on GMB profiles:

    GMB image fails

    So often I see profiles where the last image upload was 2013, and where the images are far from ideal (think dirty floors and empty rooms). Why for goodness sake can’t we extend the same careful curation to our GMB profiles?

    As well as planning and shooting high quality images and video, and working out a calendar for regular upload of photos to GMB, many of my clients have found great value in investing in a professional 360 tour from a Street View trusted pro. I believe that as people spend more time in Google maps (and now that so much of the discovery phase is spent in the Google maps app) this type of interactive visual potentially adds increasing value for the ‘know before you do, eat, see or buy’ advocates.

    StreetView Summit 2019

    A Street View photographer pro I know attended Google’s StreetView Summit 2019 in London. I asked them to pose a number of questions I had relating to images and Google My Business. Sadly Google wouldn’t answer any questions about GMB, however they did say that they know there are frustrations and that it’s being worked on 🧯

    However, my photographer friend did pass on to me the following (top secret? 🕵🏼‍♀️) round-up of the news from the event – which may (or may not) spell some changes for a range of businesses and how they deal with their Local SEO requirements and issues.

    Bold and italicized = my photographer friends comments

    “Firstly, they’re splitting the local guides and Street View trusted programs. Since 2017 these have been aligned and local guides having their accounts deleted because they were charging for photoshoots, as an existing TIP (Trusted Innerspace Photographer) we were automatically enrolled in the local guides program so it’s caused havoc for those who were publishing Street View imagery under a business profile.”

    My thoughts: I don’t know a lot about this, but this sounds like good news. The situation described above sounds like a royal clusterf**k. 😱

    “The “new” Street View Trusted Program will now be tiered, bronze silver and gold. Where each tier will require a number of published tours of a certain size AND an average of 3.5 stars on its own Google My Business profile from clients (which opens a can of worms as some photographers may have had spam reviews left)”

    My thoughts: I’d only want to work with an experienced photographer with a good number of quality virtual tours. When I checked this evening there were 852 ‘trusted professionals’ in the UK listed on the Street View website. So, if this helps sort the wheat from the chaff then it’s a thumbs up from me. A bronze level photographer could be a cost effective option for a small business with a limited budget, but I would be looking for more than 5 reviews, with an average of at least 4*. The review count prerequisites seem to be setting the bar pretty low!

    As for review SPAM – well what can I say, it’s an ongoing battle, with local (to me) marketing businesses contravening Google’s ToS for reviews – a whole bunch of businesses that should know better are happy to flout guidelines in order to gain an advantage over bone fide service providers.

    “Google will be bringing back email support for photographers that will help them get their clients verified and deal with other maps issues. There will also be a number of other tools made available to us to operate on a professional level. I’m hoping that the new program will allow Gold Level photographers to have the trusted verifier app which will allow me to verify all listing within seconds.”

    My thoughts: Well goodness me this could be an actual game changer (perhaps/maybe/maybe not *delete as required*). Small businesses struggle with navigating the vagaries of GMB and the swathes of misinformation that exist – sometimes from GMB support themselves:

    Unless you have a hotline to the GMB support team in the US I guess the options are forms, the forum, the phone (I have had limited success with this from the UK), and social media (find a good round up of the contact methods on the Sterling Sky website)  And don’t hold your breath, I’ve waited weeks for a reply on social media.  

    My questions here are…

    ❓What kinds of map issues could they fix?  

    ❓Why would this be different to the support we (marketing agencies and local SEO providers) can currently offer clients -for example in terms of the time taken for GMB to reply to us, for GMB to action anything based on our request, and in terms of our communications being handled by GMB staff that pass along misinformation?

    ❓Would all levels of Trusted Program photographers have access to email support, or just gold?  What will the tiered system mean in terms of this ‘extra’ support?

    ❓What are the details of these ‘other tools’ that might be available to trusted photographers?

    In the olden days (pre 2017 I guess) I can remember that my Trusted Photographer friends had magic powers 🧙🏾‍♂️- they used to have the ability to sort many kinds of map issues via a quick email to Google.  This included verification of listings, deletion or merging of listings, and updating of info, and they used to help me out with some of these tasks – it was quick and easy – plus it worked!

    If they get these powers again, then I think it’s potentially kind of a big deal.  

    Imagine you’re an agency offering Local SEO services to businesses in a particular geographic area.  Then imagine having an in-house Trusted Pro photographer, or even a strong partnership with a Trusted Pro.  Not only can they produce wonderful content for your clients’ GMB profiles (think 360 tours, videos, images) and the same images can also be used across the whole gamut of digital assets – websites, social profiles and more – it’s quite possible that they’ll be able to get email support for client listings, straight from Google, getting sh** done quickly and easily.  What a way to build out your service offering and potentially increase the revenue potential of each client, as well as better meeting the needs of that client by dealing with their GMB woes in a much more expedient framework.

    Food for thought, perhaps? 🥫

    Q&A Auto-Suggest Featuring GMB Reviews, Q&A, Posts and Products Beta

    Q&A Auto-Suggest Featuring GMB Reviews, Q&A, Posts and Products Beta

    Yesterday (17.7.2019) Carrie and I found existing Q&A, Google Posts and Products (Beta) populating this area:

    Training the algorithm?

    Rather than being an upvoting system, I guess it’s likely the ‘is this helpful’ system is training the algorithm, to help Google understand WHAT types of content are valuable in this area in terms of user intent?


    Why is this important?

    So, I guess we don’t really know how users are using the Q&A auto-suggest functionality in the knowledge panel (business profile, whatever it is called this month) – it’s all so new.  With so many new features tumbling out of Google at the moment (while meanwhile what one would imagine should be the foundations of GMB are in chaos in terms of suspensions, reviews disappearingmanaging spam and any number of bugs all recorded on the local search forum) it’s difficult to predict what will happen next with this feature – will this get traction in terms of consumer usage? 

    How DO consumers learn about features and how to use them? What will Google do next with this data? So many questions!

    What should I do next?

    Miriam Ellis sums it up beautifully here:

    For me it’s another indicator that it’s super important that businesses make the most of ALL of the content opportunities available to them in GMB and control the message as far as possible by including relevant posts, posing (or seeding) their own Q&A, including searched for products in products beta, and using an ‘enhanced ask’ for reviews (how? See this from Whitespark).

    What else have YOU seen making it’s way into the Q&A autosuggest?