Chris Brencans on How To Drive Local Traffic, The Evolution of Local SEO, and Link Building.

Danny Leibrandt

May 31, 2024

Welcome to the Pest Control SEO Podcast. I'm your host, Danny Leibrandt, founder of Pest Control SEO, where we specialize in helping pest control companies grow through effective SEO strategies. Today, I have the pleasure of speaking with Chris Brencans, CEO of On The Map Marketing. Under Chris's leadership, On The Map Marketing has become a powerhouse in the digital marketing world, currently generating $6 million a year and on track to reach $7 million. Chris has been with the agency for over a decade, making him a seasoned expert in local search marketing. In this podcast, we delve into his journey, the evolution of local SEO, and the importance of holistic link building strategies.

The Beginning of Chris's Journey

Chris's journey with On The Map Marketing began 10 years ago when he joined as a website project manager. The agency itself was established 15 years ago by Rick Hoskins, initially focusing on placing attorneys in the map results. Chris recalls, "I wasn't the first local search marketing expert here, but the agency was one of the pioneers in niching down to local search." The early days of local SEO were markedly different. "You would literally just move the pin, and the rankings would appear," Chris explains, highlighting how rudimentary the process was compared to today's complexities.

The Evolution of Local Search

The landscape of local search has evolved significantly over the past decade. Chris shares that the biggest change has been the decrease in the importance of organic rankings. "Organic rankings are still valuable, but not nearly as much as they used to be," he notes. The shift has been towards a more comprehensive local search marketing strategy, which includes Local Service Ads (LSAs), PPC ads, and directories.

Chris emphasizes the need for a multifaceted approach, particularly in high-value verticals like personal injury law, where the cost per click can be exorbitant. "You owning every possible click is crucial because that's gonna sum up and generate that business you're waiting for," he advises. This shift has made it imperative for businesses to invest in multiple advertising channels to maximize their visibility and ROI.

The Role of Brand Recognition

Another significant shift in local SEO is the increasing importance of brand recognition. Chris points out that even a year and a half ago, brand presence wasn't as critical as it is now. "You need to compare brand to brand, and that's gonna give you an assessment of how well you can rank and compete in uber-competitive SERPs," he explains. This change means that businesses must invest in building a strong brand presence both online and offline.

Advertising Strategies for Local Businesses

When it comes to advertising strategies, Chris advises businesses to focus on what their budgets can accommodate. For those with limited budgets, he recommends investing in directories that rank well for their highest transactional queries. "If I see Pest Control Seattle, and a directory like Yelp is ranking high, then investing in that directory can drive traffic back to you," he suggests. He also emphasizes the importance of testing and optimizing advertising efforts to achieve the best ROI.

For businesses that can afford it, LSAs are a valuable investment. However, Chris warns that these ads require a robust intake system to handle leads promptly and efficiently. "It's about servicing those people, answering quickly, sending feedback back to Google," he explains. Properly managed, LSAs can be a powerful tool for generating high-quality leads.

Custom Solutions for Clients

On The Map Marketing offers a range of services, including SEO, PPC, and web development. Chris explains that their approach is highly customized based on the client's needs and budgets. "We have internally what we call a deliverable calculator, and that's how we also sell our services," he says. This model allows them to provide a tailored solution that can include various combinations of link placements, content creation, and even social media posts and video production.

Misconceptions in Local SEO

One common misconception in the local SEO space is the effectiveness of traditional link-building strategies. Chris believes that many agencies are spinning their wheels with outdated tactics. "The types of links being built are becoming obsolete," he asserts. Instead, he advocates for a more holistic approach that includes local outreach and engagement. "It's about building mega lists of local organizations to invest in," he explains. This strategy not only builds high-quality links but also fosters genuine relationships within the local community.

Finding Local Influencers

Identifying local influencers can be a game-changer for local businesses. Chris shares a tool he uses called Modash.io, which helps locate influencers based on their follower demographics. "I want to make sure that the audience is in that location because I don't care about people in Miami if I'm in Nashville," he explains. Collaborating with local influencers can boost a business's visibility and credibility within its target market.

Future of Local Search

Looking ahead, Chris is curious about how Google's AI advancements will impact local search. "The brand-building factor will not go away; it will just become even more necessary and crucial," he predicts. He anticipates that social media presence and brand recognition will play an increasingly significant role in local SEO rankings.

Practical Tips for Local Businesses

To get on the map and attract customers through Google Business Profile, Chris offers several actionable tips:

  1. Optimize Your Profile: Ensure that your profile is complete and accurate, with the right categories, real reviews, and high-quality photos.

  2. Engage with Reviews: Consistency in getting and responding to reviews is key.

  3. Showcase Your Team and Location: Use photos and videos to build trust with potential customers.

  4. Creative Naming: Consider using creative DBAs that include top keywords to help with visibility.

  5. Directory Listings: Ensure your business is listed in all relevant directories and citations to strengthen your online presence.


In conclusion, the evolution of local SEO requires businesses to adopt a comprehensive and holistic approach. From leveraging LSAs and directories to building brand recognition and engaging with local influencers, there are numerous strategies to drive local traffic and improve search rankings. As Chris Brencans highlights, the future of local search will be dominated by brands that can build genuine connections and provide valuable, consistent information across multiple platforms.

For more insights from Chris Brencans and to learn about On The Map Marketing, you can find Chris on LinkedIn or visit their website at onthemap.com. Thank you for tuning in to the Pest Control SEO Podcast, and we'll see you in the next episode.