Dennis Yu on The New Era of SEO, Keys To Local Business, and Search Engine Secrets.

Danny Leibrandt

Apr 12, 2024

Welcome to the very first episode of the Pest Control SEO Podcast, where we help local pest control businesses grow through effective SEO strategies. I'm Danny Leibrandt, founder of P Control SEO, and today, we have the honor of hosting Dennis Yu, a veteran in the SEO industry and a local marketing expert. Dennis has a remarkable background, having been a search engine engineer at Yahoo and managing over a billion dollars in Facebook ads for major brands like Adidas, Red Bull, and Starbucks. Today, he shares insights that are not only relevant for big companies but also for local businesses. Let's dive into the new era of SEO, keys to local business success, and search engine secrets.

Introduction to Dennis Yu

Dennis, could you give us a brief introduction of your background and experience?

Dennis Yu: Absolutely. I started my career as a search engine engineer at Yahoo over 30 years ago. My role was to protect search results from manipulation by so-called SEO experts. My team and I focused on ensuring that search results were the best they could be for users. Many of my team members went on to work at Google, contributing to their success. Over the years, I've spent over a billion dollars on Facebook ads and worked with numerous big brands. Lately, I've been focusing on helping local home service businesses and agency owners grow ethically and sustainably.

Understanding SEO: Debunking Myths and Misconceptions

Danny Leibrandt: Dennis, you mentioned that SEO is often shrouded in voodoo and mystery. Can you elaborate on what real SEO should focus on?

Dennis Yu: Certainly. Real SEO is about providing a great user experience. It's not about tricks or shortcuts. When I was at Yahoo, our goal was to show the best results for any given search. For instance, if someone searches for "bed bug exterminator in Houston," we want to show the most reliable and credible businesses. This includes real reviews, actual pictures, fast-loading websites, and active social media profiles. SEO should reflect the quality and credibility of your business, not just clever keyword stuffing or buying fake links.

The Fundamentals of Local SEO

Danny Leibrandt: How can local businesses, like pest control companies, ensure they rank well on search engines?

Dennis Yu: It's about proving that you do what you say you do, in the location you say you do it. This involves:

  1. Customer Reviews: Encourage your customers to leave genuine reviews. Real experiences matter more than anything else.

  2. Local Content: Use real photos and videos from your local jobs. Highlight the areas you serve and the specific services you offer.

  3. Website Performance: Ensure your website loads quickly and provides valuable content.

  4. Social Media Activity: Engage with your community on social media. Show that you are active and trusted in your local area.

Avoiding SEO Scams

Danny Leibrandt: Many local businesses get scammed by so-called SEO experts. How can they avoid this?

Dennis Yu: If an SEO agency promises quick fixes or uses jargon you don't understand, that's a red flag. Real SEO takes time and involves improving your actual business practices, not just tweaking metadata or buying links. Here are some tips:

  1. Ask for Case Studies: Reputable agencies will have case studies and real examples of how they've helped other businesses.

  2. Understand Their Strategy: They should be transparent about their methods. If they talk about creating real content and building genuine links, they're likely trustworthy.

  3. Check Their Work: Look at the actual changes they make. Are they improving your website's content and user experience?

The Role of Content in SEO

Danny Leibrandt: You often say, "You don't do SEO; you do good work and get noticed." Can you explain this further?

Dennis Yu: Sure. Think of SEO like weight loss. You don't "do" weight loss; you eat healthily, exercise, and get enough sleep. Similarly, you don't "do" SEO; you provide great service, engage with your customers, and create valuable content. The result is better rankings on Google. Google’s recent updates, like the Helpful Content Update, emphasize content that genuinely helps users. This means your website should answer real questions and provide useful information.

Leveraging User-Generated Content

Danny Leibrandt: How important is user-generated content for SEO?

Dennis Yu: It's crucial. User-generated content, like reviews and testimonials, is highly trusted by Google. Encourage your customers to share their experiences. When they mention specific services and locations, it boosts your local relevance. For example, if a customer writes, "John from XYZ Pest Control did a great job eliminating ants in my Dallas home," it signals to Google that you’re a reliable pest control service in Dallas.

The Shift to Knowledge Panels and Dynamic Search Results

Danny Leibrandt: You mentioned that search results are becoming more dynamic with features like knowledge panels. How can businesses adapt?

Dennis Yu: Knowledge panels and dynamic search results pull information from various sources to give a comprehensive answer. To appear in these panels, ensure your business information is consistent and well-documented across all platforms. This includes your website, social media profiles, and directory listings. Google pulls data from these sources to create a complete picture of your business.

The Power of Networking and Partnerships

Danny Leibrandt: How can local businesses leverage networking and partnerships for better SEO?

Dennis Yu: Networking with other local businesses and industry experts can significantly boost your SEO. For example, if you partner with a local real estate agent or a home improvement company, you can cross-promote each other’s services. This not only builds local credibility but also generates valuable backlinks. Participate in local events, sponsor community activities, and engage with local media to enhance your visibility.

The Future of SEO: Embracing AI and Automation

Danny Leibrandt: With the rise of AI, how do you see the future of SEO evolving?

Dennis Yu: AI is already transforming SEO. Google uses AI to better understand user intent and provide more accurate results. Tools like Google’s Search Generative Experience (SGE) are making search results more dynamic and personalized. As a business, you should focus on creating high-quality, helpful content. AI can help you analyze data and identify trends, but the core principles remain the same: provide value to your customers, and your SEO will improve.

Practical Steps for Local Businesses

Danny Leibrandt: For a local pest control business owner listening to this, what practical steps should they take today to improve their SEO?

Dennis Yu: Here’s a step-by-step guide:

  1. Audit Your Online Presence: Check your website, social media profiles, and directory listings. Ensure all information is accurate and consistent.

  2. Encourage Reviews: Train your technicians to ask for reviews after every job. Genuine reviews are gold for local SEO.

  3. Create Local Content: Regularly post updates, photos, and videos of your work in the community. Highlight local events and partnerships.

  4. Improve Website Performance: Make sure your website loads quickly, is mobile-friendly, and provides valuable content.

  5. Engage on Social Media: Be active on platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube. Share helpful tips and engage with your audience.

  6. Monitor and Adjust: Use tools like Google Analytics and Search Console to monitor your performance and adjust your strategy as needed.


Danny Leibrandt: Dennis, thank you for sharing your insights. Any final thoughts for our listeners?

Dennis Yu: Own your marketing. Understand the basics and hold your agencies accountable. Focus on providing real value to your customers, and the SEO results will follow. It’s about building trust and demonstrating expertise.

For more tips and strategies, stay tuned to the Pest Control SEO Podcast. Don’t forget to check out Dennis Yu’s LinkedIn for more insights and updates.