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Critical Local Search Factors To Pay Attention To

Local Search is Changing and Getting More Competitive

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Local search is only one sliver of the search marketing game, but it is an increasingly important one, and one that is changing rapidly. These days people are going to the web to find local businesses, sometimes more than even the phone book. Having a presence in local search is imperative for any small business, but just as imperative is being able to compete for visibility.

There is a good discussion taking place in our WebProWorld forum on the topic of local search. If you have any insight, you can contribute there or comment on this article for other WebProNews readers to see.

There are a lot of variables to consider when mapping out (no pun intended) your local search marketing efforts. Jeff Howard at Search Engine Guide has a very informative piece about such variables that search engines, and Google specifically employ when returning local search results to users.

"They have variables such as size of the map, and definition of a region’s center that combine with trust, a citation, or sometimes what I call ‘sureness factors’ to determine what businesses should be recommended," he says. More specifically, the variables Howard is talking about are:

1. The size of the area as defined by the keyword search, or map space being viewed.

2. Google’s sureness that in fact there is a business at the listed address doing what it says.

3. How Google defines the region’s center, either by keyword or map parameters like zoom level.

Howard goes into some quite interesting examples of the variables at work.

It’s not just about how the search engines define local results though. Businesses should also take into account how users/customers define them. Your business may be so many miles away from a user’s location, but other variables can factor into this as well. Neighborhoods may matter to users. Obstacles like rivers, for example, may matter. Maponics CEO Darrin Clement made some good points on this subject in a recent interview with WebProNews:

As it stands right now, there are a number of measures businesses can take to help users find them in local search. Howard offers the following tips to let Google and other mapping search engines know where you’re located:

- Have your address listed with major data providers.
- Claim your listing at the local business center.
- Have reviews either at Google or elsewhere.
- List your business in the proper categories once it’s been claimed.

Search specialist Bruce Clay recently shared some further local search tips in another WebProNews interview (below). One particularly important tip he shared involved getting local people to link to your content. It helps if you have content that is actually localized.

Bruce also aimed to debunk some local SEO myths in that interview, and one of those is that local SEO is cheaper than SEO on a broader scale. He basically noted that just because a site’s target audience is smaller, SEO is still SEO, and essentially the same work is involved when it comes to fixing a site and optimizing it. That’s just something to keep in mind.

That said, SEO may still be SEO when it comes to the effort that goes into it, but just because your site is optimized well for regular search, does not mean that your local search presence should take a back seat. Even if your site ranks well organically, Google may be pushing it further down the page, simply because of the search engine’s use of Universal search, which for many queries that yield local results, will simply return a set of local results, which are often near the top of the listings. This is pulled from a separate index. This topic was discussed in a quite interesting interview we had with Brian Combs, who founded local SEO firm ionadas local.

The new redesign of search results pages that Google has been testing could have important implications for local search. As some have pointed out, the interface involved with this redesign alters the presentation of local universal results. It only shows five results as opposed to the seven that Google currently shows.

"In the new UI, the map is now wider, the local listings are shown below the Map and an obvious pin to a Map centric view is visible along the left menu," notes local search blogger Mike Blumenthal. "In an of itself, the change means more SEO competition for fewer spots. Whether the change will drive more people into Maps is unclear as highlighted Map pin is offset by fewer links into Maps."

He also provides an interesting look at what this possible new interface could mean in connection with Google’s local listing ads for businesses that the company is also testing.

Doing well in local search means much more than simply having a listing in Google Maps. Local search is a competitive and increasingly critical space of the web that local businesses need to take seriously. Take into account the rise of the mobile web, which is only going to greatly increase in consumer use, and local plays that much more of a role in getting customers to your business.

How much emphasis do you place on your local search marketing efforts? Are you seeing the benefits? Discuss here.

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Critical Local Search Factors To Pay Attention To
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  • http://www.crearecommunications.co.uk Amelia

    Local search is a very exciting area right now. I watched the video with Brian Combs earlier in the week and found a lot to take away. Thanks for providing this content.

  • http://www.distilled.co.uk Tom

    I love all the discussion going on about Google Local at the moment. I recently released some data for everyone to have a play with which hopefully lowers the bar on people doing their own research:

    http://www.distilled.co.uk/blog/seo/google-local-research-data-released-for-free/

    Thanks

    Tom

  • http://tarchala.net w.t.

    Great interviews and lots of great info. I’ll try to better optimize my Chicago limo web page.

  • http://www.montreallimo.com Eric Leblanc

    Those video about Google local search are very interesting, i will try the optimization as described.

    Thanks great job!!!

  • http://whitetvstands.net Guest

    Mobile web is indeed why local businesses should pay more attention to their web presence and ability to rank higher.

  • http://officialsafetyandsecurity.com/ Official Safety and Security

    I’m sure local search works great for brick and mortar businesses but my safety and security web site is online only. Although my SEO was focused on the web, I’m still getting calls from customers thinking they can visit my local store. They’re pretty disappointed when I have to tell them I’m on line only since they were hoping to come in and check out my products in person. Thanks, Chris.

  • http://www.netgreenconsulting.com/websites.html David

    These are great recommendations as the search engines are putting more emphasis on providing better local results for business-related searches. I’ve claimed Local Business Center listings for a number of my clients and it has helped get them better rankings and more click-throughs to their sites.

    Another local business search service that I’ve recently come across is www.YellowMarketing.com. Like other LBCs, they let you claim or setup your business listing for free, make some simple updates to it including linking to your web site, and let customers post reviews. What’s different is that they actually give you several pages of info and optimize those pages with Title tags and keywords of your choosing, as well as linking your listing to your Facebook business fan page and letting you make posts to it (and any local city pages you also are a fan of) from your business dashboard. If you upgrade your listing (pay a monthly fee), you can also post pictures, videos, coupons, downloadable PDF files, etc. I haven’t seen anything quite like it elsewhere, so it may be worth a look.

    Cheers,
    David G.

    • Brenda

      MerchantCircle.com pages are free and my merchant circle page ranked in two seconds on the first page for my local keywords. Merchantcircle has a PR of 8!!!

  • http://www.b-seenontop.com/ Donna

    I have found the tools available for researching keyword phrases all fall short when it comes to local search engine optimization. What to do? The key is to focus your research on and around the product and/or service you are providing; find the best primary keyword phrase and then tag your neighborhood, city, town or state name on to the end of it. Don’t even bother to research, for example, “Chicago Limo” cause you’re probably not going to find it. Instead research “limo services” or “limousine rental prices” and when you find the best one, tag “Chicago” onto the end of it.

  • http://www.hypotheekshopdeventer.nl Hypotheek Deventer

    In my experience local results are more easy then others. When we first started out we had just one goal. Local dominance in the serp`s. The way to go is optimizing for your product and your city.

    Ones the on page optimization is done start linking from social media, digicity pages and starting pages for specific area. Use your city or area in a lot of you

  • Guest

    I hope Google considers context in local search. For example, if I am looking for an apartment in Edmonton, what I am really looking for is a VACANCY in Edmonton. Currently, local search simply returns the yellow pages list of apartments in edmonton — which is essentially useless. If Google turned to known providers of such information, then the context of the local search would be met and results would be much more relevant, for example a local map of vacancies in Edmonton.

  • Brenda

    I get all of my business from local search. My site is optimized for my local area and is ranking number 1 for many cities. I also leverage other high PR business listings and social media sites and optimize these pages as well. Then do some link building to each page and the results are local internet domination LOL. I three months I have been able to take up 5 spots on the first page of Google for my local city and other cities. :) but I’m not stopping there. I LOVE SEO he he he…

  • http://pestcontrolseo.wordpress.com Thos003

    Found it funny that your video Darrin shows “Circus-Circus” at 2:47 when talking about “bad neighborhoods”. Too funny.

    Your information is great. You covered all the basics and then some with your content. You didn’t cover the future of the maps, like flat rate listings, and possibility of google cutting the 7-Box down to a 5 box with 3 sponsored results. Both are being beta tested right now.

    Funny, I love local search yet that session at pubcon must have been under emphasized as “local search”. I think the mobile devices threw off the content. Would have liked to hear those in person.

    In my industry, Bulwark pest control, is all about local search. Getting listed and found in the maps has been huge for us.

  • http://www.salyris.com Sean

    I agree, Local Search is getting very important on a lot of levels. Great post and videos! I feel that local search reviewsare very helpful. If you are competing closely with others nearby, some positive reviews could tip the scale in your favor. ;-)

  • http://www.solartubularskylights.com/ Yolanda

    I watched the video with Brian Comb. I learned some really important information for my website with I hadn’t done.

    http://www.solartubularskylights.com/

    Thank you,

    Yolanda

  • http://www.straightalk.biz straightalk

    must agree with the rest, and add that in near future people will learn how to do searches and this will help the clutter.

  • http://www.warriorforum.com/members/snesemulators.html Leighann Greisser

    Great just what I was looking for.Thanks to the writer for taking his time on this one.

  • http://www.yahire.com Sarah Johnston

    I come up in more local searches, its definately alot easier to achieve then national and in some cases more important as you said.

  • http://www.najlepsze-odzywki.com.pl/kreatyna.html Odzywki

    I was just seeking this info for a while. After six hours of continuous Googleing, finally I got it in your web site. I wonder what’s the lack of Google strategy that do not rank this type of informative web sites in top of the list. Usually the top web sites are full of garbage.

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