8 Tips to Maximize Your Branded Presence in the Google Local Search Results

With the rollout of the new grey pin local search results, Google has continued to increase the amount of information from your Places page that is visible in the main search results. This is particularly true with the new Branded One Box result.

Google is prepared to turn over to your company the better part of the information above the fold and with a little work and some luck you can maximize what the searcher sees about your business.

Click to view larger:

Here are 8 tips that help you maximize “your ad” on the front page of Google:

1)Select the title tag of your home page with care. If you service only one city, it is no longer necessary to include the city in your title tag of your home page. Google is using other location signals to ascertain this information. Personally, I think that brand often trumps keywords in local markets. When that is the case I put the company name first which creates a strong, clean branded visual for the user. The brand is front and center in the results.

2)With the addition of Sitelinks Google provides 6 (it can be 12 but I have yet to see that many in local) or more additional opportunities to engage the customer. It is important for the pages that display to front load the description tags with the call to action and keep them short as there are very few characters (54?) that actually display.

3)Which pages show and title tags show and why is a bit of mystery so you want to be sure to monitor what is actually showing. It means that you want to be sure to NOINDEX pages that you definitely don’t want Google to have, like your 404 page. If a page does show up that you don’t want showing in this display but you don’t want to NOINDEX the page it might be necessary to demote the page from Sitelinks via the Webmaster tools. REGARDLESS, it means that even pages that you didn’t think would see much light might need to be updated with more relevant Titles and Description tags. Google changes what shows so review the display periodically.

4)Know what other IYP or Local Directories are doing a good job on the long tail branded search for your business name and be sure that you have maximized your presence with them. That might include data, photos and if appropriate reviews.

5)Google puts their reviews front and center so including Google in your review management process goes without saying. But since Google will be showing other review sites as well it makes sense to include them in your process.

6)Google also might surface rich snippet testimonials from your site. If you have testimonials be sure that they are marked up and the testimonial page has enough internal links that Google sees the page as a prominent one.


7)With the advent of the Grey Pinned results, Google started surfacing as many as 5 photos from your Places Page. They will give owner uploaded photos priority but will use others from around the web if you haven’t filled your quota. The photos shown on the front page are arbitrarily cropped to a square layout for display and are shown very small. This means that you do not want to use landscape photos on your Places page as cropping will be very unpredictable. You may want to pre-crop your uploaded images to a square shape. Because of the very small size, use photos that crop the subject close and are not too busy with details.

8)The sentiment snippets that show with your listing are the least understood of all aspects of the display. It is not clear when Google includes them and the process by which they are generated. Google does seem to put a lot of faith in Citysearch reviews and if a phrase is used frequently enough in other directories (i.e. buying experience) it may also be used.

Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
8 Tips to Maximize Your Branded Presence in the Google Local Search Results by

63 thoughts on “8 Tips to Maximize Your Branded Presence in the Google Local Search Results”

  1. Mike, you mention not including your location in the title tag. Do you really think Google is taking location alone into that much account? I remember when we did some testing with Places back when they first began blended results and we found that on page and local optimization had to play hand in hand to get the best results. Is this something that will benefit anyone business, or does this only work in smaller markets?

    I can’t imagine a person in Los Angeles, New York, Miami, etc. being able to get the same sort of love from Google if they don’t include their location based keywords in the title tag. That is unless they are in a small niche business.

    Have you seen this work in large markets?

  2. @Mike

    Great questions…. some of which need exploring and I don’t have answers to. I recognize that it is a bit of a contrary position that goes against the orthodoxy and one for which I don’t yet have all of the answers.

    Certainly on Page optimization is huge in blended results but it appears that location information is coming from someplace other than the title tag in most instances. I have a limited number of tests but I have seen this be the case in a very competitive industry in Orlando.

    I am not suggesting the complete abandonment of location title tags on all pages and in all markets. But I am fairly confident that they are not necessary on your home page if you only cater to the market in which you are located.

    Certainly more tests are needed and it needs to be explored in a range of situations but in the cases I have tested, removing the location information from the Title tag has had no material impact on ranking. It offers the benefit of shorter and more focused tags.

    I am not talking about long tail searches or interior pages where I think there is still value in using location title tags

  3. Mike,
    the combination of city and target KWs along with proper On-page optimization and citations is what does the trick. I believe it’s wrong to instruct people to not include city location in the title tag, when time and time again we’ve seen this as adverse to their targeting.

    To recap:
    proper On-page SEO
    strong Off-page SEO
    and before everything else: PROPER KEYWORD RESEARCH! i.e. don’t spam. ๐Ÿ˜€

    That is all.

    The God

    1. @TheGod
      I am not instructing people to NOT include city location in the Title tag, I am suggesting that it is not always necessary on your home page IF you are marketing to the city in which you are located.

  4. Mike,
    you said:

    “Select the title tag of your home page with care. If you service only one city, it is no longer necessary to include the city in your title tag of your home page.”

    So for Phoenix Carpets (for example) I should just say Carpets in my title tag? Still not understanding the point there…

    Thanks for replying,


  5. I find it is still essential to have the who, what and where in the title tags for my clients. Putting the town name and state/province in the title ensures that the page can be found in organic search when local intent is not deduced. It also makes it clear to the user that the location is the one they are looking for and not some synonymous town.

    Try searching for “Troy plumbers”. There are at least six states with a Troy. If you then click on Places, the results appear to be relative to your default location. Mine show for Michigan.

    You can never count on two people seeing the same result for what they think is the same search. You certainly can’t predict what people will enter in the search box and what factors the algorithm will be using. For these reason and several more, I think it would be unwise to assume that Google knows where my pages are located.

  6. I like you Dave, nice reasoning! Time and time again, I’ve found that simply, you have to connect the dots for the spiders. Google’s not stupid, it works off of a common algorithm for all platforms. Like I said in my first post, the success for local listings in tying all the ends together in one, nice, spider-happy, Google-loving package. Voila. Results speak for themselves.


  7. I agree on all points about the need to clearly guide Google…my point is that they are guided on location by something other than the title tag (meta information, footer information, Places index etc).

    I am not sure that I am right but I would ask you folks to test results in local with and without city in the title tag of the home page and let me know if you see any less traffic on service + city searches…test it on both local, blended and organic results and let me know your experience.

    I recognize that I am suggesting something that is outside of accepted practice so the only way to tell is to test it right?

  8. @Mike

    Well, problem is you said “this is this”. And then you said “it should be tested”. So “this ISN’T this” in “this” case. We all agree on what DOES boost the rankings (it ain’t just the reviews folks), but not including the city-locationary tag is not smart. Just sayin’


  9. Mike,
    could you please post your finding here? I’m curious to see what you did. One sample would be fine. Cross-section of various industries/cities would be appreciated even more.


  10. You can assess Barbara Oliver and Co Jewelry. In April she stopped showing for broad terms like “Jewelry Buffalo NY”.

    I assumed that it was site related and decided to experiment with the Title Tag, removing location.

    Upon further exploration I determined that the reason for the loss of rank was that Google had narrowed the search radius within which they were willing to show results and Barbara was outside the radius so nothing I did with title tags made any difference.

    Key performance indicators of site visits, form contacts and in store visits all remained high after the changes to remove Location from the home page title tag. Visible rankings with the exception of searches that Google narrowed the search radius on, stayed constant.

    I have similar experiences on several other sites.

  11. @God

    I did say “this is this” and perhaps I should have been more nuanced in my communication.

    But on the other side (ie that City Title tags are necessary) everybody says “this is this”. My experience is that that is not always true. Perhaps my experiences are not generalizable but I would love to have more data points.

    Certainly is comforting to be having a discussion with God about these religious beliefs. ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. Hey, TheGod, thanks for liking my reasoning but I don’t agree that there is one algorithm for all platforms. The Maps algorithm is clearly different from organic Web search. It has structured data to work with in the form of categories, business name and latitude & longitude. What you enter in the search box is used to develop a query that you can see in the address bar.
    The Web search (Everything) for “Troy plumbers” produces this:

    The Places search produces this:

    The difference is the &tbm=plcs parameter that invokes the Maps search algorithm. If that’s not there you don’t get any Places results. You will get organic results that don’t really know much about geolocation or at least can’t trust that what is on the page relates to a specific business because Maps/Place Page structured data weren’t available.

    Bottom line, if you take the location name out of the title tag you will hurt your “local organic” results. IMHO.

    I have more logic if you like this.

  13. @Dave

    Sorry I had to not show your long urls as they play havoc with my old theme… which is on my list of to dos…

    To make sure I understand your point… you are saying that you agree with me on blended results (ie that the location information comes from elsewhere) but on long tail organic searches Google needs the title tag to properly categorize the page?

  14. @Dave.
    Sorry for my fast typing. You’re right. What I meant was one common platform algorithm for all cities/industries/etc (within the Maps realm, if you will). Either way, taking the location name out of the title tag=no good.

    Thanks for the correction.


  15. Nice post, Mike! Note how great it is to have Barbara’s phone number appearing in large type below the Contact sitelink. Not so great where it is cut off on the Our Story page. Great to read your initial musings on these new results.

  16. Err what.

    “You can assess Barbara Oliver and Co Jewelry. In April she stopped showing for broad terms like โ€œJewelry Buffalo NYโ€.

    I assumed that it was site related and decided to experiment with the Title Tag, removing location.

    Upon further exploration I determined that the reason for the loss of rank was that Google had narrowed the search radius within which they were willing to show results and Barbara was outside the radius so nothing I did with title tags made any difference.

    Key performance indicators of site visits, form contacts and in store visits all remained high after the changes to remove Location from the home page title tag. Visible rankings with the exception of searches that Google narrowed the search radius on, stayed constant.

    I have similar experiences on several other sites.”

    Let me break this down to you. You’re telling me that going from 2000 unique visitors per month in 02/2010 for her site to 300 unique visitors per month isn’t “any difference”? Hm. I suggest you put the tag of the city back in…



  17. @Miriam
    The sitelinks meta desc require tweaking, testing and retweaking. And it is something that requires several iterations to get the pages and the description correctly displaying.

    In the end on a site like this it requires that you massage the description on every page as you never know which ones will show… I am only part way through the process.

    I would like to change the Testimonial description as well but Google has a mind of its own on that one.

  18. @God

    Where are you getting the visitation numbers? They are nowhere near what analytics is saying.

    We lost some traffic (about 10%) on head terms BEFORE we changed the title tags with the location in situ. We saw no further declines AFTER we took out the location in early May other than small seasonal variations.

  19. @God

    Those numbers have no correlation to Google Analytics or AW Stats. Grossly overstated for Nov-Feb and grossly understated after March. Those numbers make a great argument why Compete is not very valuable on smaller sites.

    Do me a favor. Take a couple of test sites AND try removing the Location tag from the Home page only. Make sure that location information is available elsewhere on the page, preferably in hCard format. Let me know after 60 days what happened to your traffic.

  20. @Mike.

    No thanks, I think I’ll stick with the location tags. Either way, it’s been a good discussion thus far. Please post the Google analytics shot from March 2010 thru today, please.


    1. @God

      Here is a screen shot..

      Just a note… I am not suggesting abandoning them all together… just on on the home page and just when the business is only targeting the city in which they are located.

      Even God should be up for a small test, no?

  21. Mike,
    Sorry for the long URL’s earlier.

    What I am saying is that if there are no Places results then good old SEO rules apply and content in the Title tag is very important as is Page Rank. The town/city name is just a keyword that is unlikely to be in the Title tags of pages that are not relevant. I don’t see any good evidence that a city/town name that failed geocoding for Places is used any differently than any other keyword.

    In blended results where Place Pages are displayed, I can’t say the organic results are not influenced by some location factors but my observation is that when you have an ambiguous place name then you see organic results from multiple locations apparently based on their general Page Rank. I tried a test for “Aurora plumbers” and I get a Place Page from Seattle and organic results from Ontario and Colorado.

    Maybe Google is just giving me some choices but the point remains that good organic SEO using location names is valuable in its own right.

  22. @Dave

    I would agree with you on all points… particularly when dealing with an ambiguous place name and I include Place Title tags most every where.

    However I find that not using them on the home page has NOT negatively impacted traffic or any other metric.

    See the analytics screen shot noted above.

    Obviously God (I guess that’s God’s prerogative) didn’t take my suggestion but perhaps you will… can you try it? And see what happens?

  23. @Mike

    I will try the test as you described it:

    “Do me a favor. Take a couple of test sites AND try removing the Location tag from the Home page only. Make sure that location information is available elsewhere on the page, preferably in hCard format. Let me know after 60 days what happened to your traffic.”

    All my sites contain hCard contact information. I will remove location info from the Title and Description tags of several test sites.

    As far as Google narrowing the search radius, my theory is that they increased the value of proximity to the centroid and/or decreased the value of prominence to make mobile search results more relevant. It makes sense to show places closest to the centroid when the centroid is where the mobile user is standing rather than places that are farther away. When there are a large number of results matching a Places category term such as “jewelry” and closeness to the centroid is more important than prominence then there will enough results to limit the zoom factor in the display so you only have to show enough map to contain the results. That would look like a narrowed search radius which would be much harder to implement generically.

    For some very interesting food for thought, try these two searches:

    custom jewelry near buffalo, ny

    custom jewelry buffalo, ny

    Here are my screenshots for those searches:



  24. Mike,
    Since Google has narrowed down the search radius, I’m finding clients getting pushed out of the 7 pack or the blended results. When that is the case, however, they can still rank in organics if they have good SEO. I find then that it is crucial to have that location in the title tag.

    So I’m assuming your research was just in the maps listings, correct? That would make sense to me. Since proximity to search seems to have increased in importance, Google would naturally be looking for more credible proof about where you are than a title tag that can be spoofed.

    Hopefully, they won’t do the same for organics. As you know there are plenty of local businesses that serve customers at their location and how close they are to center means nothing to the consumer. Let’s hope Google at least gives them a chance with organic SEO.

    By the way, I completely agree with your reasoning about why Google narrowed the search radius. Maybe what they should do is widen it for searchers on their desktops.

    More importantly, what they REALLY SHOULD DO, and shame on you Google for not, is make it really wide when searching for business services that COME TO YOU. For pete’s sake, Google. You’re living in the dark ages here. You mean to tell me you don’t know which is which? You even put that field in your Google Place page! Geezus. You guys been sleeping on the job?

  25. @Dave

    The custom jewelry page does have a location title tag. Custom jewelry comes and goes from the blended results and 7 packs… I have not totally eliminated location title tags, only on the home page… my working theory is that the domain and the index are the pages that are carried by the other local signals..

    Re the radii issue. I know for a fact that they did it to improve the relevance of mobile searches. WHat I don’t understand is why they did so on the desktop as well. The reality is (this is really another blog) that urban desktop search patterns often do not fit a centroid search model… if you ask someone that lives in Buffalo where they would buy jewelry most would say Williamsville or Cheektowaga not the center city. If you asked someone that lives in the hinterland and drives to Buffalo to go shopping they would think Cheektowaga or wouldn’t care since they are driving.

  26. I think it is all about having the most robust information possible for your branded search results. We have noticed for our self and most of our clients branded searches are significantly up.

  27. @Mike,
    sorry, I have no idea when you removed the location tag, but the traffic to the site has tanked over last year, and (call this a hunch), it just may be the location tag. Furthermore, if you’ve done no citations (I don’t know if you have), have you tried stepping them up? Again, I don’t have access to your analytics, but I would assume that it wasn’t a wise move removing the location tag from the home page.

    PS TheGod does testing all day every day. Still can’t make heads or tails of your analysis.

    Final suggestion (again). You may want to think about adding the location tag back to the home page.

    PPS Don’t be mad at TheGod for not having more time to play. This is seriously one of the better discussions I’ve had in a long time.


  28. @God

    Traffic, contrary to your external analysis, has not “tanked”. As I indicated both web traffic and ALL other key indicators have been constant (besides the slight initial dip) or some critical terms improved.

    I can verify from a number of other comparisons that Compete.com just flat out is wrong as a basis for measurement. Did you look at the analytics chart above?

    I am glad to hear that God does do some testing… the question I have is, given the level of dogma here, why not on this?

    I can easily add the location tag back in and may do so to test. What would you consider an adequate test? 30 days? 60 days? 90?

    I hope that I have been clear that it has been present on every other page of the site.

    Timeframe for clarity:
    April- Google narrows search radius, ranking plummets on head term “jewelry buffalo” but not on longer tail terms (design, repairs, appraisals).
    May: We scramble & do a bunch of citations early in the month and throughout May.
    Mid May: As an experiment we remove title tags from Home page
    Late May: We emphasize alternative categories for use within Places to maximize exposure in Places.
    October- Google narrows radius on search phrase “Jewelry Repairs Buffalo”, we switch out categories

    Outcome- traffic per GA and AW stats has been mostly steady and within a fairly narrow range. We hit traffic peaks for the 6 month period in Mid July (engagement ring hunting time) 2 months AFTER removing home page title tags.

  29. @Mike,
    I like it when you get all hostile. Just kidding bud, don’t have a coronary, SEO is fun, remember.

    Ok, let’s do easy summaries.

    1) You said the rankings didn’t change much, then you say ranking plummeted for jewelry buffalo? I’m so confused Mike…

    2) Why would you have taken out the locationary tag on the home page (because you were trying to prove that it made no difference to Google?)?

    3) So your client still isn’t found on page 1 of Local, yet you refuse to put the location tag back in?

    I’m not quite sure what we’re talking about here.

    Let’s move onto MY clients for a second. Had a client who absolutely refused to put location tag in their local listings. The client said “brand name only” and they will come. They didn’t come. Traffic sucked on his local. Client got called up and bitched at by me, we added the location tags back and voila, first page of Google local within 30 days for all locations. My point: K.I.S.S.
    Rules for Google local listings:
    Having Local Businesses listed in the city of the search
    Citations from Major Data Providers
    Claiming your Business Listing
    Keywords in Business Title (debatable, this may be offset by citations/reviews, still testing this one out)
    Locationary tags

    And that’s it, why complicate it?


  30. 1)I noted that rankings on the head term plummeted but that it had some affect on website traffic.

    2)I took it out to a)see if it made a difference and b)to decrease the length so as to focus on the what phrases

    3)She is found on the first page of local for the town she is in (Williamsville) for the phrase but not found in the next town over (Buffalo NY Jewelry) which is the critical phrase. I tried it with and I tried it without the buffalo location in the home page title tag and it had no affect as Google had reduced the radius of the map

    We CAN’T be listed in the city of search because we are not in the City of search. Being in the burbs has its downside even though that is the main jewelry shopping district. Google doesn’t return that area on the broad market search phrase of Jewelry Buffalo any more. It used to but now doesn’t.

    It is not an issue of complicating things, it is an issue of understanding them. And then based on that doing as well by the client as possible.

    For a God you seem to miss a lot. I have not removed the City Title tag on any page but the home page.

    The tentative conclusion that I came to after the experience was that Google knows about location of the domain (and its proxy the home page) by means other than the title tag of the home page. Which is consistent with what we know about the Places ranking algo…

  31. @Mike,

    I’m not “missing” anything, I’m tangled in your web of confusing statements.

    You have repeated yourself 19 times. I realize you removed the city title tag only on the home page, thank you.

    Why do you ignore everything else I wrote?

    Just wondering…..


  32. @Mike,
    I found your post when a friend Tweeted it to me. It said:
    “Tips to Maximize Your Branded Presence in the Google Local Search Results”

    I love SEO (it’s truly my passion), so I decided to read it.

    The entire discussion started with me giving a few short hints about how to make a Google local listing successful. And I said “include the city tag in your home page”. You said “not necessary”. Then you showed me graphs, and I showed you that traffic plummeted from last year. I’m only going off of what you’re saying, I can’t prove it.

    I posted a few times for people reading how to simply optimize their listing, yet you ignored that.

    You posted about your client/friend’s jewelry issue, so I quite simply suggested that you should put it back in, and continue your off-page SEO and you may see that it has NOTHING to do with the radius by Google, rather by your combined efforts of:

    Off-page SEO for Buffalo
    Adding Buffalo as the home page keyword (h1/h2…you know the rest).
    Doing the checklist of 5 things I posted.

    Here, I’ll do you one better. Put Buffalo back in your home page title tag, and let me do optimization on it. Let’s see if she shows up for jewelry buffalo in 30 days? Deal? Then you’ll right or if I’m right?
    How’s that sound? Sort of an online-wanna-bet? Bragging rights only. You declare the winner, of course.


  33. So we are testing whether it will show in either the 7 Pack or the Blended results for “jeweler Buffalo NY” ? (I understand that I will see some organic increase but that isn’t what I have been referring to..) and whether it leads to a traffic increase on that phrase?

    I will make no other change than to the title tag (ie no other in bound links, no additional citations etc)

    Do I understand?

    Current Title tag is:
    Barbara Oliver & Co Jewelry Design | Appraisals, Engagement Rings Diamonds

    Change to ?
    Buffalo NY Jeweler | Barbara Oliver & Co Jewelry Design | Appraisals, Engagement Rings Diamonds

    Headline is
    Barbara Oliver & Company Jewelry

    Change to?
    Buffalo’s Finest Jeweler

    Or some other suggested changes?

  34. @Mike

    Correct, do that for me and let’s see what the problem is. We’re not going after organic, we’re going after your claim that Google narrowed down the local listings, hence why you deleted Buffalo out of there. You have my e-mail, so let’s communicate that way going forward. I’ll tell you what else I need done, if anything.


  35. I think whether or not you put location keywords in your title tag is a matter of how well branded you are in your area and depends on the primary source of how people are finding your website (e.g. Google places vs. web results). I have seen many local businesses with strong listings without location title tags simply because their main traffic source is Google Places and people recognize their brand rather than a listing called “City business Type”. It can go both ways though and really depends on the business and market.

  36. @mike

    I haven’t been sitting out of this conversation. I have been busy looking deeper into the results for “jewelry buffalo, ny”.

    I went as deep as page 30 and found that all the “organic” results have one thing in common – they are all pages that appear to be Places cluster data and not regular indexed web pages. The first ten organic results are all for jewelry businesses and all have prominent Place Pages and their linked websites have significant Page Rank. Every result points to a business directly or indirectly through trusted sources and even user generated content. There are no pages of a general nature such as Wikipedia.

    So, as for your original issue:

    “Certainly on Page optimization is huge in blended results but it appears that location information is coming from someplace other than the title tag in most instances.”

    The place location information is coming from is the cluster.

    This looks a new species – organic Places search.

    These aren’t just blended results. I seems to me that when a web search query shows sufficient local intent to trigger a Place Page result then the organic results will all come from the cluster.

    What Google took away from Places results by increasing the importance of distance they gave back by showing the most prominent businesses in organic results.

    This explains to me why I have been seeing a great improvement in the organic results for my clients for sometime now.

    I leave it you to check this out for yourself.

  37. Hi,

    For a few users in suburbs or just outside a city boundary they have had better results using the Service Area named locations option over a radius one.

    It seems to help them to get hits towards the city centre.

    Here in the UK I can only get a blended result without ‘near’ for London and Leeds so far and it seems a bit of a lottery for smaller cities, let alone towns, whether even ‘near’ works.

    Should we be simulating being on a GPS enabled phone and all go over to doing our searches in Google Maps?

    Cheers. Andrew.

  38. Quite a debate.

    I want the main page of my smb’s to rank first organically for the main search phrase in my market, for my service product. Its that simple.

    The title tag helps me get there. I’m not concerned about the title tag having an influence on my google places record. My G Places record is going to reflect the precise business name. They are separate isssues.

    I will take all actions with regard to the page to get to number 1 rankings.

    If the main discovery search phrase is one with a city name and service than it goes into my title tag. Why would I do anything at all to inhibit achieving the number 1 ranking for the most important search phrase?

    I’ll use keyword tools to ascertain that, but I love using adwords to be more precise. I’ll run campaigns with exact match. I run them on geographic basis.

    If I can’t afford adwords I’ll bid low enough for my ads to run, but to be at the bottom of the page.

    If I can afford it, I’ll run adwords to rank first. I want that traffic. Plenty of searchers click on the first thing they see at the top of the page.

    What I want is the hard data from adwords to tell me which is the number 1 search phrase. Its simply the best possible metric to help me get in front of the most people in my area who are searching on the likeliest phrase to respond to my products or services.

    If the number 1 phrase has a city name in the search….then my title tag reflects that phrase. No questions asked. If the city name is first and the service second…my title tag will say that. If the service is first and the city name is 2nd then that is what my title tag will say.

    Then I’ll change other title tags on my site to reflect other prominent search phrases. Title tags on my site’s pages will reflect what the most searchers use as search phrases.

    Why would I do anything different?

    Each time I’ve taken sites and made title tag changes to reflect those search phrases, made other on page effforts and directed off page efforts to reflect those changes the sites and pages have ultimately risen in google search engine results and the businesses have received more traffic, more contacts, more leads, etc.

    Why would I do something else?

  39. Is there an advantage to advertise through the Google places express add, to the regular ad-words campaign? for people who look at maps for example? or search and then click the maps, does the express advertisement option has some advantageous?

    can I get your reply, or link to here through my email. ill appreciate this a lot.


  40. I have a bone to pick on the above arguements vis a vis this discussion.

    It has to do with the use of data. First off Compete is a totally unreliable source for small business websites. I have never seen compete or any of the other similar tools that are based on algo’s and estimates but don’t directly track traffic into the site, be even remotely close to the traffic I find using one or more analytics programs that directly track traffic, regardless of the method I use.

    I’ve used different analytics programs and tracked them against logs. They are far far more accurate and believable than a source such as Compete.

    On this type of conversation Compete’s numbers are worthless.

    Similarly I’m not a big believer in the data Mike showed from his own Analytics. Here is why:

    The data shown was unique visitors. My question is how does that tie to specific keyword traffic and more specifically the phrase one uses in the title tag?

    Unique visitors will include direct traffic, search traffic, and referral traffic. Big chunks of it have nothing to do with the keyword phrase(s) referenced by the title tag.

    Of even more relevance to the issue is long tail search traffic quite possibly very different from the title tag.

    In every business I hope to attract a lot of long tail traffic…..and do…but not always enough….and frankly I can always use better long tail traffic that is more relevant.

    In every business site, the aggregate of long tail traffic (say the searches that represent only one or two visits versus 10-15-50-500 visits per time period ALWAYS outnumbers the aggregate visits of the number 1 phrase (hopefully the one I targeted in my title tag).

    ALWAYS and by a quantum amount.

    In my experiences wherein I adjusted a title tag to get higher ranking for the number 1 discovery search phrase (in each case it meant reversing the order of (city/service) AND achieved higher organic rankings because of that….I did get more traffic for the target phrase.

    Regardless….since that is only one phrase….the aggregate improvement on total visits (unique visits…or any other such all encompassing metric) was small and marginal.

    A more telling piece of data would be search traffic on targeted search phrases over a time period subject to how I ranked for such phrases and what I did with regard to those targeted phrases over time.

  41. @ earlpearl has some good analysis going on. Your use of Adwords to help select efficacious title tags (along with other considerations) makes a lot of sense. More often than not, I see the city name at the end of the query. I also agree with your positing about the aggregate of search queries being much higher than top KW queries – these results increase per the quantity/quality of content. In response to your mention/s about assessing search traffic; for this type of data, I use search engine data… and then filter out the business name and other ‘direct’ type factors such as particular employee’s names. The resulting data provide a much clearer picture of what’s happening.

    This being said, a lot of this has little to do with Local results as Local appears to focus primarily on a few top kw combos over long tail, etc.

    Andy ๐Ÿ™‚

  42. Hi Mike,

    Sorry my question isn’t entirely related to your post, but here goes. If you have a business, offering 2 separate services but at the same address, under slightly different names, is it good to have 2 separate Google Places profiles or to amalgamate them into 1? My predicament comes from a current client, a hair salon that also offers a specialist wig service for cancer patients. I’m not sure whether to create 1 for each side of the business, Trinity Hair Studio and Trinity Wig Specialists, to target their individual service, or to create one for a Hair & Wig Studio. Will Google presume they’re duplicates if the same brand name at the same address is used and disregard one, if not both?



    1. @Scott
      Just because a business has two forward facing marketing brands & endeavors does make it two businesses.

      If they are to be separate on Google Places then they need to be completely separate everywhere both online and off; different DBAs, different (preferably land line) phone numbers, different suites, different print YP ads, different listings ACROSS the internet etc etc. Otherwise you can be sure that Google will assume that they are one entity and surely merge them into one.

      If a business is not prepared to make the investment that the above implies (new phone line, legal filings, on-going marketing etc), I would not even attempt it.

      It depends not just on how the owner perceives the business brands & businesses, or how the consumer perceives them but how the Google algo perceives them. Given that it is a “black box” this is not easy to predict.

      The Google merge & purge algo is imprecise and may still merge the two businesses even though they are in fact two distinct businesses, even with the many investments noted above.

      The other issue is that building out the online prominence of two businesses is roughly twice the cost and effort of building out the online prominence of one business. It doesn’t particularly scale – you will still need unique websites for both businesses, citations for both businesses, link backs for both businesses…

      The safe route is to take the consolidated marketing approach. This will not only allow Google to “get it right” but allow you to focus your on line marketing resources & lower your ongoing commitments to that marketing.

      Doing a great job online for one business is hard enough. Doing it for two is more than most small businesses can cope with on an on-going basis.

  43. I agree it is key for title tags and other keywords to be carefully tweaked to maximize your visibility on local search. You have to decide based on real results whether your company’s “brand” is sufficient to outperform location. Tweak and tweak again, and test your site’s local search performance using helpful tools such as the free visibility report at Local Search Tool. The Local Search Tool, or LST, permits clients to gauge their online effectiveness by allowing them to see how many local directories they have, whether their Google Places, Yahoo and Bing local listing are optimized, how they are dong compared to competitors, what their online reputation is, and how well they are ranking for their local keywords. Constant local search refinement is a MUST!

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