Category Archives: Loci – Important Articles for the Year

Annual summary of important articles in Local Search from the folks that are involved in Local Search every day.

Loci 2008 – Will Scott’s Best Articles of 2008 in Local

Will Scott of Search Influence, is a search marketer that focuses on helping SME’s in all aspects of traditional and local search. He has an extensive background in online local directories. He writes at his own blog, Website Promotion is Not Vodoo, and does guest appearances elsewhere. In the New Orleans tradition he is both a gentleman and (at least after I called him out) a scholar and is a great sounding board.  I can’t think of a better way to start off the new year than with Will’s great summary!

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Best of 2008 – Continuing Education in Local (or How I Learned to Stop Worrying And Love the Blog)

I’m old and a little scatter-brained, so blogging doesn’t come easy for me. We can’t all be as young at heart as Mike :).

So just one quick caveat, obviously this list isn’t comprehensive. It represents who and what I read — who inform my understanding — and, to a great extent the work of my friends.

Search Influence has been in business since 2006 but 2008 is the year I realized there is a community of like-minded folks and engaged with that community.

I made an offhanded comment on Tim’s blog for which Mike called me out and the rest is history.

I had the good fortune to meet David and Alex at SES ’07 in San Jose and David has been kind enough to prod me from time to time.

No review of Local in ’08 would be complete without David’s seminal work “The Local Search Ranking Factors“.

So, David asks, I contribute — surely not as knowledgeably as some and it leads to one of the most valuable events I’ve attended: The SLOMO Local Search Sit Down as chronicled in David’s conference recap. Talk about some heavy hitters — the biggest names in Local Search around one table for the evening.

The Boys & Girl of Local Search

I’m still trying to figure out why those Utah boys were the tannest of the lot, but that’s another story altogether.

But before that, way back in April we sponsored SBMU where I had the distinct pleasure of meeting the one and only Matt McGee in person.

His presentation there is one of the most thorough reviews of local search I’ve ever seen. It could practically have been a survey course.

OK, so to a slightly more structured list: Continue reading

Loci 2008- Greg Sterling’s Significant Developments in Local in 2008

Greg Sterling is a widely respected industry consultant in Local, Local Search & Local Mobile. He writes prolifically at his blog, Screenwerk, Local Mobile Search and SearchEngineLand where is a contributing editor. He plays a significant role in organizing SMX Local and the local tracks at the other SMX conferences.
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I’m not a “search practitioner.” I write more about the “industry” and the business side of “local search,” among other aspects of online marketing. My perspective is therefore somewhat different than Mike’s other invited list-makers. There are lots of great tactical and advice pieces in the lists that David Mihm and Matt McGee presented.

I’m going to take a somewhat different approach here and mention posts (some by me) that identify important issues or broader developments in the segment.

But first, Local Search Ranking Factors and Mike’s own Cracking the Code are perhaps the two most significant local search marketing posts of the year.

In terms of developments, I would say that Google opening up Maps to community editing was also highly significant from several perspectives. But it brought with it numerous problems. Mike has thoroughly documented the challenges Google has encountered with mapspam and hijacking that have come in the wake of opening up Maps.

While the local segment isn’t synonymous with “small business,” small businesses continue to struggle with online marketing and search marketing in particular. This is a significant issue that will persist for some time to come.

The most popular post to date on my blog, from late 2007, is No Yelpers Says One Local Café. It points to the growing challenge of local user reviews and how to deal with them. Another popular and somewhat controversial post on my blog was The End of SMB Websites, which asked whether stand-alone websites are necessary or whether rich landing pages could more effectively do the job for small businesses.

Another significant event, that hasn’t quite happened yet, is the coming of precise location awareness to the browser and the OS. Chrome has it today and so will the next release of Firefox. Windows 7 the forthcoming successor to Vista will also employ various strategies to get at user location. This “baked in location” will eventually be meaningful for SEO and SEM – SEO in particular.

Interestingly nobody (so far) has said anything about mobile. Arguably mobile is the most significant thing that is happening right now in the local space. The iPhone has gotten everyone’s attention and made “mobile search” a reality. And though it’s still a somewhat “embryonic” segment, mobile will become of equal or greater importance to local over time.

This short piece I wrote for iMedia makes the case for mobile marketing and argues that mobile marketing today is somewhat analogous to search several years ago.

Happy New Year.

Loci 2008: David Mihm’s Significant Local Posts of 2008

David Mihm, a web designer and search marketing practitioner from Portland, writes for Searchenginland and has his own blog, Mihmorandum, that focuses on local search. David, for me,  epitimomizes the ideal of learning through cooperation and collaboration. He created the well received Local Search Ranking Factors project and was a key contributor on the research for the Cracking the Code – Local Search Ranking Factors study.

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Mike, how’s this, in no particular order:
 
Local vs Traditional SEO: Why Citation Is the New Link 
Not that the article itself is necessarily earth-shattering, but during the course of thinking about Local and researching 10-pack rankings, I came to two very important personal conclusions – 1) In Local SEO, not all links matter.  2) “Links” that matter for Local SEO aren’t necessarily links.  This mindset has guided my thinking about Local Search for client work for the remainder of the year.
 
It was very rewarding for me personally to get the perspectives of so many top minds in Local.  I probably had more fun putting this together than the average SEO or small business owner did in reading it!
 
The first of Eric Enge’s interviews with the men in charge of the two major players in Local Search.  An absolute must-read when you get the kind of (even if the interviewee was not entirely forthcoming / intentionally misleading).
 
The second must-read interview from Eric Enge on Local Search, this time with Yahoo Local’s main men.

The first major quantitative study of Local SEO ranking factors, led by Mike Blumenthal.  The search community gained a deeper understanding of how the main ranking factors interact with each other based on availability of data and competitiveness of market.
 
Mike takes things one step further here and dives into Google Maps’ patent on ranking.  Pay attention to the concept of Location Prominence in 2009!  It’s only going to become MORE important, IMHO.
 
The IRS should send out a notice that makes Miriam Ellis’ fantastic series required reading for small business owners.  The government could increase its tax revenue by 20% on the profits of SMB’s who read it!
 
A non-Local-Search-marketer, Dr. Pete Meyers, opens our eyes to the central importance of Local Search as the world goes more and more mobile.
 
I could have chosen any number of press releases from the Yellow Pages themselves to fill this slot, but this is one of the more egregious examples of self-promoting puffery coming from an industry dying almost as quickly as the Big Three (at least on the print side).  A terrific analytical look at YPA data by Chris “Silver” Smith.
 

Loci 2008: Matt Cutt’s Important Local Articles of 2008

Matt Cutts from Google is well….Matt Cutts. He doesn’t need much introduction (nor link juice) from me :) .
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Here you go:

Just to reiterate, this is my personal opinion. I would say that in my mind, one main story of Google Maps/Local this year is how it opened up more this year. Overall, that’s a good thing and Google’s service has gotten better as a result:
http://searchengineland.com/google-maps-opens-up-editing-to-everyone-13590
http://blumenthals.com/blog/2008/03/18/google-maps-everyone-can-create-a-business-listing/

But it’s not just editing listing and claiming listings. Google also opened up with Google Map Maker, which has let people around the world contribute a phenomenal amount of data that helps everyone:
http://google-latlong.blogspot.com/2008/06/making-your-mark-on-world.html

The articles that have been the most important to me personally are the ones that point out areas that still need work, although other people might not pay as much attention to them, e.g.
http://searchengineland.com/searching-for-small-businesses-coming-up-frustrated-15112
http://searchengineland.com/google-local-business-hijacking-microsoft-acquires-yahoo-becomes-escort-service-15313

But then again, I tend to dwell on the negative reports or articles that give feedback on ways to improve. I think an average person is more likely to care about traffic conditions:
http://googlesystem.blogspot.com/2008/04/google-maps-predicts-traffic-conditions.html
or that Google Maps provided great voter guide information:
http://blumenthals.com/blog/2008/09/20/google-maps-to-provide-complete-voter-information-for-upcoming-election/

I sometimes dwell on the negative feedback that we get, but the Maps/Local products have really improved a lot this year, from much more Street View coverage
http://google-latlong.blogspot.com/2008/12/double-coverage-double-fun.html
to Terrain Maps:
http://google-latlong.blogspot.com/2008/04/last-summer-somewhere-in-adirondacks.html
to a new UI:
http://googlesystem.blogspot.com/2008/11/google-maps-has-new-interface.html

Matt

Loci 2008: Matt McGee’s Favorite Articles in Local Search

This is the first of many posts in the Loci 2008 review that details who is reading what in Local Search. Up first is Matt McGee and over the next week you will hear from David Mihm, Ahmed Farooq, Matt Cutts, Martijn Beijk, Will Scott, Greg Sterling, Danny Sullivan and more.

Matt McGee has a long pedigree in Local Search. His well known blog was an early beacon promoting the benefits of local search, he has worked extensively in Local, consulted broadly in local, writes for SearchEngineland on Local Search, is a leading authority on hyperlocal blogging and is a general all round decent fellow. He was one of the first people I met when I came to this neighborhood. Here are the articles that  have influcenced him this year:

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Oh, this is an easy one to help out with since I’m in the middle of organizing SEMMYs stuff. :-)

Local Search Ranking Factors - David Mihm, Mihmorandum 
To me, this is far and away the best piece of local search content anyone put together in 2008. It offers plenty of How To help, but it also shows some of the unusual vagaries involved in local SEO and how things differ when you throw an address into the mix. It was an honor to be one of the contributors.

Ranking Factors in Google Maps – Mike Blumenthal, Understanding Google Maps
Another great peek into ranking factors. I already felt bad enough missing SMX Local, then you had to go and post your slides from what was obviously a terrific session. :-)

Local SEO’s Share Geo Location Tips From Around The World – Lucy Langdon, Distilled
I like this particularly because I haven’t had the challenge/pleasure of doing local SEO on an international basis. It was an interesting read.

How to Optimize Local Business Profiles for Free Local Directories – Steven Brier, SearchEngineJournal
Steven Brier did a great job going through the process of making sure your local business profiles are as optimized as they can be.

Microsoft’s listing in Google Maps Hijacked (oops by me) – Mike Blumenthal, Understanding Google Maps
I don’t think any year-in-review list would be complete without getting into the clusterf–k that Google Maps (and Yahoo Local to a lesser degree) has become with respect to spam and hijacked listings. So many posts to choose from on this matter, but this one shows how irresponsible it is for Google to take a “wiki-like” approach to business listings and let anyone edit listings that are unclaimed.

Thanks, Mike!

m2

Loci 2008: Important Articles in Local Search

loci with pronunciations

1. Particular postions, points or places
2. Centers of activity, attention, or concentration

Loci 2008 is a year end review of articles in Local Search that will be appearing over the next week(s). For me, collaboration, cooperation, review and research create the path to increase our understanding of the world. That is even more true in the nascent industry of Local. In that vein, I wanted to share the articles that others in the industry have found significant from 2008.

I have gathered these articles from a range of people, people whom I respect and who are knowledgeable about local search.  Each in their own way is a center of activity around local and each has their own particular perspective on which places in Local over the past year are the most important. Their voices, some more prominent in the industry than others, are voices that should be listened to as they are intimate with the many different facets of local.

Here was the charge that I gave them:
Would you be willing to share the 3,5 or 10 articles that influenced your thinking or actions the most over the past year? The articles could be yours, or from others and could cover any topic that you think relates to Local ie local mobile, phones, mapping, Local VC, Local companies, Google, trends, marketing, best practices etc….but articles that you found of importance in one way or another throughout the year.

Join me, over the next few days as we look at what others in Local have read and think important from the last year.