Category Archives: Local Search

General information about Local Search techniques, technology and trends

Loci 2008: The year in Local from Michael Jensen’s Point of view

Michael Jensen- @mdjensen on Twitter, is co-founder of SoloSEO.com, an SEO toolset and project management platform.

Michael has a strong interest in local and mobile search, and blogs about Local Search and Local SEO. Michael is also behind LeaveFeedback.org, a free service for local businesses to help improve online customer feedback, customer reviews, and local search rankings.

One of Michael’s hobbies is developing Twitter tools such as LiveTwitting.com, TweetMarks.com, and TweetBeep.com. TweetBeep.com is like Google alerts for Twitter, and is a free service used by thousands of users for tracking conversations about you, your interests, your websites, your products, and your company. Since developing TweetBeep.com, Michael has consulted for both large and small companies in using search marketing and social media for online reputation management.

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How to Create Effective Local Business Landing Pages
by Dev Basu (@devbasu on Twitter)
Best practices for landing pages for local.

Some Yellow Pages Usage Data: Print v. IYP
by Andrew Shotland (@localseoguide on Twitter)

Bulk Update Your Yellow Pages Data or Pay Someone Else To Do It?
by Andrew Shotland (@localseoguide on Twitter)

IYP Reach in the US (according to Google)
Very awesome numbers that show who the big players are (City Search, YP, SuperPages, Yelp, Local and who’s not.

Search Engine Optimization Means Business
About a local DUI specialty practice employing online tactics to bring in tons of clients.

Local Search – How to Totally Own in Google (Notes and Slides)
A great list of things to do if you’re going to do local.

The “BCS” for Local Search Engine Optimization
by David Mihm (@davidmihm on Twitter)
David rocks, period. Another home run (or should I say touchdown).

3 Things Your Local Business Can Offer That the Internet Can’t
by Miriam at Solas Web Design
Thorough discussion on local businesses’ edge over Internet only stuff

How to Use Yahoo Local to Rank in Google Local and Vice-Versa
by Andrew Shotland (@localseoguide on Twitter)

Local SEO (Local Search) at Small Business Marketing Unleashed (Conference notes)
by Will Scott (@w2scott on Twitter)
Great notes, and everyone loves Will. Everyone should know Will.

Why Local Is Different (Notes from SES NY 2008)
by Lisa Barone (@lisabarone on Twitter)
A great read with some good nuggets in there. Pre-Webuildpages days for Lisa.

New Local Search News Site

Steve Espinosa, the world’s biggest Chicago White Sox fan, local search expert and a frequent speaker on Local at the many conferences, has just rolled out a new local search site called Local Search News. It will be an everything local site with both tactical and strategic information on Google Maps, Yahoo Local, Local SEO, Mobile and Local Search.

It looks to become a staple in the world of Local Search.

Loci 2008 – Andrew Shotland’s Top Articles in Local

Andrew Shotland runs Local SEO Guide, a local search engine optimization and web strategy consulting firm.  He has worked with some of the biggest and some of the smallest companies in the local search world. Andrew got his start in local seo when he was head of product & business development at InsiderPages where his biggest achievement was “losing two million monthly visitors overnight by screwing up the SEO”.  He is a regular speaker at the Kelsey Group conferences.  According to Andrew, his proudest SEO accomplishments are that he regularly ranks at the top in Google Image Search for “soup nazi” and “larry craig“.

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The more time I spend in local search the more I am convinced it’s not much different from non-local search. Sure there are maps and centroids and things like that, but that’s what I read your blog for Mike!

Most of the following posts are not local-specific, but they are all relevant to anyone considering local marketing on the Web.

How Important is Branding to Search Engine Marketing?
Aaron Wall, SEOBook

This is one of those simple ideas that Aaron blurts out every other day that crystallized something I had been messing around in my brain for a while. A quick read gives the impression that businesses with brands should spam the search engines because they can get away with it, but what it underscored for me was that any business, even a mom & pop, can redefine its brand through search.

Local Search Ranking Tactics
Steve Espinosa

Steve is a relatively new voice in local search and he quickly made a name for himself with this post. No philosophy or rantings, just a nice meat and potatoes approach to improving the local rankings for your pages by clever cross linking and use of other sites’ authority. Unfortunately Steve’s blog blew up a few days ago and the article no longer existed. Good thing I liked it so much when he published it that I basically ripped it off on my own blog (no self-promotion intended).

Small Business Reputation Management
Matt McGee, SmallBusinessSEM

Let’s face it, most small businesses are in the dark when it comes to online marketing. Matt’s post on why it’s important to keep an eye on your business’ online profile is effective in its simplicity. Most small guys are not going to take the time or spend the $ to do SEO or PPC right, but if you show them someone talking smack about them on Yelp, or show them that their contact info on a big Yellow pages site is out of date, they are going to want to do something about it.

Planet Chiropractic Blog
Michael Dourasch, Planet Chiropractic
Twitter: @chiropractic

Sometimes the best way to learn is to watch a star athlete do his thing. Mike is a Santa Monica chiropractor cum search/social media junkie who seems to live online. If you want to see want to see how a real small business guy who gets web marketing does it, you could do worse than to get all Web 2.0 with Mike.

Twitter: Ultimate Time Waster or Great Tool
Chris Winfield, 10e20

If you are hearing about this Twitter thing and how it might help your business, Chris’ presentation is one of the best around.

Twitter Case Study of a Commercial Non Big Brand
Rae Hoffman, Sugarrae.com

I love it when people show me step by step how it was done. I often refer to Rae’s post about how her company used Twitter to build up a non big brand’s brand. If you have a product or service that others need but don’t know about, this one should be pretty inspiring.

Bits of Destruction
Fred Wilson, AVC.com

I could have picked almost any post by Fred. He is great thinker and an even better writer. This is one of his latest on the “creative destruction” brought about by the information age. Every business, small and large, could benefit by thinking about the ideas he discusses here. Oh yeah, and the guy has great taste in music too.

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!

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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.

Google Not Liable in Adwords Case – What does it mean to Local?

Barry Schawrtz reported out in SearcheEngineLand about a recent Court decision that held that Google Is Not Liable For Bad Products Sold Through AdWords. Here is a more detailed summary of the case from MediaPost: 

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit against Google for allegedly displaying fraudulent ringtone ads.

District Court Judge Jeremy Fogel in San Jose ruled that the federal Communications Decency Act immunizes Google from liability for pay-per-click ads created through the AdWords platform.

“Providing third parties with neutral tools to create Web content is considered to be squarely within the protections of (the law),” Fogel wrote. “Even if a service provider knows that third parties are using such tools to create illegal content, the service’s provider’s failure to intervene is immunized.”

Let me repeat that: “Even if a service provider knows that third parties are using such tools to create illegal content, the service’s provider’s failure to intervene is immunized.” Hello? Since when are accessories to a crime, not culpable? 

This outcome pertains directly to the reality that Google has created in Local. The specifics are slightly different in Local but the implication is clear. Think about what it means if this logic were to apply to Local business listings: Google, even if they knew of illegal hijackings of business listings that caused losses to business owners and even if they had not taken action to stop the hijackings, would be immune from any legal responsibility in the matter. 

In the current banking debacle, we have re-learned what happens when the fox is allowed to guard the henhouse. The Communications Decency Act seems to create a similar unregulated and wild west situation in Local. If the outcome of this act is to immunize the likes of Google from profiting from illegal activities then we have come to a sorry state, indeed.

In October I wrote an article at SearchEngineland about the continued hijackings due the community edit feature. I blithely advised in the article that business owners should Claim Your Google Local Business Listing Before Someone Else Does! and noted that only by laying claim to your record could you prevent hijacking abuse and potential thefts of your income. But the reality is much worse than that. Hijackings are still occurring, even on claimed listings. Thus we are all vulnerable to theft of services even if we have followed best practices as recommended by Google.

Historically, in our society, there has always been recourse in this type of situation. It appears that in the new age of the Internet, the Community Decency Act and Local Business listings, this may not be the case. Caveat Emptor!

Most Read Posts of 2008

Most Read New Articles in 2008

Here are the 10 articles (who picked 10 as the appropriate number, anyways?) written in 2008  that received the most readership during the past year. Readership and traffic have moved up significantly compared to last year, growing along with the broader interest in Local. My Top 10 most read stories of 2008 were viewed a total of 19206 times compared to 11337 Top 10  viewings in the 2007. Pageviews and visits increased ~107% year over year.  As you can see from the numbers on these, the most popular articles, my readership is still a niche. 

But Local is a a growing & exciting niche and one where much of the future of the internet lays. On this blog I write to the professionals and aficionados within that niche. That allows me to interact with the many people in the Local space that are forging much of what Local will be. It has been an incredibly fun year meeting and engaging those Localites in person, on the phone and on my blog. To these many folks that have shared their ideas with me and the readers of this blog, sent me visitors and contributed to the local space I say: Thanks for a great year & thanks for helping me understand and learn as much as I have!

Article Title Original Date of Publication Times Read
Microsoft Listing in Google Maps Hijacked! oops by me
2008/10/30 4867
Google Maps to provide complete voter information for upcoming election 2008/09/20 2579
Google Maps: New Local 10 Pack Now Live 2008/01/22 2124
Google Maps: Category Mystery Now solved (Part 3) 2008/02/07 1407
Google Maps Announces Quality Guidelines and Reinclusion Option 2008/09/16 1339
Google Plus box: Where Does the Wrong Data Come from 2008/03/06 1218
Google Maps: Local Business Center Updated with New Interface 2008/06/13 1183
Google Maps: Local Business Center Updated with New Interface 2008/08/04 1141
Google Maps: KML for Authority and Ranking 2008/08/07 1042
Google Maps now Using TeleAtlas Data Exclusively 2008/09/19 900

 

Most Read New Articles in 2008 from Previous Years

Articles in the blogosphere often have a very short shelf life. Sometimes, you spend countless hours in research and writing an article and it seems to barely cause a blip in the scheme of things at the time it is published. The 10 Likely Elements of Google’s Local Search Algorithm was one such article. But it manages to find readers 18 months after it was written and it still has relevance. Here are the 5 stories from a time long, long ago that were the most read this year

Most Read New Articles in 2008 from Previous Years Original Date of Publication Times Read
10 Likely Elements of Google’s Local Search Algorithm 2007/02/16 2101
First Case of Large Scale Abuse at Google Maps 2007/07/27 1247
Which On-line Directories Provide Details to Google Maps 2006/11/21 908
Google Coupons Now has Searchable Interface 2007/10/27 883
Extraneous Results from the Restaurant Review Research 2006/12/14 709