Category Archives: Local Search

General information about Local Search techniques, technology and trends

Infographic: Citations – Time To Live

The local ecosystem is a complex web of interrelations with Google having positioned themselves at its center. Given this complexity, just how long does it take for data to move through the various parts before it makes it into Google’s index. And from the main index into their local index and the cluster of data they have about your business? Just why does fixing error or changing a listing detail at InfoUSA take so long to impact your Google listing?

David Mihm and I have been working on detailing the time it takes for any given citation creation to impact the Google cluster for your business.

Chart Explanation

Our goal is to provide a broad stroke as to the range of times it might take for citation data to show up in a desktop Google search. The ranges are estimates only based on our experience and do not reflect comprehensive empirical data. As such, you might find discrepancies with our assessment of any given citation tactic. That being said, we think that the information is broadly accurate and provides insights into the delays at various points in the local ecosystem.

Depending on where the data enters the system it can take more or less time to finally make it into Google’s cluster of data in their local index and depending on where it hits in any given cycle along the way it can make it there more or less quickly.

For example, in the case of Infogroup they might take 2 months cycle to vet a new listing and another month before the data is fed to one of their customers for display in a local directory. Thus the range of times, depending on when the data hits their cycle could be as long as 180 days before (blue) the time for it to first appear live on the web. Depending on the importance of the page and its visibility where that data is shown it might take anywhere from a day to sixty days for Google (orange) to include the data in their main search engine. From there Google then needs to re-build their local index and include the new citation data into the Google+ Local cluster (Green) which occurs every 4 to 6 weeks.

The circle thus represents an educated guess as to the average time to inclusion in the Google+ Local cluster for data that started at any given point.

Discussion

Historically, as I have noted previously, a listing that went through a list broker, onto a primary list supplier like InfoUSA and then off to Google had a number of time delays before it would hit paydirt in the business cluster in the Google local index. This data could, if it hit every cycle just wrong, take as long as 9 months from beginning to end.

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Upcoming Local Universities

Getlisted Local University is in full swing for this fall with a range of events in Minneapolis, NYC and Tarrytown, NY. Hopefully I will see you at one of them. If you are a reader and do come, be sure to take a moment and introduce yourself.


 

MN SEARCH PRESENTS LOCAL UNIVERSITY – TWIN CITIES, MINNESOTA
Friday, September 28
Deluxe for Business, Google and the Board of Directors at MN Search has invited the Local U faculty to the Twin Cities for a presentation to their clients and membership, respectively.  The event is most definitely open to the public, however, and both the agenda and tickets are available from EventBrite using the link above.  This event offers the basic 4 hour intro session in the AM and more detailed topics in the PM so a you can come for either half or the full day. To receive a discount use the code MB2012.


LOCAL UNIVERSITY ADVANCED AT SMX EAST – NEW YORK, NEW YORK
Monday, October 1
Super-excited to present another Advanced edition of GetListed.org Local U the day before SMX East with David Mihm, Matt McGee, and all the other regulars!  Like Seattle the day is chocked full of advanced content …we also added birds-of-a-feather roundtables to allow for more 1-on-1 questions from attendees–ask your questions & get a look at real client issues directly from Google +Local’s support guru Joel Headley!

There is no discount code available for this one. Seating is limited to 50 but there are still a few seats left if you are thinking of coming


LOCAL UNIVERSITY – TARRYTOWN, NEW YORK
Tuesday, October 2
 The following morning, in conjunction with Google and Progressive insurance, we’ll be presenting our standard small business-oriented edition of Local U at the Doubletree Hotel in Tarrytown, NY for businesses in Westchester County and Northern New Jersey.  This is a morning only session and speakers will include myself, David Mihm, Joel Headley from Google, Mike Ramsey, Mary Bowling and Ed Reese. If you know of SMBs or those new to the Local SEO field that would benefit from this crash course give them my discount code of MB2012.


For more information on any of these events feel free to email me (mike@blumenthals.com) or visit the Local University site. If you have a group of clients that you would like to bring or a number of staff members we can provide a group discount as well.

We are now in the process of working out the winter/spring schedule for 2013 and if you are interested in helping to sponsor an event in your market we would love to hear from you.

Local Search: Geo Keyword Creation Tool

When building a website for a regional business, it is often desirable to build out pages targeting the services to the many surrounding towns. David Mihm estimates that 30% of all searches have local intent and from research by Hanns Kronenberg of Systrix we know that post Venice only about 6% of all searches show pinned Places search results. That leaves a lot of purely organic opportunity for a regional business website to cover, a lot of pages to create and and a lot of towns to look up if you are going target them correctly.

Local Keyword Research Tool from Local Marketing Source makes part of that process easier. It does one thing and it does it very well. You give it a list of your keywords and a distance around your business and it auto-creates a list of geo targeted keyword phrases with all of the cities within the specified mileage radius of that business.

It has some options to add phrases and or additional cities outside the specified boundary before or after the phrases and it also allows you to specify zips or cities you do not want in your list.  After it generates the list you can export it to a .csv file.

I like free and I like simple and this tool is both. Despite the fact that the name implies more than it does, what Local Keyword Research Tool does do, it does very well. My compliments to the chef and thanks to Nigel Kay (@KMarketing) for showing me the tool!

 

 

Local SEO Blocking and Tackling for Siri & Apple Maps

With the announcement of iOS6 and Apple Maps at the WWDC today, the shape of Apple’s local search strategy started to become clearer. Greg Sterling pointed out this list of Apple’s copyright attribution for their mapping product. From the list it is clear that Siri/Apple Maps basic listing data will be coming from Localeze, Axciom and, with additional review & ranking infomation, Yelp. And the mapping base layer from TeleAtlas/TomTom

Greg noted that he thought that TomTom was also a source for business data but a careful read of Apple’s attribution page seems to indicate that Apple is just getting their mapping data from TomTom and its MultiNet system but not business data.

Obviously showing up correctly in Apple Local search is the first step and the first step to that is no different in practice than what you should have been doing right along… listing at all of the primary data suppliers for the local ecosystem; Localeze, Acxiom (& of course InfoUSA) as well as Yelp. If your listing process has only included one or the other of those sources you should expand your claiming process to include them all.

Axciom has a free front end tool as does Localeze & InfoUSA. UBL.org, as you probably know, also submits to Axciom and InfoUSA (& TomTom) although these primary data sources are both important enough that even if I submitted via UBL I would also consider submitting directly to them.

Localeze also has a free listing capability. If you have a traditional Ma Bell landline, the free listing option is probably adequate with Localeze. However be forewarned that if you or your client is using a VOIP or cell phone number, due to the technology that Localeze uses to verify a listing, the free option is not viable. In those cases you really need to submit a paid listing to Localeze to be sure that the listing is in fact verified.

In addition to providing basic NAP to the primary data suppliers, it makes sense to check TeleAtlas maps to be sure that your business addresses resolve correctly. Obviously a great deal of the use of Apple Maps will be for directions and making sure that your address is where you think it should be is critical. Historically their mapping data in the US has been less complete than either Google’s or Navteq’s.

Thus the basics of blocking and tackling of local search for Siri is the same as the desktop: NAP consistency at the primary data suppliers and checking the underlying map geometry and accuracy.

Ranking, at least so far, has taken on a very Yelpish color.  Matt Siltala did an excellent presentation at the recent Getlisted Local University Advanced on his observations vis a vis Siri and Yelp and some things that seemed to correlate well with rank. Here are some factors that seem to come into play in Siri ranking based on my observations and conversations with Matt:

Distance from the searcher
Yelp review totals
Keywords in review content
Yelp Premium partner status
Yelp Elite reviews

It will be September before iOS6 and Apple Maps hits the streets and another few months before it is widely used on all iOS devices. But unlike Siri, it will not be limited to the most recent phone only and should start to play a significant role in the local search arena. In addition given that it is a default app and includes turn by turn driving instructions its uptake should be very swift.

Time to get ready is now. Here are URLs Data submission forms noted above:

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29Prime – Would you Buy a Used Car From These Guys Let Alone SEO?

This is a cautionary tale to 29Prime’s remaining 8000 clients. If this company abuses their own Google Places listing imagine what they might be doing in your name.

Let me be upfront with my bias.. 29Prime is not one of my favorite companies. And I have in the past commented on their abuse of Google Place’s reviews to hide the reality of who they really are. But reader Dave Middleton pointed out that in addition to abusing Google Places’s review policy they are also abusing the Google Places Guidelines as well by adding a tagline to their business name in their Places listing:

Their claim of having served 20,000 clients, while an abuse of Google’s guideline against tag lines in the business name, is an interesting one. Linda Buquet pointed out one of their recent PR releases where they claim to have a current client base of more than 8,000 small business owners. The article notes that they were founded in 2010 (although their website notes a start date of 2007 and the domain was claimed in 2008).

If we take their most recent word at face value (Tough I know but..) and assume (for the sake of simple calculation) a May 2010 founding we can get a sense of their churn. They have lost 6000 customers a year. It would appear that they have lost 1.5 clients for each one still claimed to  be under contract.

Still curious I wanted to see who actually owned the building that they show on their website as their presumed location so I typed their address into Google Maps to look at the Streetview of their location.

OOOPS. Turns out they violated another Places guideline and claimed their listing at the local UPS Store. The address, 2233 West Balboa Blvd # 115, Newport Beach, is the same one used in their Whois record and their website. This was no accident.

Still not convinced about 29Prime’s ethical behaviors? The image of their HQ on their website appeared to have been photoshopped so I dropped it into Google image search to see what I found.

Surprise! They seemed to be “occupying” the Unisys offices at 9701 Jeronimo RD Irvine, Ca. They may in fact be at that location occupying some space but the building most definitely isn’t labeled as 29Prime and they are but a renter. Hmm, stranger and stranger.

To any client of 29Prime: If these folks can’t get their own marketing story straight, how can you expect that they will get yours straight? They are obviously violating Google Places guidelines, run the risk of being suspended, are gathering fake reviews and are photoshopping images on their website that have one intention, to imply that they are more successful than they really are. Their churn rate is at best disturbing. They are willing to “cut corners” (to say the least) on their own marketing, can you really trust them with yours? Or will your listing end up suspended like theirs is likely to be?

Just for the record here is the image from the website and an unretouched image of the same location reflecting the actual occupant. It appears that they didn’t even take the time to take an original photograph and just used the one from the Wikipedia article on Unisys. They did appear to have adjusted the colors.

How many corners can one company cut?
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411Locals On the Warpath?

411Locals is one of the more aggressive local seo firms in both their pre and post sale tactics, aggressive to the point of absurdity. This recent poster on my blog explains his experience with them. If true it should be illegal but like in the case of the computer repair shop in Phoenix there is no obvious regulatory action or enforcement to prevent this sort of behavior:

I used 411 Locals a year ago for about 3 months. I decided to leave them and they have done their best to ruin my company Image on line. They have changed my listings to several different companies, they have listed me under different company names and used bogus telephone numbers which in turn has mis directed my customers. When I spoke with them they informed me the web is a free domain and they can post what they like. I am 45 years old and been in business for 20 years. I have never seen a company that has the power to alter the outcome of my business income such as this company with absolutely zero regulation. I have now hired an attorney to look over all the info that I have and see if i can legally do any thing about it. They need to be hit with multiple law suits at the same time and force them to pay up for legal services and hit them where it hurts…

And in the ultimate bit of irony, it turns out the 411Locals has joined the Nevada BBB and they have a A rating. Only in America could these two have become partners in crime.

Local University Spring 2012 Series – Open For Business

The staff at Local U have been hard at work putting together the Spring conference schedule for Local University.  We are particularly excited to announce the first Advanced workshop for SEO professionals and experienced local search marketers that will take place in Seattle on June 7.  Never before have so many Local Search experts been in one room at the same time, and it’ll be a great opportunity to pick all of our collective brains to get a leg up on your competition.

We hope to see you at one of our coming events. If you have any questions about this series, feel free to visit its “homepage” at getlisted.org. We are planning our fall schedule now so if you would like to help sponsor a Getlisted.org Local University event in your community email me at mike@blumenthals.com.

Local University Spring 2012 Series

Local University: Spokane (in partnership with Sixth Man Marketing)
April 27, 2012
Northern Quest Resort & Casino

Local University: Edmonton (in partnership with Whitespark)
May 1, 2012
The Matrix Hotel

Local University: Syracuse (in partnership with Syracuse.com)
May 22, 2012
Driver’s Village

Local University: ADVANCED (in partnership with SMX Seattle)
June 7, 2012
Bell Harbor Convention Center

Local University: Salt Lake City (in partnership with SLCSEM)
June 12, 2012
The Leonardo Museum

Local University: Austin (with Google)
June 26, 2012
Specific Venue TBD Next Week


Getlisted Local University WNY – Additional Reading

Today, I am presenting at the seventh GetListed.org Local University in Ellicottville, NY. in cooperation with Google, Bing and range of local sponsors. Some of you I know and the others I hope to personally meet. Please don’t hesitate to reach out and ask any questions that come to mind or to just introduce yourself.

These links will provide background information and details for a pathway to dig deeper into the world of managing your listing in Google Places and ethically approaching the review process. For those of you that are not in attendance, the links provide a good overview of critical base line ideas and tactics that every local campaign should embrace.
Google Places – Its not your mother’s yellow pages.

Slide 2 - Sept 2011 Search Engine Market Share
Slide 13/14 - The Importance of Page One Visibility
Slides 17/18 - How the Google Cluster Works
Slide 24- Choosing the Right Category – A Tool
Slide 24 - Writing a Great Business Description
Slide 24 - Google Places Policies: Quality guidelines
Slide 25 – Checking for Problems – NAP Audit
Slide 26 - Creating a GeoSitemap – A tool
Slide 33/34 Local Search Ranking Factors – the many variables
Slide 33/34 A brief list of 10 Ranking Factors – somewhat old but still valid and a quick read
Slide 33 Thinking about your Business Name in the Internet Era
Slide 34 - User Generated Content – Geo Tagged Photos
Slide 30 - How To Gather Reviews
Slide 30- Where to Gather Reviews
Slide 35- The Importance of Citations
Slide 35 - 20 Citation Sources in the US
Slide 40- A Listing management tool

 

Reviews – Jumping Into the Void

Where to Gather Reviews
Principles for a Review Plan: Considerations in encouraging customer reviews
Responding to Negative Reviews – Your Prospects are the Real Audience
Asking for Reviews – UMoveFree Finds the Groove
Garnering Reviews – A Mom & (no) Pop Shop finally Hops on Reviews
Reviews: Lipstick on a Pig Leads to User Backlash
Review Management: 7 Tips on Avoiding Bad Reviews
Google Review Posting Guidelines