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December 8, 2009

Local Search Ranking Factors: Blended, Natural and Video

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I’m taking a chance today on the Local Search Summit that’s going on. Who are the speakers? No clue. Is this going to be any good? No clue. But what’s life without a little unknown?

Having stopped at the Starbucks (where they’re only making straight up coffee, bother), I’ve found my way upstairs to the small local search room. There’s no mic, one of the speakers has lost his voice so he’s not staying, and they’re talking about turning it into a site clinic. Possibly this was a bad choice to liveblog. I can has nap?

Our speakers, as best as I can tell: Gib Olander, Localeze; David No Last Name!, Local Splash [She’s lookin’ at David Rodecker. The Local Search Summit could use some more speaker info on their site, and apparently in person, too. –Virginia]; and Mike Belasco, from somewhere in California. [I’m pretty sure she means Mike Belasco of seOverflow in Denver, Colorado. Locked in Chicago’s snowy grip, the California girl is clearly pining for a piece of home. –Virginia]

Gib Olander at SES Chicago Local Search Summit

Gib Olander is up first. He brings up a local listing and points out that every link on the page is a business listing. From the 10 pack at the top of the page to the 10 blue links which are all directories that license business listings. They rank well. Get into them. There’s not a single business Web site among the top 10 (or among the top 20 if you include the local 10 pack).

Four directory sites receive 5.7 million monthly unique viewers.

There are two types of local search: recovery and discovery. Your name, address, phone number is not your advertising — it’s the anchor for it. It’s your fingerprint and that’s what you should be pushing. Don’t try to stuff keywords into your data on business listings because you’ll fragment that fingerprint.

For discovery local search, category isn’t enough. Search queries are getting longer and as a result, you’re going to want to include those details into your business listing.

Don’t stress about the nomenclature. Categorizing is hard so cast a wide net. As long as the browsing pattern gets you where you want to go, that’s your category. Get specific in your listing, not in your categories.

Keyword searches = Web results

Associate keywords with your business listing.

[All his examples have the business name blacked out but not all that well. It’s still in the URLs and their slogan is still visible. I’ll be good and not tell you who they are.]

Freshness counts, don’t just set it and forget it. Businesses close all the time. Consumers want to know you’re still open.

Tell them which listings aren’t yours to clear out the noise.

Make sure that your business listing isn’t a pay per call phone number. You don’t want to get stuck with that provider.

Declare an address for each business location that is USPS certified. Make sure it resolves at a rooftop level lat/lon.

David Rodecker from Local Splash is up next. He wants you to go take care of your Google Local Business listing. Aha! His last name is Rodecker. [Look at that! Why do I bother? –Virginia]

David Rodecker at SES Chicago 2009 Local Search Summit

How does Google get its information?

  1. Database supplied business information
  2. Submitted business information
  3. Detailed Web references
  4. Trusted data feeds
  5. User Generated Content — does not strongly influence ranking

Before you create your listing:

  • Research what information already exists about your business
  • Research what your competitors are doing
  • Research what Web sites have been successful for your competitors

When submitting your local business listing to the Google Local Business Center:

  • Determine the top five categories for your industry. Even if Google doesn’t suggest the category, the local Yellow Pages might use that and you’ll want to be there. Choosing the right category makes the difference between showing up and not.
  • Use the additional details to reiterate your categories as well as including anything that is a differentiator.
  • Completeness is a factor. Include pictures, videos, etc.

Data from local destination sites (Yelp, etc.):

  • Information from local-oriented destinations about business
  • Quality structured information
  • Quantity of trusted business directories and local business destinations
  • Provide third parties with unique content and they will pass that to Google

Web References:

  • Web page references provide additional PlaceRank
  • Web site content should be consistent with local listings and categories
  • Have at least name, address, phone number, but most won’t show up without adding in interesting content that isn’t duplicated all over the place.

Landing Page SEO:

  • Business name, location are in the Title
  • Address, business name and phone numbers are listed in plain text on the site
  • Page loads quickly
  • Privacy policy and contact info is available
  • Stickiness attributes exist (video, engaging content, free downloads, etc.)

If you need to operate outside of your area, set up a new Doing Business As in order to optimize.

Mike Belasco at SES Chicago 2009 Local Search Summit

Mike Belasco is up next. He put his presentation together during the other two presentations because he’s stepping in for the guy who lost his voice. Impressive.

He also is going through said slides like he’s trying to be Rand. Slow down, dude.

Where are the customers?

Nearcasting vs. Farcasting: I live in Denver and I want restaurants in Denver versus I live in Denver and I want restaurants in Chicago.

70 percent of searches have local intent.

I’d love to tell you what he’s talking about but it’s a mile a minute. Find your customers where they’re searching. I got that much.

Fish where the fish are. Do research to find where your customers are looking for you, and don’t overlook local newspaper sites, online Yellow Pages, Craigslist, etc.

Get into barnacle SEO. That’s MerchantCircle, Yahoo! Local, Yelp, etc. Do searches to see who is already ranking and attach yourself to them.

What’s the challenge of local search? This slide:

slide on the challenge of local search

The good news is that when you’ve taken on that challenge, you can own the search page.

There are three distinct Google algos: Organic, Local/Maps and 7 pack, and they don’t overlap. Maps and 7 pack overlap the most and they favor local business Web sites over big sites like Yelp.

Maps and 7 pack are not that great for home-based businesses or businesses that aren’t in the city that they want to rank for, including service-based businesses that travel to the customers.

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3 responses to “Local Search Ranking Factors: Blended, Natural and Video”

  1. Mike Belasco writes:

    Sorry I spoke too fast. I didn’t know how long it was going to take me to get through it, since I put the presentation together during the session. Great coverage though, wish you could have come to my solo session too!

  2. Susan Esparza writes:

    The fact that you put that together on the fly was seriously impressive. Awesome job too. There was a lot of good information flying by.

  3. Dave Cosper writes:

    Good info – thanks for sharing.

    Here’s a post I put up yesterday on LSEO:

    “Optimizing Your Business Listing for Local Search Supremacy”; link: http://www.searchengineguide.com/dave-cosper/optimizing-your-lbl-for-local-search-sup.php



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