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November 8, 2011

Local Search Rankings — PubCon Vegas

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Dear Vegas, even though Night 1 of PubCon kicked my butt, I have three more days and nights to prove that you’re not all that. First liveblog session of the morning and I got my fingers warmed up on my Starbucks and am ready to talk local search rankings.

Michael Dorausch is talking, Bill Leake is moderating. Wow, Michael is a chiropractor (by choice/SEO by necessity, he says). I could use an adjustment right about now. He’s is finding out who is in the room, some small business owners are here, and he says that number is growing every year. He says he uses his business like a lab for search.

Four local agreements:

Pubcon Local Search Rankings Session

Today he’ll cover:

  • Community
  • Content
  • Place Pages
  • Reviews
  • Photos
Employ someone to track data. Most local business don’t use the data on their client base. Use it as a data set — you can so this just by looking at their email addresses. Yahoo.com clients can do Yahoo! local, for example.
Ask these questions internally:
  • What is our social policy?
  • What is our photo policy?
  • What is our cell phone policy?
  • Where are we strong/weak?
Some businesses shouldn’t limit themselves by these policies (unless it’s for privacy reasons or something else). It can be an opportunity for the business. Where is it safe to engage the community? Put the community to work for you.
Real world questions:
  • How did you hear about us?
  • Did you have any problems getting here?
  • Did you use any gadgets to get here?
  • Do you like your phone?
  • Do you use the map features?
This helps you figure out who your clients are that can be engaged for your business online.
Customer categories:
  • Power users, elites
  • TomTom & GPS users
  • iPhone/Droid/Blackberry fans
  • Facebook , foursquare, Yelp, Gowalla
  • Gmail vs. Yahoo! vs. MSN

Michael Dorausch PubCon

Content is critical. Think local community content that goes beyond the five-page mentality. Write about things outside of your business. Write about local things in your community. People are interested in hearing you speak on things other than just what your business is about.

What events in your community can you cover? How can you tie that into your business? How can you tie your city and business into that content?

He is using an example of a marathon — use a topic like “five tips for avoiding crowds in X marathon in X city,” with parking tips, photos of the events, etc. He is showing some results where he grabbed the No. 1 spot in the results online for the Boston Marathon, then he repeated it for marathons all over the country.

Local Search Rankings Session pubcon

Look at the Places pages to mine data about who is ranking. Look at things like addresses and how they are entered in there (spelled out not abbreviated), brand or type of business (he is recommending going with the brand), use of phone numbers (use local numbers).

We are looking at the Places pages for result No. 1. for a query; right now the example is The Venetian. All the content on the page is coming from Wikipedia. Google is taking the easy way out, he says, because this is basically a scraper page.

He is pointing out the photographs; you should always control this. Put high-quality photos in Panoramio of your business (Google owns this and puts the photos in the Places page from there), and optimize them. You can also upload photos. You can do both.

He is now talking reviews. There are a ton of review sites outside of just Yelp. Not every site is indexed but some are indexed for certain industries, depending on what data Google has for that. For reviews:

  • URL shorteners; use this and provide to your clients
  • Page with links (your URL)
  • Business cards
  • Postcards
  • Emails
  • Receipts
For negative reviews, he says deal with it. He got one and printed it out and left it in his waiting room for everyone to see. He found that he had fans within his client community where people fought back for him online. He said it wasn’t easy to put it out there, but he was humbled by the results.

Local Search Rankings PubCon

Other important things for ranking:

  • Photos
  • Locations check-in services
  • QR codes
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