SMX Advanced 2013: Maps and Metros – Surviving And Thriving In Local Search

The house is packed with local marketers at SMX Advanced 2013. @Matt McGee opened the Maps and Metros local session by noting that:

Local is still a mess like it used to be!

Mike Blumenthal (@mblumenthal) of Blumenthals started off this session addressing his title as “Professor Maps.” He explained that it’s not that he knows so much about local. If anyone spent hours a day in local, they’d know local, too.

Anatomy of Local Search Results

Google Local no longer has a name. It’s all integrated now with blended results.

Map Pack results in 2013:

After maps was introduced in 2013, 69% were blended results.

Anatomy of a Google Local SERP
Anatomy of a Google Local SERP

Of the blended results:

  • 93% are 7 Pins
  • 7 are Pack results

Google’s Venice update improved the trigger of local results.

Anatomy of a Google Local SERP

Mike then addressed a model you can follow to understand what algorithm is affecting a result by looking at the characteristics of a blended result.

  • Title tag change
  • Authorship
  • High Ranking Organic

Earthlink is actually a better proxy to understand local results.

Refer to Google Maps proxy for map results.

Mapped pinned results on Google are based on straight Location prominence rankings (Google Maps). High location permanence is triggering.

  • Google backfills results and pushes good organic results down the page.
  • Examples of Pin results that shows that top 3 AOL results correlate with organic. Google Maps Pin results correlate with Google results.

Google has nearly stopped showing the old standard Map of 7 Pack results. When there are organic results at the top, it’s usually 3 organized by organic order.

  • A Pin shows up when there is a high local coordination.
  • There may a second result, and it may be a Pin or a blended result.

Understanding the Model

Look at competitive phrase and look at title tag changes or if there is an author tag. You can look at any result and understand if the blended or local algorithm is affecting it.

The bulk of local is a huge oyster opportunity if you only have a few blended results.

Google inserts blended results into restaurants and locksmith searches for searches by city.

Results Breakdown by City
Results Breakdown by City

So what?

You can parse out the results and come up with a tactical plan.

  • If they are not showing Pin results, they need more citations and reviews.
  • Tactic would be to mine their links to citations. They could disrupt the display by social annotations.

Local results are disrupting the normal 1, 2, 3 order for the user.

Social (rel authorship) further disrupts the display.

Think “disruption” to determine what you can do if you cannot get a Pin.


Tactic for getting listed if you are outside the range of search.

  1. Target long-tail categories to expand search radius.
  2. Extend radius of search by removing spammers. This removes the number of people inside the circle.

In the dashboard, you can define area served. Google draws the area served to weighted center.

Example: You can change the list of area served to show up more for central if you are outside central.

Changes in Local

New Maps – You are now seeing very personalized results. They are no longer pure map results due to personalization, which often overrides location prominence.


Mary Bowling (@MaryBowling) of Ignitor Digital took over and shared her new project!

Data Management for Local Search

NAP consistency matters!

NAP is #3 off-site local search ranking factor!

NAP is do or die!

Why is NAP important?

Google knows it needs to show accurate information about businesses or people won’t use its local search results.

Why doesn’t everyone do this, spend time to get their Name, Address, Phone number correct?

The don’t understand or believe the positive impact.

Case Study:

8 fat head terms, went from 0 Local Pack listings to 6 in 90 days by just scrubbing the data

You have to go in and correct all the listings, and it’s time consuming. It takes precise attention to detail. A lot of time people don’t want to take the time and work to pay for this, so they give it to the receptionist to do in her spare time.

Data Scrubbing Process

  1. Quick check the extent of data inconsistency
  2. Determine your strategy
  3. Check/update NAP info on ALL websites for that client
  4. Gather the information you need
  5. Discover inconsistent data and prioritize updates
  6. Report duplicates and problems at Google ASAP
  7. Correct/submit/report problems at data providers
  8. Correct/submit/report problems at Tier 2 directories
  9. Correct/submit/report problems at add’l trusted places
  10. Wait 45-90 days
  11. Recheck and repeat

Quick Audit

Determine your Strategy

Claim a Listing – You have to keep it updated.

  • How many locations involved?
  • How much inconsistency discovered?
  • Time, manpower, budget to do manual updates?
  • Budget for submissions?
  • Time by which you NEED to see some results?
  • Time to wait for new data to flow through the ecosystem?
  • Is the company planning a move?
  • Have logins to most of the places where listed?
  • Will you bite off in chunks or do it all at once?

Ask customer. and get on the phone with them and pry it out of them.

Discover Inconsistent NAP

Check address at USPS database.

Start searching for the business on Google

  • Google Places
  • Google Maps
  • Google Organic
Discover Inconsistent NAP
Discover Inconsistent NAP

Report problems at Google ASAP.

  • Google has improved support suing Mapmaker
    • Report/Edit using Mapmaker directly from listing
  • Report using trouble shooter
  • Get a call back-talk to support!

Tips for Google

Pins are very important!

  • New Places database is much more stable.
  • Verifications have to go through a review and referral process.
  • Consolidate all accounts for one business.
  • Use an account with a domain-associated email if you can.

Discover Inconsistent NAP

Check and modify or submit  at data providers.

Data Providers

Mary then covered the process for scrubbing your data in phases.

How long does it take?

Speed of Data Updates of Major Local Search Engines
Speed of Data Updates of Major Local Search Engines

Show this to clients that it’s not overnight.

Measuring Success

Get a baseline and compare.

It can happen fast, but plan 3-6 months to get through process.


Mike Ramsey @niftymarketing of Nifty Marketing finished off the session to talk about local audits.

Nifty Tips For Local Audits

People push in the wrong directions when they start an audit, and they need to focus on getting the information they need to spend a lot less time to put together strategy.

“If I had 8 hours to chop down a tree, I would spend 6 hours sharpening my axe.”

– Abraham Lincoln

David Mihm said that if he could break down 4 equal ranking factors, it would be broken down into these categories:

  1. Website
  2. Links
  3. Local listings
  4. Reviews.

Keyword Research

Google Analytics Landing Page Analysis for Local
Google Analytics Landing Page Analysis for Local

Use Google Analytics  to find out you have desire for content by terms they are searching for. Create content they want.

Look at landing pages in Google Analytics, and create content based off cities and states.

On-Site Audit

  • Look at Title tags and meta description.
    • Use Screaming Frog to review.
  • Google is rewriting title tag to have brand first as “Brand: ____”
    • Lead with brand name, follow by service and location. Add phone number in meta description for those who have Skype. It also gives increased CTR.
    • Have seen increased phone calls.

Local Content

Most local content really sucks, because most just duplicate local content and switch out the location keyword information in their.

NEW TOOL: Siteliner by the Copyscape people. Put in domain, and they give you a duplicate content score across site.

Website Markup

  • Fix your site before you markup. Without fixes it’s like lipstick on a pig.
  • Use the Structured Data Testing Tool from Google and look down at schema information.

Mike’s deck gives example of exactly how to markup the NAP with schema. Get it!

Use RavenTools Schema Creator.

Study of locations across 8-9 industries and what they are doing to get their top rankings.

New Listings:

Get your business on Google Places.

  • You can only choose categories that Google has. They now have 10 vs. the old 5 to choose from.
  • Don’t go out and claim your social listings. Wait until Google has it all figured out.
  • Check out this forum for help and tips for new Google Places.


  • BrightLocal – Get citations, links and top reviews across the local pack.

Link Research:

Do your link research!

  • Google Webmaster Tools – Export
  • Cognitive SEO – Anchor text, trend lines, links


  • – You can see across Yelp, Google+, and other places.
  • Review Trackers
  • ReviewPush – managing testimonials.

Best advice to give:

Make reviews part of every transaction!

All of the ways you can look for and sort a business is based on reviews. We are all shopping by looking at friends and other peoples’ thoughts and reviews.



Dana Lookadoo founded Yo! Yo! SEO, a boutique agency based around the concept of Word-of-Mouth SEO.

See Dana's author page for links to connect on social media.

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8 Replies to “SMX Advanced 2013: Maps and Metros – Surviving And Thriving In Local Search”

Byron, hearing that the liveblogging helped you is icing on the cake!! Thank you! This panel gave up the goods, for sure.

Terrific work, Dana. Very comprehensive. I’m using some of this good info for a client of mine. Thank you!

Glad you found the post helpful, Byron!

Mary, you and others on the panel did such fantastic jobs presenting clear outlines that you made it easy. Thank YOU for the rich and valuable information!

Dana, Thanks for the accurate live logging coverage of our Local Search session. Great job!

Thanks Dana for such an excellent stuff…

This outline is the next best thing to being there! Thanks so much Dana!

Thanks Dana – a really great summary :-)


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