Local Search provides the latest news and information about the growing segment of local search marketing, including tips on how to take advantage of local directory providers and online yellow page listings, mapping tools and location based services to help users uncover real-world merchants, franchise locations, locally owned small businesses and community places. Columnists cover geo-targeting, zip code and map data being used by searchers and search engines to provide locally relevant results.

How To Generate Customer Experience Reviews For SEO Profit – Part I

mobile-review-shutterstock Here's a question for all you search marketers out there: given the option, would you prefer to optimize a site that sells products, or services? Personally, I find product-based websites far easier to optimize than service-based sites due to their generally clearer site architecture, access to photos and videos, and the ability to incentivize content creation through influencer marketing and free samples. But service-based sites have one ace up their sleeve: experience reviews. Experience Reviews I recently bought my first house; thus, I had my first experience working with a real [...]


A Review Handout Alternative: Try P&P To Get More Local Reviews

review handouts vs. review postcards Everyone knows how important reviews are -- they factor in to the local algorithm and they play a huge part in click-throughs and building trust. Good reviews can make you, and bad reviews can break you… so businesses do everything they can to get positive reviews. Since Google doesn't allow on-site reviews, we have to rely on customers to take the time and effort after leaving the location to sit down, log in, and write a review. Small business owners and SEOs the world over know how hard that is to actually do. As Local SEOs started to really specialize in reviews, the review han [...]


Google Giveth & Google Taketh Away Author Icons

Google Author Icons Gone Google recently announced they'd be removing a major element from their search engine results pages (SERPs) that they've been featuring for the past couple of years: author icons. Since this is something we Local Marketers have enthusiastically encouraged, what does this mean for businesses now? Should you still incorporate authorship markup? Here's the skinny from my POV. Reversals in Google development are nothing new, of course. Google seems to take one or two steps forward and then a step back multiple times in a period of only a few years. Remember Google Labs? Remember Google Hotp [...]


88% Of Consumers Trust Online Reviews As Much As Personal Recommendations

mobile-review-shutterstock We at BrightLocal have released the findings of our annual Local Consumer Review Survey, which reveals the growing importance of online reviews in the purchasing decision. About Local Consumer Review Survey 2014 This is the 4th year we have conducted this study into consumer usage and attitudes toward online reviews. In May-June, we sent a questionnaire to our local consumer panel and received 2,104 completed survey responses. All respondents are from the USA (90%) and Canada (10%). The purpose of the survey is to understand how online reviews influence the attitudes of consumers towar [...]


What Local Business Leaders Must Know About Search Engines And SEO

What Business Leaders Must Know About Search Engines And SEO When I write about SEO and business success, I often realize that I've touched upon a point that merits a column of its own. This is one such column. It will focus on the fact that online and offline marketing have grown inextricably codependent -- especially for local businesses. How Businesses & Search Engines Have Evolved As a business leader, you must be aware that the style and method of selling has changed in recent times. Just as the fax machine, cold calling and advertising flyers revolutionized selling in an earlier era, there's a new kid on the block that has transformed the wa [...]


Top 10 Tips For Local Search Success

shutterstock_183277097-options-choices Many local businesses today are overwhelmed by the variety of local marketing choices available. Unlike the old days when a small handful of advertising outlets would cover the majority of your audience, the sheer volume of marketing options has seemingly flattened the reach of each advertising channel. Business owners see all the different ways that consumers are seeking out, discovering and considering local businesses, and they don't know where to start. The key to getting started is building a strong foundation for local search success by checking off the basics. From there, you can [...]


Get Your Business To 100% In Google My Business

One does not simple edit business info in Google Places Last week, Google started rolling out the new Google My Business platform to much applause from the industry. Several experts have provided excellent coverage already (thanks, Danny Sullivan and Mike Blumenthal)… but that’s not what I'm here for today. Quick Aside: I originally planned on sharing the fact that businesses could FINALLY change their Local Carousel photo, but the new GMB dashboard broke that functionality. Before the rollout, if you chose a user image that wasn’t a logo, it would become your Carousel photo. SO – let’s all keep an eye out and see if this starts working [...]


Is Your Local Business Ready For Google’s Neighborhood Algorithm?

East-Side-Costa-Mesa-with-marker While doing some research in Costa Mesa, CA last week, I hit a Google test bucket that specified the East Side Costa Mesa neighborhood as my location in Search Tools: Google has long understood super well-known dense neighborhoods like SoHo, NY. But there's a good reason why neighborhoods, particularly smaller city neighborhoods, have not been used as default locations in Google: it's pretty tricky to define a neighborhood's boundaries. In the local search-data world, neighborhoods are known as "informal space," meaning there are no standard boundaries. So the definition of where a n [...]


9 Tricks For Local Businesses To Increase Their SERP Click-Through Rate

Click Through Rate Sometimes you can move the needle -- and dramatically -- outside of obsessing and laboring over obtaining improving rankings in search engines. Simply increasing your click-through rates on the organic rankings you've already achieved can increase sales and revenue, even without having to do some of the difficult things that could be necessary to inch up the ladder to the next position. Here are 9 tricks to help you do it! [caption id="attachment_193692" align="aligncenter" width="427"] (Ripple photo by Roger McLassus. CC BY-SA 3.0)[/caption] 1. Adjust Your Homepage Title To Be More Mag [...]


Survey Finds Organic Search Delivers The Best ROI For Local Businesses

local-search-map-featured We at BrightLocal recently conducted a survey that examines the sources of traffic and leads to local businesses. We had 288 SEOs and SMBs complete the survey. Combined, this group claimed to have optimized over 7,000 locations in the last 12 months. (That's a whopping 24 locations per head -- good effort!) We asked this group five questions about the effort and ROI they have witnessed from the online/digital marketing channels they use. With imperfect tracking data available for both lead tracking and phone tracking, we know that we're dealing with anecdotal evidence here; but, the r [...]


The Google Local Carousel Is Still Spinning Out Of Control

google-local-carousel Almost a year ago, Google threw everyone for a loop with the rollout of the Google Local Carousel. The SEO community scrambled to try to figure out how it worked, and theories started flying about how it would change search behavior. It was immediately evident that a location's Carousel photo would be all-important... It didn't take long to realize the biggest problem with the Carousel: business owners had no control over the photo that gets displayed. There was a lot of buzz about not being able to choose thumbnail photos, but the buzz died down as nothing was updated. At the end of last y [...]


10 Takeaways From #LSA14 On The Future Of Local Advertising

Last Mile Advertising Where is the local advertising space headed? How will local marketers succeed in an increasingly fast-changing and competitive marketplace? At the Local Search Association's 2014 annual conference (#LSA14) last month in Huntington Beach, California, hundreds of local advertising leaders gathered to explore what's next in local and the steps that both local providers and advertisers will need to take to succeed. Here are my top 10 takeaways from the conference on the core opportunities and challenges that local marketers and advertisers should be considering. 1. Leverage An Integrated Ap [...]


Use Products As Pawns To Win The Local SEO Chess Game

chess-pawn-game-600 In the competition to rank highest in local search results, you must employ a number of tactics in coordination. It's not unlike playing a chess game. However, many businesses have yet to bring all their chess pieces into play on the board. There are many types of products which consumers typically seek out in local brick-and-mortar stores. If you operate such a store, you're fortunate if your business category shares the product name, since Google's and Bing's local search results tend to bias a lot toward business category names. But, in many cases stores carry a great many different p [...]


Top Five Local SEO Myths — And Truths

myth_reality There seems to be no end to the range of declared "SEO truths" for local mom and pop shops. Search Engine Optimization strategies that work for the big brands differ from those that work for small, local players, so it's no wonder that so many local marketers end up confused about how to really use SEO to build their businesses. Following is a list of five frequently heard claims about local SEO that I've heard recently, followed by their corresponding truths. Myth #1—Claiming Your Google Listing Is The Way To Boost SEO First of all, there is no “one” way to boost SEO. True [...]


How To Get A Medical Marijuana Dispensary Into Google Places

The Clinic Colorado Home Page I was stoked when Chris Silver Smith turned us all on to the potential issues with marijuana and local search last month. As an early dabbler in helping marijuana dispensaries figure out local SEO, I, too, think it's high time to help marketers recognize the challenges and opportunities in this fast-growing industry. One of the biggest issues I see dispensary marketers confronting is how to get these businesses listed on Google Places. As Chris mentioned, cannabis-related businesses appear to be against Google Places' guidelines, and there is no category for Medical Marijuana in Google Pl [...]


How To Build A Local Brand Through Online Marketing

brand-branding-shutterstock The terms Brand and Brand Marketing are usually associated with large businesses. Having a brand is seen as something significant -- something that only businesses with big ideas and even bigger wallets can afford to invest in and create. But that's not true. Businesses of all sizes can be Brands. A brand can't be built in a day, but over time, any business can achieve brand status in their own niche and/or location. Local marketing is typically focused on lead generation with performance measured by website traffic, inbound calls, appointments and customers walk-ins. But in the ques [...]


Does Google’s Review Count Inflation Give Them An Unfair Advantage In Local Search?

online-reviews-featured We all know that monitoring online reviews is important for online marketing; but lately, it seems that not all reviews are created equal. In fact, Google+ Local reviews may have a greater impact than others on your online marketing effectiveness. According to Searchmetrics' analysis of SEO ranking factors in 2013, Google+ had the highest correlated effect on search rankings for Google UK. A 2013 study from Now Digital Marketing Works took it one step further, reporting that Google+ reviews are the most important factor when it comes to inclusion and ranking in the Carousel. While some c [...]


420 Dilemma? Marijuana Emerges In Local Search

marijuana-map-600 Today marks the first time that April 20th -- known amongst pot smokers as "420" and frequently celebrated with smoking parties -- is a legally observable event in the United States (in some places, at least, since the states of Washington and Colorado have legalized recreational use of the drug for adults). So, what does this mean for local businesses and marketers? In 2010, I conducted a limited audit to see if 420 party locations, as well as marijuana dispensaries, appeared in Google Maps. I found little more than a user-generated map back then -- but fast-forward to 2014, and we be [...]


Survey: Older Generations Embrace Mobile As Local Shopping Companion

senior_woman_on_smartphone Conventional wisdom tells us that younger generations trump older generations in their use of mobile devices during the local purchasing process. While teenagers use their smartphones at every opportunity to find local businesses, read reviews and scan deals, their parents and grandparents rarely rely on their devices to take advantage of what is increasingly available via mobile, right? Maybe not. According to the results of a new consumer survey conducted by Thrive Analytics and released today by the Local Search Association, older generations -- including Boomers and Seniors -- are embra [...]


Survey: 85% Of SEOs Shoot For 1-5 New Local Reviews Per Month

shutterstock_179555099-ratings Managing reviews and reputation isn't a new discipline for search consultants and agencies to focus on, but it is gaining prominence as reviews take on more significance in the world of local search. Consumers consult online reviews more regularly in their research process and put an increasing amount of trust in ratings and review sentiment when determining which local business to contact. Seventy-nine percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, according to the BrightLocal Local Consumer Review Survey.  Reviews also play a significant role in gaini [...]


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