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.

14 Ways Facebook Homes In On Local Search

With the announcement of Facebook Home, Facebook has pushed the accelerator on its local mobile strategy, which was already in high gear, thanks to Facebook Local Search and its big brother, Facebook Graph Search. By the end of 2013, I expect the social media giant to further strengthen its hold as the #2 local search app; so, it might behoove local marketers to get a handle on exactly how their businesses are showing up in Facebook these days. There are numerous ways that local business data makes it into Facebook, including: "Link" buttons on local business sites "Share on Facebook" [...]

10 Things SEOs & SMBs Should Know About New Google Places Dashboard

google-cities-featured Recently, Google announced some significant changes to their Google Places dashboard. The wires have been humming ever since, and the reaction has ranged from fall-off-seat excitement to 'humph, is that it!?' [caption id="attachment_154764" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Dashboard images: Local Search Forum[/caption] Whatever the opinion, the truth is that these changes signify a big development in the way Google handles 'Local.' Google has been talking up the importance of local for an age, and the increased real estate given to local results in SERPs backs this up. They have also upd [...]

Mobile Growth Highlights Importance Of Comprehensive Local Strategy

This week, the Local Search Association is releasing our “Local Mobile Search Study,” which overviews the evolving mobile environment in the U.S. and the growing role of smartphones, tablets and other connected devices in the local search experience. The 2013 study, which features 2012 data compiled from several comScore digital and mobile metrics databases, demonstrates a significant shift in how consumers are accessing the Internet and emphasizes the importance of local businesses embracing mobile platforms as yet another venue to reach consumers. Rise Of Connected Devices Provides [...]

7 Reasons Why Local Businesses Should Still Buy PPC Ads

Many small-to-medium businesses (SMBs) focus heavily on their organic search rankings. After all, it's "free," and if you enjoy a high ranking, you can derive excellent business from it. But, even if your business ranks well in local search (and especially if you don't), there are great reasons to consider some paid search advertising, aka "PPC." While I have a reputation as a local search optimization specialist, but I consider myself to be broader in that I am a marketer, period. As such, my philosophy is that companies should promote themselves within as many channels as they reasonably [...]

The Most Common Problems With Local Business Listings

Two weeks ago, Greg Sterling and I published "YQ," a study on the state of location data for Yext, where we discovered (surprise!) that the state of business location data on the Web is pretty messy. The study provided us with the opportunity to look at patterns among thousands of Yext's customers, and I thought it would be of interest to share some more detail on what we saw in that data. In the December 2012 YQ Survey, we found that consumers regularly encounter incorrect location data for businesses. It’s clearly a big problem, not only for consumers, but also for marketers. Given t [...]

Only 29% Of Consumers Regularly Use Mobile Devices To Find Local Businesses

The staggering growth in smartphone and iPad/tablet usage is changing the way consumers behave. Having these powerful devices glued to our hands 18 hours a day changes how we manage our lives, stay in touch with friends and consume media. It also affects how we find and engage with businesses and services, and no more so than at a local level. We (BrightLocal) conducted a survey with our consumer panel to find out just how consumers use their mobile devices  to find local businesses and what content was most important to them when using their mobile devices (we specified 'mobile phones [...]

10 Questions Local Businesses Should Answer When Considering Online Deals

If you’ve followed headlines about the online deals industry over the past year, you might wonder if the phenomenon has lost its appeal. The coverage often goes something like this: Major players in the space are restructuring. The addition of hundreds of redundant and niche sites have saturated the market. Local businesses are moving on after being burned by offering steep discounts that failed to generate repeat business. Consumers are fatigued by the onslaught of deals by email offer services not relevant to them.   Yet, while the young industry faces its challenges, both lo [...]

Is Social Media Worthwhile For Local Businesses?

In the past few weeks, I've been confronted multiple times by the question of whether social media is truly worthwhile for local businesses. The question comes from companies feeling the pinch of costs while also desiring to promote themselves adequately. The ROI may not be clear in many cases, so let's examine it. First of all, businesses have been propelled toward being involved in social media because marketers are attracted to any channels or arenas that large swaths of consumers gravitate to. As the usership of various social media services has grown, the rule-of-thumb is that their wo [...]

20+ Signals That Make Your Business Easier To Find In Local Search Engines

While we usually talk about how to rank well in Google, there are plenty of non-Google local search engines such as Yelp, YP.com, CityGrid, etc. that have a significant amount of highly-qualified consumer search traffic. Each of these sites has its own proprietary search algorithms. It may make sense to study the algorithms of the biggest; but, in general, there are a number of standard basic ways to provide data about your business that can influence how you rank in any local search engine. Relevancy Signals These are signals that tend to be directly related to the phrases input into a s [...]

Top Tips For SEO Agencies To Find & Convert New Local Customers

While many industries and businesses are struggling to survive and grow right now, that can't be said of the SEO or online local advertising industries. It's boom time for our sector  as more and more businesses turn to the Internet and mobile as their primary marketing channels. [caption id="attachment_148135" align="alignright" width="270"] Image via Shutterstock[/caption] But, it's not just businesses that are wising up to the opportunities which online holds. Hundreds of new SEO agencies and freelancer operators are popping up every week as people leave their old professions behind [...]

How Local Businesses Can Leverage New Facebook & Foursquare Features

Recently, Facebook and Foursquare announced new features that will drastically change the ways local businesses leverage the social networks to build customer loyalty and drive new sales. With Facebook, the introduction of Graph Search provides businesses with greater incentive to invest time and effort in their presence on the site so they can appear among the top search results for a wider group of potential customers. With Foursquare, changes in privacy policies provide businesses with access to more information that will help them analyze customer trends and better reach loyal custo [...]

How Google’s Lack Of (Re-)Consideration For Local Businesses Makes Life & Listings Difficult

google-maps-featured For local business listings, ranking well in Google search results is highly important. So, many proprietors attempt all sorts of things to get their businesses to rank well, and they often unintentionally break Google's rules in the process. Yet, there's no real means to get forgiveness once their listing is burned. Confusion surrounding this further exacerbates the issue. For years now, I've provided recommendations on how to improve one's local business rankings in Google. (Your business listing with name, address and phone may appear embedded in the regular keyword search results along wi [...]

How To Create Your Local SEO Roadmap Through Research, Benchmarking & Tracking

During the regular online training sessions which I deliver to our customers, I inevitably get asked the same question. Actually this question comes in a few guises. What should I focus on more - citations or links? Are reviews an important factor for local ranking? How many citations should I build for my client? How do I know the best categories for my client to be listed in? But, they are all asking the same basic question: What do I need to focus on to improve my client’s rankings? Unfortunately, I don’t have a silver-bullet answer because there isn’t one. Every clien [...]

10 Simple Things SMB Websites Need To Fix Before SEO

When speaking with SMBs and companies that sell marketing services to SMBs, I hear over and over again how a business wants to rank #1 for important local keywords. Then, I look at their website and have visions of money being poured down the drain, horses being led to water sans drinking, Sisyphus rolling a boulder up that damn hill, and a variety of other cliches. While SEO is an important channel, the ROI that can come from improving customer conversion rates on your website can't be beat -- assuming you actually have people coming to your website in the first place. Most SMB websi [...]

Five Steps To Successfully Navigate Negative Online Reviews

negative-reviews-ratings-featured Last month, D.C. contractor Dietz Development made news when it filed a $750,000 Internet defamation lawsuit against its former customer, Jane Perez, for negative reviews she posted on Yelp and Angie’s List regarding renovation work at her home. The company claimed the reviews, which alleged that Dietz did not complete its work and stole jewelry from her home, sent customers fleeing, resulting in $300,000 in lost business. While Dietz won an initial judgment ordering Perez to remove some of her accusations and not post other reviews while the lawsuit is pending, both the ACLU and Public C [...]

13 Semantic Markup Tips For 2013: A Local SEO Checklist

seo-code-schema-featured One of the least-tapped areas of local business website optimization continues to be semantic markup. Semantic markup can increase chances that information from your website will be highlighted in search engine results pages via rich snippets, attracting greater attention and clickthroughs. So, read on and use this checklist to see if you're exploiting all elements possible for your local business website. While special markup likely may not directly improve your rankings in search, it does apparently increase clickthrough rate or "CTR," as consumers are more drawn to your site's listings. [...]

SEOMoz + GetListed: Let The SMB Toolset Death March Begin

SEOMoz's recent acquisition of GetListed has got me thinking -- there's a dangerous trend going on in the SEO Tools market. I call it the SMB Death March. [caption id="attachment_143172" align="aligncenter" width="400"] Image courtesy of GapingVoidArt.com[/caption] SEO Tool Market The SEO Tool market has exploded over the past couple of years, and with good reason. These days, it seems like most businesses understand that showing up in Google is critical. More and more marketers have had some experience with SEO, either on their own or via consultants. Hollywood is using SEO as a pri [...]

Insiders Guide To Selecting The Right Local SEO Tools

Last week's announcement by Raven tools that they would remove all 'scraped data' (e.g., ranking reports) from their toolkit came as an unwelcome surprise to many of their customers. This action effectively makes a big portion of their service redundant, and the reaction to this news hasn't been all positive for Raven. This must have been a tough decision for Raven's management team to make, and I'm sure they agonized over it before deciding on this course. This event got me thinking about the relationship between SEOs and the tools they use, and wondering how much understanding there wa [...]

7 Key Takeaways From BIA/Kelsey’s ILM Conference

I just returned from the jam-packed annual BIA/Kelsey ILM West conference in Los Angeles, where there was a lot of excitement about what’s next in local SMB advertising. As we head into 2013, local businesses have some important trends to consider when developing their marketing plans. The ways in which consumers are both searching and finding local businesses are rapidly changing, and local businesses and marketers are quickly adapting to take advantage of new opportunities to drive business in the door. Here are my 7 key takeaways from the event: 1.  Local Business Spending Remains The [...]

Should You Count Ratings Out In Google Local Rankings?

online-reviews-featured For years now, there has been some discrepancy between statements from Google Local engineers and general optimization advice from some local search marketers where reviews and ratings are concerned. So, what's the skinny? Rating values may simply not affect your rankings. Read on to see why. Ratings Vs. Reviews First, a quick note on terminology, since many refer to ratings simultaneously with reviews. A rating is usually a qualitative measure -- essentially, a numerical score which a consumer selects when critiquing a business -- such as on a 5-point or 10-point scale, or one to five st [...]

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