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The Best Link Building For Local SEO — None!

Since Google rolled out the Panda and Penguin algorithm updates, numerous sites have been impacted or penalized. Often, companies that incur penalties or experience a drop in rankings don't have a clue as to what they've done wrong -- especially small, local businesses. This leads me to a novel proposal: perhaps for local businesses, the best link building is absolutely none at all. I've been approached by many small-to-medium businesses seeking help with various degrees of penalization as a result of these updates over the past year, and some of the commonalities to me are striking -- pri [...]


How Latvia Teaches Us That “Think Global, Act Local” Is No Longer Useful In Search Marketing

Last week, I was lucky to join a number of great speakers at the iLive conference in Riga, Latvia. As with all conferences, I learned a lot. (I simply can't relate to those who go to a conference and say they've heard it all before.) I learned at least as much from the people I met and chatted with -- as well as from the people of Riga and Latvia -- as I did from the conference itself. Latvia -- A Country With A Population Less Than Houston, Texas Latvia is a very small country with a population of just over 2 million people -- around the size of a smallish Chinese or American city. The co [...]


93% Of Local SEOs Expect To Grow Their Business In 2013

Last week, we published the findings of the BrightLocal Local SEO Industry Survey 2013. The objective of this survey is to gain greater understanding about the health and nature of the local SEO Industry. Through this survey, we aim to find out what life is like "on the ground" for those in the local SEO industry and share those findings publicly to help improve the knowledge and insight within our industry. This is the 2nd wave of the survey. The 1st wave was conducted in 2011 and looked ahead to 2012.  Wave 1 survey results can be viewed here. About The BrightLocal Local SEO Industry [...]


Local SEO Industry Survey Reveals Most Customers Want On-Site SEO & Google+ Optimization Services

local-search-map A local SEO industry survey, managed by SEO software company Brightlocal, revealed that the most in-demand SEO services are on-site SEO and Google+ optimization. Conducted between January 20 and February 20 of this year, the survey evaluated the health and nature of the local SEO industry by focusing on five key areas: agency size and turnover, clients and industries, marketing and sales, services and tasks, and future outlooks. The majority of survey respondents included freelancers, small digital agencies and web designers, with a total of 1,409 respondents. On-site SEO and Google+ opt [...]


7 Takeaways From The Local Search Association Annual Conference

Earlier this month, local search marketing leaders from the U.S., Canada and 12 other countries gathered in Las Vegas for the Local Search Association’s 2013 annual conference, "Search Starts Here." Over several days, attendees engaged in informative discussions about the numerous opportunities and challenges facing our industry, ranging from the growing importance of original digital content to the rise of mobile and social media. In this month’s column, I will highlight my key takeaways from the LSA conference, which are focused on both the strides I believe local marketers should [...]


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 [...]


Survey: Half Of Small Businesses Never Update Their Listings Online

local-search-featured ConstantContact's SinglePlatform division has released the results of a new survey of small businesses (SMBs). The "headline" finding is that nearly half (49 percent) say they've never updated their listings online. The survey polled "more than 350" SMBs. Most small businesses are overwhelmed and confused by even basic online marketing. This is reflected in some of the seemingly contradictory findings of the survey: 50 percent of SMBs have seen listings for their business that are not accurate 70 percent of SMBs say they don’t have the time to manage listings on all of the sites t [...]


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 [...]


After Sting Operation, Yelp Outs 8 Businesses That It Caught Trying To Buy Reviews

yelp-logo-featured Yelp is now showing "Consumer Alert" warning messages on the profile pages of eight businesses that it says it caught in a sting operation trying to buy reviews. As the New York Times reports, Yelp conducted a sting operation in which one of its employees pretended to be an "Elite" reviewer and responded to review solicitations on Craigslist. As the article explains: A pest control company offered $5 to anyone who would post a review that the business itself had written. The moving company was willing to pay $50 but wanted original copy. An appliance repair shop provided a start: "I really [...]


Local SEOs Analyze Current Google Ranking Factors

local-search-map Although the local search landscape has changed pretty significantly, the fundamental elements of ranking well in Google's local search results haven't strayed dramatically from past years. That's one of the main takeaways from the 2012 Local Search Ranking Factors report that's just out today. Organized (as always) by David Mihm, this year's survey includes contributions from more than 40 local search marketers around the world. It looks at general Google signals such as Place Page vs. Website vs. Reviews (and more), as well the weight that specific factors may have on local rankings. The [...]


UBL And Yext Join Forces To Offer More Complete Local Data Syndication

Several years ago Universal Business Listing sought to become the "one stop shop" for local business listings syndication. The dream was that small businesses and their surrogates could sign up in one place online and ensure their data were in all the right places across the internet. While that has not fully come to pass, the company has taken a step closer through a deal with former competitor Yext. Yext began as a pay-per-call network and shifted last year to focus on local listings syndication. Yext works with small businesses but also brands with multiple locations. Emulating the no [...]


Google Confirms Panda 3.3 Update, Plus Changes To How It Evaluates Links, Local Search Rankings & Much More

google-g-logo Google has confirmed a new Panda update at the same time that it's announcing 40 search updates that happened in February (or are in progress right now). It would be all but impossible to fully sum up the full slate of changes here, but there are a few that seem especially noteworthy and will no doubt produce a lot of speculation among search marketers. Here's a look at the ones that stand out to me: Panda 3.3 Update Here's what Google says about its latest Panda-related change: Panda update. This launch refreshes data in the Panda system, making it more accurate and more sensitiv [...]


Report: National Marketers Love Local, Fail At Basic Tactics

local-search-seo-featured GMS Local, an initiative from GroupM focused on local search and local digital strategies, recently conducted a survey of national marketing executives (mostly in the retail sector) about their localization strategies and tactics. The survey was fielded in September and November 2011. What the agency found was considerable enthusiasm for local-digital marketing. Yet there was also a surprising lack of sophistication in many of their tactics. GMS Local found that most of the respondents spent more on local vs. national advertising and more generally on digital than traditional media marketin [...]


Report: Social Media Spending Threatens To Overtake Paid Search Among SMBs

social-media-adoption-featured Borrell Associates has come out with an extensive new report about small business ("SMBs") and social media adoption. It contains forecasts and spending estimates as well as other data about SMB usage of social media as a marketing tool. There's a great deal of data already in the market about SMB adoption of social media. What they show is that between 45 percent and 70 percent of SMBs say they already have a presence on social media sites (mostly Facebook). Borrell reports that between 60 and 64 percent of SMBs have a formal presence on social media sites. An earlier 2011 study by [...]


Survey Says SEO The Single Most Important Marketing Channel For SMBs

Screen shot 2011-12-08 at 6.24.13 AM SEO: one channel to rule them all? A new "merchant confidence survey" from lead-gen company MerchantCircle/Reply.com, among 2,500 US small businesses, finds that search engine optimization is the marketing channel they would choose if they could choose only one. The question asked was: "If you had to put all your marketing time and budget into only one channel, what would it be?" The list of choices included SEO, paid search, mobile, social and traditional media. As you can see below SEO beats everything else by a mile. What's also interesting is how high "traditional media" ranked. [...]


A Guide To Geocoding Images For Local SEO

One way to kick up your local search optimization game is through beefing up the local signal through images. There are a few techniques for doing this -- read on for details. Incorporating images as part of your overall content mix is a good idea for search optimization in and of itself. Images can provide additional opportunities for keyword signals on a page, and they represent good opportunities for ranking in search results under Universal Search. But, if they're also associated with places properly, they can convey additional location signals, helping a business and/or its website [...]


Local Search: Mostly A Small City & Southern Activity, Report Says

local-search-featured Do Internet users in the southern US do more local searches than the rest of the country? Are searchers in smaller cities more likely to conduct local searches than those in New York City, Chicago and the San Francisco area? The answer to those questions is "yes," at least according to recent data compiled by the online ad network Chitika. The company drew its local search queries from a sample of more than 10 million searches that brought traffic to its network of sites in the US between July 4th and July 11th. The results, at least to me, are quite surprising: Smaller cities like Cha [...]


What Will Google Plus Google Places Equal?

I have no idea what social network Google Plus (Google+) is going to kill. I have no idea if it is going to be huge or not. But I do have an idea of what it's going to do to Local Search, or at least I have a vision. Whether my vision is right or not will likely be borne out over the next few months. But I am part pundit and therefore accountable to no one but my ego, so here goes... How Google+ Could Become A Killer Local Marketing Channel The Places Stream One day, we are all going to wake up and find "Places" as a default stream in our Google+ experience and a business’ "Plus" stream [...]


MapQuest Launches Local Business Listings Center

Local SEOs have another tool to add to the "citation belt," as it were: MapQuest has announced its own Local Business Center, a place where local businesses can add and/or manage their listing(s) on MapQuest. As the video below shows, the MapQuest LBC functions very much like Google's and Bing's and offers many of the same basic features such as photo uploads, videos, categories and so forth. MapQuest is also offering two premium listing levels at $99 and $399 per year -- the latter of which includes distribution of business information to other sites like Yelp, Yahoo Local, SuperPages and [...]


Nifty Hard Core Local SEO Tactics From SMX Advanced

The panelists at last week's "HardCore Local SEO" panel at SMX Advanced, Mike Ramsey of Nifty Marketing, Will Scott of Search Influence and David Mihm of GetListed, presented some excellent data on various tactical approaches to improving Google Place Page rankings. For today's column, I thought it would be helpful to excerpt some of the more interesting ideas they presented. I was particularly intrigued by Mike Ramsey's presentation on research he had done where he compared 28 listings that ranked in the top 7 results for some local queries to 28 listings that did not rank as well. Mike s [...]


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