This session of SMX New York 2011 Day 1 focused on how successful local SEO is largely a matter of proper blocking and tackling. The panel of experts discusses on what can can be done to gain an edge beyond following the boring "claim your Places Page, make your address and phone numbers consistent, etc.". This session will highlight various creative approaches to local SEO and tactics that go well beyond blocking and tackling.
- Matt McGee, Executive News Editor, Search Engine Land (@mattmcgee)
Q & A Moderator:
- Gib Olander, Vice President of Market Development, Localeze (@golander59)
- Matt McGee, Executive News Editor, Search Engine Land (@mattmcgee)
- Mike Ramsey, President, Nifty Marketing (@niftymarketing)
- Will Scott, President, Search Influence (@w2scott)
The session was initiated by Mike Ramsey, President, Nifty Marketing (@niftymarketing) who initiates the session by sharing his findings from the Local Search Ranking Factors report. He claims that Correlation does not equal causation and continues by saying that you cannot cause your page to rank by claiming Place Page rather it will let you own your data and fill out everything accurately.
Mike then explains about Reviews and says that on Google listing account, only the Google reviews show with stars. “The more places you have reviews, the more different locations they come from, the more authority you still have for that location”.
He further, talks of Citation which according to him is one of thep very imortant ranking factor. A custom search for citations is: “biz name” + “address” + “phone number”.This is anywhere the biz name, address and local phone number are (NAP). For example, Google used to show a base list of citations on a places page. As of the July 21 update, they removed citations. The average biz had 36 listed on a places page, and 24 on pages ranking low. NAP = Business name + Business address + Business local phone number. NAP creates citation. Mike affirms that citations correlate very high with rankings. Highest correlation in study- high ranking businesses had on average 3,689 citations rather than the low ranking and bad data system.
Mike, suggests to find out about the links and signals that are coming from across the web by analyzing the off-site data. He also says to diversify your link building to get a lot of different root domains linking to you. The landing page used on your Place Page can be a landing page that is more relevant with more local information for the local user. He quotes the following data to explain his point:
- Offsite data: High rank = 2058. Low rank = 242
- Linking root domains: High rank = 157. Low rank = 25
If citations were the new links for local in 2009-10, links are the new citations for local in 2011-12.
Top takeaways from Mike's discussion:
- Exactness in Place: Keep Data Consistent
- Authority in Website: Focus on quality link
- Trust in Reviews: Get real reviews and your CTR will go up as you gain trust
Next in line was Matt McGee, Executive News Editor, Search Engine Land (@mattmcgee) who begins by presenting David Mihm’s presentation from SMX advanced. Matt says that the best local keyword research tool is Google Insights for Search Tool. Google determines location prominence and defines the structure in their patents.
Impact of Blended Results:
How does blended local search work? Matt explains that Google is trying to keep as much of the traffic for themselves as possible. A search for Nordstrom gives a searcher all the info a user needs to locate or contact a store without leaving the search results = pre-website conversion. He further, says that a pre-website conversion happens when searcher sees address, phone number, hours open, and public transportation options are shown right in the SERP. Google is used blended results for localized inventory. What products in your store can be indicated online?
The impact of blended results can be explained with the following results:
- The top spot is really important.
- Photos are very important.
- There have been a lot of studies on eye tracking on blended search results. Now our eye goes all over the place.
Matt asserts that “Local SEO is all about optimizing location and matching up links. Top slot and photos are REALLY important because sometimes only one blended results for local is shown in SERP”.
- Localized inventory: displays if a product is in stock nearby
- Proper Mindset: Understand that local requires a different mindset than general SEO.
Fundamental best practice:
- Submit your contact/location page as your Places URL/Landing page.
- Each location needs its own landing page.
- See Best Buy as an example of doing it right.
- KML site map to submit to Google where all your locations are
The Ideal Landing Page:
- Match local data with what is in Places listing
- Title tag and H1- places business title
- URL should include city name
- Not that different from PPC landing page
Other steps recommended by Matt McGee:
- Do not use tracking phone numbers anywhere. Even offline. Don’t make Google less certain of how user can reach you if phone numbers aren’t consistent.
- Consistency and look for authority, vertically relevant, geographically relevant, external title tags and location prominence (Google patent)
- Look where place snippets are pulled from on Google – check those sites as well as sites that rank well in organic results for your keywords. It’s helpful if they are high authority too!
- Search just on city name and go several pages deep – lots of interesting sites you may not know of but might be opportunities to get the citations.
Get reviews through e-mail campaigns:
- Segment customers with Gmail/Yahoo email address. Those people already have account and are logged in.
- Consider the eases of leaving a review for someone without an account.
- Consider the syndication value of review sources. ie. Citysearch is posted on many sites
- Point-of-sale followup for review Velocity should be consistent and feedback should be part of your everyday business process.
- Caveats – know the rules for incentives and review threshold.
- Get your bulk feed verified – email domain matches email domain listed in Places page.
- Geographic inbound anchor text
- Use custom categories for high-volume, high conversion keywords
- If you get a high authority review it will improve local search visibility.
- Remember to claim all your listings and clean up old and duplicate listings and categorize yourself properly.
- Good example of location based landing page: lakeland.co.uk/stores/aberdeen
The final speaker of the session was Will Scott, President, Search Influence who shares various tactics with the audience and other panel experts.
- Search for your phone number on Google Maps and see what you find.
- Only way to clean some of this stuff up is to hunt down original source of bad data, report wrong listing, and through community edits can make that bad data go away.
- Be honest telling them why you want the edit and give backup. Provide links, and do all the work for the editor so he can say you are approved more easily and quickly.
Alternative Citation Sources:
- Article engines can include citation data in the resource box. Anchor text to those locations.
- Facebook, Foursquare, Yelp and Gowalla are great citation sources. The more social signals are used, the more important this will be.
- Add to sponsor page if donate to organizations.
- Create location landing pages for your locations.
- Change landing page for Places Page.
- Build out pages to reinforce the NAP data.
The session ended here and went on to Q and A.Hard Core Local SEO Tactic: SMX East New York 2011, Day 1!,