SMX Advanced 2013: Maps and Metros – Surviving And Thriving In Local Search was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.
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.
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
- 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.
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.
- Target long-tail categories to expand search radius.
- 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.
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.
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
- Quick check the extent of data inconsistency
- Determine your strategy
- Check/update NAP info on ALL websites for that client
- Gather the information you need
- Discover inconsistent data and prioritize updates
- Report duplicates and problems at Google ASAP
- Correct/submit/report problems at data providers
- Correct/submit/report problems at Tier 2 directories
- Correct/submit/report problems at add’l trusted places
- Wait 45-90 days
- Recheck and repeat
- Google Places Tool
- Spot check 6-8 in large cities
- Ask client where their problems are.
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
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
- Whitespark Citation Finder Tool
Check and modify or submit at data providers.
Mary then covered the process for scrubbing your data in phases.
How long does it take?
Show this to clients that it’s not overnight.
Get a baseline and compare.
It can happen fast, but plan 3-6 months to get through process.
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:
- Local listings
- Local Marketing Source – local keyword tool
- Google Places for Business Category Tool
- Google Trends to see how a term performs
- Use new Google AdWords keyword tool to determine keyword variations, e.g. using an s at end or keyword before location.
- Run a report in Google Analytics by state and take our brand keywords.
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.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
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.
Do your link research!
- Google Webmaster Tools – Export
- Cognitive SEO – Anchor text, trend lines, links
- GetListed.org – 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.