Local Search and Advertising

November 11, 2010
By Lisa Barone in Internet Marketing Conferences

Okay, time to get back to our local roots. Here to talk about local search and advertising we have Doyal Bryant, Brian Combs, (Curtis) R. Curtis, and Mark Munroe. Imagine if I had coffee in my hands right now? That would be *amazing*.

Oh, uh, we’re starting. Yeah.

Up first is Doyal Bryant. He has 53 slides. He noticed that most people only have 10. Oops.

Important Changes to Google

Reference to Locality: One out of five searches on Google is related to location. The difference now is that it’s becoming increasingly important to list local content.

Visual Layout: Local searches are integrated into a normal SERP. Content from each business Web site has been blended with the data from their Place page.

Google’s changes suggest that a business or an SEO that has created a good Web presence AND local search listing will come out on top. This means if you’re not optimizing your Google Places you should do so immediately as the rules of ranking have been totally changed. At the very least, us KnowEm to claim your listing. The more places you are, the more trust you get in Google. Google is looking for those citations.

6 Easy Steps to mess up your listings:

  • Messing with names – stuffing with keywords
  • Call tracking numbers
  • Address social climbing
  • Category Lapses
  • Missing data elements
  • Insufficient distribution

Search Blunders on Location Search

It is understood that creating local listings in the search engines is a critical factor in being found. Are you visible? You may think so but then why are 38-40 percent of business listings incorrect, deficient or missing entirely? It’s due to re-branding, relocation, missing or wrong URLs, etc. Many SMBs are under-represented, especially if they work from home. Even large businesses need to manage this process – audits show more than 20 percent of listings are inaccurate, leading to loss of business.

[He’s flipping through his slides too fast.  I can’t write down a word. Sorry. There’s actually talk on Twitter about how the hell I’m getting anything down. I’m really not.]

Don’t use call tracking numbers. He says they’re not allowed on the Internet. Heh. If you use call tracking numbers you’re losing citation power because the number of people looking for that phone number is different.

Categories are the single most important factor in discoverability after location. Different publishers use different systems. Universal Business Listing translates these. Businesses overlook simple ones that are vital like hours of operation. Video is the future, even if it is simple slideshow hosted on YouTube.   Creating comprehensive enhanced listings are very important. Enhance your listings with:

  • Storefront photos
  • business descriptions
  • products
  • services
  • brands
  • keywords
  • languages spoken
  • alternate biz names
  • anchor
  • unofficial landmarks

Additional URLs/Links up to 9 URLs

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • YouTube
  • Alternative Social URL
  • Coupon Links
  • Logo Links

Reputation Management: More important than ever. It’s critical to have some way to manage and look at reviews. They’re trying to work hard with all the different ORM companies.

Changes in Google Places

  • Get listed accurately:
  • Have the correct phone number
  • Claim your listing

Holy crap that was some fast talking! Speakers, there’s no point in HAVING 53 slides if you don’t have time to talk about them all and you need to rush through everything. Geesh.

Next up is Brian Combs. Let’s hope he speaks slower.

Yelp doesn’t want people to encourage the reviews, but that’s not the reality. So how do you encourage them?

Why do reviews matter? They impact rankings on Google Places and the other local engines. On Google Places, the quality of the review does not matter. As far as conversion goes, good reviews are much more important. Reviews are also a very good feedback channel.

Things to Remember:

  • Be Proactive
  • Be Transparent
  • Be ready for that bad review!

Places to Get Reviews

  • Google, Yahoo, Bing
  • Third-party sites
  • Diversity is Good – broadens the exposure of your reviews

Where to push reviews

  • Search engine or third party?
  • Which third party Web site?

See where your competitors are getting reviews. If the customer already has an established account with a review system, a review there might be worth more.

Ways to encourage reviews

  • Its a mindset
  • make it a process
  • be ethical and transparent
  • be creative – ask business partners, not just customers

Keywords in reviews definitely impact rankings. It gives you additional real estate for content. It’s good for long tail terms and for blocked terms. Be careful when manipulating review content.   Review velocity is clearly part of the algorithm – that is the pace in which reviews come in. If you have a constant stream of reviews coming in, that’s recognized. That’s why it’s better to have a process that gets reviews in over time instead of just getting  a big chunk at one time.

hCard Microformat: Google announced a month ago they’re supporting hCard Microformat.  Open to all players. It’s not clear how it will impact rankings because it’s awfully easy to game.

Google Filtering Reviews: Questionable reviews removed. [See Mike Blumenthal’s blog for a good post on this. I’d link if I had more time] Algorithm, not human removed. Doesn’t seem to be impacting third-party sites where their reviews are aggregated

Responding to Reviews

  • Listen to what is being said
  • Should you respond? Not always. It depends on the type of complainer.
  • Calm down before you respond. Don’t make it worse. Own your negatives.

Types of Complaints

  1. Those with legit complaints: You have to fix the problem or engaging will just make it worse.
  2. Unrealistic expectations
  3. Lunatics
  4. Former Employees

If you Engage

  • Expect to make mistakes
  • Pick your battles
  • There are no secretes
  • Lose your ego, not your cool

Things to Avoid

  • Don’t Self Review
    • Very easy to spot
    • Could be fraud
    • Don’t become an example
  • Review Services

Controversial Issues

  • Rules are vague
  • incentivized reviews
  • encouraging reviews at multiple sites
  • entering review at place of business
  • can you pay to remove a review?


  • For Dentists only
  • Becoming cost of having a seat at the table
  • Higher quantities may be nerf’d
  • Will Google continue to allow this? It seems so.

Closing Thoughs: If your business sucks, you may not want to encourage reviews.

Up next is Curtis.

SEO took years. It may seem like it was just yesterday, but it took years. Local has been overnight. It’s here before you even know it’s crept up on you.   If phonebooks are your idea of local advertising, it’s time to shake things up.  There is no better change right now than local search. It’s the golden opportunity of its time.  While 75 percent of all online business searches are locally related and the numbers are growing.

43 percent of search engines users are searching locally to buy offline

Local advertising revenues to reach $144.9 billion by 2014. Advertisers are going to move toward local. This is going to really heat up as they all fight for this money.

Three Categories of Local Advertising

  1. Local Search: Bing vs Google vs Twitter
  2. Consumer Reviews: Yelp, CitySearch, FourSquare, Google, etc. This is UGC.
  3. Social Networks: Twitter, Google, Facebook, etc. The potential here is astronomical

Google Tags: 25 dollars a month. You can enhance links, add photos and videos.

Facebook Places: Is this the next killer local ad platform?  Lots of things happening here that’s rivaling Google. He thinks everyone should be looking into this.

Facebook Deals:  Some great FB deals at places like Harrah’s, JCPenney’s, Gap’s giving away free jeans, Macy’s, etc.

The next generation of local – mobile phones vs tables. Let’s people have a much more enhanced multimedia experience. Some local apps include CitySearch, Yelp, DexKnows, SuperPages. etc.

Over 25 percent of all businesses are inaccurately listed or completely missing online where they need to be found. Sad face.  He pimps out Universal Business Listing and tells people to check out what they’re doing. It’s just too easy. It’s inexpensive, it’s easy to manage, etc. He calls it one of the best deals on the Internet today.

Up next is Mark.

It’s a great big Internet out there.  A search on Google reveals 75 million results for a plumber and 97 million hardware stores.  You have to try and break through the noise.  You want to increase your footprint on the Web and make use of big feet like Google and Facebook.

How to Grow Your Footprint

  • Create content on your Web site
  • Build links to your Web site
  • Take advantage of content opportunities across the Web
  • Take advantage of content opportunities on the big local sites to rank for more keywords, get your content distributed, and generate links back to your site.

Does SEO still matter? It keeps dying. It’s died six times. But yes, it does.  Are other local sites still relevant with Google Places? YES.

How come the big locals outrank my Web site? What does the big local sites have that you don’t? Reputation, age and links.  When you see the big locals on Google, don’t get angry…get customers!

Who to Target?

  1. Quantcast top 200 included sites
  2. Smaller, industry-specific sites
  3. Looks for sites that have good reputation in Google
  4. Look for sites with many millions of pages in the index.

Get your basics in order – make sure your basic info is consistent across all your listings. It’s easy and relatively inexpensive to use a third party service to get your basics right. However, they may miss some sites you think are important.

Your Business Descriptoin

If using a service – dont count on the structured data getting distributed out to all listing site. Include the important things in your textual description

  • Detail your specific brands, products and services
  • Get your keywords phrases in the description
  • But do use the structure data

Claim your site: Once you have  identified the site you want to focus on, claim your listing. Learn what’s unique about each local site and leverage it. Are there coupons, blogs, reviews, products and services, etc. Look for opportunities to create distinct pages. If you can create distinct pages it’s a huge SEO opportunity. You can target keywords that take advantage of the reputation of the domain trust the content is on.

And we’re done. Oh my word, that was some quick talking.  Next session starts in two minutes.  Meet you there.

Online Marketing
Online Marketing

21 SEO Interview Questions (and Why I Chose Outspoken Media)

on Nov 20 by Sean Stahlman

Hi! I’m Sean, Director of Client Services for Outspoken Media. I like skateboarding, snowboarding, sneakers, and search marketing. In the…

Social Media
Social Media

Does Your CEO Know What You’re Doing? Does Everyone?

on Nov 16 by Lisa Barone

You just looked over your shoulder and had a mini panic attack, didn’t you? It’s okay. Your secret’s safe with…


5 Ways Twitter’s New Homepage Schools Yours

on Mar 31 by Lisa Barone

See that up there? That’s the new Twitter redesign that was launched yesterday. Not exactly earth shattering news, but it’s…

^Back to Top