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Local 2.0 The evolution of local search: SES London 2011

Moderator: Andy Atkins Kruger – Webcertain

Speakers: Lisa Myers – Verve Search, and Jens Munch – Strategic Partnerships, Google

First up is Lisa, speaking from a client perspective.

Some stats:

  • 1 in 5 queries have local intent.
  • 97% of consumers use the web to shop locally
  • local is the fastest growing trend in search. Lots of traffic to be had in local.
  • 20% of all google search queries are related to local search

Google places / Google local / Google local business listings (or whatever Google’s calling it this month!)

Local business centre was re-launched as Google places with new features in April 2010. Including:

  • location of Google maps in web search moved to the right of the screen
  • Google hotpot launched in November 2010

Moving the map to the right hand side has pushed the organic listings below the fold! Search marketers around the world think WTF???

Key ranking factors in the local algorithm

  • location – proximity of your business to the search query, the relevance such as business name, associated categories
  • relevance – including your business name and category listings
  • prominence – includes data citations, reviews, occurences of business in UGC

Categories are a very important factor – you need to choose at least one of Google’s suggested categories, some belive that the more of Google’s recognised categories you choose the better, but it depends how relevant they are to your product or service offering.

You need to upload as much content as you can – photos and videos etc. Fill the profile out as fully as you can.

Top local search ranking factors

  • category association – use at least 1 suggested default categoroes, spammy custom categories can result in penalties
  • citations – is the most powerful offpage factor
  • customer reviews

Ranking factors becoming less important

  • keywords in business name
  • location keywords in business categories

These are both now frowned upon, avoid these. Location keywords in place description – use them but overuse can look spammy.

Emerging ranking factors

  • add coupons
  • reviews – event more important than before – the more the merrier, and be aware that they might start using sentiment analysis so make sure you get good ones :)
  • Volume of UGC such as videos, images etc

Citations

  • Citation are the most important and long standing ranking factor.
  • You need to make sure they are consistent and that your footprint across the directories is exactly the same including name, address and phone number.
  • Do a competitor citation analysis – see where they are getting their citations from.
  • Citation development is alot like link development.

Reviews

  • Get your customers onside and get them reviewing. Don’t game reviews.
  • Review velocity – if you get a thousand overnight this will look spammy.
  • Decor my eyes/Rodriguez-gate meant Google needs to start keeping sentiment in mind

Tracking - it aint easy!

  • utilise filters in analytics
  • implement 301 redirects

There are positives and negatives with each approach.

New features

Google is monetising places by using place tags – just in US at the mo but will come to the UK.

Google hotpot – google’s own review engine. is integrating your social circle into your local results.

Tools

local citation finder

whitespark.ca/local-citation-finder

local competitor analysis

localsearchtoolkit.com

local queries for citation prospecting

ontolo 44 local link building queries for citation propsecting

Top UK citation cites – check David Mihm for UK citations

  • localdatacompany.com
  • marketlocation.com
  • qype.co.uk
  • yell.com
  • brownbook.com
  • touchlocal.com
  • ufindus.com
  • smilelocal.com

Resources – blogs

Mike Blumenthals – http://blumenthals.com/blog/

David Mihm – http://www.davidmihm.com/blog/

Martijn Beijk – http://www.martijnbeijk.com/

vervesearch.com

There were alot of juicy tidbits in this I may well have missed – check out Lisa’s local search presentation on the Verve blog.

Next up is Jens Munch from Google

Speaking about local and mobile and how they connect.

In the last quarter of 2010 it was the first quarter when more smartphones had been sold then laptops or tabletops.

He hasn’t used a map since he got an i phone in 2007.

20% of queries have local intent, on mobile phone this is a third of queries.

Huge growth in mobile and therefore local, so you have exponential growth in local.

Benefits for the users:

  • Price transparency – scanning the bar code of a product and getting real time prices
  • location based services – e.g. shopkick – where you can check into shops and get discounts. Phenomenal growth in the US.
  • immediate gratification – spotify, video, shopping online etc

Benefits for the industry:

  • cross channel – aiding the experience of selling on the floor – scan and find reviews, q and a’s.
  • closing the loop – connecting what you are doing on line with what is actually happening in the retail space. Will help quantify ROI of online on the 93% of spend that actually happens in store.
  • optimisation
  • granular targeting – facebook places deals. Enables businesses to talk to those that are in the vicinity and the offer goes out virally.

Google Latitude

Launched in early February and recebtly relaunched with new functionality. No advertising, offers or deals. New functions include on login or check in you can only check in to existing places, so you need to make sure your google places feed is in good shape (because customers will not be able to add you). Automatically checks you in and out.

Real time updates – you can see when people have arrived, if you are meeting them.

Need to work more closely with partners to get structured data into Latitude.

Google local shopping

New feature of google shopping – basic proposition is that all of the online services for finding products online and great, but with growth of mobile and local it’s great to see where you can buy that is actually NEAREST to you.

In the US this new feature is live – shows where you can find products, right now, near you, that are in stock. You can use a postcode in shopping – no ‘call for availability’ option – it will actual tell you who has the item in stock. Then you can click through to the map results so you can set off and get it straight away.

Google maps

Structured data is becoming more important. Its really important to have a process in place to it can be recreated and every week or month people are updating your data and feeds.

Gives the example of the John Lewis places page. The listing has been claimed and all fields have been completed. If you have more than 10 listing you need to verify by email

Finally…

There is a tremendous growth in mobile and therefore local. There are lots of opportunities for businesses to take advantage of this. get systems and processes in place to take advantage of these opportunities

8 Comments

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