I am concerned for local and national advertisers when I see, unscrupulous firms that do not understand the local space selling products to advertisers that will not impact their local lead generation in a meaningful way.
The latest area that has my attention is SEO (Search Engine Optimization) firms that now all of the sudden do “local”. Heck I would do the same thing , as the importance of SEO for most local categories has diminished in favor of Place Pages. But alas, it is not as easy as taking the tactics that they have employed for optimizing a web site and applying them to Local Search Optimization. Why, because while conceptually some best practices overlap, for example keyword rich content, many differ dramatically. SEO is based on search engine ‘spidered” data, whereas Local Search is based on a portion of that same data coupled with a structured listings database.
NAP – Name, Address, Phone citations are the connective glue that Search Engines use to join information (e.g., ratings & reviews, User Generated Content, etc.) to a business listing. They are to local search, what back-links are to SEO. Now here is my rant. I have heard of cases where the new “Local” experts are counseling & charging their clients for creating links to the firm’s (insert Google, Yahoo or Bing) Place Page as a strategy for improving the position result for their Place Page in the search engine results. What a waste of time and money.
Instead, merchants should focus their energy on four activities related to Place Pages:
Accuracy – All listings for the business need to be reviewed, and corrected when necessary. Similarly, wrong, old listings must be removed or “closed”.
Distribution – It’s not just about Google. Seek out all local listing and listing aggregators, directories, etc. Many of these sources syndicate data to things like GPS devices, mobile carriers, etc.
Signal Strength – Consistency of the NAP across all sources (distribution) is vitally important. Something as simple as a wrong suite number or zip code can impact your citations and hence your position in search results. Don’t forget about your website – does that NAP match your Place Pages? Is your business name consistent?
Enrichment – Beyond NAP, merchants have the option to add rich content that helps educate the consumer on “why” to buy from them. Additionally, there is an opportunity to optimize this content to leverage the position building attributes it provides.
For more tips on Place Page Optimization, here is a recent column 15miles published in Clickz. Or if you are a qualifying national or regional brand, sign up for a Free Local Search Audit on our website www.15miles.com.