I had the opportunity to go to the Search Marketing Expo (SMX West) in Santa Clara, California last week. Here are some notes I jotted down during the session: Search 3.0: Local Search & Blended Results. For further reading, I’ve found other resources covering this topic here and here.
SMX West: Search 3.0: Local Search & Blended Results
Brian Gill, Director of Product Management, Yahoo! Local
Gab Goldenberg, Owner, SEO ROI
Eric Lander, Associate Editor, Search Engine Journal
Chris Smith, Lead Search Strategist, NetConcepts
Kevin Hagwell, MSN
Chris Smith was the first presenter. For the most part, people use “city names” when doing local search. Location combined with category and biz name are keyword phrases users search for. Showed a couple of examples. “Why are the three listings on the top of local search results?”
- User ratings + proximity to the center of the city = results that usually are shown first in the list for MSN.
- User ratings + proximity + page rank of site = results that usually are shown first in the list for Yahoo. del.icio.us tags could also be a factor.
- User ratings + proximity + “regular SEO ranking criteria” = results that usually are shown in the top ten for Google. Google is unique because sometimes their local one-box is shown in the middle of the SERP whereas Yahoo & MSN’s one-boxes are shown always at the top
Google has limited set of biz categories which could hinder growth in the future. Overall, for all three engines, there’s an over-emphasis on Centroid Proximity locations shown first. When submitting different locations of business to Google Local, don’t just use the homepage URL; use each location’s own dedicated page.
Gab was the next speaker. “How I got Two Listings in One SERP.” You can now have “dual listings” in Google Local – one in the one-box and another in the regular organic listings. Reviews / testimonials should be added to your business listing for local; even if you plug them in and give them credit. Follow-up with direct mail or email to ask for a review – provide an incentive here like a coupon or perhaps a free dessert or something.
Eric was the last speaker. Tips on local search… alright! Verified listings:
- Google (manually verified)
- Yahoo (manually verified)
- MSN (manually verified)
- Reach Local (feed based)
- Localeze (feed based)
- infoUSA (feed based)
Trusted sources: Internet Yellow Pages (SuperPages, YellowPages, YellowBook, etc.) & Social (Yelp, etc.).
Take time to list out your address on your site and setup a cross link to a trusted place (like Mapquest). Localeze – Merchant Profile Manager: add, edit or remove single listings for free. Local search is very much social… so get some reviews!
QnA followed. Yahoo! Local is rolling out a very interesting open platform. Here’s some detailed info about that.