With SMX West, the SEMMYs and big news in the mapping world, my friends and colleagues in Local have been busy this past week. Keep apace with the latest in Local Search by taking a gander at these informative and important articles.
Mike Blumenthal reports that Google says claimed LBC records can no longer be hijacked. I am hoping Mike will be able to give me a bit more information as to what, exactly, Google has done to protect claimed listings. I'm not feeling clear on that, but it's important news.
On the subject of hijacking, Matt McGee has just returned from SMX West with a quote from Maps Guide Jen Chin to the tune of local business hijackings being rare. We've certainly seen plenty of them in the past year, so I'm not sure rare is an accurate adjective to apply to this scenario of lost income and reputation sabotage, but it's the line Google is taking. Perhaps with the new fixes in place, hijackings will become less common. Matt also mentions that the trouble of trying to use Maps to promote businesses with multiple service locations came up and that Google has yet to find a solution to this very common challenge.
If you missed SMX West, don't make 2 mistakes by missing the coverage of it. Susan Esparza offers a good synopsis of the Local session over at the Bruce Clay blog.
Greg Sterling reveals that, as of January, Google Maps has just surpassed Mapquest as the web's #1 mapping entity. I commented on this at Greg's blog:
So, it's really going to happen. As wary as I feel of the monopolistic reach of Google, they deserve congratulations if these figures play out.
And in addition to giving congratulations, I think this is the right time to exhort Google and TeleAtlas to start delivering a first class mapping entity, if they are going to sit in 1st place with honor.
There are so many errors in TeleAtlas' data...city blocks missing, outdated railroads appearing instead of major hwys, etc. I was speaking to a friend recently whose buddies are old-timers in the print map industry. Little by little, the talents in the print mapping field have been acquired by the digital mapping industry (Navteq, TeleAtlas), and according to this friend, there is a huge difference in attention to detail and accuracy given by the 2 industries.
The web is steadily replacing our former sources for news, maps, business data, contact information, etc. I would like to see the new sources offer data of an equal or superior quality...not an inferior one, or the information-seeking public will be the loser in this change to a digital world.
So, to Google I say: don't just be first - be best.
While we're congratulating Google for pulling into first place in the mapping sphere, congratulations are also in order for David Mihm carrying off 1st place honors in the Local category of the 2009 SEMMYs. David's article, Local Search Ranking Factors richly deserved this award. I was fortunate to participate in the project which led to David's meaty, info-packed survey regarding major factors for achieving success in Local Search. Congratulations to David and to all of the SEMMY-nominated bloggers! 2008 was filled with quality posts.
Wending our way northward, Steve Hatcher of Axemedia gives us a terrific article on the state of local search in Canada. He highlights some very interesting differences in the quantity and quality of 3rd party data providers and as Steve works with clients on both sides of the border, his insight into this subject is considerable. Definitely worth a read.
Finally, a reminder that a key element in your Local Search efforts is your company's website. Your website acts both as your tool for getting high organic rankings for your service + location terms and as your ultimate welcome to users who get to you via your Local Search Marketing campaigns. This week, I gave an interview to Leopard Solutions, a legal resources firm in New York, regarding common web design errors that can undermine your business' ability to use the web effectively as an income-generating asset. My original article on this subject was nominated for a SEMMY award in 2008, and I warmly invite you to watch the new screencast interview which focuses on basic human usability and SEO in quality website design.
It's no secret that local businesses are struggling to keep their doors open in 2009. There could not be a better time for these business owners and their SEOs and web designers to start making the most of the powerful marketing opportunities Local Search Optimization provides. Keeping up with the Local news may make the difference between closing up shop and making it to the top.
Miriam Ellis is the co-owner of Solas Web Design and CopyLocal, providing SEO-based website design, Local SEO and professional copywriting for small-to-medium North American businesses. She is the Local SEO Associate in the Q&A Forum at SEOmoz, a moderator at Cre8asite Forums and an annual participant in David Mihm's Local Search Ranking Factors report. When she and her husband are not working on the web, they're farming organically and working on increased sustainability or roaming about in nature having the time of their lives.
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