While Internet Yellow Pages fight for top spots in the SERPs, Local Search Marketers continue their love-hate relationship with Google's omnipotent position in the Local world. Andrew Shotland and Matt McGee tell it like it is. If you're into Local, tune into this!
Who's The King Of The IYPs?
Andrew Shotland had just released his IYP SEO Rankings Report 2009 in which he lays out for us which local indexes are getting the most consistent high rankings in Google. Andrew investigated the top 20 IYPs in the top 20 U.S. Cities. The results are as follows:
4. Yahoo Local
6. YellowPages.com 7. BizJournals
SuperPages, as you can see, is Top Dog and likely the most important IYP for your local business to be listed in. I asked Andrew to shed some light on what he'd learned from this year's research and he made a very illuminating comment:
"It was interesting that the top 4 iyps had 75% of the rankings. When I am doing research I notice a lot of these brands showing up but it surprised me that these 4 were so dominant. If I were a competitor I'd be looking for the categories & geos that these guys were not as strong in and solidifying my position. When I finish the city by city analysis it should yield some more actionable data in regards to this."
The takeaway here for local business owners is to be certain to create a strong presence in those top 4 indexes. But don't ignore the other guys. Every effort you can make to create good profiles across the board will only increase your visibility on the web.
Google LBC in Matt McGee's Dog House
Matt McGee isn't the first to find fault with the new layers of reporting data recently rolled out in Google's Local Business Center, but his article on the subject is the most thorough one I've read and it has sparked some good conversation in the comments.
Here's the problem: Google is now giving local business owners some feedback about how users are searching for their companies. However, Google has removed all of the location-oriented keywords from the reported phrases. Since Local Search hinges on location, it's a no-brainer to see why we're having a problem with this. As Matt says:
"The mistake Google made is that it pre-washed the keyword data that's available in the Local Business Center. Google took away the most actionable, informative, and helpful parts of the data and isn't showing it in the dashboard....This is local search, folks. LOCAL. It's all about location. What good is data if the addresses are removed from the keywords that people used to find your business listing?"
Here's a visual example of this data issue. As you will see, there is no mention of a town name, a street address or a zip code to be seen:
Google cites privacy concerns as their reasons for sterilizing their keyword results in this manner (see Google's very interesting new LBC newsletter), but wait just a minute. See here, Google. You have been caught driving down private lanes in order to photograph houses and now you are concerned about privacy? That sits very oddly with me. I'm with Matt on this in that there is very little value in the type of abbreviated data currently being shown in LBC dashboards. What's a Local SEO or a local business owner to do with this data? It will be interesting to see how this evolves over the coming months.
In the meantime, I think it's worth mentioning that another section in the LBC dashboard does give us some valuable, location-oriented clues about how users are finding our local business. Here is the mapped feature depicting where queries for driving directions are coming from:
I see this information as useful and actionable. Does your website's contact page offer written driving directions from your most-searched locations? Do those directions, perhaps, mention major landmarks, businesses and neighborhoods along the way? Do you have any interesting articles on your site or blog targeting those locations and zip codes? Are there any businesses in those zip codes with which you have a relationship? Would they blog about you, or even put some of your brochures on their front desk? "No," you say? Well, get working on it! Today's a great day to get started.
What the IYPs are doing, what Google is doing...these are very important areas of knowledge for you to pursue, but never forget that your local business' website is the one entity over which you have total control. Set your standards high and do a little something every day as you work towards becoming Top Dog when it comes to serving your neighbors.
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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