DISCLAIMER: This post is written as a live blog from Mozcon. There may be typos and grammar to make my high school English teachers weep. Please excuse those … it’s a fast=paced conference with back-to-back sessions and no time for proofing or even proper writing.
Mary Bowling from Ignitor Digital is up on stage to chat the Future of Local. It was rudimentary back in 2004 when it started but they’ve become far better. In 2010 they had the best experience (as an SEO) then had it pulled back and in 2015 we have a totally different local experience.
Fortunately the evolution of local has resulted in a far better set of results leading SEOs to leaning on real strategies. Their pillars are:
Proximity – is it close?
Relevance – is it relevant?
Prominence – what businesses of this type stand out?
The Pigeon Update caused a major shift. The searcher become the Centroid. The searcher is a relevant factor in the equation – their location dictates the results. The key then is to dominate in your local area. Then you need to expand realistically. Once you have your area use local strategies to widen the circle.
“Use a precise, accurate address to describe your business location. PO Boxes or mailboxes located at remote locations are not acceptable.”
PO Boxes are not acceptable.
Regarding a virtual office – if it is not open your normal operating hours do not create a page for that location. It will only show your shortened hours.
One issue they have is shared office environments.
She then asserts that Google needs to trust locations. This brings up to Citations:
Citations (according to Moz) are: A mention of a business name in close proximity to its address, phone number, or both. Used by the search engines to weigh both the accuracy and popularity of businesses in their indexes.
With citations quality far exceeds quality.
Google My Business
There have been some major guideline changes. Use your real world name in your listing (no keyword stuffing) and if you haven’t read them recently – do so now. They’re providing clear direction.
They’re also offering guidelines for authorized representatives (we SEOs).
She now mentions Moz’s category tool for link building. Outside the US Bumenthals’ tool may be more helpful.
Focus on reviews for their impact on conversions and new traffic, not SEO.
They will push you to fix your business issues and drive more business in general.
Pigeon pushed the importance of links at the same time Penguin was frightening people.
The key is to get “real” links. Her thought (and a good one) is – if the link is clickable and could drive actual real traffic. That’s the definition of a real link.
Link buildign is easier in local search as it’s real people in real places. They have the relationships – we just have to help facilitate the usage of these relationships for link building.
She refers to growing local barnacles. That is – attaching yourself to sites that rank for what you want to rank for or have the audience that you want to get in front of.
She also advices to go hyper-local. The sites may not be pretty but they’re of great interest.
You also want to build local karma. Sponsor events or donate to local charities. Be active in your community.
You then want to move those referrals online. If people refer to you, ask them to move that referral online and if it makes sense, don’t have issue with linking back.
Local news sites are a key. They’re probably the only ones interested in local news.
Look To The Future
Think about how Google is growing and getting smarter and make sure you’re getting smarter to match it.