With Panda/Penguin/Venice has Google made local search optimization easier or harder?
Venice update gave local a big boost but Panda/Penguin has made it too complicated for local businesses. I think Panda/Penguin have unfortunately killed some local businesses who don’t have the time/expertise to study Google.
@dan_patterson: So from an SEO perspective I don’t directly optimize for local, but I will say that I see more and more SERPs taking a local slant.
@bryanphelps: Think that is good or bad?
@dan_patterson: I’m kind of undecided on it honestly. I work on ‘local’ keywords, and it’s harder for us to rank for some of them now. I think Google is trying really hard to assume them know what my intent is. Well.. we all know what assuming does.
@nelsonjames: I think it’s good & bad. I wish there was an advanced operator that would trigger local if you wanted it on.
@bryanphelps: Yeah, interesting idea. I’ve seen local triggered on searches that were definitely not local.
@dan_patterson: Maybe not even an advanced operator, just another option. “web”, “image”, “local”
@kmullett: Just conferring with the other guys here… meh. It removed a bit of gray hattery that some where doing.
@victorpan: Panda/Penguin -> Local harder, Venice = Easier, Overall – still hard.
@thompsonpaul: And just the media talking about all the algo changes has discouraged a lot of local businesses from even considering.
@bryanphelps: yep, had mulitple biz owners send me links to WSJ, CNET, etc. articles.
@victorpan: Local businesses – generally no idea about SEO. Fledgling SEO approaches them.Fledgling SEO resorts to grey/black hattery.
@dan_patterson: and then the local business buys a “$50/mo Silver Package” without really knowing what they’re getting.
@nelsonjames: For some reason, my auto detection at work is for san marcos TX. I wonder how many people know how/bother to change that settings.
@dan_patterson: EXACTLY! They’re doing too much for the ‘power users’ IMO. The average user is just getting more and more lost as they cram more and more universal stuff into the SERPs.
@nelsonjames: Point: No one in my company of fairly internet savvy people knew about personalized results or how to turn them off.
@thompsonpaul: Bingo. Many clients still refer to their rankings based on what they see in their own browsers week to week.
@kmullett: It is amazing how many clients think there is ONE true SERP for all.
@bryanphelps: Good point. the Google WMT average rank is an interesting metric to look at with clients.
What have you seen as the most successful method to getting reviews for a local biz
One of the best examples I’ve seen is one of the most obvious. Client personally emailed/called his clients. Didn’t send a generic email blast. Didn’t buy them. Just asked some of his best customers personally. We always recommend creating a flyer/biz card w/ instructions about how to leave a review.
@davidmalmborg: Do QR codes in the office with a sign “Tell us how we’re doing” work? I always thought it was a good idea.
@bryanphelps: No specific stats on that but I would think it’s low. So few people know how to use a QR code.
@davidmalmborg: I think getting them to do the review while on location is the key though.
@kmullett: QR Codes may be part and may be used by the percentage predisposed to do so, like all methods.
@nelsonjames: The use of QR codes in marketing is prominent. The actual USE by consumers is extremely low in my opinion.
@dan_patterson: Seems like a lot of marketers think QR is cool, but most consumers don’t get it. My problem with QR codes is that I usually don’t want to check things out on my phone.
@nelsonjames: Some type of incentive/coupon/discount seems to be the ticket there … unfortunately. It’s almost like buying them.
@thompsonpaul: And many review sites will penalize your reviews if found to have been rewarded like that – e.g. @yelp
@dan_patterson: I don’t have real experience here, but it seems to me like having an incentive for the review could work well. Even a drawing-type.
@kmullett: As long as Google or Yelp doesn’t catch wind of it. Of course Yelp is reported to “help” you fix bad reviews.
@bryanphelps: Someone can correct me if wrong but I believe GOOG says it’s okay to do a giveaway style contest to get reviews. But you can’t pay someone directly to give you a review.
@iGoByDoc: You could do a random winner of the month or something. Not reward all.
@dan_patterson: There’s a BIG difference between “here’s $5 to review us” and “hey, tell us honestly what you think and we’ll put you in a drawing”.
@bryanphelps: Saw a cool local company incentivize bloggers to do a review on their blog. Diff purpose but helps protect “company review” serps and spread the word, of course.
@kmullett: Exceptional service followed by the sad realization that you have to ask/remind people you desire feedback.
@dan_patterson: It’s so dumb though, cause really I don’t see any problem with it. People always need motivation to do something.
@bryanphelps: Instead of QR codes, I’ve seen businesses have a “review kiosk”/ipad which is okay by Google, probably not Yelp
@davidmalmborg:: @bryanphelps Why would yelp not like a review kiosk?
@bryanphelps:: I could be wrong on that. Yelp is just much more picky about obtaining reviews.
@thompsonpaul:: Problem with “kiosk” is it’s using the business IP address – will get many reviews flagged/deleted (eg TripAdvisor).
@bryanphelps:: That’s always been my concern. Connect your kiosk to a mobile hotspot, rotating IP
What are the most competitive local search verticals, in your opinion?
Anything travel related is in my top 5 most competitive. 1st verticals that come to mind: travel, insurance, real estate.
@thompsonpaul: There’s a lot of untapped opportunity for Local for travel in smaller cities/towns though. Services business can be really tough too – a MASSIVE amount of black hat going on – locksmiths, plumbers etc.
What do you think are some of the biggest changes are coming to local search?
Predictions: Apple Maps and Yelp make a run at Google+ Local.
Prediction 2: With the change to Google+ Local, reviews and circles become a much bigger deal in Google+ Local algo.
@kmullett: Abstaining due to malfunctioning 8 ball and fear that Google is listening. (slips on tin-foil cap)
@dan_patterson: Well, based on what’s going on I’m thinking more and more local integration with G+.
@bryanphelps: Def. agree. With reviews auto posting to your G+ feed, lots of potential.
@thompsonpaul: And Apple Maps/Yelp will have MAJOR quality problems initially, causing severe pain for business at least for a while.
@bryanphelps: Yes, I totally expect it to be messy. If Google struggles as much as they do, can’t imagine anyone else will nail it.
@iGoByDoc: And that’s a shame as so many businesses are ignoring Yelp. They need to make time for it.
@bryanphelps: Other downside of Yelp is adoption is much diff around the country. If Apple really relies on Yelp to determine popular businesses, you could see the slower adoption areas jump on it very quickly.
@thompsonpaul: Bigger concern: where Apple gets local business info – ie multiple directories. How will bus. be allowed to correct?
@bryanphelps: Rumor right now is data will be from localeze. Unconfirmed rumor, I believe.
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