Watch Local Splash Founder & CTO, David Rodecker offer his two cents on the changes that Google made to their UI and algorithm in 2010. He also gives advice on how to optimize your business for great local search ranking. This was part of the Local 2.0 panel at SES NY in March of 2011.
View in YouTube and while you’re watching, click the “like” button (thumbs up icon below “play”).
Early this morning, we observed an interesting development in one of our clients’ Google listings.
Google Maps shows two different listings for the same business. In some cases they are almost completely different records, but in other cases the listings are nearly identical. The most common differences are found in the business’s address or phone number.
We’ve grouped these phenomena into two categories: alias duplicates and exact duplicates.
In the case of the alias duplicates, the authentic listing shows up exactly as it is supposed to—the contact information and content we provided appear as expected. However, another business listing can be found that contains identical contact information and content; the only noticeable difference is the business name.
To determine if the listing is an alias duplicate, copy the permalink to the listing (which can be found in the link box). Travel to this link instead of the link you’re already viewing. There will be a question mark (?) in front of the CID and then a number. This number is the unique content identifier used by Google. If they are the exact same number, you’ll be looking at the exact same record, but with two different faces. The results shown depend upon the user’s query. To establish which record is the primary record, remove every part of the URL after the CID number. Traveling to this link will bring you to the primary record, which is the most trustworthy listing. The other record is maintained by Google just in case someone is to directly search for that business by its content alone.
For example, if ABC Plumbing was the primary record and Powerhouse Plumbing was the alias duplicate, Powerhouse Plumbing would only be viewed if someone directly queried Powerhouse Plumbing, since all of the content in the record would yield results for ABC Plumbing. It’s for this reason that a primary record and its duplicate listing will never be seen in the same search results.
Unfortunately, there’s very little we can do about this anomaly, but comfort can be taken in the fact that the alias duplicate can only be found when a user searches for that business name directly—there’s no other way to find the duplicate listing. On top of this, any attempt to utilize the contact information will result in contact with the business in the primary record.
Exact duplicates are listings that closely match the business name and contact information, but have entirely different content. They also have different records, or CIDs. At first glance, it looks as though Google has failed to compress these accounts into a single listing. This could be due to the fact that the two records do not have overlapping categories, or much of any other comparable information for that matter.
In order to let Google know about these issues, take the following steps:
When you notice these records on an A-J Google Maps search, go to the bottom of the page. Click the link that reads “Report a problem,” note that the search results contain multiple listings for the same place, and then note that the two records are exact duplicates.
For maximum web traffic, submitting your business to Google for placement in their search results requires much more than simply requesting inclusion. There’s a mathematical formula behind everything Google displays. In this tutorial, we will help you understand exactly what it takes to rank higher in Google Local Business Center (GLBC) for search terms that could generate more leads and sales for you from Google’s search results pages.
Content is King
Having great content themed around, but not stuffed, with search terms that your prospects are querying to find your business is key. Even if you rank high now, without good quality content, Google will eventually penalize you for having a high bounce rate from their search results, or worse, if users vote/review your business negatively as a result of poor content.
For a local business, it’s important to include your business address and phone number in the global footer of your website, near the copyright (or anywhere really), to correlate with the other websites (and the GLBC) that share your business information. There are two critical fields on every page of your website that should have service-related keywords in them: The HTML Title Tag and the H1 Heading Tag. Both should be different, but contain the keyword someone in the context.
Example of a Good HTML Title:
Call Joe’s Plumbing in Anaheim, CA for Fast, Quality Service
GLBC Categories and Details
As you start filling out your Google Local Business Center listing, you’ll notice several fields. We at Local Splash literally live our lives mining the best content to put into these fields to support our goal of ranking higher.
If you want to rank higher in the GLBC, you’ll need to do some research. First of all, you’ll want to spend some time in the free Google Keyword Tool for AdWords to determine which keywords hold the highest search volume and directly correlate to your service (don’t use the term SEO if you sell SEO Services, use the term SEO Services instead).
Next, spend some time querying for the terms you believe will drive the best results from Google then analyze the categories of the companies that come up in the Google Local Business Center for those terms (pay attention to the order of the categories). Our leading-edge technology automates this process for you, insuring your categories are set and recalibrated continuously. This has been known to drive your competitors absolutely crazy.
Snapshot of the results our program produces for the best categories around the search query “local seo services”:
Details are important; just don’t stuff your profile with keywords. Work to get 100 percent completeness in Google Local Business Center. Videos, images, and so forth are all important. Our team of Local SEO Experts have already defined the best possible fields for hundreds of common industries, which explains why so many of our new customers come from referrals from happy customers.
Websites / Web References
As with Organic Search Engine Optimization, local SEO requires visibility (aka: links and mention) from other related websites on the Internet. The best place to get that visibility is from individual profile pages on other local-related websites (ie: Superpages.com, Clush.com, Yelp.com, Yahoo! Local, MerchantCircle.com, and so forth). Done with a little SEO magic, those profiles pass a “vote” to your website with verbatim business data, reinforcing your website’s creditability with the search engines.
If you didn’t get all that, just remember: The more other websites discuss your website in a way that influences the search engines to better understand your topic (also called “service tag” in the local SEO world), the more likely Google will be to reward your website with higher ranking.
User Reviews and User Content
We have seen a number of businesses rank higher than a business with dozens of reviews. So before you get nervous about the importance of reviews; keep in mind that this focal point is not the most critical ranking criteria.
That being said, a listing with more reviews is more likely to be clicked on than a listing with no reviews. Encourage your store visitors to post reviews, offer an online coupon that starts with instructions on how to review the business in Google Local Business Center. Capture email addresses for repeat customers and ask for reviews in periodic newsletters and offer emails.
Scrutinize Google Local Business Center Traffic Statistics
Once you’ve verified your listing, or have had us verify your listing with you, use the data in the GLBC to see if your business profile is appearing for the search terms you are targeting. The Google Local Business Center offers some incredible data, including Impressions (how many time your listing appeared for a query) and Clicks (how many times a searcher clicked on the listing to read more).
See a Screenshot Below
Our Local SEO Account Specialists spend an exhaustive amount of time trying to understand the GLBC traffic statistics to insure that our customers are appearing for the best possible keywords. Our Local SEO moguls (we like to call them “SEO Scientists”) analyze this data across thousands of accounts to create formulations and best practices, all of which are integrated into our leading edge local SEO applications.
Save Time and Money with Local Splash
The good news is that anyone can do their own search engine optimization using the strategies and techniques mentioned above. The bad news is that the time it will take for someone new to local SEO is a lot longer than you might think. Worse, for these techniques to sustain longevity, they need to be repeated month after month, meaning every month you’ll have to spend more time researching new destinations and insuring that you are using the right details in your GLBC profile and so forth.
Put your local SEO on autopilot with Local Splash. Our program is affordable and will save you valuable hours that you could be applying to running your business. Let our pros and our leading edge software handle your local search engine marketing, so that you can go back to business as usual while we help you rank higher in the Google Local Business Center. Call today at 877-635-6225 for more information or click Sign Up Now above.