Natural Search Blog


Extreme Local Search Optimization Tactics

I make it a point to follow blogs and conference sessions to see what everyone recommends for “Local Search Optimization”, and I have to say that most of it’s repetitive and too limited.  Most folx who write about this subject have said little more than “put a business’s address and phone number on all their site’s pages”, and “update/enhance the business’s information in all the major directory sites”.  A lot of the focus is on search marketing, and very little has been outlined for optimizing for local search beyond all the aspects of traditional natural search optimization.

Local Search at Superpages.com

Similarly, I previously wrote on the subject and just added a marginally unique spin by suggesting that local biz sites should follow the hCard Microformat when adding the address and contact info to their site’s pages. Yet, I think all of us who work in local SEO have not really pushed the envelope much with these limited suggestions, and we haven’t really outlined a lot of the other areas where savvy webmasters and businesses could make themselves even more optimal for the local search paradigm.  Local Search is a unique beast, and in many ways is more complex than pure keyword search, so why hasn’t anyone addressed some of the unique aspects that could really drive a local business’s online referrals higher via optimizations?

So, I’m pulling out the stops and posting some strategies here that could inch a local business past its competition.  Some of these tips are not for the faint-of-heart, and may assume that you might change some things about your business that are traditionally things that people don’t consider changing just to improve referrals from online search. Read on and I’ll give you an insider’s tips for some extreme local optimizations!

First of all, most businesses do not consider using valuable keywords when they come up with a business name. They focus on creating a unique name and creating a brand that will catch people’s attention or convey something about the product or service.  Unfortunately, more frequently than not, a business’s name rarely contains keywords that users type into search engines when trying to find their type of business.

Tip # 1:  Change your business name to include a few of the top keywords that users type into search engines when seeking your type of business in your area.

For instance, a plastic fabrication company in Seattle might be formally named “Xerxes Tech Industries”.  They could potentially get more online referrals if they were named something like “Xerxes Tech Industries Plastics Factory of Seattle”.  I’m not saying that they should refile for new business licenses or get all new letters of incorporation — but they could informally change their name on their website and in all the major online directories.  Longtime customers could still locate them when searching on their formal name, while potential new customers who don’t know about the Xerxes company might be more likely to find them through the keywords in their new informal name. I bet most users seeking that type of business would search for “plastic factory” or “plastic manufacturer”.

Some other examples of non-optimal business names I’ve seen in directories:

There are a number of utilities and services out there to help with keyword research, so if you’re unsure what keywords are most used to find your industry, find some of those keyword research services and search for a handful of terms that best describe your business and use the top one or two in your name which are reported to have the highest traffic.

This biz optimization tactic is actually nothing new — some types of businesses have long optimized their names for when a potential customer is asking telephone directory assistance to suggest a provider.  For instance, a person might ask an operator for a towing service, and if there was a business listed in that area with the name “A Towtruck Service”, the operator might give the referral to that company since it’s literally and specifically what the user requested. I think my utility company did this sort of thing — people living in Texas can choose to get service from whatever utility company they wish, but I’d bet that most users don’t shop around much.  My utility company named itself “First Choice”, likely in hopes of getting more referrals from a directory assistance scenario like I described.

Naturally, the business website should use this newly optimized name in the HTML Title tag, in the homepage’s H1 tag, and in the other HTML text as appropriate for good natural search optimization.

Tip # 2:  Change your business name so that the first characters will be earliest in the alphabet for your locality.

Quite simply, biz names that start with letters earlier in the alphabet may appear higher in search results and listings pages for various sites.  One of the top three or four sorting methods in use for local search results pages is still Alphabetical Order, so businesses beginning with the letter “A” may enjoy more prominent exposure than businesses lower in the alphabet.  For our hypothetical business, “Xerxes Tech Industries”, this little natural law of the search and directory space could have a major long-term effect on market share! Studies have shown that users typically click on links found higher in search results pages or directory list pages, so being higher on the list is likely to get you more business than being lower.

What’s more, some directory sites will list numerical characters and a few extended characters beyond the alphabet earlier than the letter “A”, and in some cases lowercase characters might appear soonest in alphabetical sorting.

To take advantage of this, we could perhaps rename our Xerxes example to: “a+ Plastics Factory of Seattle – a Xerxes Tech Industries Company”.

This can give you higher ranking in the alphabetical results on online directory sites, and other online lists. Check out DMOZ’s listings for categories like Miami Beach Lodging.

This name optimization tactic is also not at all new for local businesses — the strategy has a very long history in the old printed yellow pages — check out listings for plumbers in your local phone book if you’d like to see some great examples. I can’t imagine why the other local experts don’t mention this concept.

Tip # 3: Move your business so that you can have presence closer to your city’s center.

Yep, I know this option’s pretty hard to do — that’s why these tactics are called “Extreme”. But there’s a reason my old college professor for business management said to “…always remember: location, location, location.”  A business’s location is more important than ever in the online local search arena.

Many of the local search engines and some online YP search interfaces rank and display local results in order of proximity to the centroid of a city area.  For example, search for plumbers in New York City in Google Maps or in Superpages Distance Search.  In this example, it wouldn’t be a good user experience to display all the plumbers found in NYC all on one page, so search engines will display only a subset, starting with the ones that are closest to the center of the radius of search.

So, if your business’s address is closer to the centroid that most local search services use by default, your listing could show up higher in the search results.

It may be unrealistic for most businesses to relocate just for better online referrals, but some businesses may be able to come up with some creative ways to obtain a physical address that they could use for online listings. Perhaps they could add a listing through using a post office box address that’s closer to the city’s centroid than their current physical address. Perhaps they could make a deal with an existing business near the center in order to use their address as a mail drop or something.

Many independent repairmen or contractors do business through their phones only, and don’t want their addresses listed, making it difficult for them to take full advantage of the nature of local search placement.  Such businesses without physical presence could gain a major advantage by working out a deal to use an address near the centroid of their city.

Tip # 4: Get a separate directory listing for every city in your area for which you provide services.

People try to find service providers closer to where they are, so having a separate listing for each city you serve can get you better coverage. A heating/air-conditioning repair company may have only one physical address in a city, for instance, while they might serve all sorts of neighboring communities. The Dallas/Fort-Worth Metroplex where I live is made up of dozens of cities which have all grown together into a huge urban sprawl.

In order to qualify for separate listings for all of these cities, you may once again need to try to obtain some sort of physical presence in them, possibly satisfied by just a PO Box.  Also, it might help to get a separate phone number to use for each one of those cities.

Once you have separate listings for each city, either set up a separate website that is optimized for each city you cover, or else set up a separate webpage on your site for each location which lists out your address for that city.

Likewise, if you offer services statewide, set up a separate listing/presence for that, with the business name optimized to include the state’s name, and set up a toll-free number to use with it.

Tip # 5: Customize your address by having your street renamed to include beneficial keywords.

If your business is big enough, or if you have enough political clout in your city, you may be able to get your street renamed to your liking.  Or, perhaps you could get the city to declare your building’s driveway as a street with the name of your choice.  Name the street to include your yellow pages category or other synonyms for your category which have good keyword weight: “Lawyers Way”, “Restaurant Row”, “Accountants Circle”, etc.

If you can achieve your own custom street name, have your official mailing address changed to it, then get that address updated in all online directories and in your local phonebooks. (Warning: it can take up to a couple of years for new streets to get added into online mapping systems, though, so you might want to get the new street added, then wait before getting your address updated in online directories.)

If your new street address also includes keywords valuable to you, how can your competition ever hope to duplicate this advantage?  Having these keywords embedded in your address information will insure that these words are mentioned along with your business in many places. The street name gets repeated on your website (if you follow all the basic Local SEO strategies), and it gets included with your listings in all the various online YP sites, business profiles, and local search results.

Tip # 6: Lightly influence user ratings to your benefit.

Positive user ratings are one of the criteria that Google Maps uses to rank the results for local business searches. Also, there are various ratings sites which display listings in order of rated values, and I foresee increasing numbers of sites will use ratings in order to rank businesses.  So, if you have a better rating at these sites, you may rank higher on them.

Offer a discount to some of your favorite/frequent customers if they will promise to rate your business. Do not demand or bribe to get positive ratings, because that would be considered to be an unfair influence, but you could just hand discount coupons to customers who particularly liked your product/service, and ask them to rate you online in order to have the discount.  Many people will write a rating/review just out of a sense of duty in order to accept your discount, and if you only target the satisfied customers demographic, you’ll maybe stack the deck in your own favor.

Ask the customers to each rate you at a different site. Check out which sites are used more for user ratings for your type of business. A few good ones to start with would be Judy’s Book, Superpages.com, Citysearch, and Yahoo! Local.

Tip # 7: Add the common nicknames for your locality into your site’s front page text.

Lots of cities have alternate names aside from the city’s official name which are used with some frequency, so you have a greater chance of being found if you include those nicknames and alternate spellings on your homepage. For instance, Madison in Wisconsin is also colloquially known as “Mad City”. The Dallas area is often referred to by denizens as the “DFW Metroplex” or “DFW”. New York City citizens often search online just using “NYC” as their local term.

Also include city regions or neighborhood names as well:  “Uptown”, “SoHo”, “Nob Hill”, etc.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Okay, so some of these tactics are way hard.  But they’re all valid techniques for improving a local business’s ability to gain referrals from online searches. If you’re flexible enough, and willing to really push the envelope beyond the humdrum local optimization tips that most folx have outlined, these strategies could take you up to the next level.

45 comments for Extreme Local Search Optimization Tactics »

  1. MyAvatars 0.2

    Chris,

    Great ideas. It’s nice to see some fresh content out there to help local business owners. I especially liked #5 – good idea to use keywords instead of the business name. People need to be careful with #6, though. Influencing as you recommend is good; if it goes beyond that, they could get bad press and maybe hurt by the search engines, one day.

    Comment by Justin Seibert — 1/11/2007 @ 10:27 am


  2. MyAvatars 0.2

    Chris – long time, no talk. How are things? Hope you’re well.

    This is certainly unique, but the problem is that local search doesn’t currently bring in anywhere near enough traffic to justify the incredible efforts you’re suggesting with a couple of these. Google Maps has, what, like 0.9% share of all Google properties? It’s just not worth it to even consider renaming your business, relocating, or going to city hall to get a street name changed. :-) (And I’m a big proponent of local search, too!)

    Comment by Matt McGee — 1/12/2007 @ 1:35 am


  3. MyAvatars 0.2

    Justin, you’re right – people should be careful about trying to artificially pump up user ratings. However, I think the approach I suggested is really pretty safe. But businesses should be conservative and make it clear that they’re just trying to get people to rate them without telling them what to write. There’s little risk, though, in being selective about who you encourage to rate you. On all these sites, anyone can rate a business, happy customers or disatisfied.

    Matt – great to hear from you!

    I guess I should’ve made it clearer that the tactics I propose are meant to help businesses in both local and regular web search.

    I believe the majority of local-oriented searching is actually happening within the regular web search interfaces at search engines. In those interfaces, people are typing in a keyword with a locality parameter, like “New York Plumbers”, or “Restaurants in Atlanta”. For those cases, these tactics can give advantages. Small businesses could reap more referrals from their websites which display their business names and addresses, and their listings in various directory sites that are optimized could attract more referrals to them indirectly.

    Comment by Chris Silver Smith — 1/12/2007 @ 12:15 pm


  4. MyAvatars 0.2

    Good point, Chris. Thanks for the response.

    Comment by Justin Seibert — 1/12/2007 @ 1:24 pm


  5. MyAvatars 0.2

    >Change your business name to include a few of the top keywords that users type into search engines when seeking your type of business in your area (… and) so that the first characters will be earliest in the alphabet for your locality.

    So, for instance, Pepsi rebrands its name to “Chicago not coke”. Brilliant. I can’t wait to see the new logo.
    I’m going to start recommending this to my clients tonight. Who needs a SEO plan when we can redirect all our budget to hiring office space in the Sears Tower. And I suppose brand-name equity can be rebuilt from scratch in no time once the local search starts paying off.

    Comment by Jose — 1/14/2007 @ 7:09 am


  6. MyAvatars 0.2

    Jose, I didn’t suggest that anyone drop their brandnames altogether, but to informally add some keywords to it for online use.

    Surely it’s fairly clear that most businesses would not have the brandname recognition of a Coca-Cola or Pepsi?

    Keep the distictive brandname for your existing customers, but add some keywords so that users who don’t know you can find you.

    Comment by Chris Silver Smith — 1/16/2007 @ 9:15 am


  7. MyAvatars 0.2

    Some of these are a tad extreme, but given that that’s the title of the post, that makes them perfect. As for #2, that’s an old yellow pages trick. Take a look in your phone book and see how many variants of AAAAAA-plumbers there are :)

    Comment by Simon Heseltine — 1/17/2007 @ 9:34 am


  8. MyAvatars 0.2

    Terrific ideas….and yes they all aren’t pratical…but they can help. boy oh boy does that alphabetical idea come right out of the YP…and it works. A plumber in New York or AAA plumber in New York. How many times did a potential customer only call the top alphabetical listing. In my case–lots. My biz site dominates virtually every local/regional phrase w/ a #1 for 2 states and a city except for one phrase in G–and that is the one with the competitor’s url being the statename 2word business phrase. And we’re ranked first for the phrase in the reverse order w/ business phrase state name or alternatively business service in state type of query. Definately use the urls.

    My bus could get away with gentle careful referrals for nice web content and reviews…but it does have to be handled very gently….no doubt. Over time I’ll bet the web will be spammed with all sorts of reviews that have been inflenced by owners.

    As far as referencing every town/city/borough etc via a directory or separate web page….hm we are accomplishing that by referencing all these town names w/in the site in the content…and having the bl strength to get seen higher than things like directories. But definately do that one way or the other…there’s a lot of gold in the great variety of geo names that surround a particular business. Great ideas.

    As far as moving near a centroid w/in a city–actually my bus partner and I have been discussing that to take advantage of the G maps feature showing in regular serps and/or blocking a competitor from doing that. Boy oh boy…a PO box is so much cheaper than real estate!!!!

    Good ideas.

    Comment by earlpearl — 1/17/2007 @ 10:12 am


  9. MyAvatars 0.2

    I appreciate the suggestion to gently ask select customers to submit reviews. Heavy handed use or abuse of review sites can be a negative. Most consumers will recognize shills. I have my clients approach their preferred customers or clients to write honest short reviews on Yahoo! Local, Yelp, Insider Pages, Superpages, Chowhound and “some” others.

    Comment by Mike — 1/17/2007 @ 10:16 am


  10. MyAvatars 0.2

    Kinda funny but insightful as well!

    Comment by Frank — 1/17/2007 @ 10:54 am


  11. MyAvatars 0.2

    How to spam the Yellow Pages…

    It pissed me off to see this ‘extreme local SEO’ post by Chris Smith of Superpages.com (via Search Engine Land).

    While some of his tips are good, others amount to spamming the yellow pages (and local search). This spam creates a mess for …

    Trackback by Naffziger's Net — 1/18/2007 @ 9:26 am


  12. MyAvatars 0.2

    I started selling Fresh Scented Bears on the internet and that is also the name of the company. I took the time to read your blog on Extreme Local Search Optimization. I need tolet you know that I only have a portion of the website setup but my internet visitors are finding my website and I am today #1 and #3 on Google keyword search for fresh scented bears. My page ranking is 0/10 which that should start to show up soon. Why I am writing I was working on a great graphic logo untill I read step #1 really help me out.
    THANK YOU Gary

    Comment by Gary — 1/18/2007 @ 11:42 am


  13. MyAvatars 0.2

    Gary, if you’re primarily doing mail order sales, optimizing for local search may not make so much sense.

    Aside from that, one wouldn’t need to change a business logo necessarily for optimizing on name. The alternate name with keyword could be used within directory listings, and could be used in your webpage TITLE, and in the ALT text of the graphic logo.

    Comment by Chris Silver Smith — 1/18/2007 @ 2:34 pm


  14. MyAvatars 0.2

    Extreme Local Search Optimization Tactics…

    Local Search is becoming more popular, and this article describes some techniques for getting better ranking in local search. Be warned though, some of the tips are very extreme, such as – Tip # 5: Customize your address by having your street renamed …

    Trackback by Anonymous — 1/18/2007 @ 4:19 pm


  15. MyAvatars 0.2

    I am looking to purchase this domain,

    Do you think that I could make something out of it.

    Your in the area, and a great marketer.

    Thought Id ask
    Thanks,
    mike

    Comment by Mike — 1/23/2007 @ 3:20 pm


  16. MyAvatars 0.2

    As regards tip 3 and 4, I’ve recently completed some in depth analysis on search phrases and traffic and have 3 yrs of data to support this. Any way you can get a G map presence for a city and/or block a G map presense for your business and a large city would be worth its weight in gold.

    We are able to do some web marketing to 2 nearby cities. We are the major presence in one and a minor presence in the 2nd. A single competitor w/in the further 2nd city (not the suburbs of that city) has a G maps presence on G searches for the business terms and the city.

    Since the map went up searches that included the city name (2nd city) and business have seriously dried up to our site even as our serps rankings are consistent.

    That maps presence is a killer!!! Its worthwhile to obtain it and similarly worthwhile to block a competitor from getting it.

    Dave

    Comment by earlpearl — 1/31/2007 @ 11:42 am


  17. MyAvatars 0.2

    How do you figure out what is the city center? I just did a search for beauty salons, pizza and day spas in Sacramento, and a different zip code came us as number one each time.

    Comment by juliemarg — 2/3/2007 @ 10:24 am


  18. MyAvatars 0.2

    There are some other factors mixed into Google’s ranking algo, obviously. From what I’ve seen, if there are lots of businesses in range of a local search which have higher user ratings, those will come up in the results first and then all the rest will show up in proximity. That could explain why you saw listings with different zip codes at the top of the SERPs for each of your searches for Sacramento.

    So, various other factors in addition to centroid proximity are likely important for ranking in Google local, including: ratings, PageRank, keyword density, association with particular directory Categories, inbound link text, etc.

    A number of the other local search services out there are not quite as sophisticated, making centroid more important for them.

    Comment by Chris Silver Smith — 2/15/2007 @ 11:05 pm


  19. MyAvatars 0.2

    This is the first post I’ve seen that attempts to explain the optimisation for local searches in great detail.

    In my case, the biggest problem I have is the city centre reference point and I’m not in a position to move physical address.

    It’s a shame that the engines are biased towards which part of the city the business may be physically located. I’d have liked to see them potentially rotating.

    Comment by Adil — 11/20/2007 @ 6:11 am


  20. MyAvatars 0.2

    Great ideas, Chris,

    I’ve put some of these to work. WRT Tip #2, in choosing the name for my window treatments retail business, I went with http://www.acadiashutters.com . Less obvious than AAA Plumbers, but only slightly. It has afforded us considerable advantage in online local listing sites.

    I also have used #6 quite frequently. We send out quotes and most communications with customer via email. After we have completed a job, we email customer asking them if they would mind reviewing us on Yahoo, Citysearch, etc. Of course, we include a link to our profiles on these sites in the email. Most customers are happy to do so.

    Comment by Rob — 2/7/2008 @ 5:48 pm


  21. MyAvatars 0.2

    A great way if you don’t have the know how, nor the time to do it yourself is to pay a firm to have it done. I used Listed1st.com and I’ve on top search google for “maid services in salt lake city” Molly Maids to the rescue!

    Comment by Alissa — 3/11/2008 @ 2:51 pm


  22. MyAvatars 0.2

    How about listing your prices? Does this help with local search? I’m amazed at how few businesses list their prices online but surely this simple technique must draw traffic and, possibly increase their rankings. There’s a good reason advertisers in print media

    It looks like this site allows businesses to submit and list their prices, at least in the Atlanta area: http://www.localprice.com Surely, if you are one of the few companies listing price, this would help your rankings…

    Comment by Client-8 — 3/13/2008 @ 8:21 am


  23. MyAvatars 0.2

    My understanding that using keyword names for your business in Google Maps considered mapspam unless you actually change your legal business name. Can you please clarify?

    Comment by panzermike — 5/11/2008 @ 4:11 pm


  24. MyAvatars 0.2

    panzermike – naturally, different online directories and local search engines have different rules about this.

    To my knowledge, Google doesn’t actually check the legal status of your biz name, so you should be able to call yourself whatever you wish.

    Another option would be to legally change your business name to something that works more effectively across the board.

    Finally, if you’re naming yourself accurately, it simply is NOT spam. If John Smith, the plumbing specialist, were to rename his business “John Smith – Plumbing, Pipes, Faucets & Hardware” — that is NOT spam because it doesn’t dupe the search engines nor endusers — no one will be deceived if they get to his website or call his business, because all the keywords represent what he does/sells.

    Comment by Chris Silver Smith — 5/12/2008 @ 8:38 am


  25. MyAvatars 0.2

    Some good advice here, especially the part about listing in local directories

    Comment by Jim — 6/1/2008 @ 8:12 am


  26. MyAvatars 0.2

    Regarding alphabetizing.

    My domain is:123CheapSite.com

    Should I call my business name
    a. 123 Cheap Web Designers
    or
    b. 123 Cheap Website
    or simply
    c. Jersey City Web Designers
    ?

    vj

    Comment by vj — 6/11/2008 @ 11:47 pm


  27. MyAvatars 0.2

    I always tell my clients to get a P.O. box near the centroid if they don’t want to list their home address on Google local. It’s probably a good idea for really markets anyway, but I’ve found that good reviews and good optimization can overcome an address far from the centroid.

    I think that will change though; once more small businesses get hip to local optimization.

    Comment by Robert Carter — 7/28/2008 @ 8:23 am


  28. MyAvatars 0.2

    I am not going to lie. I found this down right hilarious, dead-on, and informational all at the same time.

    Comment by Utah SEO — 7/28/2008 @ 7:34 pm


  29. MyAvatars 0.2

    By changing to a central address location, this has greatly moved the company ranking up to the top five in the local seach……….

    Comment by Paul Martin — 7/30/2008 @ 12:21 pm


  30. MyAvatars 0.2

    The street sign suggestion is awesome. If I was drinking milk when I read it, it would have come out my nose. I have a developer friend who builds office complexes – I may have to get him to name his next street for us.

    Comment by Jeremy Porter — 9/23/2008 @ 2:52 pm


  31. MyAvatars 0.2

    Geez, I feel like I’m showing up late for the party. Anyway…

    Pretty good post. Thanks for putting this together.

    Admittedly, some of these ideas are a bit more difficult (or tedious) for an established business to do, like changing their name or location. But for someone starting a new business that could benefit from a bit of a boost from local search, you’ve put together a good list of tips people should consider. For example, a home builder could certainly choose a more targeted name such as “Atlanta Premier Homes” vs. just using “Premiere Homes”, or something like that. Certainly food for thought.

    Comment by Kenton Newby — 10/3/2008 @ 3:18 pm


  32. MyAvatars 0.2

    This is one of the very best – both logical and well-written – articles in local search field that I have read for a long time. Excellent! My Hats Off. :-)

    Comment by Cc Me — 10/7/2008 @ 9:37 am


  33. MyAvatars 0.2

    Good luck trying to list each city within a county you have a business. You will find yourself quickly removed from Google Local results.

    Comment by Injury Lawyers — 12/25/2008 @ 1:17 am


  34. MyAvatars 0.2

    Very thorough description of extreme locl search optimization. What intrigues me, is what happens when people add names to the text field. In other words, do a lower percentage of people click on a long and strange sounding name. And assuming there is such an effect, at what point does the decreased click rate due to the length and strangeness of the name, counteract the incresed number of times that the listing will appear in search results.

    Comment by Bob Fishman — 6/13/2009 @ 2:37 pm


  35. MyAvatars 0.2

    Regarding this comment above:

    “panzermike – naturally, different online directories and local search engines have different rules about this.

    To my knowledge, Google doesn’t actually check the legal status of your biz name, so you should be able to call yourself whatever you wish.

    Another option would be to legally change your business name to something that works more effectively across the board.

    Finally, if you’re naming yourself accurately, it simply is NOT spam. If John Smith, the plumbing specialist, were to rename his business “John Smith – Plumbing, Pipes, Faucets & Hardware” — that is NOT spam because it doesn’t dupe the search engines nor endusers — no one will be deceived if they get to his website or call his business, because all the keywords represent what he does/sells.”
    ______________________

    The problem is not that Google will validate a biz listing with any recording office. The problem will be more so the eventual “tattletales” who might end up reporting the business listing to Google as being in violation.

    Our competitors are likely to know our business name and would love to knock us down from the top 10. Possible? Crazy? Who knows. But it would be very risky if the business does get caught and removed

    Comment by Carol — 7/2/2009 @ 9:08 am


  36. MyAvatars 0.2

    I have used some of these techniques and had GREAT success. A client of mine is a mobile services provider and serves all of our county which is 50 miles x 50 miles. Being such a large service area we got almost no traffic from local except searches very near to their one physical location. We came up with keyword rich names for each city and designed landing pages for each locality too. In addition we obtained PO boxes in 17 different neighborhoods in the county. Currently we are in top half of all 10 boxes. we have a 1 box in a few of the neighborhoods and another 5 or 6 localities where we are number 1 in the 3 box. Traffic and phone calls are way up!!! It was expensive and a TON of work but paying off! They had a 10K per month yellow page budget so it was def worth it…

    Comment by Roger — 8/22/2009 @ 10:51 am


  37. MyAvatars 0.2

    Oh and to the point of panzermikes comment. If you are worried about changing the name being against TOS for local (which I believe it is technically but not checked) register a DBA or fictitious name with your Secretary of State. It should be like $50 and gives you the right to legally operate under a different business name while retaining your original name.

    Comment by Roger — 8/22/2009 @ 10:58 am


  38. MyAvatars 0.2

    Great article Chris! What do you think SEO’s should price this service out at? I’ve seen some who offer $2500 for one keyword in one area and others that offer it at $300/mo. Doesn’t seem to be much consistency.

    Comment by Jason — 8/24/2009 @ 4:24 pm


  39. MyAvatars 0.2

    This is a fantastic article. Google local is a great way of promoting sites for small businesses like ours.

    Comment by Barton Wyatt — 10/14/2009 @ 7:29 am


  40. MyAvatars 0.2

    Chris,

    Some of those were suggestion were awesome strategies and there were some that were just funny.

    Getting a Street Name Changed – if you can do that, well then local search marketing should be a breeze.

    You have to be careful about adding keywords to your business name, especially in Google Maps. It’s actually against there terms. Even though I have seen it help with rankings it’s still not good way to go. You could actually get flag and then potential removed.

    Here are my tips for ranking well within Google Maps:

    1. Pick your category correctly.
    2. Have your keyword in your business description.
    3. Get more citations then your competition (steal from your competition sources, they list it right there). When getting citations being consistent with your business information is the most important element.
    4. Get loads of reviews – preferably good ones ;) (At our company we have a pretty awesome way of getting loads of reviews for our clients)
    5. Have some user content created about your biz on Google Maps (get creative and always add value, don’t be spammy with this).

    Oh and the obvious, pimp out your listing to its full capacity. Photos, video and the whole nine yards! Think value & benefits when assembling it all. At the end of the day, it’s real people that are consuming this info and that you want humans to take action, not search engine spiders. Always write for humans first and spiders second. :)

    Comment by Matthew Hunt — 11/16/2009 @ 6:07 am


  41. MyAvatars 0.2

    Google Local Listings is getting out of hand in many areas.
    I recently had a competitor actually “name his company” after one of my Goolge Maps Pictures!
    This allowed him to steal my content!
    The listing was removed, probably by him, but now Google is still associating MY content with him!
    He has popped back up with a totally phoney name, and a an address that is not his either.
    I have posted in the google help forum, no replies.’
    How do you get Google to stop this ?

    Comment by Apple Roof Cleaning Tampa — 2/12/2010 @ 9:58 pm


  42. MyAvatars 0.2

    Surely it’s fairly clear that most businesses would not have the brandname recognition of a Coca-Cola or Pepsi?

    Keep the distictive brandname for your existing customers, but add some keywords so that users who don’t know you can find you.

    Comment by Tom Smith — 4/17/2010 @ 1:34 am


  43. MyAvatars 0.2

    First of all, Google specifically addresses the use of adding P.O. Boxes. It’s penalty time! Second, not sure of your ground based research but I am sure of ours. Positive reviews don’t effect ranking performance. And finally, “closer to centroid” is not linear, rather relevance to geomodifier. There, I’ve said it!

    Comment by Jim Ryan — 6/29/2010 @ 6:13 am


  44. MyAvatars 0.2

    Hi, fantastic article.

    On Tip number 6: there is some evidence suggesting that:

    1.
    Is a customers searches in Google for the keywords you want to rank high for,

    2.
    and goes through the local listings UNTIL IT FINDS YOUR BUSINESS

    3.
    clicks on it

    4.
    and then leaves a good review, that would help you rank higher for those keywords.

    But don’t take my word for it. Untested… :)

    Comment by Sandro Salsi — 7/9/2010 @ 11:08 am


  45. MyAvatars 0.2

    I think its time to revisit this post and clarify the latest local TOS. My business/website has been banned for years now for adhering to some of the suggestions in this article. Goodluck ever getting your reinclusion request.

    Comment by Reza — 7/26/2010 @ 11:54 am


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