Natural Search Blog


Town Changes Name For Better Google Rankings

This is just too cool to pass up mentioning in local search news: a town in Europe has decided to change it’s name in order to get better rankings in Google!

EUThe town of “Eu” in France has been edged out of search rankings for the term, since other pages about the European Union are ranking higher. According to them, they’re missing out on a lot of tourism because individuals simply cannot find information about them.

I’ve previously blogged in Ultimate Local SEO Tactics a tongue-in-cheek post recommending changing a town’s name for search optimization purposes, but I didn’t think it would actually happen!

Now, I’d say they possibly could save some money/trouble by first hiring some SEOs to try to help them rank for the term. For instance, it might be possible to get the Wikipedia page for Eu to rank on the first page.

In fact, I’ll call for a bit of generous community action here – why don’t all you other local SEO’s out there blog about this city and link to their Wikipedia page as well?  Let’s help that poor town out!

Am I an SEO Dog? More On Toasting of Internet Yellow Pages

Donna Bogatin apparently disagreed with my article at SEL entitled “Google Trends: Yellow Pages Will Be Toast in Four Years“, posting a bit of a lurid headline herself: “Yellow Pages Trash Talking: The SEO Dog in the Google Local Fight“.

I didn’t really think that my article was quite “trash talk“, and I’m assuming from the article content that the “SEO Dog” referred to was perhaps myself, or perhaps the “dog” is my article conclusions, fighting for the ostensibly narrow viewpoint of all SEOs. Aside from the somewhat scathing disembowelment attempted, I thought it’d be informative for me to address some of the logic-faulty conclusions that were drawn.

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Search Engine Optimization through Yellow Pages

Yellow Pages & SEOThere’s an interesting thread that appeared on Greg Sterling’s blog on Using IYPs as an SEO Strategy.

Some of the commentators pointed out that yellow pages ads are pretty costly, compared with those of the search engines. So, is using yellow pages as part of a search marketing campaign worthwhile for traffic and good for ROI? My answer is: Yes, yellow pages can and should be used as a major component of local search optimization. Yellow pages can be used for SEO, and here’s some details on how to approach it.

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Dealer Locator & Store Locator Services Need to Optimize

Store LocatorsMy article on local SEO for store locators just published on Search Engine Land, and any company that has a store locator utility ought to read it. Many large companies provide a way for users to find their local stores, dealers, or authorized resellers. The problem is that these sections are usually hidden from the search engines behind search submission forms, javascripted links, html frames, and Flash interfaces.

For many national or regional chain stores, providing dealer-locator services with robust maps, driving directions and proximity search capability is outside of their core competencies, and they frequently choose to outsource that development work or purchase software to enable the service easily.

I did a quick survey and found a number of companies providing dealer locator or store finder functionality: (more…)

Subdomains for Local Directory Sites?

Earlier this week, my column on “Domaining & Subdomaining in the Local Space – Part 1” went live at Search Engine Land. In it, I examine how a number of local business directory sites are using subdomains with the apparent desire to get extra keyword ranking value from them. Typically, they will pass the names of cities in the third-level-domain names (aka “subdomains”). Some sites doing that include:

In that installment, I conclude that the subdomaining for the sake of keyword ranking has no real benefit.

This assertion really can be extended out to all other types of sites as well, since the ranking criteria that the search engines use is not limited to only local info sites. Keywords in subdomains really have no major benefit.

SEO firms used to suggest that people deploy their content out onto “microsites” for all their keywords – a different domain name to target each one. This just isn’t a good strategy, really. Focus on improving the quality of content for each keyword, founded on its own page, and work on your link-building efforts (quality link-building, not unqualified bad-quality links). Tons of keyword domains or subdomains is no quick solution for ranking well.

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Ultimate Local SEO Tactics

After I earlier wrote some Extreme Local Search Optimization Tactics, one of my SEO coworkers, Steven Spaulding, “out-extremed” me by joking that one could go even further by getting a custom city name made from beneficial keywords! For example, one could end up with a street address like:

257 Viagra Drive, Cialis, Texas

Map Illustration for Ultimate Local Search Optimization

(Ugh! I’m probably going to regret using those keywords in my blog posting!)

Until Steven joked about this, it just hadn’t occured to me to even consider using a city name for keyword optimization purposes. It’s undoubtedly far-fetched, but I began to wonder, is it within the realm of possibility? Actually, I think it is. So here’s this post – an addendum of sorts on my previous article. Here’s two more local search optimization strategies which are so extreme, so over-the-top, that I’ll label them “Ultimate Local Search Optimization Tactics”. Someone with enough money and desire might be able to pull one of these off!

So, read on if you’re morbidly curious, and don’t worry, Dave Naffziger, these are so extreme that they’re unlikely to cause you to lose any sleep!

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BlogMaps – Geographic Pinpoint Maps for Blogs

A few days ago, I noticed a BlogMap in the righthand column of Robert Scoble’s blog – I don’t see it there now, so perhaps he was just experimenting with it. But, the Blogmap immediately appealed to me as a cool mashup concept, and a nice enhancement for locally-oriented blogs.

If you operate a blog that’s about a specific geographic location, I think addition of a Blog Map to your layout could be a great feature. The BlogMap shows a small map image which has your blog pinpointed on it, and a link to all the other local blogs in your area.

If you use this, I suggest you be careful about using your home address for the map pinpoint, since this could introduce negative factors, personal security-wise. Instead, use a nearby address, or use your work address.

It took me about one minute to set up this BlogMap for Natural Search Blog:

If you operate a blog that is about your local area, I also suggest using the hCard Microformat in your site design in order to best optimize for local search engines, though blog search engines likely haven’t set up special algorithms for locality specification yet. I previously blogged about how to use microformats to optimize for local search.

Another option BlogMaps offers is to just display a button that displays the number of Bloggers nearby, hyperlinked to a list of them – something you could use if your were concerned about displaying your location. They also offer a button for “your local opml”.

The Blogmap interface is very elegantly done – simple, and easy-to-use. No surprise that this was developed by one of the primary Microsoft Virtual Earth developers, Chandu Thota. Chandu just recently left Microsoft, and I’d bet they’ll miss him.

One suggestion to Chandu: it’d be really cool if you offered the option for bloggers to display the larger map that pinpoints all the top bloggers in your mapped area. I know he may’ve avoided doing this because of the cost of the maps that would need to be delivered. The way around this might be to offer this add-on service for users who wish to pay a subscription fee.

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