Natural Search Blog


Check Out New Google Maps Labs Features

Many Google Maps users may have missed the recently added button, allowing users to opt-in to try out some of the Google Maps Labs beta features. The Labs options can be accessed via the new little icon button found in the upper right of the user-interface, if you’re logged-in to your Google account:

Google Maps Labs Icon Button

The new features might also reveal some secrets of Google Maps ranking factors. It’s definitely a space that’s well worth watching for local search marketing experts.

Google Maps Should Consider A Canonical Phone Number Tag

Google Maps, local search engines, internet yellow pages and other online business directories often receive biz listing info from a great many sources and must merge it together (see my description of this in Eric Enge’s interview with me). When this happens, loads of variations in the business’s name, address and even phone number can cause listing data to fail to be merged. All this makes me think we might need a “Canonical Tag” for phone numbers! Read on, and I’ll elaborate… (more…)

Local Store Inventories Might Help Yellow Pages SEO

In an article posted on Search Engine Land this morning, I outline how Google Maps are increasingly appearing for keyword searches, reducing referral traffic to internet yellow pages. In a brief companion piece, I also mention how embattled yellow pages should step-up their SEO game. If Google Trends is truly indicative of a sea-change that is hitting online yellow pages sites, then they must do something about it:

Top IYPs & Business Directory Sites
Natural Search Performance of Top Yellow Pages Sites in Google

(Click to enlarge) (more…)

Microformats Hit Mainstream!

Microformats LogoOver on SEMClubhouse I’ve written up a post on “Why Use Microformats?” which is a mild criticism of Michael Gray’s recent post on “HCards, Microformats and Address Data does it Matter for SEO“. Essentially, Michael suggests people should prioritize implementation of hCard into local info webpages as a lower-priority, back-burner project. I not only believe that Yahoo’s SearchMonkey developer platform and Google’s new Rich Snippets display are proving that the search engines consider the Microformats protocol to be important, but anything presented as a back-burner or rainy-day project for many major corporations pretty much relegates that work to never be done at all.

With the advent of Rich Snippets in SERPs, I think I can safely declare that Microformats have now hit mainstream! (more…)

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!

Australian Yellow Pages Finally Optimizes For Search Engines

Sensis LogoThe Australian edition of Lifehacker reports that Sensis, Telestra’s yellow pages division, has finally allowed bots to crawl their online yellow pages so links to their listings are now showing up in Google SERPs and other search engines. Previously, they were apparently blocking Google and bots by either using robots.txt disallow rules and/or blocking the bots with network access rules.

Australian Sensis Yellow Pages in SERPs
Australian Yellow Pages in Google results (click to enlarge)

Amusingly, Lifehacker mentions, (more…)

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.

(more…)

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.

(more…)

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.

local-SEO

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