Natural Search Blog


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…)

Google Supports Microformats, Rolls Out Rich Snippets

The annual Google Searchology conference held recently revealed some interesting offerings in the search marketing field. Google had introduced personalised search and universal search through the same event in previous years.

Google has stated its support for rich microformats. Yahoo’s Search Monkey has already implemented them. But is still not clear if the search engines read them. Local search results have been rumoured to use microformats but there is no evidence to back this either.
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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…)

Google Maps adds Microformat support to results

I was pleased to see that Google Maps team announced support of the hCard microformat today in map search results. This will make the export of address/contact info easier for users, and pave the way for perhaps greater integration between the map results and other applications. If you have a browser with a Microformat plugin feature, you can easily export listing information for use in Outlook or other applications you may have:

Google Maps now supports Microformats
(click to enlarge)

Can we hope that Google’s support of Microformats at the front-end of their application might also indicate that they may eventually support Microformats at the back-end? As you may recall, in local SEO tips I posted last year, I recommended that local business webmasters not just include their business address on their site pages, but to do so in the hCard Microformat. I was probably the first to propose doing this for local search optimization, even though there’s been no overt mention from the search engine representatives that this is necessary or desirable. So, why did I recommend doing that?

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Plea for a New Open Format: Open Local Profile Format

My most-recent Locals Only column just pubbed at SearchEngineLand.com, titled “A Call To Standardize Local Search Listings“.

The benefactor of Open Local Profile Format would be Main Street
Open Local Profile Format

In it, I’m calling for the companies operating in the local search space to come together and agree upon a common data format protocol that would allow businesses and organizations to more easily submit their directory profile information to the great plethora of local info sites where users go to get information. The local search engines, online yellow pages, and various vertical directories should come together to reduce costs/complexity for businesses, and to facilitate improved information for consumers, similar to how the major search engines last year came together to agree on one common submission protocol – Sitemaps – for submitting sites’ page links to them. Read on for more details.

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Tips for Local Search Engine Optimization for Your Site

Increasingly, businesses are becoming aware of Local Search, and how optimizing for this channel is vital for those that have local outlets. Each of the main search engines has focused effort on their local search tools as the best strategy for continuing growth in online advertising, and the subject has become sufficiently important enough to merit a special Search Engine Strategies Conference devoted to the subject tomorrow in Denver. The importance of Local Search is further underscored by stats issued in a press release today by comScore, showing that Local Search continues to gain in marketshare.

So, how exactly could one optimize towards Local Search?

Read on and I’ll outline a few key tips.
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