Local Search Summit 09 – Local Search Ranking Factors

by on August 16, 2009 · 3 comments

The next session was a panel discussion moderated by Greg Sterling, with panelists David Mihm, and Gib Olander from Localeze.

Local Search Ranking Factors Summary

First, David summarized the findings in his excellent Local Search Ranking Factors report. This was a report where David surveyed 27 experts in the local search space and asked them to rate the importance of a variety of factors in achieving local search rankings (I’m happy to say I was one of the contributors!)

He pulled out some of the most important factors rated by the group and summarized them. OK, here are a few tips I wrote down:

  • Claim your Google LBC listing manually (vs having a service do it for you.)
  • Ideally your address needs to be in the city you want to show up for results in
  • Categorize your listing properly (you get 5 categories – use them all!)
  • Use keywords in your business title if appropriate. But don’t over use them, and ideally they should be part of your real business name
  • Add photos and videos to your listing
  • Get citations. Search for blogs and directories with your city name. Get links from them.
  • Volume of reviews. The more the better.
  • On-page SEO is not that important for showing up in the 10-pack (however, in my view you also want to show up in the natural results just below the 10-pack too, and this does require on-page SEO.)
  • Make sure the page that your Google Local profile points to is optimized for conversion. It should have a clear call to action with a phone number, etc.
  • Measure your results – see this excellent series by Mike Belasco and Mary Bowling: Tracking Traffic from the 10-Pack.

He also mentioned Mike Blumenthals excellent How to get 100% on your Google Local Profile.

You’ll notice when reading Mike’s post, having 100% completion of your GL profile does not necessarily affect your rankings in the 10-pack.

You can read the entire Local Search Ranking Factors report here.

The Importance of Business Listings

Gib Olander presenting
Next up, Gib hammered home the importance of consistent business listings with respect to search results.

He brought up some stats and examples showing that most local search results are driven by business listings. Localeze helps you manage these business listings (they have 14m businesses in their database!)

Gib had a neat way of looking at the types of searches people do:
Recovery Searches – This is where people already know about your business and are searching for your name, address, phone number. Typically this represents about 45% of searches.

Discovery Searches – These are searches by people who are looking for a solution, and are typing keyword phrases into Google. The trend is for longer and longer keyword phrases. Typically represents about 55% of searches.

Given the above, Gib points out that your name, address and phone number comprise a “key” to your business and to reputation management for your business online. They need to be consistent across all of your listings for the best results.

The “Service Area” Problem

One question that came up was a common one – since having your business address in the city you want to show up for is one of the important search ranking factors, does it make sense to register Personal Mailboxes (PMBs) for other cities you want to rank for?

Gib calls this the “service area problem.” The search engines need to handle this with their directory listings so that companies can show up for the areas they service rather than just the town their address is in. Gib says this really is a search engine problem and that they are actively working on it. His recommendation is for the business owner to not force this themselves, it will only be a short term fix until Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc fix this issue.

Google Announces Whitelisting

Also, at the conference, Google confirmed a new method for uploading and verifying Google Profiles using a “whitelist” program. Read more about it here: Google Maps Bulk Upload Whitelist Program for LBC.

Great session guys!

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Don is an entrepreneur based in Silicon Valley. He founded Expand2Web and is the publisher of the Expand2Web Blog, and the GetFiveStars Customer Feedback and Reviews service.

Don has written 313 articles on Expand2Web

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Mike Ramsey August 17, 2009 at 3:49 pm

Even though 100% doesn’t give you a magic star that makes you invincible and knocks all the other listings out of the way, Im pretty sure it was mentioned that the more information google has about your company, the more trust they have for you, which definitely will help rankings. And if you shoot for the 100% then you won’t miss out any details that are important…

My feeling is that the 100% will help more with click through rate and conversions than anything. Listings with a lot of information are always my choice. I do think that Google should change the 100% break down though. There needs to be two more additions…

1. a company should be required to collect 5 reviews. 5-8%
2. all businesses need to upload one theme song…accepella, and it has to be sung by the business owner. 20%


Juliemarg August 18, 2009 at 7:41 am

Mike – I love the singing – that will be my special offering to the local search community. I’ll offer singing lessons & coaching on some local search appropriate songs.
1. On the Sunny Side of the Street
2. On the Street Where You Live
3. On the Dark End of the Street
4. Dancing in the Street
5. Street Map
6. We Built this City
7. Call Me!

and Don – Thanks for your great reporting!


Chuck Harmon August 18, 2009 at 8:11 am

Don, thanks for being willing to share your notes on the conference. I appreciate this insight into LBC which is still mysterious territory to most of us.

Internet marketing is changing rapidly and it takes a group effort to keep up.


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