Local Search Marketing Blog
Archive for the ‘Google+’ Category
Last month David Mihm released his annual Local Search Ranking Factors (2012). Just after David Mihm had gathered the information for his 2012 release, Google merged Google places with Google+. This is a spanner in the works and means that much of the Local Ranking Factors 2012, is likely out of date.
So what is working now? How do you rank in Local Search results?
We digest all the changes from the last month and bring you the most relevant ranking factors. Below is based on the Local Search Ranking Factors 2012, analysis of the Google Places / Google+ merger and what we are seeing ‘in the wild’.
First lets review the main findings in the Local Search Ranking Factors 2012
Top 10 Local Search Ranking Factors for 2012:
- Physical Address in City of Search on Place Page. You need to be in Cork to rank for Cork searches.
- Proper Category Associations on Place Page. You get five categories, use them wisely.
- Proximity of Address to Centroid on Place Page. The closer you are to Grafton street the better.
- Domain Authority of Website. This can be measured and compared with competitors using the Open Site Explorer tool.
- Quantity of Structured Citations (IYPs, Data Aggregators). These are the N.A.P references to your business on the web. N.A.P being the name, address and phone number. These must be identical to your Google+ Local profile.
- City, State in Places Landing Page Title. This is the page that Google+ Local links to.
- Quantity of Native Google Places Reviews. Now Google+ Local.
- Quality/Authority of Structured Citations. Are you citations from trustworthy sources.
- Local Area Code on Place Page. Again now the Google+ Local page.
- HTML NAP Matching Place Page NAP.
Here is Andrew Shotland’s analysis of the Blended and Pure Local Results in the LSRF 2012
For Blended Results (this is where organic and local combine):
- Primary category matches a broader category of the search category = 1.42 improvement in rank. For example, primary category is set to “restaurant” and the search category was “pizza.”
- The search category or a synonym in the business name = 0.64 improvement in rank.
- The search category or a synonym in “at a glance” = 0.36 improvement in rank.
- Five or more Google reviews = 0.31 improvement in rank.
- At least one photo = 0.25 improvement in rank.Listings with all of these signals showed an improvement in ranking of about three positions – pretty high considering that on average there were five integrated local results in the main search page.
For Pure Local Results (GMaps):
- Five or more Google reviews = 1.47 improvement in rank.
- Search city in “at a glance” = 1.42 improvement in rank.
- Search category or a synonym in in review content = 0.97 improvement in rank.
- Search category or a synonym in the business description = 0.85 improvement in rank.
- Search category or a synonym in “at a glance” = 0.85 improvement in rank.
- Primary category matches the search category = 0.79 improvement in rank.
- Search category or a synonym in the business name = 0.75 improvement in rank.
- Secondary business category that was a broader category than the search category = 0.68 improvement in rank.( i.e. secondary category is “restaurant” when searching for “Seattle pizza.”)
- At least one photo = 0.66 improvement in rank.
- Owner verified listing = 0.52 improvement in rank.Listings with all of these signals showed an improvement in ranking of about nine positions. Given that they were in the top 30, an improvement of nine is significant.
Google Places Merging with Google+
First off there appears to be some kinks that need to be ironed out be Google. An example of this is the time it taking to get Postcard PINs. We have several clients where it has been over 6 weeks and there has been no PIN. Our recommended strategy for the next few weeks is to sit tight and wait for the merger to complete. No rash changes or overhauls to your Google+ Local page. You simply won’t know whats working and whats not.
An area where the merger appears to be placing importance is reviews. Two signs of this are Zagat integration and the new review score. See screenshot below. A good short term strategy while we are waiting for Google+ Local to unravel and tidy up their changes is to focus on building trustworthy reviews.
Trustworthy reviews are from real people with a real history of reviewing local business. You cannot spam or fudge this.
What we are seeing ‘in the wild’ at present
The Local Search space is disorganised at present. Postcard PINs taking months, Local SERP’s jumping up down and without much solid indicators and Google making manual changes to several listings. This all points to Google patching things up behind the scenes.
That said, Local has got a lot more social and is likely to get more so. Reviews, shares and social interactions are likely to carry weight going forward.
Let us know what you are seeing in the Local SERP’s in the comments below.
A list of the top 70 Local Search Ranking Factors for 2012 has been included below. As mentioned earlier this has largely been supplanted by the Google+ Local Merger. But it is still useful as a checklist to see what you and your business are doing for each of the specific areas.
For every $1 in online sales generated from PPC advertising, $6 is generated from in-store sales. This is according to US Retail Market Research Firm, Revtrax. RevTrax also revealed that 89% of conusmers pre-shop by conducting research online but less than 7% of sales take place online. These statistics were based on a 2 year study conducted by RevTrax analysing the Impact of Online Advertising on In-Store Sales. While many commentators have previously spoken about the impact of PPC on offline sales; this study is the first time its impact has been measured on such a large scale.
Revtrax tracked in-store sales through use of printable coupons with a unique identifier. When users clicked on PPC ads they were brought through to a landing page that allowed them to print a coupon to be used in-store. Coupons used in-store were traced back to the keyword used during the online search.
What does this mean for Irish businesses? Firstly, businesses where possible should attempt to use Pay Per Click advertising to push sales offline and not just through e-commerce. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, this study truly dismisses the myth that you have to sell online in order to reap the benefits of Pay Per Click Advertising.
The biggest challenge in promoting offline sales through PPC has been tractability. The effects of PPC on offline sales have remained hidden to advertisers. This is beginning to improve with growth in Smartphone penetration. Google have recently made Google Check-in Offers available for Google+ users on Android devices. The feature allows Businesses with a Google Places Page to target mobile users by making offers to Google+ users checking in at their location. Mike Blumenthal recently wrote a Blog Post on how to setup Google Places Check-in offers. At the moment the feature is only available to US Advertisers.
Google+ Places for Business have arrived
Google+ Pages have arrived. Here is a quick guide to creating your page, by Danny Sullivan.
Everyone from Global Brands to Local Business can set-up a page. As Google integrate more of their existing services with G+ pages, things should get interesting. In particular if they integrate Google Places. This will give business owners a strong search and social platform.
But the big question remains, will people use Google Plus? And will it stick?
You can find the Local Search Marketing page here.
- The Mobile Movement - Understanding Smartphone Users
- Local Search Ranking Factors 2012
- Using PPC to Estimate RoI on Search Engine Optimisation
- Googles Panda Update - One Year Later
- Pay Per Click Advertising drives 6 times more offline sales than online sales - US Study Reveals
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