Since Google has introduced local business results into the mainstream results, along with several other results, we are seeing how Google is greating a strong SERP with blended results. We now see shopping results, local business results, videos, standard organic and PPC in the SERP. For the most part, each of these components use a different algorithm.
While a locally based offline business with a desire to find business using the Internet has several options on which methods to deploy resources, it is almost impossible for a small company to deploy every tactic. In fact, it would be merely impossible. We do know however that the search engines drive more traffic to a website than all other mediums combined. Therefore understanding Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is critical. As I always have discussed, I recommend three methods in order to increase visibility in the SERPs. These are
- Efforts in the Organic Results (SEO)
- Efforts towards Local Business Results (the map)
- Efforts towards PPC (Google Adwords)
Google’s Local Business Results are playing havoc for thousands of small businesses around the globe. This algo is as strong as the organic algo were in 2002. It sucks! There are so many challenges being faced with business’ records being combined, including wrong addresses, phone numbers and simply wrong data.
There is also a challenge with what Google is trying to do. Every local industry is different and has different business models. The transportation industry is getting horrible results in the local listings because locally based transportation companies servicing a major metropolitan area is typically located in the suburbs. Google is looking for addresses in the city, yielding the wrong results. The Florist industry has been hijacked by spammers, who have blackmailed local florists for cash to give them their results back. The locksmith industry has been spammed with thieves, claiming to be locksmiths and stealing your keys to your home and vehicles.
Last week while discussing the nightmare in the Local Business Listings with another local SEOer from a San Fransisco Web Design and Local SEO firm owner, Miriam Ellis, I learned and concluded that the Local Results efforts being put forth by Google is simply a little premature. It’s a mess! It’s no secret that Americans are using Google to find local businesses. It’s no secret a web surfer will click on either an organic listing, local listing or paid listing. We know exactly how to market ourselves to achieve rankings in the organic and paid listings, however local is still up in the air. We do know a lot about that and in MLBO you’ll find the strategies that do work, however there are a lot of changes happening daily at Google and there are still a lot of problems at Google. There are still a lot of unanswered questions about ethical companies trying to market themselves. We determined several scenarios with local businesses that may appear spamming to the search engines, yet be completely ethical, moral marketing strategies.
I also want to point you to a fantastic interview among 20 expert local business marketer regarding Local Search Ranking Factors. Check it out, a lot of what you read is included in MLBO however and inline with my teachings, it’s just this is coming from another source.
All in all, I stand firm that SEM is marketing. Regardless if today some strategies may come off as spammy for the local results, move forward with your strategies if you feel what you are doing is ethical in the offline world. Google will shake itself out and determine what is ethical and moral and I believe Google will get this right.
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