🆕 2018 Local Search Ranking Factors


Phil Rozek

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@Colan Nielsen, I dig your comment about internal links. Most SEOs either go way overboard with the exact-match anchor text, or completely ignore internal links for fear of overdoing it (very hard to do; just look at Zillow's footer). Somewhere in the middle is the commonsense approach, which revolves around having people see the relevant pages at the right times.

Also liked @davidmihm's comment about how reviews are becoming table stakes. Just working up a high body count never has been quite enough, and I think more business owners will see that in time.
 

JoyHawkins

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There was SO much good stuff in there. Just finished reading it and added at least 2 things to my "to-test" task list. Here are a few pro-tips that I found particularly informative.

  1. Tim Capper: In the travel market, in-depth city / attraction guides with integrated walking maps are working well - attracting visits and links.
  2. Andrew Shotland: Depending on the strength of the domain, we are also seeing taxonomy expansion (a fancy name for adding more "service+city" pages) either performing well or destroying sites. If you have a weak domain, this could be a quick way to make it even weaker by adding a lot more thin URLs to it. We have seen several post-Medic cases of sites that got obliterated for what appears to be too much "topical overlap." So test, test, test. I am still surprised when I see "insert city name here" boilerplate content on location pages. It can work, but if your location pages aren't ranking well, this is one of the first issues I'd investigate.
  3. Brian Smith: Expanding content to include localized items like landmarks, historical buildings, and popular streets/highways.
  4. Andy Monte: "I remember targeting one keyword that had a monthly search volume of 30, but because there were over 200 "related keywords," I was able to rank for all of them. After the first month of being published, that one page now generates over 2,000 organic users a month."
    1. I couldn't agree more with this one. I was analyzing the data for a client of ours yesterday for the year. He got 6 conversions in Google Ads from a keyword that only had 10 impressions. This was more than some of his keywords that had hundreds of impressions.

@Phil Rozek your comment about where Google is headed made me laugh out loud. Can you elaborate on why you said "court"?

The only tip I disagreed with was this one: "In the legal field, spam is running wild. We now have seen a huge influx of law firms changing their legal business names to locally relevant keywords like "Florida Personal Injury Lawyer.” Sadly, this tactic works all too well right now and it's important to report these as spam as you come across them."

I 100% agree that I'm seeing this tactic a lot but would not suggest reporting it as spam. If a business legally changes their name, Google isn't going to act on it and wouldn't consider it spam. Reporting it as such just weakens your trust level on Maps since the edit will get denied.
 

Nikos

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I liked Colan Nielsen's comment about phone numbers in the title tag.
If they do attract a higher CTR then it is worth testing.
I want to also test in some point adding an emoji next to the GMB name, although it is against the guidelines.
 

CarrieHill

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I liked Colan Nielsen's comment about phone numbers in the title tag.
If they do attract a higher CTR then it is worth testing.
I want to also test in some point adding an emoji next to the GMB name, although it is against the guidelines.
We put one next to our name months ago - still there and not reported/removed. Not sure it makes a HUGE difference but it looks cute :) (Caveat - 99% of our business comes WOM)
ign-dig-png.3426
 

BenFisher

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It was fun to participate in the survey this year, I need to go and read through it all again, tons of insight from highly respectful people.
 
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Darren blew my mind with this suggestion:

"Seed the Google Q&A with your own questions and answers. Feed that hyper-relevant, semantically rich content to Google. Relevance FTW."

One of those why the heck didn't I know about this/think of this moments...
 

Phil Rozek

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@Phil Rozek your comment about where Google is headed made me laugh out loud. Can you elaborate on why you said "court"?
@JoyHawkins, at the risk of snuffing out what little wit was in my comment by over-explaining it, I’d cite a few species of problems I suspect Google won’t deal with unless they’re sued:

1. Not policing Google Maps reviews, and doing nothing about review-spam networks, while continuing to push and incentivize them (as in the Local Guides program).

2. Not adequately vetting “Google Guaranteed” companies that use Local Services Ads. It’s a matter of time before something real bad happens to a customer who picks the wrong company there. That’s maybe the biggest downside of pushing LSAs as hard as Google has: the businesses that tend to stink up the free 3-pack eventually feel enough pressure to get into the paid 3-pack.

3. Causing a seasonal business to miss out on a whole year of income by not giving it a way to fix incorrect GMB info or halt competitors’ spam in a timely manner.

That was my thought bubble in that comment.

Plus the ongoing anti-trust and privacy concerns, plus some I’m certain I forgot to mention.
 

Colan Nielsen

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I liked Colan Nielsen's comment about phone numbers in the title tag.
If they do attract a higher CTR then it is worth testing.
Thanks Nikos. My theory is that the user clicks on the title tag thinking the number is click to call. So, if that's the case it makes it even more interesting since now you could be irritating potential customers as they click back to the SERP's once they realize it's not a CTC number.

However, if the page they land on DOES provide a very clear click-to-call button that might do the trick.
 
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Darren and his team did a great job with the survey this year. I really liked the format. It was really impressed how they put it together, and based on looking at the responses a lot of us are seeing similar things.
 
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Darren blew my mind with this suggestion:

"Seed the Google Q&A with your own questions and answers. Feed that hyper-relevant, semantically rich content to Google. Relevance FTW."

One of those why the heck didn't I know about this/think of this moments...
I can't take credit for that idea, Casey. Mike Blumenthal is the mastermind of all things related to Q&A. Check out his excellent series on the topic, here:
5-Step Plan For Success With Google Q & A - GatherUp
 
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Darren and his team did a great job with the survey this year. I really liked the format. It was really impressed how they put it together, and based on looking at the responses a lot of us are seeing similar things.
Thanks, Eric. The kinks are worked out now and it will be smoother next year. I'll give all the contributors more notice too! :)
 

consultant

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Personally, I question the value of this latest Moz Survey. Is it worthless information? Of course not. Here's the problem. It's just a survey and the accuracy or validity of the respondents' conclusions is questionable at minimum, and possibly completely wrong at maximum. So what the survey aims to do is to reduce uncertainty through consensus of experience. I think this is highly flawed approach compared to a very large Local SEO company with thousands of clients where they can crunch numbers. So Moz is just a service platform and they don't perform Local SEO services themselves for clients? Because otherwise they could have written this article based on their own data and not just regurgitated survey results. And in that case they can include the important missing piece in this article which is a detailed explanation of what data they analyzed and how they analyzed it to reach their conclusions.

Now I'm sure some of the respondents were with large firms that crunched the numbers (but what percentage? Without contextual information as to how the respondent arrived at the conclusions in their response, we have no idea which respondents are mostly guessing and which ones did the hard analytical work. But then that's why they include many respondents to hope to identify trends - I get it. But for someone like me that wants to know HOW you arrived at that conclusion/opinion, specifically, in detail, so I know you're not talking out of your a$$. I found the article disappointing.

Still, because Google's algos are so top secret, people are STARVED for this kind of information so the article get lots of attention/hype and credence. But I think these types of articles risk creating a "herd mentality" where because someone isn't sure about something they more easily adopt the conclusions and opinions of the others without much information confirming the validity and accuracy of what the other's are claiming.

I have a specific question though but I think I'll put it in a separate thread as this post is really about the accuracy and usefulness of the article itself versus a carefully conducted analysis of data.
 

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