State of Local Search – Pubcon South

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Local Search Panel
Local Search Panel

This is a live blog so there will be mistakes and typos.

Gib Olander, Brian Combs, Eric Branlett, Michael Dorausch and Chris Tolles.

People are asking about producing content each day and not getting success.  All it takes is getting one or two posts that can really take off.  One thing you want to do is instead of linking on your own keywords to your own site for local search you want to link to another site for local results if they are relevant and authoritative.

Google things that 20% of searches are for local searches.

Gib Olander.

Years ago we went to libraries to find information.  Then Google came around and gave us an easier option to find information.  Now we have local search where you have the same search but people started adding in modifiers like austin or your own city.  Now we have social media coming in and reviews on Yelp to influence our local search.  Now we have a what, where and who to play into a local search.  Most recently we now have a when because people are commenting in real time.

You need to think what are people buying at certain times of the day and when they are walking by your store.  If you offer certain things at certain times then you can start to cater to that and feed it into the engines as well with reviews, etc…

Your old business identity was your store front with specials, hours of operation, etc…  Your new business identity is no longer your yellow pages listing.  You now have a search result with reviews, locations on maps and everything else you put into your local search bios in the search engines and on your sites.

How do I get the most out of people on foursquare since we know when our customers are there and how to do we get the most out of them.  You need to follow the content.  You can find people in front of you and offer time sensitive deals via twitter tweeting, etc…  There are sites like Whatster to help you find information.  RedRoadster to find out about clean bathrooms and things while people are traveling.

Your online identity is your company name, address and phone number, but now with reviews, real data and information.

Why is mobile important.

  • People are expected to buy within an hour on a mobile search vs. 7 days within an online search. – Dennis Glavin
  • When they are checking in you can start to reach people right at your area and bring them into your store if you can reach them.

Mobile is being used more than 4 times than a person on a computer so make sure you have your own identities established before other people claim them and ruin your brand or open 5 locations.

Brian Combs.

Local search is at a cross roads.  The next few months will influence the next few years.

Algos are being blended.  The local and traditional.  The theory is that Matt’s team did a better job blocking spam than the local team did so they combined the two.  It is part of their anti spam efforts.  The problem is that it is still changing rapidly.

Yelp and Google are fighting.

  • Google is unwilling to pay for Yelp’s data.
  • Google Taking all or nothing stance
  • Is Yelp strong enough to go it alone?

Yelp has 16 million reviews and an awesome mobile app.

Advertising on Local.

Three google maps and ad systems.

  • Tags: $25/month enhanced listings
  • Boost: PPC through Google Places – If you want control then you should go Boost.
  • LLA: AdWords tied to Google Places Listings.

Google support is still horrible.

  • Reporting broken since February 21st.
  • Data comes and go.  This includes reviews.
  • Google places help forum. – There is a help forum for Google Places but it is actually worthless because no one will really help and Google rarely helps people on them.  The one thing you can do is talk to a Google tags sales rep and they can possibly help you.  You have to pay to get their attention and help.  (From Brian Combs).
  • What will it take to make Google focus on support?

How does Bing compete?

  • Partnering with dealmap and  (This could screw travel affiliates big time as a side note from the keynote since they are competing for travel listings with the engine now).
  • Must grow traffic!
  • And hope for Google to Stumble.

With Yahoo local?

  • Not a part of the Bing Deal.
  • Working on Hyper-Local.
  • Same Traffic problem as Bing.

Fake Reviews Getting Attention.

  • October 2009:  FTC says it’s going to get though on fake reviews.
  • Next sixteen months: nothing happened.
  • February 2011:  Today show expose on fake reviews.

Check-in Apps fading?

  • Limited usefulness
  • Gowalla 3.0 adds no new functionality
  • What do they offer that facebook doesn’t. (I disagree because they can offer discounts, sales and custom offers which drive sales and inbound foot traffic without having to carry coupons, etc…)

Clothing thoughts.

  • Google is creating a great deal of resentment.
  • Most of these have a 6 to 9 month window to resolution.

Eric Bramlett

The most effective use of his time is Google local and organic.

So why all the interest?

  • October 2010 SERP shift
  • Google offered $6 to Groupon

What about users?

  • 70% of users look for local information online.
  • 20% of all searches are location related.
  • 2.2 billion searches were location related in January.

This guy talks way to fast and no one is keeping up.  It is mostly fluff so not important.  Bad speaker because no one can follow him listening or typing.  It isn’t actual value adding though.  He is reading SERPs and pointing out the obvious.

Hyperlocal Organic.

  • Allintitle:”austin real estate” you have roughly 2 million results trying to show up for that term.
  • allintitile:”allandale real estate” much less so go after that because it is easier to get.

Try going neighborhood searches instead of vanity searches like your neighborhood vs. the city.

Benefits of hyper local?

You can build extremely relevant landing pages.  (side note, you can do this anyways on your site with proper seo.  bad info).

Direct relationship with conversion.  (This again is obvious)

Leverage local business owners expertise and then you can have your copy writer clean it.  (This is good because it uses the local knowledge from the locals for their sites and their local SERPs.  Finally something usefull or insightfull).

Michael Dorausch.

State, City, Zip, Address, Phone, Lattitude and Longetude, Local search and social media education is necessary.

October 2010 (before Google local).

Place pages, reviews, maps, websites, blogs and photos are all important.

Brands still dominate because of PPC and top listings.  (I don’t see this as much in DC).


SEO/SEM marketers use desktops, mobile phones and search engines.  Others do too but not everyone else knows how to do a 140 character tweet or that a sponsored ad is a paid ad or which is paid or what a local result or timed or cached result is.

On a desktop people are researching.  When they are out on the street searching they are ready to come in and shop right now.  That is why it is 7 days to sale vs. 1 day to sale on search engines vs. mobile.  (Great explanation of why this stat makes sense.)

Mobile is a get it now attitude.  It is a quality vs. location decision.  You drive with your phone or gps and say restaurant and the gps tells you there are restaurants to your right or left, even though you can see them.  You let it guide you instead.

  • Q:  When searching for Pizza on your mobile, what are you looking for, quality or recognize?
  • A: Most people who responded on twitter said who they recognize.

This is why brand may win instead of quality.  (I disagree but I’m a foodie and will go for quality with food.) The important thing to do is to become the 800 pound gorilla.  get good reviews by customers, put your name on benches and advertise everywhere if you can afford it and ask for reviews from happy customers.

  • Q:  Would you travel 50 miles for the best pizza or haircut?
  • A:  People answered yes.

Location, Brand, Trust.

  • closest – location
  • recognize – branding
  • reviews – trust
  • must have 2 of 3 to win
  • 3 of 3 wins big.


I predict by this time next year online reviews will be viewed the same way as content farms.  Behind the scenes we are seeing a distrust starting.  Customers come in and see great reviews and don’t believe that they are real or legit.  If people loose the trust then it could come out of the algorithm as a strong factor or completely.   Many believe that the company is the only one leaving the good ones or a lot of them.

2011 changes.

Went from “research” to “trust” to “not” so sure.  Local is the new content farm.  People used to research and come into your office.  Then they started reading reviews so they trusted you and would come in.  Now they are not so sure they trust those reviews which is why they are going back to word of mouth.  (side note, Can you say facebook and waiting for friends to respond?)


Google maps dominates.  Ask everyone if they use google maps, mapquest or bing on their mobile phones.

QR codes.

  • Starbucks is using them for payment.
  • Lets big brands push their popularity.
  • Research shows iPhone users scanning QR coed over Andriod users.  (and Blackberry users).

Search Engines

  • SEO like it’s 2011.  Pay your SEOs well and treat them well.
  • get schooled in Local Search
  • Hire a Professional – Local business owners probably cannot keep up on their own with local search.
  • Granular still rocks


  • Website analytics.
  • Phone calls (call tracking) – Use call tracking with postcards, websites and everywhere else you are marketing.
  • Walk ins.
  • Get face to face with locals.


DMs and messaging may interrupt office flow.  Either get staff on it or make alternatives known.   Use it or lose it.  If you don’t keep up with it and respond and interact with your followers then you shouldn’t even bother.


  • High priority SEO for Desktop users
  • Page profiles for desktop and mobile
  • Call tracking and training
  • Ask walk ins questions how they found you, for reviews, etc…   Just don’t spam them with questions or be to in their face.

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2 thoughts on “State of Local Search – Pubcon South”

  1. This was a really good session at Pubcon South. They didn’t mention YouTube videos being good for local… where you can indicate where it was filmed. I should have asked this question but it didn’t come to mind. Anyone have ideas on whether YouTube can help with local search / Google Places?

    1. I haven’t seen much video showing up for local except for in the regular listings. Try just focusing your videos content, tags, etc… with the local terms and keep your focus around it and on the page and site with a local focus as well. Also don’t forget to include your own url on it and get links from other local specific sites to it.

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