Best Old Posts on Local Search: the Classics

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Even in local search, there's such a thing as time-tested wisdomThe trouble with most “best-of” roundups is they have a shelf life.  They’re fresh and they’re current – which is good.  But they also age fast.

Not this one.  This roundup is like Cher: Even years from now it’ll look pretty much the same.

I’ve gathered what, in my opinion, are the best old posts on how to get visible in local search – particularly in Google Places (before it was called Google Places).

Many of these I first read when I was just getting started (‘08-‘09, before I created this blog).  Technically they’re from the last decade (!).  They’re oldies but goodies.

Why do I care how old these posts are…and why should you care?  Well, because the insights in these have held up since 2006-2009 – which is a mighty long time in “local search years.”

All the idiotic “SEO is dead” –type posts have fallen by the wayside and nobody remembers them.  And rightfully so.  But many of the below posts are still frequently linked to, commented on, and read and re-read because they’re still accurate, insightful, and useful.

True: Google and the rest of the local-search world is constantly morphing, so you need to stay abreast of all the changes.  But if you want to stay afloat in the local rankings, you also need to know what’s not changing, because that’s the stuff at the very core of local search – what it is, how it works, and what steps will get you visible to local customers regardless of what year it is.

I also suggest you follow every single one of these experts if you don’t already.

So, here’s my selection of the best old posts on local search:

2006

8 Simple Steps to Make a Page More “Local” – Matt McGee
Your website and landing pages have become even more important to your local rankings since Matt wrote this – making these best-practices even more important for you to follow.

Authority Documents for Google’s Local Search – Bill Slawski
Superb breakdown of one of Google’s local-search patents, with insights into how Google determines whether your pages are “local.”

Study: Search Driving Offline Conversions for Local Service Businesses – Greg Sterling
Ever wonder exactly why you need to bother getting visible in local search – and whether it’s all worth it?

 

2007

10 Likely Ranking Factors of Google’s Local Search Algorithm – Mike Blumenthal
Before we had nifty terms like “citation,” Professor Maps explained what mattered – and still matters – in local search in super-simple terms.

Don’t Forget…Business Reviews Are Searchable – Tim Coleman
Why customer reviews matter, plus a straightforward plan for gathering them.

Is Google Filtering Reviews or Reviewers? – Tim Coleman
Tim puts his finger on some of the stuff we still don’t know about how Google deals with customer reviews.  (Note: in 2011 Google stopped including third-party reviews in the Google Places search results, so that part of it is no longer applicable, but Tim’s overall points and methodology are why this post is still a must-read.)

Anatomy & Optimization of a Local Business Profile – Chris Silver Smith
This one’s got it all: some great explanation of basic local search ranking factors, detail on some of the more-advanced and lesser-known ones, and a really straightforward layout that helps you see how it all fits together.

 

2008

How to Create Effective Local Business Landing Pages – Dev Basu
The title pretty much says it all.  Dev’s advice also holds true for any good landing page – whether or not it’s tied to your Google Places page.

Does Local Need to Be Held to a Higher Standard? Greg Sterling Responds – Mike Blumenthal
Let’s just say I agree with this.

Local vs Traditional SEO: Why Citation Is the New Link – David Mihm
This is where I first learned what a citation is.  Even after a number of years, it’s still the best explanation of what citations are and of their place in the wild world of local search.

The “BCS” for Local Search Engine Optimization – David Mihm
Do citations overwhelm you because you’re not quite sure where to begin in gathering them?   This is a superb rundown of which third-party sites affect your local rankings the most, as well as how each of these sites matters in the grand scheme of things.

SEO for Businesses with Multiple Locations in the Same City – Andrew Shotland
This very well may not apply to you, but if you do have multiple locations in one city, Andrew’s advice remains rock-solid for (1) avoiding the dreaded problem of merged Google Places listings and for (2) getting your listings highly visible in Places.

 

2009

Google Maps LBC: How to make % Complete = 100% – Mike Blumenthal: 
An awesome pie chart that shows you how to make your Google Places listing 100% complete, according to Google’s standards.

What Would a Local SEM Do? – Mike Blumenthal
Whether this anonymous letter is made-up or a true story, it’s a sad reminder of how a Google Places campaign needs to be part of an overall visibility strategy, but not the entire strategy itself.  In other words…epic fail.

The Local New Year’s Resolution I Wish Eric Schmidt Would Make – Miriam Ellis
We’ve burned through several years and a Google CEO since Miriam wrote this.  But it’s still a dead-on take on what’s wrong with local Google and why Google has an obligation to fix its problems.  Gee, maybe they’ll make a New Year’s resolution this year…you know what a sign of resolve and commitment that is…

5 Ways Negative Reviews Are Good for Business – Matt McGee
Huh?  You actually want some negative reviews?  Yes, you probably do.

Blocking and Tackling: 10 Fundamentals of Local SEO – David Mihm
David does a great job of telling you what to focus on in your local-search efforts.  He even compares it to football.  If we’re going to stick with that metaphor, the only thing I’d add is: wear a cup.

The “Other 20%” Of Local SEO: Advanced Ranking Factors – David Mihm
Kind of a follow-up to the “10 Fundamentals” post.  The focus here is on slightly more-advanced techniques for grabbing the extra edge locally.

Secret Local Search Rankings Facts for Free – Mike Ramsey
Too many different kinds of great insights to sum up here…just give it a read.

How to Do Local SEO for Your Website in Five Minutes (or So) – Andrew Shotland
So…it’ll take you about 3 minutes to read this post…which leaves you about 2 minutes to do local SEO on your site.  Can you do it?  Can Andrew explain how?  The clock starts now

 

Honorable mention: local search posts from 2010

Local-search years are like dog years.  In not too long, posts from 2010 will also become what I consider time-tested.  They’re still a little recent as of 2012, but I’m guessing the following posts will still be as useful and insightful a couple years from now as they’ve been for the past couple of years:

Future Proof Your Google Maps SEO – Steve Hatcher

Transferring Google Local Business Center Accounts – Steve Hatcher

Why Local SEO Is Harder than SEOs Think – Matt McGee

An Extremely Nifty Guide to Reviews and Local Search – Mike Ramsey

The 3 Major Causes of Duplicate Listings in Local Search – Mike Ramsey

Can you think of any great posts I forgot?  Leave a comment!

(Remember: they’ve got to be old, and they’ve got to be written by someone else :) )

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Comments

  1. Phil,

    That’s a truly magnificent collection!!! Did I mention I just bookmarked it?

    Probably the only post you might also consider including is the “Regional / Local Search Engine Marketing Tips and Strategies” by Aaron Wall (you can find it here: http://www.seobook.com/archives/001562.shtml).

    Cheers!
    Nyagoslav

    • Hey Nyagoslav, thanks for the feedback and for the suggestion!

      Aaron at SEOBook definitely has a TON of great material, including this post, and it’s definitely old (May of ’06!). I think there’s a tad too much emphasis on links, particularly paid ones, and I think our fellow local-searchers pretty much hit the nail on the head. But this post deserves serious props, especially considering how many of the suggestions are still applicable 6 years later.

      When posts from 2011 and beyond eventually become “old,” something tells me we’ll be seeing a lot of your posts on the “classics” list!

  2. Great advice for my local customers. Thanks for the round up.

    • I’m afraid very little of the great advice is mine – it’s in all those great old posts – but thanks for the feedback!

  3. Hey Phil! Thanks for including my old and rusty post on landing page design. Some things haven’t changed in all these years :)

  4. You have a very good point here. “what’s not changing… that’s the stuff at the very core of local search” Thanks to your list, I’ve realized that writings about local search have been around since 2006, yet there are still website and business owners who don’t have full awareness of the importance of local search.

    • Thanks for the feedback, Inez! Yeah, fortunately, local search has only gotten more important and well-known with each passing year. Unfortunately, most people’s introduction to it is when they realize “Damn, my competitors have been attracting customers there for how long…?”

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