Since I first wrote this piece citations were demoted in importance as Google Signals. Ranking signals used for Universal search are more similar to Local now, so a content strategy that wins links is more important than merely getting listings on directories. On October 8 (2015) Google’s Amit Singhal, senior VP of Search at Google announced that half all global searches are now conducted via mobile devices.
Mobile and Semantic SEO Crucial to Local Search
Mobile, we know, is at the heart of many important, local searches. Put another way, they are the “money” searches. When people want to spend money and are on the road, they do a voice to text search on their phone. Mobile, local searchers also expect content to load quickly. Machine learning via Hummingbird makes for better results on all devices, but it’s particularly important for mobile when a search is conversational à la Siri or “OK Google.” Semantic SEO optimization lets fuzzy intent user queries match your content because it’s the meaning (not keywords!) of authority websites Google Hummingbird uses to compare to your content.
Local vs. Universal Search Signals
Search engine optimization (SEO) is understood by most marketers. But even in tech hubs, and Philly is not one, optimizing for local search is a specialized skill, and finding effective Local SEO in Philadelphia and non tech hub cities require a painfully difficult off-line search. Knowing whether the person providing the local services has sufficient experience requires you know the fundamentals.
Paying to optimize for Local SEO if you if own a brick and mortar business may well be the best marketing spend available. Period. Getting your business to rank high on Google Plus Local, Yelp, and other local search engines requires a special skill set that most Internet Marketers are reluctant to refine. Further, local optimization is not a service digital media pros want to offer. It does not have recurring work associated with it, and requires a great deal of explaining to get business owners on board. With a lot of opportunity to sell online marketing, the best known methods— pay per click for example— are often what win out.
Local search signals, for Google Plus Local in particular, rely on hitting a threshold of review number, and the ratio of positive to negative is important. Also important is consistency on directory and local resource sites. This includes national sites like Best of the Web and FourSquare. It also includes mentions, even without links to the businesses website on important local websites.
Here are top Philadelphia website citation sources for restaurants ranking in the top five on the Google Local Plus results page back in 2012. If the device used for the search is tracked by zip code or latitude/longitude, they might return more “hyper local” results. These citations are from the businesses ranking for a user logged into Google with the location entered as the more general area “Philadelphia, PA.”
- Philadelphia Restaurants
- Philadelphia Pass
- Philadelphia Living
- Shop In Philly
- Philly Visitors
- Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce
- Philadelphia Menu Pages
- University of Pennsylvania Alumni
- Philly Beer Week
- Philly Living
- Philly Fun Guide
Eric Van Buskirk understands the value of building a client base of local businesses. He’s spent the time to learn about best practices for optimizing online business reviews as well as Google Local ranking factors. Contact him today.