15 Local SEO Predictions for 2015

January 5th, 2015

PreCog Minority Report 

And you won’t believe what happens next…

  1. Google will lose market share in Local (trying not to repeat myself here so check out the link to Streetfight for more thoughts on GOOG, Facebook, Apple, etc.)
  2. Google will significantly change the layout of its local pack results at least twice, causing me to break out the Pigeon poop pic again
  3. Google will drastically update their GMB guidelines for the 3rd time in two years, causing a mad dash of changes and posts with the actual impact being minimal (on a related note, Linda Buquet will create the longest forum thread in history with updates on this)
  4. Google will release the ability to claim a listing into GMB locations (aka bulk feed) like you can with their regular dash (Hallelujah!)
  5. As mobile search volume hits north of 75% of local queries, Google Desktop SERPs will almost start to not matter for certain industries – thinking A&E & on-demand services specifically. While the mobile algorithm will continue to be similar to the desktop algo, we will start to see an increase in the ability to influence mobile SERPs via making your site/service/content more “location aware”
  6. To that end, Google will continue to experiment with paid versions of the local pack in an attempt to make these often-horrific results a lot better
  7. After two years of Penguin paranoia, crap linkbuilding & guest posts will continue to be the coin of the realm for most SEO services
  8. Social signals still won’t mean shite for SEO but SEOs will still sell them to SMBs, cause ya gotta be on Facebook, right?
  9. Apple Maps Connect will roll out functionality for multi-location brands; maybe they will even allow more agencies to manage accounts for multiple businesses; and European & Canadian businesses will be able to use the service to manage their listings.
  10. The number of “How to Optimize for Apple Watch” posts will be unsurprisingly insane. I may even have to write one ;)
  11. Yext* will successfully IPO creating a feeding frenzy for big players to try to get bigger pieces of the listings management biz (while likely ignoring the lessons of Zero to One). A Yext IPO would also open the floodgates for other scale local marketing plays to test the waters (thinking Thumbtack, Houzz, etc.)
  12. Someone will try to buy Foursquare (what’s a local search prediction list without this one?). And speaking of acquisitions, the success of Moz’ and LocalU’s Local Up conference will spur M&A rumors which will cause Mike Blumenthal to have to say “no comment” for the first time in history.
  13. Stone Temple will publish an exhaustive study on how regularly publishing exhaustive studies improves SEO (I keed Eric, I keed…)
  14. The demand for Local SEO services will hit an all-time high
  15. We will publish more often on this blog and elsewhere in our attempt to blow your collective minds and/or procrastinate

*Yext is a consulting client and I own a small chunk of Yext stock

→ 11 CommentsTags: Local Search
Posted by Andrew Shotland

Don’t Trust Results in Google MapMaker

January 2nd, 2015

An auto dealer client’s GMB page was showing up in Google with a different domain (the car maker’s – Ford.com) attached to it only for certain queries. I started looking through all of the usual data suspects to see if the errant domain was connected to any of the dealer’s business listings and came up empty. Then I searched Google Mapmaker for the client’s business name to see if it had the domain perhaps on a dupe listing. It returned only one result:

Google MapMaker One Result

Nothing to see here, right? I was about to close out of MapMaker when I noticed something odd out of the corner of my eye in the map window:

Google MapMaker Ford.com Dupe

Despite there being only one result for the query, there were three locations plotted on the map.

Upon further investigation, one of them had Ford.com listed as its website which was the likely cause of our client’s SERP problem. If I hadn’t noticed those map pins, I would never have found this problem.

Google MapMaker 3 Points


The moral of the story – don’t trust the results in Google MapMaker.

→ 12 CommentsTags: Google Maps · Uncategorized
Posted by Andrew Shotland

Social Stats Are Worthless

December 31st, 2014

On my 10 Things I Learned About Local SEO in 2014 post on SearchEngineLand, I forgot to include #11: Social Sharing Stats Are Worthless.

I use to obsess about social share numbers on each of my SEL posts. It drove me slightly crazy to see that Greg Gifford’s and Chris Silver Smith’s posts would always get way more shares than mine. Not that their posts didn’t deserve the shares, but were mine so much less worthy of a RT? I know, I know, Ebola, Ferguson, Eric Garner, NYC Police Thing, ISIS, etc., but hey this blog is all about Local SEO and my ego, in no particular order.

Yesterday, Jessica Thompson poured some cold water on me and woke me up when she published the Top 10 Local Search Columns of 2014 and my post Why Did Google’s Pigeon Crap on Big Local Brands? (check the URL) took the top spot with the most page views, despite having significantly fewer social shares than any other post on the list.

So yes Greg and Chris, your social bots are kicking my ass but like I said, social stats are crap.

But it’s still nice to see a high RT # so with that in mind, here’s the cover of a 2014 Local SEO wrap-up presentation I gave recently (apologies to any women reading this):
Kim's Ass Local SEO 2014

I was afraid that one might offend some of the women in the audience (or perhaps depress them that Ms. West is one of the more famous representatives of their gender) so I came up with a more SEO-friendly alternative.
Matt Cutt's Butt 2014

And I’m talking to you OneDirectionSucksBalls. We need you to get out there, and for once in your lives focus your indiscriminate rage in a useful direction. Seize your moment my lovely trolls. Turn on Tweetbot and fly my pretties, fly!

See you in 2015…

Comments OffTags: Social Media Optimization
Posted by Andrew Shotland

Apple Maps’ Business Data Quality Strategy

November 25th, 2014


Last week, when we uncovered that Apple Maps had cut deals with at least ten new companies (e.g. Yext, Location3, Yodle, etc.) to provide business listings data, I got a few emails asking what the big deal was. Here’s what I see is going on:

  1. Apple has come to realize that organizing the world’s local business listings information is no small job
  2. Apple has come to realize that relying on big data aggregators is great for getting bulk but not so great for getting quality, particularly when you want real-time info like whether or not a location is open or closed at the moment
  3. By partnering with big local marketing tech co’s and agencies, Apple gets partners to do the heavy lifting in local data for the most popular local businesses, big multi-location brands and SMBs with budgets to hire these partners to take care of their data issues for them. My estimate is that these deals will cover about 1,000,000 listings in the U.S. alone. And with companies like Yext & Yodle expanding globally, over the next year, that number should grow considerably
  4. While I expect Apple to bring more partners into the fold over time, the companies on the initial list get a huge differentiator v. their competitors. To date, Apple Maps has been a virtual black box for most businesses but we are hearing from companies on the list that since we published the post they have been contacted by clients and potential clients who want to get more info on the service. At a time when it’s hard to tell one local digital marketing service from another, a slide depicting a direct pipeline into Apple Maps makes for a pretty sweet pitch deck. I imagine the companies that are not on the list – Moz Local, Local Site Submit, GoDaddy, Local Market Launch, MomentFeed, ReachLocal, Where2GetIt & RioSEO come to mind – have been Facetiming the Apple Maps team aggressively over the past few days.

I think this will be a big win for Apple Maps. If the system works, we should see a dramatic increase in POI data quality quickly. I know that Google has done similar deals like this with Yellow Pages companies in non-U.S. countries. Maybe they have even done them in the U.S. but I haven’t heard about it. Seems like a much better way to go than relying on some ever-shifting algorithm.

This isn’t the link you are looking for

→ 6 CommentsTags: Apple Maps · Local Data · Local Search
Posted by Andrew Shotland

An Agency Client Started Using This Local SEO Audit Template And You’ll Never Guess What Happened Next

November 21st, 2014

Their clients’ local and organic search rankings and traffic started going up :-)

Seriously though, earlier this week I presented this talk at the fantastic State of Search conference in Dallas. One of the things I tried to stress is the importance of a diversified SEO strategy for local clients. Here at Local SEO Guide, that always begins with an audit.

It’s the guiding document for the earlier part of our engagements and almost always surfaces quick wins for both us and the client. That generally means happier clients and longer engagements. Now that audit is available for all of you right here. I wanted this more to be a checklist, so I channeled my inner Annie Cushing and also included how to perform the check as well as suggestions to follow if there is a problem.

Don’t ask for editing rights for the document, as I won’t be providing them. However, feel free to make a copy that you can edit to your heart’s content. I plan on regularly updating the document as I have time, so please send any additions you want to share to (dan [at] localseoguide [dot] com) and I will add those to the doc and credit you in an update.

→ 21 CommentsTags: Local Search · SEO Tools · Technical SEO
Posted by Dan Leibson