David Mihm’s 2nd annual survey of my esteemed colleagues in the local seo world is now up. It’s a fantastic report and probably will do as much for the economy as the Stimulus and perhaps even more than TARP.  For those of you with ADD, here’s a summary of the top 20 factors on a scale of 5 to -5 where 5 means the factor has the strongest effect and -5 not so good:

  1. Claiming Your Local Business Listing: 4.42
  2. Citations From Major Data Providers + IYP Portals: 4.10
  3. Associating Local Business With Proper Categories: 4.00
  4. Product/Service Keyword in Local Business Listing Title: 3.56
  5. General Importance of Off-Page/Off-Listing Criteria: 3.50
  6. Positive Ratings Associated With Your Local Business Listing: 3.34
  7. Volume of Customer Reviews Associated With Your Local Business Listing: 3.34
  8. General Importance of Customer Reviews: 3.27
  9. General Importance of On-Page Criteria: 2.98
  10. Including Full Address on Website Contact Page: 2.86
  11. Proximity of Address to City Centroid: 2.85
  12. Quality of Inbound Links to Website: 2.82
  13. Hyperlocal/Traditional Web Crawl Citations: 2.80
  14. Product/Service Keywords in Local Business Listing Description: 2.77
  15. Location Keywords in Inbound Links to Website: 2.71
  16. Customer Reviews Left Directly at the Search Engine: 2.65
  17. Location Keyword in Local Business Listing Title: 2.50
  18. Product/Service Keywords in Inbound Links to Website: 2.45
  19. Including City + State In Most/All Website Title Tags: 2.42
  20. Customer Reviews Left on Third-Party Websites: 2.30

And the award for worst offending factor goes to…Multiple Local Business Listings With The Same Address: -2.02

Check it all out here

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14 Response Comments

  • CVW  May 26, 2009 at 12:50 pm

    Thanks for the rundown, Andrew. Will take more time to read David’s full article in detail.

    Current thinking on local SEO is of particular interest to me at the moment, as I have an organic SEO client that I am also helping with their LBC. The question of sharing addresses and phone numbers has been bothering me.

    A practice of different therapists, they are working from the same address and phone number with a pooled reception.

    The practice itself has too weak KW association, as it is the vessel for all the different therapies. So, we have two options:

    1 – Run multiple targetted listings with the same address and phone number with the risk of either being seen as spam or merging of listings.

    2 – Run one listing and try to squeeze 8 different sets of KW into the listing, with the risk of weakening it to the point of ranking for nothing.

    Currently, they have a main listing and one of their therapists has created their own – each listing ranks in the 10 pack with the therapists listing covering their keywords and the main listing more generic. So, at the moment the results are not conclusive.

    You suggest that duplicated addresses and phone numbers are a no-go. Do you have any advice for such businesses?

    Thanks in advance.


  • Andrew Shotland  May 26, 2009 at 12:56 pm

    Rob, sounds like local tracking phone numbers would be a good solution for you. You can forward them all to the same phone number but then at least everyone as a unique phone number. http://www.voicestar.com can do this for you pretty cheap I think.

  • jlbraaten  May 27, 2009 at 9:26 pm

    Categories is HUGE. I noticed a change in my local rankings instantly by changing the categories. Unlike regular indexing, it seems like there’s a little more instant gratification in SEOing local search.

  • Artur  May 28, 2009 at 2:21 pm

    8. General Importance of Customer Reviews: 3.27

    I’m surprised that this one is coming first on 8th position. What customers think is most important in long run I think

  • Causeway  June 1, 2009 at 9:22 am

    Great list and thanks for sharing. 1st time commenting here. This has been a large focus of ours recently.

    Regarding # 4, do you suggest adding the company name and keyword to the local listing? Is proximity a factor here? (i.e. keyword – company name vs. company name – keyword)

    Also, how do we target nearby towns or cities? We don’t show up in the Google 10 Pack if we use our keyword and the next closest town in the search query. TIA

  • Andrew Shotland  June 1, 2009 at 9:44 am

    Causeway, you should definitely have your company name in the listing. Re adding keywords to your name, the search engines frown on that but at the moment seems like there’s not much to stop you from doing it.

    I recommend testing the proximity as there are so many variables that what works for one site may not work for another. But in general I would put the company name first.

    You need to create pages that target these areas and you definitely should acquire a legitimate address in those cities.

  • Causeway  June 1, 2009 at 10:02 am

    Great Andrew, thank you. I wasn’t looking to manipulate the local searches, just try to show up for more terms and locations if possible. We are one of 2 shops in the area and want to make sure we show up for other area’s.

    I tested a keyword and used the next town over and we were non-existent in the results. But using our company name and the next town over, we were present. I’ll try sticking with the company name more as we don’t want to get caught up with any penalties.

  • Andrew Shotland  July 22, 2009 at 4:37 pm

    Business Name with keyword is definitely big. That said I have seen great results with reviews that contain keywords.

  • Matthew  August 12, 2009 at 2:24 am

    Bookmarked!! Using keywords for business names does do well but as pointed out, it should be phased out!

  • Jan Riley  September 18, 2009 at 11:08 am

    This is a great report!
    and the blog is super.
    I have noticed that well optimized videos with local tags and titles have done very well especially when linked to the exact same business name and location combos used for directory listings.
    They might have fewer overall searches but they show up very fast and rank high. I have done this with non local search terms as well.
    Normally I will add a social media bookmarking campaign to add social weight (and links) to the project and if I can get customers to review and rate the videos.
    Anyone else combine video and social media campaigns with local search/ directory listings?
    I am diving deep into local search and really appreciate all that you are sharing here, thanks!

  • Osborne Brook SEO Brighton  October 22, 2009 at 8:45 am

    That’s a very useful list Andrew, many thanks! Business name with keyword + city/town name is really big, although it sounds too simplisitc. Managed to add a client’s site in local results in just 2 days just by doing that.

  • Andy Roberts  May 10, 2010 at 9:06 am

    Excellent article, I’ve sometimes found local search one of the most frustrating parts of SEO and I’m glad that I had all the top factors right in my mind!!

  • Randy Kirk  May 10, 2010 at 12:35 pm

    Thanks for the annual report. Last year’s report was extremely helpful in my business. I have taken what I learned from that report and added in hundreds of hours of research to produce a blog that is endeavoring to cover this subject like a glove. http://www.googleplaceshelp.blogspot.com

    As to Rob’s question at the top: Blumenthal’s just ran an article on this today. Ari Bezman, Google’s product manager for Google Places says it’s ok to list all those professionals individually and the group at the same address. I highly recommend separate phone numbers as did others responding to the post.

    I’m wondering if there is any objective reporting yet on the use of the service area as compared to an address.