At the end of 2010, Google propelled local SEO to new heights by not only showing local results for search queries with a local modifier (e.g. [seo london]) but letting local results dominate such queries. Additionally, Google shows local results from Google Places by default, without users even adding a geographic signifier. So when you search for for [hotel] from London, you will be directed to hotels in London. This means that
there is a lot of opportunity, commotion and confusion in the SEO industry
and the webmaster community right now. Google seems to experiment a lot with these new local search results and it’s difficult to see a pattern sometimes.
Local SEO differs significantly from conventional organic SEO. First of all you have to register with Google by adding a Google Places profile, and then you have to get reviews aka citations from a set of trusted sites Google uses to rank local results. This is an almost completely new game and most people aren’t good at it yet. Furthermore, Google currently struggles to provide relevant results due to local business owners not yet wholly grasping what’s going on.
While I am not specialized in local SEO like others are, I try to keep up with the changes and read a lot about Google Places and local SEO, the result of which is that I have collected quite an impressive number of related bookmarks. Today I want to share these 36 must-read local SEO/Google Places resources from 2010/2011 with you. Take note that they are in most cases no older than one year, and that I have provided mobile and local SEO resources lists in the past as well. Consider this post to be a follow up.
While there are plenty of SEO tools out there local SEO are still rare. Nonetheless new tools have already appeared in 2011. At the same time, established services can be used for local SEO as well.
Google Places is the new brand of Google’s Local Business Center and Google Maps combined. It’s far more prominent in Google’s search results, either based on the query or on clicks on the menu.
Sadly Google Analytics and other web analytics tools can’t by default determine which visitors came via Google Places results. There are ways to tag your local SEO campaigns though, and to track them in Google Analytics. You can also follow the Google Places stats itself.
Citations are the new links but, unlike links, they are really hard to get and very exclusive. Only a select few websites are used by Google for the Google Places ranking and thus you have to first identify them and then make sure real users go there and actually review your brick and mortar business. These citation-providing sites differ from country to country, so there are UK specific lists of citation sites.
Within the embedding of local results right inside the organic search results, a strange mix of ranking signals has been taken into account. To rank in Google Places you have to combine the conventional SEO techniques with almost completely different methods of optimization.
‘How To’ articles
Understanding local SEO and Google Places results is one thing, but the actual steps to be undertaken, the websites where you can get citations and how to improve your Google Places listing have to be known as well in order to optimise your local business listing.
Miscellaneous must-read resources
The recent changes in both display and reach of local results on Google have sparked a number of reactions in the SEO blogosphere. Most people agree that the new Google Places integration is a game changer. These postings explain the changes, show the ramifications and attempt to predict the future of local SEO.