Why Location Is a Competitive Edge For National Retailers

Aside from occasional clues, Google famously doesn’t reveal how its search algorithm works. So the art and science of SEO is about reverse engineering to discern a constantly-changing set of ranking factors. And local of course has its own flavor of SEO.

Against that backdrop, and in anticipation for Street Fight Summit West, we spoke with speaker and Local SEO Guide CEO Andrew Shotland (video below). We caught him while assembling the Local SEO Ranking Factors report which has since published. Among other things, it validates that reviews are impactful.

“In this new study we’re focusing on reviews, and what we’re seeing is that there’s a lot of different reviews behavior that impacts your rankings,” Shotland told us, “specifically when the search is ambiguous.”

Beyond ranking factors, another key observation Shotland has made recently is national brands’ migration to local search, especially multi-location retailers. Focused erstwhile on e-commerce, competitive pressure has compelled them to view their locations as an edge in local search.

“Local has taken a low priority, because their digital arms tend to think of themselves as e-commerce sites,” he said. “So they don’t have a strong incentive to send traffic to the local locations, and often the locations are operated separately from the digital arm. So there’s a whole misalignment of incentive. But what we’re seeing now is that e-commerce is so competitive because of Amazon and Google Shopping that brands are starting to see that their locations are their competitive edge when it comes to search.”

As for Street Fight Summit West, Shotland will interview Factual’s CEO Gil Elbaz for a fireside chat. In addition to the interview, he’s looking forward to hearing what others in the local search world are doing and seeing, and if that aligns with the signals he’s tracking.

“We’re interested to talk to others to see if they’re seeing that trend too,” said Shotland.

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Mike Boland is Street Fight's lead analyst, author of the Road Map column and producer of the Heard on the Street podcast. He has been an analyst in the local space since 2005, covering mobile, social and emerging tech. More biographical information can be seen at www.mikebo.land

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