What are the latest developments in local search ranking factors and SEO? These were a few topics we batted around with Local SEO Guide CEO Andrew Shotland on the latest episode of Street Fight’s Heard on the Street podcast.
As you probably know, SEO is a moving target given rapid evolution of Google’s ranking algorithm. Some of these changes are reported by Google while others are discovered through reverse engineering. And that takes lots of practice and perspective to test and diagnose SEO issues, which is all about having a trained eye.
“One of the things you figure out if you’ve done SEO long enough is there’s a moment when you can see the matrix,” said Shotland. “It’s not even that we can solve these problems, it’s that we have a good framework for teasing out what the problem is … It’s like a lot of different disciplines where you just have to have seen 50 different problems to start to get a handle on it.”
Good SEO is also a mix of components. It’s mostly about having good content, which is generally treated favorably by Google’s ranking algorithm. But even if you have relevant and frequent material, there are still curveballs that can hurt you if you’re not careful. This was the case with Google’s recent “medic” update.
“Sites that have a complicated content setup lost a lot of traffic,” said Shotland. “And by complicated I mean what we call ‘topical overlap.’ Let’s say you have a medical site and you have 50 different pages about bunion surgery. If you’re not careful, that could get you hit because all these pages are 50% the same.”
As for the latest in ranking factors, Shotland and his team have uncovered insights in Local SEO Guide’s forthcoming Local SEO Ranking Factors study (last year’s report here). Among new findings this year, they pinpoint where Google is increasingly segmenting ranking factors by vertical. So the importance of reviews may be much greater with lawyers than with hospitals.
Mike Boland is Street Fight’s lead analyst, author of the Road Map column, and producer of the Heard on the Street podcast. He covers AR & VR as chief analyst of ARtillry Intelligence and SF President of the VR/AR Association. He has been an analyst in the local space since 2005, covering mobile, social, and emerging tech.