Small Businesses and the Impact of Mobile Optimization

Rather than competing with the big directories for search ranking, small businesses need to fit themselves within the dominant mobile search paradigm and ensure their profiles on third party sites are optimized for the needs of mobile consumers…

The ‘Five Places’ Method for Manageable Local Marketing

It’s critical for SMBs to focus attention on a few of the most effective marketing activities, and to adopt a strategy that allows them to keep marketing efforts consistent. The “five places” method is a simple way to organize one’s efforts based on an inventory of what matters most…

Survey Highlights the Challenges of Marketing to Smaller SMBs

The evidence suggests that marketers who can tell a simple and compelling story tying ROI to hard evidence will stand the greatest chance of winning SMB confidence. The trick is doing this at sufficient scale to be profitable…

The Year in Local Search: A Timeline of the Top Stories of 2014

The holiday season is a time to contemplate the year gone by, so we’ve rounded up some of the top news stories in local search over the past 12 months. It was a year marked by Foursquare’s rebranding, Google’s new SMB interface, and upgrades from the likes of Apple, Yelp, Yahoo, YP, MapQuest, and Bing…

Getting Down to the Basics of Local Search Marketing

Small businesses can sometimes find out at their peril just how important it is to take control of how they are represented online. As professionals, we want to make sure businesses understand that our expertise has value, but not at the expense of scaring or confusing them. Instead we would do well to promote the idea that local search is accessible to all…

Interconnectivity and the Mobile Mind Shift

We hear a lot these days about the massive transition in consumer attention from desktop to mobile devices. That transition is an undeniable reality, but it would be a mistake to assume that it’s just about mobile devices themselves. What the smartphone has done is to enable a change in mental attitude when it comes to the use and consumption of online services…

The Power of Visual Appeal in Local Search

Images are more compelling to the average user than any other medium of communication. Though users may visit local search sites and apps with the conscious intent of seeking out text-based information such as phone numbers, hours, and addresses, visual content encountered along the way may have a greater influence than textual information on deciding which businesses to visit…

How to Maintain a Rational Social Marketing Strategy in a Confusing Landscape

Small business owners may find themselves perplexed by the variety of opportunities to engage socially with consumers. Of course, it would be premature to suggest that any SMB needs an Ello marketing strategy. But there’s an advantage to be gained in keeping your marketing strategy attuned to the groups actively pursuing interests relevant to your business…

Where Online Ordering of Local Products and Services Is Headed

Any local search site that sets its sights on powering transactions will need to take into account the broad range of consumer needs in the local space. But some products are likely much better suited to online purchasing than others…

Traditional Businesses Still Failing to Reach Online Consumers

An infographic from Marketecture offers a useful compendium of statistics pointing both to the great opportunity in local and the persistent gap between that opportunity and the actual practice of marketing by many small business owners…

The Impact of Google’s Local Update Is Still a Developing Story

Google seems to be experimenting with driving more traffic to its local competition, meaning that it’s more important than ever for a business to secure its presence across a broad base of directories. The value proposition of local SEO does not change in a fundamental way, given that Google has long used citation consistency as a prominent local ranking signal…

Unmanaged Local Listings Hurt Consumers and Businesses Alike

Google Maps and its competitors have become the most important pathways to brick and mortar businesses outside foot traffic and word of mouth. As one recent case indicates, an accurate Google Maps listing can be a matter of life or death for a local business. The company needs a stronger and more concerted effort to enlist the help of business owners to address this problem…

Why ‘Google My Business’ Helps, But Doesn’t Fix, Local for SMBs

The company’s redesign of its SMB portal replaces both the old Google Places for Business interface and the equivalent within Google+, and consolidates several features into a friendlier interface. The features for the most part are not new, but the update does a good job of tying together the claiming and profile management process with Google+ sharing…

New Listing Services Will Help Local Data Go Digital

Somewhat unexpectedly, 2014 has seen a profusion of companies entering the listing management arena, many of them veterans of related disciplines. Those of us with long experience in the space are not surprised that others would see the value in helping businesses get found on local search sites and apps. But why the sudden surge of activity?

What’s in a Swarm? Making Sense of Foursquare’s Split

It’s hard to envision now, but it could be that a decoupled discovery and recommendation service will be just what Foursquare needs to scale its dataset beyond entertainment and to encourage users to improve the quality and accuracy of venue information. These developments would turn Foursquare into a viable competitor to data aggregators like Infogroup and possibly to Google Maps itself…

Recent Studies Show Mobile’s Broadening Reach

The reports underline what we might call the inherently local nature of mobile search. Whether you are in a store contemplating a high-ticket purchase or downtown hoping to discover a new restaurant, the phone in your hand is your portal to timely and actionable information as well as marketing incentives that are increasingly likely to gain your attention…

The Shifting Line Between Free and Paid Local Marketing Services

The manipulation of organic reach on Facebook is one of many examples of the shifting boundary between free and paid local marketing services. In “pure” local search, that boundary has tended to be relatively clear: look for a local business in your typical IYP and you’ll see sponsored listings at the top of the results page, followed by organic results. But that boundary is likely more clear to those of us who know what to look for than it is to the general user…

New Location-Based Services Are Poised to Enter the Mainstream

To a surprising degree, the panels and presenters at Street Fight’s Local Data Summit last week in Denver emphasized a similar theme: we’re about to see a plethora of new technology-enhanced real-life experiences centering on ingenious uses of data. The signal feature this time around is an orientation toward experiences situated in a physical context. The question the new technologies will answer is this: “What do I need my technology to do for me now, in this place, at this time, under these circumstances?”

As Google Updates Places, Could Some Merchants Find Their Listings Deleted?

Local SEO consultants and service providers offer businesses the peace of mind that comes with knowing someone is watching the forums and industry news in order to act on policy changes and new developments quickly. Given the complexity of local SEO and the fast pace of change, it’s unreasonable to place the onus for listing management solely on the small business owner…

Let’s Simplify and Strengthen Business Listing Verification

Verification is a great idea in theory and, once you navigate the tangled process, it even works well for most business owners in practice. However, there is very little consistency across publishers as to how the process should work or what the result should be, and there is plenty of evidence that the supposed lockdown of business data via owner verification doesn’t always operate as it should…