Understanding Local Search Results…Well, Kinda, Sorta

Posted by ImageWorks Creative Team September 28, 2011

You know, it’s just plain confusing. …Let’s be real. I mean first we have the new insta search, then PPC (pay-per-click) ads for the first three spots…then more ads on the right side…then the organic listings of the term you were TRYING to search for…but WAIT>>>> what about the new Maps listings?

(Thank you, Google, for moving the Maps icon to the right and not pushing my results even FARTHER down the page!)

Raise your hand if any of that rant made sense!

But there’s more! Google Boost! Which now trumps the Maps listing by putting local paid listings in the PPC area, with all the Maps styling, so it looks like the number one Maps result. Awesome! How much does it run? They won’t tell you. …You just pick a range…and pray. Here’s a little chart to help you out:

Notice the little blue balloon: that’s the Boost ad you pay some unknown amount plus your firstborn for. Oh, wait…the kind folks at Google decided to rename it…Google Adwords Express. Because that’s not confusing. (Don’t get me started on how they altered controls for agencies like ours so we can’t possibly manage multiple clients without a hundred unique log-ins.)

BTW: Crucial NOTE: Maps listings are not based on keywords; they are triggered by the old-school categories used by the Yellow Pages back when Stonehenge was still in the permitting phase. (A little GC humor for your contractors!)

Well, now that we know how local kinda, sorta works, what actually gets you ranked? That’s an even more difficult question. …Here is the answer and why Google makes so much cash-ola! You have to pay for it. Just look at the above. The majority of the screen shown is paid ads through Google…and to show up organically, you will have to pay someone like ImageWorks to get you ranked. That is not cheap at all; it takes a LOT of work. But here are a few easy tips:

  • Create a Google Places page for each location.
  • Optimize the listings as the online guide instructs.
  • Add pictures!
  • Add Videos! (Label them with a local keyword.)
  • Get listed in every local directory you can’t find using your local keywords.
  • Pray.

Just to confuse you a bit more…make sure you consider where your offers and calls to action are placed! (As well as your key menu categories!)

You can test your own site here: http://browsersize.googlelabs.com/.

If you have any questions or comments about local or national SEO, we are happy to help…and Google, we are just teasing you. We really do love your search engine…and we all wish we bought more stock on the occasion of your IPO!


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