David Mihm’s Local Search Presentation at SEMpdx Hot Seat (Liveblogging)

Download David’s PowerPoint here.

Why local search is so important? 40% of queries have local intent. 5% use the city & state name; 2% use informal terms like neighborhoods; .5% use zip codes.

100 Million unique visitors per month search Yahoo with local intent…1/2 billion search Google monthly with local intent.

Local search algorithms drive mobile results (they already do with more sophisticated devices).

The old local search…10 Google links…traditional SEO.

1/2008: 10 pack appeared in Google. Default #1 (or #4) results for every keyword & city or state search. Certain searches (e.g. “bars”), Google will ask for local intent. Google is asking people to enter their zip code for non-specific searches and they show local results to signed in users by default. Danny Sullivan speculated that local algorithms will completely replace organic algorithms within a couple of years. Local results are driven by a completely different algorithm than the organic results.

Vocabulary: “10 Pack”, “3 Pack”, “Authoritative 1 Box”.

Yahoo search results: Mostly the same in Google but no 10-packs.

Local Search Ranking Factors Survey: An overall low level of agreement.

Top positive factors:
1) General importance of claiming local business listing
2) LBL address in city of search.
3) Proper categorization of LBL
4) Product / Service Keywords in LBL title
5) Proximity to Centroid.
6) Validation with Third-Party Providers. Citations can help you rank better in the local algorithms, do not necessarily include a link. Business name needs to be consistent. Citations: Web pages tab in their local listing is a good approximation. Get citations in directories, mine competitors citations, see what sites rank well for your search terms organically.

Also, hyperlocal blogging (the next big thing in local, high relevance, can also lead to links, use Twitter search to network with other tech-savvy local businesses.

“Cracking the code” (Mike Blumenthal): Key Findings: Distance to centroid really matters when very little other data exists. Citation total and business title were also significant predictive factors. Volume of reviews had marginal importance. TBD: Citation authority, traditional SEO techniques like anchor text and on-page factors.

Negative factors: Multiple LBL’s with same address, same phone or same business name. Negative customer reviews. Associating a 800 number with LBL. Listing multiple addresses on website. More confusing than spammy.

Future of Local Search: Google seems to be shifting. “On-listing” factors like proximity to centroid and keywords in business title seem to be diminishing in importance. Off-listing factors seem to matter more (Citations, UGC, Reviews). Less vulnerable to spam. Might not be a shift in the algorithm…data sets are becoming better.

Todd Mintz
Todd Mintz knows PPC...knows Social Media...knows SEO...knows Blogging...knows Domaining...and knows them all real well. He is also a Director & Founding Member of SEMpdx: Portland, Oregon's Search Engine Marketing Association. He is a Senior Account Manager for 3Q Digital and is also a Director & Founding Member of SEMpdx: Portland, Oregon's Search Engine Marketing Association, and he can be found here on Google+.


  1. Todd, thanks for taking the time to liveblog Davids talk. Good to be reviewing this stuff. Hyperlocal certainly seems to be the buzzword, I’m liking that.

  2. Dear Todd,
    Thank you so much for posting this! I feel so satisfied seeing Local given this kind of prominence and attention.

    This quote from Danny Sullivan is especially interesting:

    “Danny Sullivan speculated that local algorithms will completely replace organic algorithms within a couple of years”

    As usual, it looks like David did a superb job!

    MiriamElliss last blog post..Just Writing Away…

  3. I’ve noticed recently that for certain searches when the searcher is not logged in to iGoogle but performs a search with some local intent that Google is sporadically detecting the IP address and targeting locally. They’re adding a remark to the top right hand side of the page, just above the results that reads “Customized for _________ metro area, US.” It’s a very innocuous citation and placement. Only clicking on an adjacent “More details” link allows you to view the non-locally targeted results.

    Scott McAndrews last blog post..SEO stupidity wins an iPod Touch

  4. Thanks for posting this Todd. We don’t have such an active Local Search community in the UK (yet), so it’s nice to be able to join in vicariously!

    Interesting that “off-listing factors seem to matter more” but I don’t understand why these are less vulnerable to spam? Wouldn’t it be fairly easy for spammers to create some fake sites with local citations?

    Cheers, Jon

    Jons last blog post..Salons for Sale – Business for sale websites


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