Mike Ramsey will be speaking at the “What Drives Local Rankings” session at SearchFest 2013 which will be taking place on February 22, 2013 at the Governor Hotel in Portland, Oregon. For more information or to purchase tickets, please click the following link.
1) Please give us your background and let us know what you do for a living.
I come from the small town of Burley, Idaho. We have a Walmart, a McDonalds and a lot of struggling small businesses in my market. I own the local weekly newspaper and also Nifty Marketing, which is a local search marketing company. Due to being raised and living in Burley, I have always had a love of local businesses. That is how and why I got deep into local search. I love watching small and big companies learn how to reach a tight geographic area. I think the reason why is because there is rarely short cuts, or the ability to churn and burn with your customers. You just have to be the best at what you do, fill a need, and give back to the local community. That is why I live in the world of local search.
2) Do the quality of local reviews affect the search rankings, or is it just the quantity of them?
Quantity has definitely seems to trump Quality up til now. But things are changing. If you search within Google+ local for a business you are given 4 options for ranking results
From Top Reviewers, People Like You, Just For You, Your Circles
So what does this mean for local search? Quality, location, review history, and circles could at some point be used in the main serps as a factor. These are arleady being used in Google+ so as more and more integration takes place, I have the feeling that we will see a major shift from getting lots of reviews, to get the right type of reviews from the right people. After all, that is the way the world works and google’s goal is to replicate the real world. Businesses can fake quantity but they will never be able to fake quality. It’s an outcome of good service and outreach.
3) How do you think Facebook’s new Search Initiative will affect local business marketing?
There was a great post on LocalU that myself and other members of the faculty put together on our thought on Facebook’s Graph Search. Overall I think the idea that they have is excellent. Being able to see meaningful and sufficient recommendations based on my group of friends and acquaintances is definitely the next stage in local search, the question is not if that will happen on a scalable basis but who will have the market. Google or Facebook? Right now facebook is behind, Google+ is rapidly growing and is already the default search engine, They have the business data and reviews from their own system and the purchase of Zagat. If Facebook is serious about catching up they will have to make a move for a major partnership or purchase of Yelp, or a similar directory to have review relevance in the local space. Overall, the game is changing, social search makes sense for local businesses and people need to recognize this and watch the Google+ Facebook battle very closely.