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Finding-Local-Search-Success,Post-Pigeon-&-Penguin-3Hot on the heels of the latest Penguin update, marketers are scrambling to measure its effects. Penguin 3.0, the first update since October 4th, 2013, completed its rollout early Monday, October 20th. That's right, those who were hit by the last Penguin update waited over a year without an update or refresh to see if their clean-up efforts had done the trick.   As if elusive penguins weren't enough to worry about, marketers and brands have also had to contend with the finicky new local search algorithm Pigeon, which launched in July this year. Designed to provide more useful and relevant local search results, Pigeon brought hundreds of traditional web search algorithm factors into play for local search. It also improved on distance and location ranking parameters.   Late in September, Google also released the Panda 4.1 update, affecting 3 to 5% of queries –just to keep things interesting.   In the constantly shifting local search landscape, where it can feel like the targets are forever on the move (and interspersed with furry and feathered but unfriendly animals), what's a marketer to do? Pigeon & Penguin-Proofing Local Search A year is an awful long time to wait out an algorithmic penalty – longer than many brands can afford. Though Google has suggested they'll refresh Penguin more often from here on, however, there are no guarantees.   We recently did a client survey at Rio SEO of the top retailers (those with hundreds of thousands of visits) and examined search traffic analytics right after the Pigeon update. What we found was that those with optimized local landing pages saw a 10% - 20% increase in traffic to those pages from search and an average of 20% increase in their local positions on SERPs (ie.: local map positions, etc.).   You don't often hear these stories right after an algorithm update; typically, doom and gloom stories of the biggest losers plaster the web. In every algorithm update, though, those who have prepared and followed best practices rise above when the biggest losers fall.   If you want to be one of the former, read on. Tracking and Measuring the Effects of Algorithmic Changes Beyond anecdotal evidence, how can you tell if your site has been impacted (either positively or negatively) by a Google algorithm update? Accurate tracking, measuring and reporting on the KPIs (key performance indicators) that actually matter is key.   These include, but are not limited to: • Your rankings on the big search engines • Rankings in local search • Citation consistency across the ecosystem • Traffic from all engines, directories and niche sites • Link activity analytics • Number of reviews per location • Average review ratings   You can learn more about each of these and how to use them for local search success in my last column on defining local SEO KPIs.  

Improve Your Local Search Strategy with Best Practices for Organic & Local Results

Each year, Moz conducts a survey of industry experts on local search ranking factors. The 2014 survey results were released in September and this year, Moz asked survey respondents to rate specific factors that contribute to rankings across pack/carousel and localized organic results. Participants also addressed which factors have increased or decreased in importance since the introduction of the Penguin algorithm.   The study points to critical areas of focus for local marketers. If you need to prioritize your optimization efforts, start with these areas identified as most impactful by local search experts (just don't forget to move on to the rest afterwards!).   First, experts ranked the influence of eight groups of ranking factors across the two types of local results: pack/carousel and localized organic. You can see more on Moz's methodology here.   Moz_Local_Search_Ranking_Factors_1 Image Credit: Moz   On-page signals (21%) – the presence of name, address, phone number (NAP); link signals, and external location signals – ranked most important, according to industry experts.   Looking into the factors ranked most important for either pack/carousel or localized organic results, we see different areas of focus that point to opportunities for marketers struggling in one area of the other:   Moz_Localized_and_Pack_Carousel_results   In localized organic search results, industry experts rated on-page signals and link signals as of almost equal importance. Together, they are considered about equally as influential as all other factors combined.   For pack/carousel results, however, experts feel on-page signals are far less significant – and link signals even less so. My business signals – categories, keyword in business title, proximity, etc. – are considered significantly more important here than for localized organic results. External location signals like YP and aggregator NAP consistency and citation volume are also given more weight for pack/carousel results by industry experts.   Moz identified the Top 5 Localized Organic Ranking Factors as: 1. City, state and landing page in title 2. Domain authority of the website 3. Page authority of the landing page URL 4. Quality and authority of inbound links to the domain 5. Quality and authority of inbound links to the landing page URL   Their Top 5 Pack/Carousel Ranking Factors are: 1. Physical address in city of search 2. Proper category associations 3. Consistency of structured citations 4. Quality/authority of structured citations 5. HTML NAP matching My Business Page NAP   For the full list of Moz's top 50 local ranking factors segmented by localized organic and pack/carousel and commentary from their survey experts, see The 2014 Local Search Ranking Factors.   To learn more about how you can maximize local search traffic this holiday season, check out Rio SEO's webinar on Nov 13th: How to Maximize Local Search Traffic This Holiday Season.   Author: Bill Connard   Originally posted at Search Engine Watch
We recently contributed to a blog about Google's new "Pigeon" algorithm update, a major local algorithm change rolled out July 24 affecting Google Maps and local Google search results. Now that the dust has settled, local SEO practitioners can focus on the strategy and tools to prepare for the next inevitable algorithm shake-up. continue reading
Multi-location businesses face unique challenges in the management, optimization, and distribution of local business listing information. Accuracy is critical for every business, but those with a number of locations must also master scale.   It's easy to get bogged down in spreadsheets and a hodgepodge of tools. After all, most marketers struggle to see the ROI from local campaigns, so it can be difficult to justify putting budget here to streamline your efforts. You might simply rely on Yext, or have an agency do the work for you.   continue reading
By / Interactive Marketing Manager, Rio SEO   Local SEO Spring Cleaning Tips Spring is finally here...and so are the countless ways you can bring local SEO into your marketing campaigns for 2014!   The days where a business owner could simply have a website and submit his or her information to Google Places are long gone. If you're a multi-location brand, doing this for hundreds or thousands of local businesses is simply not scalable. Fortunately getting a jump-start for spring can be achieved with five essential updates to your existing marketing campaigns: continue reading
By Bill Connard / VP of Local Search Solutions   Having specialized in Local SEO for more than 10 years, I have seen a lot of change in the local search space and Google’s new local search Carousel is as exciting (and dynamic) as it gets.   With any new change in the way Google serves up results, both search marketers and SEO directors want to know the factors that will help deliver better local search rankings. With the new Google Carousel the jury is still out around those factors. continue reading
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by Michael Rosa/SEO Strategist with contributions from Mick Wilson, Director, Client Services   A few weeks ago, the most recognizable voice of Google, web spam expert Matt Cutts announced a new Penguin update to be released over the summer. Matt teased us with vague descriptions of the areas targeted by the upcoming algorithm updates, tactics targeted to include advertorials that pass page rank,  better link scheme analysis and domain name clustering among others. SEO’s both enterprise level and local marketers everywhere started waiting for the impact to hit. On the afternoon of May 22, 2013 Cutts confirmed with a tweet that Penguin 4.0 was being pushed to Google’s data centers.   continue reading
Specialty retailer Charming Charlie operates more than 240 retail stores in the United States where it sells fashion accessories like scarves, jewelry and purses. It’s opening those stores at a fast clip—more than 20 in the last four months alone—and is laying the groundwork to launch direct-to-consumer e-commerce at in August.   The retailer is staffing up its web team—it anticipates going from a three-person web team today to 25 by the end of 2013—but one of the first things Kim LaFleur, Charming Charlie’s vice president of e-commerce, did when she joined the retailer three months ago was fix how Charming Charlie showed up in search engine results. continue reading

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