+ Reply to Thread
Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 16

Thread: G, Y, and MSN LOCAL/Maps or traffic through Long tail local searches

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    DC region
    Posts
    3,053

    G, Y, and MSN LOCAL/Maps or traffic through Long tail local searches

    I've seen a lot written over the last 2 months about LOCAL, specifically use of G, Y, or MSN local.

    Frankly, it surprises me. For the last few years I've been tracking this in detail and I just don't see a lot of visitor traffic off of any of any of the Local or now Google Maps advanced searches.

    I participated w/ Bill Slawski in looking at algos and applications in how Google Maps works.

    Its all quite interesting. BUT...my local business doesn't see much traffic, from any of the locals, nor do any of the local businesses/sites with which I assist.

    So I went back and looked at traffic from the beginning of the year, according to my stats.

    Here is what I see over almost 9 full months this year.

    A little more than 3,000 searches/month to my site.

    Typically about 30%-1/3 are searches that combine a relevant geo term and a variation on my biz service.

    Call it 9,000 such searches. This is very long tail.

    By example I looked at the 14 most active combos of a geo term and bus serv term for the business.

    The bus is optimized for 2 states and a city (MD, VA, and Wash DC.) There are anchor text bls for a variety of bus terms with either or all of Virginia, Maryland, Washington DC, DC, MD, or VA.

    There are a number of business terms that I optimize for including the main business term, and quite a few variations.

    Total traffic from Y, MSN, and G Local and G Maps (formerly G Local) over the nine months; 252 visits- less than 9/month.

    From constantly analysing this I assume about 9,000 searches for combos of the biz terms and relevant geo terms.

    I looked at the top 14 such terms.

    They were things like main business term and Virginia, or Maryland, or DC, then phrases such as the state/city name first and the business term, then plural versions of the business term and state/city name, then terms such business term in Maryland DC or Virginia. Then 2ndary terms start showing up.

    The first 14 such phrases generated over 1000 searches. My experience the visits and conversions really revolve around terms such as these.

    The difference between this long tail approach and Google LOCAL/Maps and Y and MSN LOCAL is enormous.

    I'm not sure why LOCAL is getting so much press in light of these stats.

    Now my business is REGIONAL and LOCAL is not really relevant to a larger region as it is a closer smaller geography. In fact the business can be beyond regional in that we can attract customers from up to 100 miles away.

    Our experience is though, that when there are viable competitors between us and the 100 mile radius we see far fewer customers. I guess the realistic radius is about 20-40 miles.

    So I'm not sure if LOCAL isn't relevant or doesn't work well because the business is more regional than local, or because users don't utilize LOCAL/Maps or what...or maybe we are doing a poor job on LOCAL.

    I'm wondering what your experiences are?

    Dave

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Sacramento, CA
    Posts
    6,216
    I think one major issue is a complaint I saw at cre8 where the web site owner was upset because a reffering site's url was showing up on Google's map instead of their own. They didn't understand how SEO/BLs work or how G Maps works. Because Google want's to show their info is reliable they put up links to the sites that prove the data instead of pointing to the site in question that comes from that location. This makes Google look good in a cover-your-ass sort of way but it isn't very useful at a practical level. I'm guessing G has noticed they aren't doing as well with it too because the link to "maps" sort of comes and goes off their main page.

    If I am looking for Bob's Cameras and 10 sites say Bob's is at 510 Main street and that is where the "thumb tack" is, why would I want a link to Jim's Garage? It just doesn't make sense.
    |
    Clue in soon!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Newark, Delaware
    Posts
    41
    I like a multi-pronged approach to the use of geographic location information (the more prongs the better). Here are some things to do:

    1. Target long tail searches by making sure that you have at least the city and state name on every page of a site. Spell out the name of the state instead of using an abbreviation. Even better, include a full address on each page.

    2. Create pages that are bring the place into your site. For example, imagine that you have a real estate site that covers a county-wide area, and is attractive to younger couples with children. Write a page for the site about all the great parks and museums and other attractions in the area that are great for kids. Specifically name the parts and museums, etc. Write another page that shows where the different schools are located, names the schools, and discusses the education system in that area. A visitors association site might have a individual walking tour pages through different neighborhoods, which mention all of the attractions in that area and provide a fair amount of attention about them.

    3. Google Local is a directory rather than a search engine. It uses information from telecommunications and other providers, from directory sites, and from other web sites. It attempts to extract meaningful information from pages, and has its own unique set of rules about which page it deems the most authoritative for that information. While links may play a role in that determination, other factors also play a part.

    One is, how easy is it to extract information from a site. If you present information in a key/value format, it is easier for Google or other search engines to grab that type of information. For example:

    key:value

    Address:

    123 Cross Street
    Rosy City, New Jersey 08888

    Phone: (000) 555-1212
    Fax: (000) 555-1313
    Days Open: M - F
    Business Hours: 9am - 5pm
    Free Parking: Yes
    Handicap accessible: Yes

    A site that has more information on it than others (like the parking, hours open, etc.) may be deemed to be a better source of information than others. Age of the page or site may also be a factor weighed.

    4. If you use other methods of advertising, such as billboards, radio, TV, news and magazine print, direct mail, include a URL on those.

    5. Host events, sponsor nonprofits, participate in the local business community. Give people a reason to write about your site and its location.

    6. Encourage people to write reviews of the site and business.

    7. Include directions pages that make it easy to arrive at the physical location associated with the site. Include well known landmarks.

    8. Tie in local events to the site. For example, a local restaurant has special dinners for graduation from the local college, and lets people know through banner signs in front of the restaurant that they can make reservations online at the web site. They advertise that in the student newspaper. A local sporting goods store has pages about the history of the local college football team, and updates on their season. They provide 20 free tickets to every home game for their customers for people who register online.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    online
    Posts
    5,608
    Bill, you're post was very interesting and gave me a couple of ideas.

    I'm working on a site now that is national in scope but is really centered around several cities and areas. The topic itself is quite competitive so I figured that I'd be better served by targeting each city/area on a local scale.

    Now for my questions... do you think this is a valid tactic to use? Also, do you know if Google checks the addresses that are placed on your site? For example if I posted the address of the St. Louis arch would I still get the "credit" (for lack of a better term) for being local even though that address is obviously is not mine?

    EDIT: After rereading the thread, I think I am actually trying to do something similar to what EP does. I am looking to rank high for [term geo] essentially targeting the long tail. Does the address etc that helps for local work for the long tail as well? ... all of the sudden I feel like a newb here. I need to re-re-read this thread and the other local ones... even though i think I am wanting to do long tail stuff.
    Last edited by skitzzo; 09-28-2006 at 07:18 PM.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Novosibirsk, Russia
    Posts
    2,478
    I think the whole press about Google Local is more hype than actual results. People need to use them, but why if they can find better, more relevant results using general search (keyword + geo term)?

    It is great that Google Local is integrated in general search, it'll help it spread, I guess.


    I think Bill did say that full address on every page of your site will help.

    Not sure if the address you will include will be the address of your business, though. You can include the address of your branch on its dedicated page, of course.

    Geo targetting works best on local websites, because there are lots of pages with the same address linking to each other, while on a national site targetting a locality may be an issue.

    A key here would be to get links from local pages, I guess, using the ways Bill has described.

    Nice post, too.

    Btw, what made you use Bill instead of bragadocchio?
    Yura

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    DC region
    Posts
    3,053
    I started this thread to hopefully gain from the experiences of others with regard to both long tail searches and usage of LOCAL/Maps.

    My experiences are that long tail searches drive tons more traffic to a site than do LOCAL/Maps searches.


    As regards to Skitzz's questions....google will identify the business via address and phone number information. you gotta have it.

    Putting address/phone information on every page would tend to work.

    I try and optimize to some level for the generic business info and then add anchor text bls with the geo info. The scope of geo info depends on the scope of a business. If its just for a city then do it that way--Philadelphia Optomotrist. If its for a region I try and spread anchor text around such as Philadelphia Optomotrist; Optomotrist, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Philadelphia; Optomotrist in Philly, Southern New Jersey, Eastern Pennsylvania, etc.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Newark, Delaware
    Posts
    41
    I'm working on a site now that is national in scope but is really centered around several cities and areas. The topic itself is quite competitive so I figured that I'd be better served by targeting each city/area on a local scale.

    Now for my questions... do you think this is a valid tactic to use? Also, do you know if Google checks the addresses that are placed on your site? For example if I posted the address of the St. Louis arch would I still get the "credit" (for lack of a better term) for being local even though that address is obviously is not mine?
    I hope that this is helpful. If it leads to more questions than it does provide answers, that could be good, too.


    Types of locations and misleading geographical location information

    Some recent Microsoft papers discuss breaking down and trying to understand three different types of locations. I wouldn't be surprised if folks from Yahoo and Google are paying attention. Here are the three types:

    1. Provider location
    2. Content location
    3. Serving area location

    On top of that you have some issues with words and terms that sound like they could be geographical in nature, but aren't, such as Kentucky Fried Chicken, Denzel Washington. Because of those, it helps to have some additional address information to make the search engine actually understand that the geographic reference really is one that matters. It's not a bad idea to include references to well known landmarks like the St. Louis Arch, and other St. Louis landmarks if you want the search engine to understand that the content on your site focuses upon St. Louis. It might not be a good idea to make it think that the St. Louis Arc is the provider location for services or goods.


    The impact of business objectives, targeted audience, and marketing plans

    I think that you have to address all three of these to be really effective, but the effort towards each is going to depend upon your actual business objectives and marketing approach. It's hard to give an effective answer here that isn't book-lengthed because there isn't a simple answer. For me to provide good advice, I would really need to know a lot more about the organization, its locations, and its intended audience, how it interacts with the locations it is within, and how willing it might be to participate with those locations and the communities in those locations, and what its objectives are for people outside of those locations. Are its goals sales of goods or provisions of services online, sales or services at physical buildings at specific location or locations, lead generation, information sharing and/or education, brand development, etc. That kind of information is going to influence how "place" will play a role in what is presented upon pages.


    Overlapping Search Algorithms

    We are discussing using two different types of search here, with their own algorithms and approaches. One is organic web search, and the other is a local search directory (Google Maps, Yahoo Local) that relies upon extracting and aggregating information from a number of sources, including information it purchases from companies like telecommunication data sources, information it takes from web directories and review sites, and other information extracted from web sites.

    A number of the methods I mentioned above could benefit one of those types of search, or both of them. Including information on your pages that could be effectively extracted for local search may also be helpful in longtail searches if the information isn't the main focus of the pages, but is, for instance, included in footers on pages. Pages where location is a focus (and are optimized for competitive geographically related keywords) can be things such as:
    • Directions pages,
    • "Our business and the local community" type pages,
    • "Places to stay when visiting us" pages,
    • "Places to dine when visiting us" pages,
    • "Places to see when visiting us" pages,
    • "Parks and Museums and schools in the area for the kids of potential homebuyers" pages,
    • "Places to stay when students attend our school" type pages, etc.
    • Others appropriate to the organization and its objectives, offerings, and approach to its customers
    One of the July geographical patent applications from Google somewhat straddles local search and organic search. Location extraction Reading it, it appears to talk about those instances where local search results appear at the top of organic results. What queries trigger that? Is it possible to rank well for both the local results and the organic results for those queries if they get a decent amount of traffic?


    Questions

    How do you present geographic information on your pages so that the search engine can extract that information to understand that while your service may be located in one area, the focus of your content covers additional areas, and your intended audience comes from a wider scope?

    Which keywords do you use that people from that wider scoped audience do you use that people outside of the area will search upon?

    Another paper from Microsoft noted that they look at the types of query terms people use to find your site, and the IP addresses of people who visit your site to try to understand serving area location.

    This tells me that it isn't a bad idea to try to rank very well for words that people from outside of the content location might use to find information within the content location.

    So, how do you make it easy for the search engine to sort out this geographical information? How do you attract searchers from a national scope using both the local directory in a search engine, and an organic web search?


    Geo targetting works best on local websites, because there are lots of pages with the same address linking to each other, while on a national site targetting a locality may be an issue.
    You still need to do somethings to earn links from local places, whether it involves listings in local directories, or doing something that attracts those links from the local community.


    Nice post, too.

    Btw, what made you use Bill instead of bragadocchio?
    Thanks!

    It was available, and "bragadocchio" is hard for people to pronounce when I meet them in person.
    Last edited by skitzzo; 09-29-2006 at 10:01 PM. Reason: fixing tags and overflow issue

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Novosibirsk, Russia
    Posts
    2,478
    I am guessing that to have quality service, Google will have to integrate Google Local into organic search, because Google Local isn't that used and provides limited results.
    Last edited by A.N.Onym; 10-01-2006 at 08:43 PM.
    Yura

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Newark, Delaware
    Posts
    41
    Local does have some limitations today. At some point, it may contain much more, and be more useful and valuable. Here are a few of the things that have been incorporated into it:

    1. Simple driving directions
    2. Maps
    3. Coupons
    4. A validation system that lets businesses update their address and other information

    Here are some things that may be built into it in the future, based upon some of the things I've seen in patent applications and some of the stuff that's been developed already:

    1. Complex driving directions that include landmarks, customization, information about stops along the way, traffic congestion and alternative suggested routes, public transporation alternatives including bus and train and ferry and plane.

    2. The ability to use electronic coupons, make reservations, check upon available inventory, and other features that enable merchants to include much more information about their business than local presently does.

    3. Integration into kiosks in shopping and resort areas with walking and biking directions, as well as driving directions.

    4. A recommendation system

    5. Mobile search features that let you take a picture of a place, and can give you business information, maps, information about other places nearby.

    To achieve many of those, businesses will need to be convinced that it is a good idea to share information with the search engines.

    To get them to do that, some changes probably need to be made, for instance, it needs to be easier to find coupons in Google. If businesses start seeing a lot more traffic with coupons in hand from the search engine, they may be willing to add other information.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Novosibirsk, Russia
    Posts
    2,478
    Above all, Google needs to attract visitors to the service, in my opinion.
    Clicking an extra less-obvious button when searching may be hard for some people. I'm guessing most people are satisfied with what they get in general search with geo keywords.

    But yes, I see that Google Local has some potential. But only when it is useful both to businesses and visitors - when visitors can find something in Google Local what they can't in general search. Right now that's not the case, imho.

    P.S. I am humbled at having 3 times more posts than you, Bill. At least on one forum I can do that
    Yura

+ Reply to Thread
Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts