Local SEO Interview Roundup!

Greetings from inside the SEOigloo!

In the name of usability and not having to go five different places to meet five great Local SEOs, here’s my list of links to the five interviews its been my pleasure to publish over the past two weeks:

Mike Blumenthal
David Mihm
Local Hound Tim
Will Scott
Andrew Shotland

What I Learned From These Interviews

1) Local SEOs are in agreement that the city centroid is wielding major influence on Google’s A-J and 10-pack rankings. Really, it seems that the emphasis Google is placing on the city centroid is creating an unnatural situation where our best recommendation to local business owners regarding this is to move their business to the middle of town. That’s kind of silly. And, it’s not as if searchers, be they local residents or visitors, are standing in front of city hall looking for something. They are going to be performing searches from all over a given area, and what’s closest to the the centroid is not necessarily going to be closest to them. I don’t see centroid proximity as a truly legitimate relevance factor, do you? As a user, I’d be more interested in reviews or citations.

2) The opinions on the health of traditional YP are varied. Some say it’s time to hold a wake for
Yellow Pages, others that it’s time to change the way we use them, and still others that Yellow
Pages, rather than being dead, are suffering from swine fever!

3) When called upon to express their gut reactions to the current state of Local Search, Local
SEOs are feeling both excitement about the potential of it and major frustration over the bugs,
weirdnesses and hangups we’re having to deal with, particularly in Maps.

4) My Local SEO colleagues are funny guys. Mike Blumenthal is considering giving up Local Search in order launch something called TussyMussy.org in hopes of enjoying an early retirement, Will Scott has got crawfish on his blog and this appears to be some kind of government regulation for businesses in Louisiana, and Andrew Shotland wants to trade Local SEO services for some appealing grout. Would you hire one of these guys?

I would!

22 Responses to “Local SEO Interview Roundup!”

  1. on 01 Mar 2008 at 3:06 pm Local SEO Guide

    While I agree that the centroid is not a perfect primary ranking factor, given the options it’s not a bad one.

    I like to think of this as Main St. factor. Being on Main St. (or near the centroid) is great for foot traffic but the rent is high. Being on the outskirts has cheap rent but you have to market yourself more.

  2. on 01 Mar 2008 at 3:10 pm earlpearl

    Great interviews, Miriam. I still maintain it is vital and extraordinarily vital to get wide and expansive keyword exposure for organic search that includes long tail phrases for logical geographical terms and business terms.

    I have two business sites. One has incredible rankings for most of those terms referenced above. It gets incredible volumes of logical search traffic and converts from a wide variety of analogous targeted search phrases.

    The number of such phrases is large and the majority aren’t accompanied by a map 10 pack, authoritative map, or any variaation.

    For the same industry I have a new site that is nascent. The site is accompanied by an authoritative map for two phrases and a 10 pack for two other phrases.

    My goal is to build links, first get strength for the main keywords and then keep working on 2ndary phrases to try and a similar wealth of traffic.

    The problems are several fold for small businesses though:

    1. Today, to achieve that kind of widespread keyword visibility it is far harder, takes longer, and is more expensive than in the past.

    2. Small businesses may not have the funds to pay for all of that.

    3. The work is very long term, rather than quick entering info into the G business center and in Y Local.

    I’d guesstimate that relevant traffic from wide keyword expansion might expand organic traffic above prime maps visability by about a range of 3-8 times as much traffic.

    That is very significant.

    I’d get in maps. I’d work to get into the top 3 or top 1…but for wide exposure I’d do a lot more.

    As to IYP’s….if they are strong in a topic/category and have high organic listings….I’d pay to get in them. if they don’t have high listings I wouldn’t waste the time or money.

    My experience with verticals, directories, IYP’s is simply when those sites outrank your business, they are worthwhile to be in those sites. When your site organically outranks them….their traffic to your site dries up and the costs aren’t worth it anymore.

    For great coverage on the web I’d suggest the following:

    1. on page optimization to hit the key phrases.
    2. Get into all variations of maps
    3. use verticals, IYP’s so long as they outrank your site
    4. Get links with anchor text….get links with anchor text….get links with anchor text.

    That last part is the hardest, longest term issue.


  3. on 01 Mar 2008 at 3:28 pm Will Scott


    Great set of interviews. You seem to be doing a wonderful job of giving — and from that we all know you shall receive.

    If I can help, please ask.

    Thank you!

  4. on 01 Mar 2008 at 3:32 pm admin

    Andrew –
    I had not considered centroid in terms of investment for b&m location, but of course, that makes sense. I’m glad you pointed that out.

    Why does this stuff always come down to money?

    It occurs to me to wonder whether, when Google’s first created their local algo, they chose the centroid as the primary factor because of lack of other data to base relevance on.

    But now they’ve got umpteen reviews, etc., and I just can’t help thinking these are better servants of the end user’s needs than a geographic location.

    Thanks for stopping by!

  5. on 01 Mar 2008 at 3:37 pm admin

    “Small businesses may not have the funds to pay for all of that.”

    And therein lies the major issue, Dave. While an SEO can devote the time to doing all of this for their own projects, it becomes much harder to put into practice for small business owners.

    That being said, your 4 step list is awesome. It strikes me as superb advice.

    One of the things I always ask our local clients is to comb their own minds for who their offline business connections are. “Would these folks be willing to link to you?” is the question.

    But, time and again, the money seems to run out before serious linkbuilding efforts ever take place, and that is a troubling disconnect I’ve encountered again and again, so we only really get through those first 3 steps, and frankly, our fees are below most of what I see others charging.

    This is difficult, Dave.

    I really appreciate you sharing your sage advice about this. That 3-8 times as much traffic figure is one to pay huge attention to.

  6. on 01 Mar 2008 at 3:45 pm admin

    Hi Will,
    What I am so happy about is that the attitude of scholarship and sharing I’ve encountered in the best SEOs over the years is clearly present in the best Local SEOs, too.

    An industry that can admit that we are all learning together strikes me as a strong and honest one.

    Out of curiosity, Will, and in regards to Dave’s comments, above, does Search Influence end up doing much linkbuilding for its clients? As I’ve just mentioned, we find this to be a barrier because of the small business budget, and one we’ve not been successful in surmounting.

    The majority of the linkbuilding I’ve done, as a result of this, has been for our own projects. We don’t even offer linkbuilding as a paid service anymore because our typical Small Business client simply can’t afford the long hourly work/fees.

    I’d be curious to hear about your experience with this.


  7. […] Miriam/SEO Igloo: Local SEO Interview Roundup! […]

  8. on 01 Mar 2008 at 5:35 pm earlpearl

    I’d be interested also to find out from Will or any of the others interviewed here if they are building links and expanding keyword phrase rankings for any of their clients.

    It is expensive. It is time consuming.

    I haven’t done this formally, though I’ve spoken with some larger businesses on an informal basis. The likeliest candidates for this type of fuller scale work are those that already have large local advertising budgets.

    Those with significant local radio/tv/newspaper display/ and print YP display ads are probably the likeliest candidates for more extensive keyword/linkage work.

    The main reason is that they can pay for it.

    Looking at this a different way I’ve been speaking with the inhouse webmaster for a business that I might describe as a “super version” of my main business.

    They provide somewhat similar services but of a far larger basis. Based on conversations I suspect they have an annual income of $20 million or more; dramatically greater than my business by many many MANY fold.

    My main business is in a larger geo region but their vast array of services appeal to far more folks than does mine.

    Yet when we compared relevant search traffic my far smaller business was generating more of the relevant geo/business phrase searches than their’s was.

    The difference is in wide application of keyword expansion.

    In any case I’m curious if any of these interviewees are pursuing what I suggest. I wonder if its based on the size of clients?

  9. on 01 Mar 2008 at 10:22 pm iamlost


    Your Andrew Shotland interview just went hot on Sphinn!!!


  10. […] active community of fans and friends. In her blog SEO Igloo, Miriam has just rounded up a series of five interviews with experts on the evolving area of Local Search. Donna owns the delightful SEO Scoop, where she […]

  11. on 02 Mar 2008 at 3:18 am admin

    Holy Toledo,
    Are you serious, Iamlost?
    I have to go check that out.

    I’m delighted that at least one of the interviews went hot. Two of the other one’s got within a hair’s breadth and then disappeared.

    How nice of you to let me know that. I really appreciate the fact that you added your sphinns to those!

  12. on 02 Mar 2008 at 7:54 pm Local Hound

    Miriam, these interviews were great. Thanks again for inviting me. I’m glad Andrew’s went hot, it was good to see on Sphinn’s home page when I stopped by before.

    Dave, I’ve had to rely on site architecture as the business owners of the site’s I manage just are not that involved.

    One is starting to realize the value… he just read that there is a recession in the home improvement industry.

    He didn’t realize because his business is growing!

  13. on 03 Mar 2008 at 2:04 pm admin

    That’s a great anecdote, Tim!!

    Yes, it was great to see one of the interviews go hot. Local search deserves a seat at the table, surely, and I feel very satisfied that the sphinners agree with that!


  14. […] SEO culminating with a series of interviews.  Miriam was nice to include me and most recently asked me to respond to some questions from the comments on one of her recent […]

  15. on 12 Mar 2008 at 8:26 pm Will Scott


    I’ve answered your questions :)


  16. […] a recent post, I asked Will how much linkbuilding his company does for small business clients. I think you will find his answer to be of use in its […]

  17. on 13 Mar 2008 at 1:19 pm dan

    In some recent search I think Google might be playing around with the concept of centroid. Instead of just using center center, I think they might be doing some type of two pass operation where they first find the local centroid of the top results and then choose which to display.

    Results seem to be highly clustered and not necessarily around the city center.

  18. on 13 Mar 2008 at 1:56 pm admin

    Hi Dan,
    Thanks for taking the time to leave your comment here. I’d like to see an example of what you’re noticing so that I can picture what you mean. Sounds very interesting!


  19. […] comment left by Sebastian Provencher on Greg’s post related to the 10-pack. I’ve LONG bemoaned the dominance of the centroid as a ranking factor in Local search. Google’s ZIP code “fix” has the potential to […]

  20. […] Local SEO Interview Roundup! Miriam Ellis, SEO Igloo | 3/1/08 […]

  21. […] Local SEO Interview Roundup! This was the round for a series of 5 interviews it was my honor to do with Local SEOs. A couple of Local SEOs have since thanked me for getting them talking and for introducing them to one another and I’m really happy to think I might have helped contribute to the easy and pleasurable nature of conversation in the Local sphere. […]

  22. […] when I talked to her about doing this set of interviews, and also pioneered her own series of local search interviews in 2008 (which in internet doggy years is 2 decades […]

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