Optimizing Local Search

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Have you tried Googling for pizza in your town recently? If you frequent the organic rankings like yours truly, you’ve noticed that between paid advertisements and the local business results, the ‘true’ organic rankings are appearing beneath the fold (Which means they don’t exist right?). So, it looks like unless you’re Bazbeaux’s, (which I might add has the best pizza in town), it’s pretty tough going for you.

With the optimization of the local business results still being rather unclear, other than David Mihm’s guide, at what point do businesses try to buy their way to the top of the local business listings? Furthermore, with the decline of traditional PPC revenues, why doesn’t Google charge for this space? Don’t get me wrong there are best practices in local search, but it’s not as cut and dry as web SEO is.

I think small businesses trying to grow their operations through the internet are better suited focusing their efforts elsewhere. Yats, a hip, cajun, quick service joint with a couple locations around the city has made social media sexy for small businesses.

On Facebook Yats has been able to develop this online persona where people find it strange when Yat’s isn’t updating their status or letting them know when the next event is. They’re not slacking on their tweeting either.

(68 comments! All of their status updates are a call to action, and generally receive no less than 20 comments!)

(Almost two thousand followers isn’t too shabby!)

Moral of the story: play where you can compete. If you have beaten your head against the wall to make your business rank at the top the local business results for over 6 months, give up, focus your efforts elsewhere.

Having a strong social media presence that keeps your customers interested and excited in your business will bring a much higher ROI than being on page two of the local business results or the organic listings.

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  • alanbleiweiss

    Zach, while I agree that sometimes business owners need to switch focus to what might work better, I think the biggest challenge they face is time management – they'd rather pay a consultant or intern to do their marketing for them. So if they jump into social media, they have to be extremely careful that an authentic voice is used. Sometimes that can be accomplished with an intern, rarely can it be accomplished by a consultant.

    • internet boss

      I agree Alan, thanks for your comments. Although in this case specifically Yats does use a consultant (Firebelly Marketing). I think if you and your client have aligned goals and vision everything will be fine.

  • Niles Andrew Ingalls

    mmmmm, yats.

  • Kim Greuel

    I love that you used local to you people in this post. It makes SEO success be a real-world and attainable goal for a business of any size.

    A great consultant is well-versed in not only their field, but also the most efficient methods of using their client's voice. Their job literally depends on the effectiveness of the marrying of their social media prowess and their client's unique aura. If your consultant is NOT doing that for you, then maybe it's time to find a different one. And like anything in life that's worth more than a dime, they're rare, but they're there.

  • Philip Golobish


    Nice post, homie. I especially like, “play where you can compete.” However, that means I'll be playing too many places! Gucci!

    PS Mooshinindy? You know I'm a fan. Been following her on Tweeter for a minute.

    PPS Yats? Niles Andrew Ingalls (poster above) ain't no dummy.

  • Grow Clicks

    I agree with the possibility that they will start charging for a PORTION of the maps space (maybe a 10 box again with top and bottom 2 sponsored) however, they wouldn't convert the whole thing to sponsored search… it would result in only big corporations getting the local listings and that would defeat the purpose

    • internet boss

      Good point, further more advertisers are able to buy sponsored listing at the top of the map section through Adwords. Most do not take advantage.

  • Rasmus Himmelstrup

    “Having a strong social media presence that keeps your customers interested and excited in your business will bring a much higher ROI than being on page two of the local business results or the organic listings.”

    Indeed – but optimizing your local presence and business results so you rank at the top in local could might as well do the same.

  • Kavin Paulson

    I do agree, Social media is the perfect platform, especially for small businesses to connect with their customers and potential target audience. In a single place you get to get in touch with thousands of people through social media. company and customer interaction becomes easier, meaningful and apart from interaction, social media helps you create a bond and develop a healthy relationship with your target audience. It's worthy to do social media than spend months to get listed in the local organic search. I don't say that organic ranking in local search results is not beneficial, the point is it takes a lot of your time and efforts, comparatively social media marketing is better.

  • Aaron Aders

    nice article! Social Media and/or viral marketing is the place to be for local companies trying to expand the local fan base. Email marketing is probably the most effective route for a shot at direct sales over the internet, rather than just spreading public relations (social media). And a great shout out to Yats!! The BEST cajun food outside of the Big Easy

  • moosh in indy.

    In all of my travels Indianapolis is the most social media savvy state I have come across. I have friends in California and NYC who follow @yats and @brewhouse simply because they like how they do business.
    Plus Yats makes a mean crawfish Étouffée and they like my avatar. Word.

  • Keith

    I'm not keen on the idea of the paid map listings. I'd rather see what's businesses are in the area, not just the paid ones.