Posted by Melanie Phung on Thursday, October 16, 2008 at 8:57 pm
In my last post I whined thoughtfully pointed out that Google Local makes it possible to get ranked in search results without even having a site. Those of you who read between the lines understood that I wasn’t just talking about how jacked up the Local Search results were but that I was actually revealing a little SEO trick. The implicit tip was to go register your website with Google Local so you too can rank well for location-specific searches.
After all, if a site with zero content, a site that doesn’t even exist for jeebus’ sake, can rank well, then no matter how ridiculously bad your site is, you know it’s been done with worse.
But besides ranking well, there’s another reason to go claim your listing in Google Local: if you don’t, an unscrupulous competitor can claim your listing, alter it (by replacing your URL with theirs, deleting your listing, etc.) and siphon off your customers. An oversight like that can lose you sales, or worse.
Read up on some real life examples of this Google Local/Google Maps hijacking problem:
- Spammers Hijack Top Florist’s Google Listing
- Claim Your Google Local Listing Before Someone Else Does
- Google Mapspam Brand Hijacking
- Affiliates Hijack Payday Loan Listing
The hole that allows for these hijacks is not a new bug — it’s been happening for a while, so chances are your competitors already know about it. Go go claim your listing before some unethical and/or desperate jackass gets around to grabbing it out from under you.
Those are two pretty obvious loopholes in G’s Local Search and I hope that Google fixes them pretty fast.
But despite all the problems in local search (or maybe because of it), this vertical is hot and it’s only going to get hotter. For one thing, small businesses are starting to really pay attention to this whole “Google thing.” It’s low-cost, targeted exposure and during these tougher economic times businesses are starting to realize SEO is more accessible than they might have thought previously. And I’m seeing lots of larger companies starting to pursue the small-biz market, with SEO offerings specifically targeted to the small mom-and-pop sites, which helps raise awareness even more.
If last year was the time to roll out reputation management services, then this year is the time to get into local search. But as with the former, expectation management with these types of clients is key; plus, as the Google Maps hijacks make clear, there’s more to optimizing for local search than just stuffing city names into site copy.
So… who needs an SEO to help them optimize their Washington, DC, business listing?!
Category: Local Search
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