Here is a video that describes the new tool in more detail:
Google recently revamped the layout and look of their Places pages. They made a number of changes including removal of the review snippets from 3rd party sites, an aesthetic redesign for a cleaner look, more prominent call to action buttons, and removal of “More About This Place” results which gave insight into citations Google found for a Places page.
What the leading experts in the local space have stressed is that you should not confuse the updated look to mean there is a new algorithm.
Let’s take a closer look at the various changes.
There was a time, before October of 2010, that a law firm might have outsourced their “Google Maps Optimization” to one company and the “traditional SEO” to another. Some of you might be thinking, “I still have two different companies working on my Google Maps and SEO”. This shouldn’t be necessary any longer. Let me explain.
Before October 2010
Prior to the local update from Google in October 2010 there were two separate algorithms used to serve up results. The first was an algorithm for local/Google Map results which was often called the 10-pack or 7-pack. This would appear on top of the traditional SEO results when someone performed a search with local intent.
If you have spent anytime building your professional reputation online, you have probably come across information about local search marketing. And if you have read anything worth its salt on local search marketing, you probably should have read something about business citations. But how and where should you get these citations? Here are some places to add to your spreadsheet for consideration for getting local citations for your law firm.
As Jeff discussed over at AttorneySync’s lawyer marketing blog, a recent embarrassment for Google has prompted an algorithm change that may have consequences to your law firm’s local positions and your local web strategy.
On Mihmorandum, David Mihm talks about how this incident may impact Google’s use of reviews in its algorithm:
Thing is, Local Search experts have long speculated that the valence of reviews has had an extremely low, if any, impact on rankings, whereas the volume of reviews has always been considered one of the strongest factors. Many of us have noted how puzzled we were that this was the case but this bias (or lack thereof, I suppose) has been pretty obvious for awhile.
Search engines have completely changed how we research, learn, collaborate, and find things online. According to the local search experts at GetListed.org:
Today there are well over 10 billion unique searches done each month, and that’s just in the United States! Of those searches,
40% of queries have Local intent (1)
As reported by Natalie Waddell in Save your money. Claim your own Facebook Place:
Five hundred dollars to have a third-party consultant claim your Facebook Place on your behalf because it is “complicated to do if you don’t have experience”?!
Give me a break. This is absolutely outrageous; but true. It is what is being charged by a high profile seo company located in Vancouver.
According to Wikipedia, strategy is:
a word of military origin, refers to a plan of action designed to achieve a particular goal. In military usage strategy is distinct from tactics, which are concerned with the conduct of an engagement, while strategy is concerned with how different engagements are linked. How a battle is fought is a matter of tactics: the terms and conditions that it is fought on and whether it should be fought at all is a matter of strategy, which is part of the four levels of warfare: political goals or grand strategy, strategy, operations, and tactics. Building on the work of many thinkers on the subject, one can define strategy as “a comprehensive way to try to pursue political ends, including the threat or actual use of force, in a dialectic of wills – there have to be at least two sides to a conflict. These sides interact, and thus a Strategy will thus rarely be successful if it shows no adaptability.
A Plan of Action Designed to Achieve a Particular Goal
As you may have heard, Google recently implemented what has been referred to as a “tectonic change”. The change, known as Place Search, has significantly altered the way the search engine serves up local results. While the change has several implications on law firm web strategy, one of the more immediate is the higher priority that you should give to obtaining citations. In Using Citation Building For Better Google Places Optimization, Dustin Rouge provides guidance on what citations are and how building citations plays a larger role in your firm’s search engine visibility:
Google goes beyond their initial claiming validation process and looks for other sources that help validate these listings. These third party sources, commonly referred to as citations, include other local listing sources such as Yahoo, Yelp, Bing, Best of the Web, Localeze, etc.
The recent changes Google made to its search results, incorporating Google Places, represents a huge shift in strategy for law firms marketing online.
Your overall web strategy should now include traditional optimization for the search engines as well as local optimization efforts. Our friends over at SEOmoz have created an informative video discussing the basics of local SEO.