As the local search industry continues to grow, so does the terminology! While there are certain terms and phrases that are standard across the industry, there are some that are less commonly used or have alternative terms. Below is a list that might help you navigate your way through the streets of local search and in the process provide a basic understanding of local search marketing. In most of the definitions here, since I just can’t help but get carried away when talking about local search, I have also given some tips on how to best utilize these features to help your local search rankings.
Category: When listing your business with Google Places especially, you will want to choose a category for your business. This is a very important factor in their algorithm. If you have not claimed your business on Google Places, it will choose a category for you from a set of approximately 2,000 default business types based on the North American Industry Classification System. Be sure to select the correct category for your business and up to 4 subcategories to be sure the search engines know what your business is all about.
Centroid: As determined by the local the search engines, the centroid is the very center of a neighborhood or metropolitan area. A business’ proximity to the centroid plays a role in where it ranks in the local search results; however there is debate on how important it is. In my opinion, I believe it matters more in competitive markets. For example, if there are 1,000 plumbers in San Diego and someone searches for “plumber, San Diego, CA” the businesses that are closer to the centroid and have nicely optimized listings are more likely to show up towards the top.
Citation: Citations are to local search optimization as links are to website search engine optimization. Citations are viewed by the local search engines as a listing of a business on a website, preferably with a matching address and phone number to that which is provide on the business website and on that search engine’s local listing. Ideally, you have your complete address and local phone number on your website, you have claimed your search engine listings, and you have matching listings on sites like Yelp, CitySearch and Internet Yellow Page sites. The search engines see these listings as verification and as votes for your business. This will help your rankings in the local search results.
Data Provider, Aggregator, IYP: Companies such as infoUSA, Localeze, and Superpages are major data providers, also known as data aggregators and Internet Yellow Pages. The search engines often crawl these sites to gather business data. These companies often have contracts with the search engines to provide this data. So, if you see that your business is already listed on the search engines, these sites are very likely where the search engine got your information. You will want to claim your listings to ensure all the information is correct.
Directory: A website that lists business contact information in an organized manner, typically in alphabetical order and/or by business type. Just as the search engines look to data providers and aggregators to gather information, they also crawl directories.
Geospecific search: When a user searches for a business or company with a geographic modifier such as a city, state or zip code. For example, “plumbers, San Diego, CA”.
Google 7-Pac: The 7 local listings that appear alongside a map at the top of a search engine result for a geospecific keyword. These results are determined by the search engine’s algorithm. If a particular neighborhood or metropolitan area does not have a large concentration of the type of business the user is searching for, Google might only show 3 results. Similarly, Yahoo and Bing have a certain number of results that will show up next their maps.
Local algorithm: Just as the search engines have an algorithm for the organic search results, they also have a specific formula that determines the ranking for business listings relevant to a particular geographic area. Various factors play a part in this algorithm, some carrying more weight than others.
Review: A customer’s summary of his/or experience with a particular business. Reviews cannot be controlled by the business owner. Reviews can be left on Google Places and on most other local search listing sites like Yelp, Foursquare and Gowalla. Business owners should pay attention to these reviews and use reviews as an opportunity to engage with customers. This touches on online reputation management.
This list covers the basic terminology that you will likely hear when you start talking to a local search professional. Knowing these terms will get you on your way to having a better understanding of local search. To continue your journey in learning about local search, check out our “Go Local or Go Home” webinar on the Vertical Measures webinars page.