I sat in on a breakout session this morning at SES Chicago entitled “Local 2.0: The Evolution of Local Search.” Gregg Stewart from TMP division 15miles moderated, with two local SEO experts presenting, David Rodecker or Relevant Ads and Curtis R. Curtis from SharksFly Marketing.
According to the speakers, many of the old rules of local SEO are changing, driven by a range of factors, including the emergence of social media and advances in geo-location.
Rodecker noted that the use of geo-modifiers in domain names, once rewarded, is increasingly a non-factor or even detrimental. This is largely due to advances in how search engines identify user location. Rodecker noted that in his work with clients, he has seen wide variation in ranking between those with and without a geomodifier. Often the pages best optimized for a category saw better results than those optimized for geography. This was not a welcome message to some SMBs in the room that had gone well down the geo-modifier path.
Both speakers made it clear that local online marketers need to find a long-term solution to using call tracking numbers without undermining themselves from an SEO standpoint. The search world puts a premium on on consistency, and call tracking numbers undermine this with a different numbers in each of the various online ads an SMB places.
The speakers were also clear that the local ecosystem is not all about Google anymore. Bing is an emerging local player, and Facebook is already a local juggernaut, with 2 million online businesses and climbing, a number that is fast approaching the estimated 4 million SMBs on Google. Add to this the emergence of location based services like 4 Square and Twitter and the local ecosystem looks more and more like a multi-headed monster.
The room this morning was packed, mostly with small businesses or agencies that represent them, and the messaging was directed to those having to grapple with the constantly moving goalpost that is local SEO.