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Glossary of Local Search Terms and Definitions

Glossary of Local Search Terms and Definitions

We have compiled a Glossary of Local Search Terms and Definitions to help you understand local SEO.  Listed are some of the most commonly used local search terms and definitions.  


Status notation on the Google Places for Business dashboard if the listing is live


One of four primary data sources of local business data for all major search engines in the United States.
For more information see: Local Directories and Citations 


Google’s pay-per-click advertising program.
For more information see: PPC (pay-per-click)


Related to domains, web pages, local business listings, reviews, citations, and other local SEO factors, age is believed to have some influence on search engine rankings.


A company that maintains and supplies the underlying business database for local search directories. The most important U.S. aggregators are Infogroup, Localeze, Acxiom, and Factual. These companies compile data about businesses from multiple online and offline sources including phone bills, business registration records, chamber of commerce membership rosters, and many other sources. An aggregator is also known as a “data aggregator” or “data provider.”
For more information see: Local Directories and Citations 


A special formula used by search engines to rank web pages in order of importance or relevance for a particular keyword search.


Any tool or program that tracks user behavior, such as traffic to a website, duration of visits, and conversions. Google Analytics is a popular product. Within the Google Places for Business dashboard, the latest iteration of analytics data is called Insights.


anchor text
The text contained in a web link. Descriptive words in link text can be used to improve the relevancy of the page to which the link points. For instance, “Minneapolis plumber” is more descriptive than “click here.”


Angie’s List
A prominent user review website. An important citation source for many businesses, especially home services.
For more information see: Local Directories and Citations 


Apple Maps
Apple’s mobile mapping application.


Authoritative OneBox
The single Google Places listing displayed by a large map embedded in a traditional search result page. The “holy grail” of local search optimization, this kind of visually dominant result can lead to click-through rates of double or more than the rate typically seen with a #1 organic result.  Appears when Google is more or less certain that the keyword searched implies a specific business is the most relevant result.


A general term used to describe the influential power of a domain, a website, a citation source, a review, or other entities. Search engines are said to view some resources as being more authoritative than others, meaning that authoritative sources have an enhanced ability to influence rankings.


Best Of The Web
A major local business directory for U.S. businesses. Business owners can create a listing for free.
For more information see: Local Directories and Citations 


Better Business Bureau (BBB)
Founded in 1912, the BBB publishes reviews of the reliability of businesses in the U.S. and Canada. BBB listings can act as a citation for local businesses.
For more information see: Local Directories and Citations 


Bing Places for Business
Bing’s local business component. Users can create listings for their businesses.
For more information see: Local Directories and Citations 



A form of web-based publication that allows readers to interact with the publisher via commenting. One of the most popular blog platforms is WordPress. A blog can be a component of a website or act on its own as a complete website.
See also:  Website Design and Development


In the local search arena, the term brick-and-mortar is used to indicate a business model operating within a physical building. Examples of brick-and-mortar business models include dental clinics, restaurants, and retail shops. By contrast, a go-to-client or service radius business is one that serves customers at remote locations instead of within the walls of a physical business. Different rules have historically governed these two types of business models in the local search arena.


A technical flaw in a digital medium. In local search, bugs may be reported as an issue encountered in platforms like Google Places for Business.


bulk upload
Typically refers to the act of creating 10 or more local business profiles at a time via the Google Places or Bing Places dashboard.


business description
Sometimes simply called “description.” Describes a field provided for a text description of a business on a local business listing. Length and rules about the types of content one can include in the business description field vary from index to index.


business title
The name of a business—specifically the name of a business as registered at one of the major local search engines or online Yellow Pages directories. Combined with a physical address and phone number, the business title represents a third of a business’s online identity
For more information see: Local Directories and Citations 


call tracking number
A phone number used to measure the success of specific marketing efforts and to determine the source of leads. For local businesses, call tracking numbers are not recommended, as they can lead to multiple problems, including the clouding of clear NAP signals.


CSS (Cascading Style Sheet)
A type of website code which allows for easier page editing by designers and faster processing of HTML by search engines.


One of a set of approximately 2,000 default business types with which the local search engines try to associate each business in their index. Although each search engine and data aggregator has its own taxonomy, many categories are based on the North American Industry Classification System, or NAICS. The current Google Places for Business dashboard allows business owners to choose up to five categories, all of which must stem from Google’s pre-chosen category choices.


The civic center of a neighborhood or metropolitan area as determined by a local search engine. The centroid is typically close to the geographic center of a city or neighborhood. To find the centroid of your city, simply type its name in a search box and see where the pushpin shows up.


A digital announcement of a customer’s presence at a specific physical location, often a business. Check-ins are the key component of most location-based services including Foursquare and Path—some of whom allow business owners to offer rewards to customers who check in. Customers can also check-in on social sites like Facebook and Yelp.
For more information see: Local Directories and Citations 


A mention of a business name in close proximity to its address, phone number, or both. Used by the search engines to weigh both the accuracy and popularity of businesses in their indexes.

For more information see: Local Directories and Citations 


citation campaign
The marketing practice of building citations for a local business on a variety of websites. An integral component of most local SEM


city landing page
A page on a website providing information about a business’s location, or about a unique location of a multi-location business. City landing pages can be useful in helping a local business achieve search engine visibility for more than one city. 


The act of verifying one’s business information with a local search engine and taking ownership of the business listing at that search engine. Reduces risk of hijacking by spammers or competitors. Often involves a PIN setup process with the search engine.


click-through rate (CTR)
The rate at which users click on an advertisement, link, or other search engine result. CTR is one metric used for measuring the success of online campaigns.
For more information see: PPC (pay-per-click)


A search engine’s collection of information about a particular business location from all of its data sources. In some cases, a search engine’s attempt to create a cluster is too “aggressive,” causing distinct business listings to merge in its index. In other cases, its attempts to create a cluster may not be strong enough, causing multiple listings to appear for the same business.


CMS (content management system)
A complex platform of computer code that allows a website to be easily edited or managed by someone with no knowledge of computer code. Popular content management systems include WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal.


Publishing identical core business details across the web. In particular, the consistency with which local business NAP information is published influences search engines’ trust in the validity and accuracy of this data.


The process of convincing a website visitor to call, email, or visit a business offline—i.e., convert to a customer.


A specific online discount that appears alongside a business listing and makes a special offer to customers.


The act of a search engine reading a page.
For more information see: On-Page SEO


custom category
As of April 2, 2013, the Google Places for Business dashboard ceased to accept custom-written categories. Business owners must select pre-set categories only. Other local business indexes, however, may still allow the business owner to custom-create categories that describe what their business is.


custom field
A set of “choose your own” descriptive fields for a Google Places or Google+ Local listing. For example, many business owners include their businesses’ specialties, taglines, years in business, or neighborhoods served in these fields.


data provider
A company with an explicit contract to supply local search engines with underlying business information. In the U.S., the major data providers are Infogroup, Localeze, Acxiom, and Factual.


Any website which lists business names and contact information in an organized fashion, typically in alphabetical order or by business type. Directory information is frequently assimilated by the local search engines. For more information see: Local Directories and Citations 


domain name
The web address or homepage of a particular business or organization. Examples:,, etc. Domain names are reserved at registrars such as,, and


driving directions
It is speculated that requests for driving directions on applications like Google Maps count as user behavior, and may indicate the popularity of a local business and thus, have some effect on rankings. 


duplicate listing
A problematic scenario in which more than one Google+ Local listing exists for a single business. Google allows only one listing per location, and intentional or accidental violation of this policy can lead to penalties and ranking issues. Steps must be taken to resolve duplicate listing issues.
For more information see: Local Directories and Citations 


A major social sharing platform. Local businesses can create a Facebook business page, complete with location and contact information, and utilize this profile to interact with customers and potential customers.


Facebook Graph Search
Launched in 2013, Facebook’s internal search providing natural language results. Includes the ability to search for local places.


Facebook Local Search
Facebook’s mobile local search application. Formerly called “Nearby,” Facebook Local Search helps users discover local businesses.


One of four primary data sources of local business data for all major search engines.


A structured, automated list of content or data produced by a website. Feeds were created in order to allow users to subscribe to website updates.


Most commonly used in the online marketing arena to describe parameters used by search engines to limit the prominence of certain types of data. For example, a review platform might hide reviews containing a certain number of links, or search engine results might filter out web pages associated with undesirable link acquisition pattern.


A type of website code which allows for complex graphics and animations, but is difficult for search engines to read and understand. Also not visible on Apple mobile devices and tablets.


An adjective describing a piece of text content or other media content


Google Account
An email address and password combination that has been registered with Google. A Google Account is required to claim a Google Place Page/Google+ Local page, which may be more trusted if the domain name associated with the Google Place Page/Google+ Local page matches that of the Google Account used to claim it.


Google AdWords Express
A paid advertising format offered by Google to local businesses.


Google and Your Business Forum
The Google and Your Business Forum is a public forum where users can seek and share advice about local SEO issues. The forum is moderated by Google and Your Business Top Contributors and is frequently visited by Google staff.


Google and Your Business Forum Top Contributors
Commonly referred to as TCs, Google and Your Business Forum Top Contributors are volunteer participants in the Google and Your Business Forum who provide assistance to forum users. TCs have direct contact with Google staff and can sometimes escalate issues toward resolution.


Google Business Photos
Interior photography of local businesses taken by Google Trusted Photographers. This photograph can be turned into a virtual tour intended to enhance local business data.


Google MapMaker
An application that allows users to enhance Google Maps by adding and editing information that is available to the public. In local SEO MapMaker may be used as a method of troubleshooting and resolving data issues. 


Google Maps
Google’s proprietary mapping service.


Google Offers
A program that allows local businesses to promote daily deal specials to purchasing customers. Customers redeem printed or mobile vouchers at the time of service.


Google Places
For many years the brand name of Google’s Local product, Google Places is a free business listing service offered by Google. Business owners can submit or claim ownership of their business information. Google Places is intended to represent a broader range of geographic points of interest such as parks or historic sites, in addition to local businesses.
For more information see: Local Directories and Citations 


Google Local Business Information Quality Guidelines
The Google Local Business Information Quality Guidelines describe Google’s rules and policies for businesses seeking inclusion in Google’s local index. Violation of any element of the guidelines can result in penalties, including removal from the index.


Google’s social network, launched on June 28, 2011. Pronounced and sometimes written as “Google Plus.” Some features of Google+, such as Google+ Pages for Businesses, may be merged with Google+ Local pages for a single location, brick-and-mortar businesses to create a full social local profile.
For more information see: Local Directories and Citations 


Google+ Local
As of 2012, Google+ Local is the current branding of Google’s local product, formerly known as Google Places. Google’s local results are now comprised of links to Google+ Local pages. Both brick-and-mortar and service radius local businesses are entitled to seek inclusion via a Google+ Local page.
For more information see: Local Directories and Citations 


Google Trends
A tool that enables users to monitor consumer trends and the popularity of targeted keywords. Can be a useful supplementary keyword research tool for local SEO campaigns.


A business, such as a plumbing or house painting company, that serves clients at their own locations, rather than at the business’s location.


A special kind of website code


head keywords
Very competitive, usually weakly targeted keywords with a high number of searches. Usually either one word, or two-word phrases, such as “lawyers,” “Tulsa dentists,” etc.
For more information see: On-Page SEO


header tags
The bold headlines on a web page. Also known as H1, H2, H3, or Hx tags. It’s a best practice to include keywords in the overall language of these tags, though their power relative to other on-page SEO elements is believed to have lessened in recent years.
In the local SEO arena, the term highjacking typically relates to usurping control of a local business listing to edit its details with malicious intent. Reports of highjacking have lessened over the past few years, but in the past, instances of highjacking have led to legal prosecution.


Founded in 2006, HotFrog maintains an index of local businesses. Business owners can create a free business listing at HotFrog. 


A special kind of website code 


An adjective used to describe a website or web content that is extremely specific to a particular neighborhood or town. Hyperlocal content is typically something that a traditional media outlet would not devote resources to cover.


HTML (HyperText Markup Language)
A type of website code which is easily read and understood by search engines. HTML is the original programming language used on the Internet. 



One of four primary data sources of local business data for all major search engines.
For more information see: Local Directories and Citations 


Branding of the analytics component of Google’s Places for Business dashboard.


internal anchor text
Anchor text on a link from a page on your own website to another page on your site.


internal link
A link from a page on your own website to another page on your own website.


IYP (Internet Yellow Pages)
The online version of a traditional Yellow Pages directory. The local search engines frequently crawl these pages to find business information, then use it to form clusters or associate citations with a business.


A term entered by searchers to find businesses or websites on a search engine. Keyword.


KML (Keyhole Markup Language)
Standardized geographic formatting of an address with corresponding latitude and longitude information. A KML file refers to a set of one or more locations coded in this form.


landing page
The page that a searcher first visits when clicking through from a search engine results page. Typically, this term refers to the page that visitors land on when clicking through from a local search result or a PPC advertisement. In local search, a landing page should usually include a contact phone number, the address of the business, and perhaps driving directions.
For more information see: On-Page SEO




load time
The speed at which any web page loads onto a user’s browser. It is speculated that load time may have a meaningful influence on organic search engine rankings and, to some extent, on local search engine rankings.


local algorithm / local results
Refers to the specific formula and the results returned by that formula used by search engines for ranking business listings’ relevance for a particular geographic area. This algorithm is distinct from the search engines’ traditional organic algorithm.


One of four primary data sources of local business data for all major search engines.


LBC (Local Business Center)
An outdated term once used as the branding of Google’s Local product. The Google LBC was rebranded as Google Places in April 2010 and then rebranded again as Google+ Local in May 2012.


LBL (local business listing)
Generic term for a page on a search engine, IYP, or directory containing basic and enhanced business information for a local business. Google’s version of a local business listing is now known as a Google+ Local page.


local search ranking factors
1) The components that contribute to the rankings of a local business. 2) Created by David Mihm, Local Search Ranking Factors is an annual survey of expert local SEO. From the survey, an annual report is generated identifying factors deemed to play a major role in local search engine rankings.


local SEO (local search engine optimization)
Specialized online marketing that increases visibility for businesses interested in ranking for geographically related keywords. A large component of local SEO is ranking well in the local algorithms. It is also important to rank well in the organic results for local keywords.
For more information see: Local Directories and Citations 


Local University
A local search marketing seminar with events in numerous U.S. cities. Speakers include recognized experts in the field of local SEO.


LBS (location-based service)
A form of geotagging that facilitates or is facilitated by social interaction. The key action of a location-based service is a check-in. Popular location-based services are offered by Twitter, Foursquare, and Yelp.


location prominence
A technical term used by Google in its local search patent to identify some of the criteria behind its local algorithm. Location prominence is analogous to PageRank in organic search.


long-tail keywords
Low-volume, highly targeted, less competitive phrases used by searchers to find businesses or websites at a search engine. Examples include “Tulsa Oklahoma dentists for root canal infection” or “cheapest teenage driver car insurance Oklahoma City OK.”


A local business directory with an international presence. Business owners can create free profiles at An important citation source for many local businesses.


A mapping platform with significant early adoption due to its early online rollout. Local business owners can create a business listing in the MapQuest Local Business Center.
For more information see: Local Directories and Citations 


A local business directory where business owners can create free business profiles.
For more information see: Local Directories and Citations 


1) When a search engine combines similar or duplicate local business listings. It is rare that listings will merge at Yahoo! Local. However, both Google and Bing have aggressive clustering mechanisms; sometimes distinct business listings might be merged. Currently, none of the search engines have a foolproof mechanism in place for businesses to merge two separate or duplicate listings. 2) When a business owner intentionally merges a Google+ Local page with a Google+ Business page in an effort to unify control of the listings and achieve full social and local features. This option is currently only available to single-location brick-and-mortar businesses.


meta description
A handcrafted snippet of text that can be included in a tag near the top of the code for each web page. This text sometimes appears beneath your title tag in organic search results if it matches one or more of the keywords for which the user has searched. Well-written meta descriptions usually include keywords and persuade searchers to click through.
For more information see: On-Page SEO


meta keywords
A list of keywords included in a tag near the top of the code for each web page. Because of susceptibility to spam, major search engines don’t use the meta keywords tag to evaluate the relevance of a page, and these tags don’t influence ranking. Title tags and meta descriptions remain very important, however.


meta tags
The generic term for hidden pieces of specially structured code near the top of each web page that can provide more information to search engines about the content of the page.
For more information see: On-Page SEO


A special kind of code that allows search engines to more easily parse the content inside the code. Popular microformats include schema and hCard for address and contact information and hReview for rating and sentiment information. 


A free Google Maps product offering that allows registered users to save particular physical locations and/or include a comment about each location. MyMaps are based on KML and being included in them may improve Local rankings.


Typically refers to accessing the Internet through a mobile device such as a cell phone or tablet computer. It is estimated that at least 50% of mobile queries have a local intent.


My Places
A Google application that enables users to organize content such as maps, ratings, and check-ins that have a unique importance to them.


A term used in the internet marketing industry to denote a widely publicized, but faulty, assumption. For example, it is a common myth that stuffing a meta keywords tag with keywords improves search engine rankings.


NAICS (North American Industry Classification System)
A standardized taxonomy of business types upon which many search engines, IYPs, and data providers base their own category systems. 


NAP / NAP+W (Name Address Phone + Website)
The “thumbprint” of a business online. Local search engines use NAP information found by crawling the web or received from data providers to judge the accuracy of the data in their own indexes. Consistent NAP information is essential to getting more citations and improving search engine rankings.
For more information see: Local Directories and Citations 


Needs Action
An alert in the Google Places for Business dashboard signaling that the business owner must take further steps to achieve active status on the business listing. Actions might include entering a verification PIN or resolving violations of the Google Local Business Information Quality Guidelines.


HERE PrimePlaces
A mobile-focused application to which local business owners can add a listing for their businesses, formerly called Nokia Prime Places.


off-listing / off page
Adjectives that describe criteria the search engines use in their local algorithm that is not directly associated with a local business listing or with the website specified in that local listing. 


A type of nonstandard search result embedded within the more familiar “ten blue link” default results. OneBoxes sometimes show local results, image results, video results, or news results. OneBoxes first appeared at Google when they announced the advent of universal search, which returns all kinds of content relevant to a particular keyword, rather than just web or text content. 


An adjective used to describe criteria that you can control and adjust on your own website to improve search engine rankings.
For more information see: On-Page SEO


organic algorithm / organic results
The mathematical formula traditionally used by search engines to rank websites in order of importance and relevance. Distinct from universal or OneBox algorithms, including local.
For more information see: On-Page SEO



Google’s proprietary formula for ranking web pages. It is roughly correlated with the quality, relevance, and popularity of a page. PageRank can also refer to a number that this formula assigns to a particular web page. The equivalent of location prominence in local search.


First released in February 2011, Panda is an update to Google’s organic ranking algorithm, primarily targeting websites judged by Google to be of poor quality. There have been numerous updates since Panda was first rolled out, affecting many websites’ rankings.


A photo sharing site owned by Google. Local business owners can geotag images as an enhanced form of local data.


Any type of negative action taken by a search engine against a website or profile as a result of violations of published or unpublished policies. In local SEO, violation of any of the Google Local Business Information Quality Guidelines can result in a penalty that can lead to a drop in rankings. 


A status notation in the Google Places for Business dashboard indicating that a listing has yet to be approved. There have been numerous reported instances of listings sitting in “Pending” status for extended periods of time, sometimes due to technical problems on Google’s part. It is also common for new listings to be marked as pending for several weeks. 


An update to Google’s organic algorithm released in April 2012, primarily targeting link acquisition practices not approved by Google. 


phone number
Combined with business name and physical address, the phone number represents a third of a business’s online identity
For more information see: Local Directories and Citations 


phone verification
One of two methods to claim a local business listing at Google+ Local and Bing Local, proving you own the business. The other method is via postcard, which is much more time-consuming.
For more information see: Local Directories and Citations 


physical address
Combined with business name and phone number, the physical address represents a third of a business’s online identity
For more information see: Local Directories and Citations 


Online photo sharing site owned by Google. Images added to Picasa can be geotagged as an enhanced form of local data.


place label
Small graphic icons utilized in the Google Maps interface to indicate restaurants, retail shops, and other features. Local businesses must be selected by Google to be awarded a place label.


Place page
Google’s former branded version of a local business listing. Google Place pages have now been replaced by the term Google+ Local pages, but continue to be controlled via the Google Places for Business dashboard. Includes owner-submitted information about a business, including categories, location, and hours of operation, as well as information Google pulls from around the web, such as ratings, and nearby businesses—often competitors.


PO Box
A remote mailing address, the use of which can adversely affect your local search rankings. PO Boxes are expressly forbidden by the Google Local Business Information Quality Guidelines.


A trait of a website or business that can be quantitatively measured in a number of ways. For websites, search engines typically measure popularity by the number and quality of inbound links to that website. For businesses, things like the number and quality of citations, reviews, LBS check-ins, or MyMaps might be used.


postcard verification
One of two methods of claiming a local business listing on Google+ Local and Bing Local, proving you own the business. The other method is via phone, which is much faster and easier. 


PPC (pay-per-click)
Generic term for paid advertising programs at major search engines in which businesses are charged a fee when a searcher clicks on their advertisement—as opposed to a fee based on the number of times their ad is shown or a flat monthly fee regardless of visibility.


product/service keywords
Terms typed into a search engine by users seeking products 


Typically describes the distance between a local business and the city centroid or business cluster. May also be used to describe the distance between a desktop or mobile user and a local business. Proximity may influence which business listings are shown for specific searches.


A numerical assessment, often on a scale of 1


Regional Expert Reviewer (RER)
A highly active volunteer reviewer of Google MapMaker data. Google MapMaker RERs have direct contact with Google’s staff and can often escalate or resolve data issues.


A form of markup language added to individual web pages to identify their author. Use of rel=”author” associates a profile photo with a web page and displays it in Google’s search results next to the web page’s entry.


A form of markup language that enables a business to signal its ownership of a website to Google. In local SEO, the use of rel=”publisher” can assist business owners in associating their business with certain categories. It also helps Google associate their website with their Google+ Local cluster. 


The degree to which a certain business or certain website matches the intent of a searcher’s keyword. In local search, a particular business must be considered by the search engines to be relevant for a particular keyword in order to rank for that term—but typically cannot rank for terms on which it is not considered relevant. For instance, a popular restaurant may rank first in local results for “restaurants” or “fine dining,” but would not necessarily be considered relevant for search terms like “bars” or “pubs”—even though they are related terms.


A customer’s text summary of their experience at a particular business. Reviews can be left on search engines, via location-based services, or on blogs—and are often simultaneously assigned numerical ratings. 


review station
Sometimes referred to as a review kiosk, a review station is a computer set up for public use in a brick-and-mortar business for the purpose of encouraging on-site user reviews. Google, in particular, has fluctuated in its policies regarding the use of review stations, both approving and discouraging their use at different points in time. 


rich snippets
Rich snippets are small amounts of data from markup such as microdata or microformats that appear as a component of a search engine result. Rich snippets might include text, star ratings, price ranges, and other factors. 


An automated script created by a search engine to “read” web pages.
For more information see: On-Page SEO


RSS (really simple syndication)
Bare-bones computer code that many content management systems produce when content is created or updated. RSS feeds allow readers to subscribe to websites and receive a ping or an email when they are updated. You frequently see RSS subscription icons on blogs. 


A form of markup supported by the major search engines. Local business websites can utilize markup to ensure that core business data is easily and fully understood by search engines.


SEM (search engine marketing)
An umbrella term for improving the presence of a business and increasing its number of customers via all forms of search, including PPC, organic, local, and universal.
For more information see: PPC (pay-per-click)


sentiment / sentiment analysis
The qualitative component of a customer review. Google has experimented over the years with extracting and analyzing reviews for the quality of experience, and for some business types often excerpts phrases like “expensive” or “good service” and displays them prominently on that business’s Google+ Local page. 


SEO (search engine optimization)
Improving the presence of a business and increasing its number of customers via all non-paid forms of search, such as organic, local, universal, and mobile. 


SERP (search engine result page)
A page containing a list of websites and any of the following: paid advertisements, business listings, meta descriptions, images, videos, news, or other media that best match a keyword.
For more information see: On-Page SEO


service area
Typically used to describe specific neighborhoods, towns, or radii served by go-to-client business models. Some local business listings allow business owners to list cities served in text or to draw a radius of service with a tool.


service area/service radius business
A term frequently used to describe go-to-client businesses that travel to customers’ locations to render services, such as plumbers, electricians, and carpet cleaners.


seven-pack (7-pack)
Generic term for the set of specific local business listings within a page of organic results. Over the years, Google and other search engines have experimented with variable numbers of results within the pack, from one to ten results.


A common term denoting positive actions or affirmations made by users of a social media site. People can ‘like’ or ‘share’ data to express approval of the content. 


site architecture
General term for the organization or hierarchy of a particular website; can also refer to the programming language or content management system that the site is built in. Site architecture, especially a site’s internal linking strategy, is extremely important to consider in organic SEO. 


A list of all pages on a website sometimes submitted to Google Webmaster Central. Essentially a site outline that search engines can read easily.
For more information see: On-Page SEO


SMB (small-to-medium business)
In the United States, designation as a small business is defined by the size standards found in Title 13 of the Code of Federal Regulations. In the online marketing world, SMB is loosely used to describe both small and local businesses.


social media (SM)
Media utilized for social interaction on the Internet. This can include blogs; sharing sites like Twitter, Facebook, and Google+; and review sites like Yelp and other interactive platforms. In the local business arena, social media factors are playing an increasingly important role in online visibility.


specialty field
Another term for a custom field associated with a local business listing. Often used by owners to list their business’s specialties.


Can refer either to the robotic script created by a search engine to “read” web pages
For more information see: On-Page SEO


Street View
An application within Google Maps which provides 360-degree photographic imagery of an area specified by the user.


structured citation
A mention of a business name and address and/or phone number on an IYP or directory website. Structured citations may or may not be coded in hCard microformat or schema, but typically appear in a pattern that is easy for search engine spiders to read. Differs from an unstructured citation, which may appear as a one-off reference on a blog or other hyperlocal website.


structured review
A traditional review left on a major local search portal or IYP, accompanied by a numerical rating. Structured reviews may or may not be coded in hReview microformat, but typically appear in a kind of pattern that is easy for search engine spiders to read. Differs from an unstructured review, which may appear as a one-off reference on a blog or other hyperlocal website.


A major Internet Yellow Pages website. Local business owners can create a listing at SuperPages.
For more information see: Local Directories and Citations 


A status notation in the Google Places for Business dashboard indicating that a business owner has marked a listing as “Suspended” in an attempt to prevent its display. An account may also be suspended by Google due to violations of the Google Local Business Information Quality Guidelines or due to bugs.


Unlike reviews left on third-party platforms, testimonials are typically customer sentiments published by a business on its own website. Testimonials may be marked up with hReview microformatting to enhance the ease with which search engines can understand testimonial content. See also: microformat, review


third party
1) Can be used to describe any web-based data about a business that is not published by the business itself. 2) In reference to Google’s local products, “third-party” is often used to refer to data stemming from any location other than a business’s website or its Google Places/Google+ Local listing.


three-pack (3-Pack)
For more information see:  Google 3 Pack Search Results


title tag
A piece of web page code that the search engines pay special attention to when deciding that webpage’s relevance. On a traditional SERP, the text of a webpage’s title tag is contained in the link to that web page. If you’re on a Windows computer, the title tag of a web page appears in the blue bar at the top lefthand corner of your screen when you are browsing the internet. On a Macintosh, the title tag usually appears at the top middle of the browser screen, in a silver bar. Including keywords in your website’s title tags is very important for organic rankings; many experts feel that including geographic keywords in your website’s title tags is important for local rankings. See also: organic algorithm / organic results, meta tags, meta description, keyword, SERP (search engine result page)


Founded in 2000, TripAdvisor is a major review source for restaurants and hotels on an international scale.


In the local SEO arena, Google provides a small number of troubleshooter wizards that walk users through a short survey in an attempt to identify and resolve data issues. See also: penalty


An important but hard-to-quantify ranking factor in both organic and local algorithms. Trust can be gained via the following: consistent NAP information, citations from high-authority websites


A social media network on which users share short text-based messages See also: social media (SM), Facebook, Facebook Local Search


universal algorithm / universal results
The term for a SERP containing a nonstandard search result—such as video or shopping results—embedded within the more familiar “ten blue link” default results. Any kind of content relevant to a particular keyword may be returned, rather than just web/text content. In the context of local search, this usually means a 7-Pack, 3-Pack, or Authoritative Onebox. 


Universal Business Listings (UBL)
A major paid local listing services. Distributes local business data to a large number of search engines and directories.
For more information see: Local Directories and Citations 


unstructured citation
A mention of a business name and address and/or phone number on a website that is not an IYP site or other traditional directory containing standardized listings for many other businesses. Examples would be a newspaper or magazine article, hyperlocal blog, or social media profile.
For more information see: Local Directories and Citations 


unstructured review
A text summary of a customer experience on a website that is not a traditional directory of standardized review information alongside business listings. May not be accompanied by a numerical rating. Examples would be a newspaper or magazine article, hyperlocal blog, or social media profile. 


URL (uniform resource locator)
Geeky acronym for an address of a web page.


user behavior
Any online action taken by a user, including clicking on search engine results, time spent on a web page, leaving a review, using a check-in service, asking for driving directions, and many other factors. The influence user behavior has on actual search engine rankings remains a matter of speculation and debate.


The speed at which a local listing or a website accumulates outside references, such as links, citations, reviews, or check-ins. Most experts believe that a consistent velocity for each criterion—rather than a flood—indicates to the search engines that a business is vibrant without trying to be manipulative.


Venice Update
A 2012 update to Google’s algorithm that appeared to increase the number of local results being returned for generic queries, as well as altering the ratio of first page rankings given to distinct local businesses.


The process of confirming your online business listings.
For more information see: Local Directories and Citations 


A generic term used to encompass the overall presence a business has established on the Internet. Local businesses seek visibility via search engine rankings, social media profiles, review profiles, and other platforms.


virtual office
A purchased address not physically occupied by a business. The most popular virtual office provider in the United States is Regus. The Google Local Business Information Quality Guidelines forbid the use of virtual offices for businesses seeking inclusion in Google’s Local index.


Webmaster Central
Free service offered by Google for users with a Google account to claim ownership of a particular website. Bing’s and Yahoo’s versions are called Webmaster Center and Site Explorer, respectively. Allows users to submit verified sitemaps for that domain.


We Currently Do Not Support The Location
An error message signaling that Google lacks data about a local business or is choosing not to display it. There have been ongoing issues with this error message appearing due to technical issues on Google’s part, but this message can also stem from violations of the Google Local Business Information Quality Guidelines. 


The contact information kept on file by a domain registrar for the official owner of a domain name. Can be made private, but public WHOIS information may be viewed by the local search engines as a particularly trusted citation.


Originally released as a blogging platform, WordPress has become a popular platform for the development of whole websites


Stands for “What You See Is What You Get.” Usually, refers to interfaces in content management systems that allow someone who doesn’t know computer code to create and edit web page information.


XML (eXtensible Markup Language)
Bare-bones computer code that is very easy for search engines to read. XML is similar to HTML but is not really intended to be read by humans. Sitemaps are usually uploaded to Google Webmaster Tools and are in XML format.


Yahoo! Local
The local business listing center of


Founded in 2004, Yelp has become a dominant player in the world of local business reviews. Most local business owners will wish to create a Yelp profile. Yelp has earned both considerable popularity and a measure of criticism for marketing practices which have resulted in legal settlements. 


Founded in 2006, Yext offers paid local business listing management tools.


Founded in 2005, Yodle offers a paid lead generation and advertising service to local businesses.


A video sharing platform owned by Google and cited as the second largest search engine in the world. Local business owners may invest in the development of video content which can be published via YouTube as a social media tactic and form of advertising.
An Internet Yellow Pages website to which local business listings can be added. 


A business rating service purchased by Google in 2011. Zagat ratings on a 30-point scale are currently displayed as a component of local listing data in Google’s search results.


For Additional help with developing a proper Local Search and SEO Strategy for your business, we are here to help.  Visit your Local SEO Page

Good Content Means Good SEO

Good Content Means Good SEO

It can be very effective in increasing traffic, generating leads, enabling sales and contributing to SEO. Which brings us to the main question ‒ how can I use it to improve my search rankings?  When done well, content marketing can contribute to boosting a site’s position in search rankings. Although this may not seem like the most obvious benefit to a successful content marketing strategy, it’s an effect that no business can ignore. Let’s take a look at how to make full use of your website’s content to rank higher in the SERPs.


Creating new content

Having a website is not enough; it constantly needs to be updated for it to rank well. And this is where new content comes in handy. A site can never have enough content. There is always an opportunity to create new pieces of content, and the newness of content is also one of Google’s ranking signals.  Fresh content as a ranking factor is not just judged by the publication date of the page, but also based on new pages, an increasing number of links towards a page and ultimately the increased level of traffic reaching the page.  These criteria show that older posts can still be valuable, especially if they offer an in-depth analysis on a topic or have been regularly updated to keep them relevant, which leads us on to the next tip.


Repurposing old content

There’s no reason to ignore the older content you’ve published in the past, especially if it still gains a significant amount of traffic.  Repurposing content can help you analyze a topic in more detail, by allowing you to create multiple types of content without losing their value or becoming repetitive. This saves you time spent coming up with new content ideas and also gives you a regular supply of fresh, valuable content to boost your ranking.  Going beyond blog posts, you can create videos, infographics, podcasts, lists and more from your older material. Your target audience might be more receptive for example to infographics rather than a blog post, or you may discover that you can achieve higher conversion rates through a list rather than a podcast.


Using visual content

Visual content has become very popular on the internet due to our own ability to process an image faster than any written text. This wins the first impression and it can be very powerful within the context of a page.  Previously used mostly to accompany written content, visual content has reached the stage where it’s now considered a form of content in its own right, standing on its own to increase awareness, engagement, and leads.  On top of this, it can be optimized for search, offering a new opportunity for a business to stand out from its competitors via images and videos. The optimization of your visual content can lead to surprisingly positive results, provided that you follow a series of small steps that ensure that they are SEO-friendly.  Search crawlers cannot “read” images, only the text that accompanies them. This means that you must focus on:

• Image title (don’t upload an image with a filename 4fogowr.jpg, but rather rename it to something more relevant, e.g. contentforseoguide.jpg)
• Alt tags (the tags that describe the image for screen reader users, or if the image fails to load)
• Image size (large images affect a page’s load time, which can have a negative effect on your search ranking)


Choosing the right keywords

Keyword research can turn into a useful ally, especially if you bear in mind that you don’t always need to target the most obvious keywords.  Targeting highly sought-after keywords can make it harder for you to rank higher in search, but this doesn’t mean that you can’t become an authority on a topic by using different phrases for the same concept.  How about picking words and phrases that are less competitive but still high in rankings? Find the keywords that best suit your content, and think outside the box when deciding on the focus keywords you want to target.


Create link-worthy content

Link building helps your content reach a broader audience, increasing both your site’s visibility and its authority. It can help grow your search traffic, as the number of unique domains linking to your site helps search engines understand whether your content is informative enough to rank higher in the SERP.  Not all links are equal, as high-authority sites contribute more heavily in this regard. This means you should aim for more reputable mentions – but without snubbing any lesser sites that might link to you, as it all adds up. It’s easier for a source to link to your content if it’s authentic, interesting and well-researched, so always aim for quality over quantity.



When done right the creation of good Content helps with your overall Local SEO and Search Engine Optimization Strategies.  We are here to help click here to visit our Content Marketing Section at Digital Marketology

How to Rank for a Keyword

How to Rank for a Keyword

Got your sights on a keyword? Want to see your website on the elusive first page of Google for a given search term? Prepare yourself: Unless you’re Wikipedia or The New York Times, it won’t be easy. But it’s not impossible, either. Seriously – we do it all the time!  Ranking for a keyword in organic search is a repeatable process. You won’t get the results you want 100% of the time, especially if you’re a new website trying to rank for a popular keyword, but if you take content marketing and SEO seriously, you can start to make things happen. Things like rankings, and traffic, and sales, oh my!  Here are the ten steps to rank for a keyword in Google.

Lay the Groundwork

This is really more of a pre-step than a first step. You’ll need to have some basics in place before you can hope to rank for any random keyword. These pre-requisites include:

A strong website – The longer your website has been around, accruing authority and links, the better. It’s also key that your entire site follows SEO best practices – start with Google’s Webmaster Guidelines if you don’t know what that means.

A network to draw on – In order to rank quickly for a keyword, it’s very useful to have a built-in network to share new content with – a blog following, an audience on social networks like Facebook and Twitter, email contacts you can reach out to for occasional help with a link. If you don’t know what that means, it’s time to start thinking about link building as relationship building.

Don’t rush this stuff in your race for Internet gold. If you don’t do things right the first time, you’ll just have to do them again later.


Do Your Initial Keyword Research

You may think you know what keyword you want to target but fact-check your instincts. Use several keyword tools to get a sense of the search volume for the keyword as well as the competition before you finalize your keyword choice. Your main considerations will include:

Choosing a keyword with good volume, but not too much volume – In general, you don’t want to target a keyword that has low relative search volume if there’s an equivalent term that is much more popular. For example, there are usually over twice as many searches for “blah blah jobs” versus “blah blah careers.” However, don’t always automatically go for the keyword with the highest volume; some keywords are simply too competitive and not worth your time. You’re not going to rank for “airline” unless you are, in fact, an airline.

Choosing a keyword that’s relevant to your business model – You’re more likely to succeed in ranking for a keyword if the term is relevant to your site and your business. You’re also more likely to get some real return on your ranking – remember that rankings in and of themselves aren’t particularly valuable unless they’re driving worthwhile traffic and leads. For example, a party planning business might target “how to cook for a party” – but “how to cook rice” isn’t really going to be relevant to them or their target audience.

At this stage of the process, you should also make a list of close variations on your primary keyword. These will be helpful in writing and optimizing your content later on.

Check Out the Competition

Once you’ve settled on a keyword, do a search for it on Google and a few other search engines to see what your competition is already doing. Pay particular attention to:

  • The domains and URLs – How many are exact match domains? Does every URL in the top 10 include the keyword?
  • The titles – How do the title tags incorporate the keyword?
  • The type of content that’s ranking – Product pages? Blog posts? Videos?
  • The types of businesses that are ranking – Are they huge brands? Small businesses? News sites?
  • How authoritative those sites are – You can use a plugin like SEO for Firefox to check the age of the sites in the top 10, the size of their link profiles and so on.

You’re looking for ways that you can differentiate yourself. You’ll need to do at least as much as your competitors are doing to beat them. Ideally, you should be doing more, and doing it better.

Consider Intent

The more specific the keyword (think long-tail keywords), the easier it is to gauge the searcher’s intent, and the easier it will be to serve up what those searchers are probably looking for. In search marketing, “intent” is our best guess at what the person using the search query really wants. Consider the following keywords and notice how much easier it is to guess the intent from the words alone as you go down the list:

  • glasses
  • eyeglasses
  • discount eyeglasses
  • discount eyeglasses frames
  • discount eyeglasses frames for kids

Ask yourself, what kind of content best serves the keyword? In this case, it would obviously be a selection of kid’s eyeglasses for sale. From the first term, you can’t even tell if the person is looking for eyeglasses or drinking glasses. And even for the second, the person might just be looking for pictures of eyeglasses; there is no clear intent to buy. An e-commerce business is mostly going to be trying to rank for commercial keywords.

Google’s founders have said that the perfect search engine would serve only one result. You want to be that one result that satisfies the searcher’s need so they don’t bounce back to the search results, looking for a better answer.

Conceptualize the Content

Next, form a plan for the actual content you’re going to create that will – hopefully – rank for your chosen keyword. There are many paths to ranking for a keyword, including but not limited to:

  • An article
  • A blog post
  • A product page
  • An index or directory of links (to other pages on your site or around the web)
  • An authoritative guide
  • An infographic
  • A video

How long will it take to create the content? Who should create it? Will you be doing everything in-house or outsourcing? Do you have all the resources and budget you need? Don’t get defeated: No matter your size or your budget, you have the ability to create a blog post. Content like infographics and videos will require more resources. Sometimes, the best way to answer a search query is with some sort of tool, like a mortgage calculator. If this is the case, you’ll need engineering resources.



Here’s where the rubber meets the road. Execute on your plan. Again, you shouldn’t rush any of these steps, but it’s especially important not to rush this one. More and more, search engines are looking for high-quality content that benefits the searcher, not keyword-stuffed spam or pages full of ads that only benefit you. If you’d rather buy traffic than put in the effort it requires to earn “free” organic search traffic, investigate PPC. “SEO isn’t easy” should be your mantra.

Optimize for Your Keyword

In reality, steps 6 and 7 should be intertwined. Optimize your content while you’re creating it, rather than applying optimization after the fact. This is where the list of keywords you formulated in step 2 comes in. Leverage those keywords where you can in your content, but not to the point of sounding like a crazy robot. Remember that there are a lot of “invisible” places for keywords, and I’m not talking about using white text on a white background or anything else that violates Google guidelines. I mean stuff like image file names – users won’t see these if they’re not looking for them, but they can increase your keyword rankings.

For a full list of on-page optimization factors, check out SEOmoz’s guide to the “perfect” page. Another good tip is to copy Wikipedia, whose pages tend to have stellar on-page optimization.

Before you hit “publish,” it’s a good idea to quickly double-check your keyword research. It’s possible that your content has evolved during the development and creation phases, and you’ll need to make sure that there’s still alignment between keyword and content.


It’s (finally) time to push your content out into the world. Depending on the type of content it is, you may need to be careful about scheduling this step. This isn’t usually a consideration for evergreen content, but it may be important for content that’s tied to something in the news, an event or a trend. You may also need to coordinate with PR or other interested parties at your company, for example when launching content related to a new product or service.


This step is important and should come immediately after publishing – in fact, for big pieces of content, it’s great if you can do some media outreach before the piece goes live. Make sure you do what you can to get your content in front of as many eyeballs as possible before it even has a chance to rank for the keyword:

  • Share your content through your business’s social accounts – Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn et al. If you can, do this through your personal accounts too.
  • Use social buttons or widgets on your site to promote independent sharing – Make it easy for readers and viewers to keep the chain going. They’re more likely to tweet or share your article if all they have to do is click a button.
  • Build links to your content – Whatever the future of PageRank, link building is still a huge part of SEO (even if it is the most annoying part). Check out our blog archive on the topic if you’re looking to learn about link building.

Accruing page views and social shares will help you accrue links, which will help you earn that ranking.



You’re not quite done yet! The web is a living medium, and it’s never too late to better optimize your content. Check your keyword ranking manually (be sure you’re signed out and not seeing overly personalized results) or with a rank checking tool. Also, use your analytics to see what keywords your content is actually ranking for – they might not be the exact ones you initially targeted. If, after a couple of weeks or so, you’re not ranking for the right keywords, you have more work to do. Make sure that your content:

  • Is truly optimized
  • Is truly high-quality
  • Is truly visible

It’s also possible that the keyword you chose is too competitive and you need to scale back your ambition. Try targeting less competitive keywords until you’ve built up more authority.

That’s it! This is the process we follow to rank for hundreds of keywords related to search marketing. Whatever your business niche, you can make the same process work for you. So GET STARTED!


Reasons to Outsource Your Social Media Marketing

Reasons to Outsource Your Social Media Marketing