1. Introduction
Article #1.6

Local SEO: Beyond Google

With the rolling out of Pigeon Update in June’14, suddenly every webmaster woke up to the call of local search. Everybody started jumping to plan their strategies at a local level and generate more business from these local listings. But let’s face it, it is one of the best things happened if you look from the user’s point of view and also, of course it opened up a lot more opportunities for the webmasters in terms of the increased chances of conversions  and visibility. 
Wanted to go out for a nice dinner with family? I bet you Googled ‘near-me’ restaurants that serve Chinese, Italian or Thai food! You would be lying if you say, that you did not at all, read the reviews on the sites at which these restaurants were listed on.
Before going to the grocery stores or the hardware shop, can you swear you haven’t checked their opening hours, in the respective niche directories, where these stores were cited upon?
While these actions might appear normal or insignificant to some, these are the make or break decisions for the webmasters fighting for increasing the visibility on one hand and equally focussing on getting the conversions on the other. 

While the cold war is to be on the top 3 places on Google’s SERPs, I think Local SEO is much more than it meets the eyes. Since we have already talked about the importance of local search marketing, let us directly jump on discussing the subject matter of the article. So, is Local SEO just about being on Google? Well, I think it’s much more than that.
Local search engine optimization is about making your presence at every place where your potential customer might look for you, and not just on Google. Undoubtedly, appearing on the top 3 places is a commendable job and also increases the chances of conversions, but do you really think this place will get you the maximum conversions?
I mean, to be very honest, whenever I want to dine out with my mates, I never use Google. I only go to Yelp. So, if in this case, if a particular restaurant (and let's also assume, a very good restaurant) would be missed out by me. 
Likewise, I have a friend who writes a review on Foursquare, everytime we walk out of a restaurant. So again, in this case, if that particular restaurant is not on Foursquare, it might loose on a good review.   
Another very good example is of Apple maps. Suppose I use my iOS maps to find a hotel near me. Now, if your hotel is not listed on Apple maps, you might lose me as a customer.
I think I quite made my point here. It’s simple: If you want to increase your conversions, you need to expand your visibility at every place where your customers might look for you. Hence, this is much more than optimizing your site to appear on Google’s top search results

To get a more clear understanding on the topic, let’s see through an example of a Google SERPs of a Geological-specific keyword ‘Hotels in Chicago’:

As you can see, I have outlined 3 boxes. These constitute the following:

  • Advertisements
  • Local Listings Pack
  • Organic results

It is self explanatory that when a person is searching for ‘Hotels in Chicago’, he wants to look for a local business which is hotels in this case, around the geographical location of Chicago.
Now let us go through these boxes one and one.


The first thing that appears on the SERPs are the Yellow tainted websites which are the advertisements. These are basically paid results for local search. These ads are controlled by Google adwords through a process of bidding on the keywords; whoever pays the greatest bid, gets to be on the top. 
With titles like ‘Cheap Hotels in Chicago - Hotels upto 50% Off’, don’t you think a user will be at least if not more, a little tempted to click on the link?
Now, if you take a close look on the links of the websites running the ads, they are as follows: 

All the above mentioned websites are directories that provide for online bookings of hotels (Hotels.com being my favourite). Don’t you think (well, only if you are a hotel business) if you are cited at the above places, your chances of converting are increased? Don’t you think being present on these websites will most likely increase your traffic?
These are definitely rhetorical questions. The obvious answer is YES. 
So, if you are not listed in any of these directories, you stand a great chance to lose out on some potential traffic and conversions.
Now, let’s go on to discussing the element of the second box:

Local Listing Pack:

These are the results of searches of local business. As these present information to the users in the most simplest form and right in front of their eyes, being present here could drive you a lot of relevant traffic. Also, the direct call to action increases the possibilities of conversions manifold.
Now, coming to the last and the most major and important part of the SERPs

Organic results:

Now, again after taking a close look, I have made a list of all the websites that are ranking:

Again, if you notice these all are directories (for hotels), where if you are listed, you stand a chance to show up and get potential traffic and conversions when someone searches for the term ‘hotels in Chicago’.
If you have a hotel in Chicago, you should necessarily be listed on all the above mentioned websites, because if a person is searching for a hotel there, he/she will either choose one from the local listing packs or navigate through these directories or websites and look for the hotel there. So, either ways you are getting traffic.
While, it could be quite difficult to make your way through the local listing packs, it is relatively easier to get listed on these websites.

Apart from these directory based websites, there are other web properties like forums, blogs etc., which are equally important. Say, if someone is writing a blog on “Top 10 Hotels in Chicago” or discussing on a forum that “Which is the best hotel in Chicago’, and if your hotel is not mentioned in there (neither in the content nor in the comments), people would have no clue about even the existence of your business.

Now, that I made my point quite clear that not only listings on directories are important, but also being cited at blogs or forums, play equally important role, I think it is quite clear that you should not rely on only local listings of Google SERPs.


Local SEO is about being everywhere your intended visitors might look for you. It does not end on only Google or listing based websites but to any possible directory on the web indexed by Google. 
So, irrespective of whichever SEO strategy you apply, make sure you are there everywhere!

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