No. 113
July 30th, 2008

Did Local SEO Just Get a Whole Lot Tougher?

So, I was just doing some browsing around today while listening to @dannysullivan’s chat with @chriswinfield on Webmaster Radio about how Google is now showing more personalized results, including Local 10-packs. I noticed that when I clicked through from the 10-pack to specific business listings, Google no longer seemed to be showing ANY citations for local businesses.

Below is just one example using a screenshot:

Is anyone else seeing the same thing?

The “Black Box” Just Became a Little Blacker

If this is indeed a permanent fixture, and not just a technical glitch, it makes the Google Local algorithm MUCH more opaque and makes it much more difficult for Local SEOs like myself to figure out why certain businesses are ranking well.

The timing of it is interesting, to say the least, just after a Local Search conference in which many folks like Mike Blumenthal spoke about the importance of mining the citations of one’s competitors for an idea about where to go to optimize one’s own listing…

If this change in the interface continues to hold, there are still plenty of ways for seasoned Local Search folk to gauge what’s helping certain competitors rank. But it’s going to be very difficult for DIY small business owners to figure things out from now on.


Update: It appears as though specific citations, at least for me, are NOT being shown nationwide for the restaurant and hotel verticals: “pizza Portland OR” “italian restaurant st louis mo” “french restaurant miami fl” “hotels new york ny” “B&B Cleveland OH” “motel phoenix AZ”.  I am still getting specific citations here-and-there for other industries.