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Stop playing cat & mouse with your customers!

Part 4: Where customers can find you online. Hint: Google Places.

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Google or yellow page sites? Where should you be? On one or in the others? In 1? 2? 3? Oh my.

Just when I thought I was done, Myles Anderson posted this absolutely great research over at Searchengineland.com on how the Google Panda updates have impacted the traffic on yellow page sites, and I can’t keep silent about it.

(Notice I have not capitalized “yellow page” there. If you read Part 2 of this series, you’ll know why.)

I hope you read that post in its entirety, but I also know most people aren’t as nerdy as I am to even care for that many numbers and that much explanation, nor do they have the time, so I’ll summarize here for you with some important takeaways on what it means for your local business.

First things first. What is Google Panda?

First, you’re going to want to know what we mean by “Google Panda updates.” These are recent changes in the Google search algorithms that have had significant on search results. It is Google’s attempt to weed out or dev1alue inferior sites and bless the more relevant with higher rankings.

In the process these updates impacted local search directories like Yellow Pages, Yellow Book, Yelp, Angies List, CitySearch and others you can see in the charts below. This study is for January – October 2011.

Here are the Panda winners.

Here are the local directories that came out ahead. The big dip you see was caused when Google removed links to those directories on their local Google Place pages. But you can see they recovered from that.

google panda IYP winners

Panda ate these ones for lunch.

google panda IYP losers

Charts from searchengineland.com.

So what does this mean for local businesses?

Well, for one, where you put your advertising dollars should be easier to figure out. Why?

There are fewer viable choices in the IYP field.

The internet yellow page (IYP) sphere is really crowded making it very hard for local businesses to know where to put their money. Should you buy advertising from YP or CitySearch, or Angie’s List or on any of the others, or on all? It’s definitely confusing and if you’re not careful, you could end up throwing money out the window.

So the fact that some are losing ground will make your decision easier. And it could mean the demise of those who have fallen from grace, making your decision even that much easier.

From the looks of these, yellowpages.com and yelp might be a good investment for you. No news to me, frankly.

Google Places is more important.

Google Places is in direct competition with IYP for advertising dollars, so it only makes sense Google would try to direct attention to their Place pages and away from Yelp, CitySearch and others.

This is why they removed the links to those sites on Google Place pages and why you see the big dip. As Google continues to put more emphasis on Place pages and now Google +, you’ll probably see IYP diminish even more.

What does this mean for you, the local business?

It means you need to strengthen your position in Google. This includes both your website and your Google Places page. Here’s what Myles concluded with:

“The power and influence of Google Places continues to grow which makes it even more critical to local businesses. In the short term, this means that good local optimization becomes more essential and competition even more intense. Long term, it puts Google in a extremely dominant position which it could use to hold local businesses to ransom.”

So the big takeaway here is secure your position in Google.

If you want to be a winner, then you need to optimize your website and your Google Place page so both rank well. If you’ve been following along in this series, you already know people are looking for you online, and now you know where it’s most important to be.

How do you optimize for Google?

The answer is much too involved to post here. But in a nutshell, you need to optimize your website using what’s called “search engine optimization” or SEO. You also need to optimize your Google Place page.

I do a lot of public speaking on how to do that and have already posted some Powerpoint local SEO presentations on Slideshare. I will continue to add tips to this blog to help you, as well as LOTS of Local SEO tips on the Kat & Mouse Facebook wall. So be sure to follow this blog and to LIKE the Facebook page and follow along there as well.

For those of you who don’t have the time or the know-how to do it yourself, we recommend hiring a specialist, but because local SEO has its own unique challenges, if you’re going to hire an SEO expert, look for one who specializes in local search.

Local SEO is one of our specialities here at Kat & Mouse, and we get very excited about not only helping local businesses climb the ranks, but also get new customers. Call for a free consultation at 408.647*2327 and we’ll do a quick review of what you’re currently doing online, and make suggestions on what you need to do to be successful.

Now go conquer the bear. To your success!


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Kathy (aka Kat) is one of the internet's original Digital Divas and freely shares her expertise in the fields of web design, SEO, Local SEO, social media marketing, content development, PPC, and conversion optimization to help businesses succeed online. Sadly, she's allergic to cats.

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