Video: A Tactical Response to the New, Google Local 3-Pack & Yahoo’s Role in Local
Mike Blumenthal

Every week Mary Bowling, David Mihm and Mike Blumenthal share their thoughts about the previous week in local. The complete video is posted in the Local U forums. In the second half of that weekly video, they take a deeper strategic and tactical dive into one interesting area that caught their attention during the week. These segments will typically be about seven minutes in length and be posted one to two weeks after their posting in the forum.

In this episode, recorded August 13th, David, Mary & Mike take a look at how agencies and businesses should think about the new Local Pack, its reductions from 7 to 3 local listings and how it should affect their tactics in local. Viewing time is eight minutes.


Mike: Let’s switch into just a tactical view of the big news from the week before, which was the change of the Google 7-pack into the local pack with only three.

What has a week of looking at it left you thinking? How do you think businesses should respond to it? Do you think it’s as big of an issue, or are we playing a bit of “chicken little” here? How do you think it impacts local?

David: I think it’s a little bit of . . . I wouldn’t say “chicken little,” because I don’t think people are necessarily freaking out, but I think people are trying to understand what it means. We’ve seen two click-through studies from Casey Meraz and Mike Ramsey come out this week. I thought both were relatively inconclusive as to the real effect of this. They were both looking at the legal vertical as well, so pretty limited scope.

But I basically think that from a tactical perspective, it seems to me that — well Mike, I’ll let you talk about Phil Rozek’s post — but it seems to me that organic optimization within local is an area where I would maybe tweak my resources slightly in that direction, given that the number of pack results has decreased by a couple and that organic listings still seem to be getting at least a healthy share of clicks, if not the majority of them. So I think that would probably be my take-away as, okay there’s fewer pack results, organic listings are still getting clicks. That’s probably where I would put more of energy, post this release.

Mary: Yes and I … you know to me, the big question is, “Are all of these new local packs going to turn into some form of those home service ads we’re seeing the test on in San Francisco?” And I don’t think that that’s out of the question.

With Pigeon, Google got so much better at being able to interpret local intent, the searcher’s location, putting it all together and giving us localized, organic results and maybe Google feels like it can do a good enough job of inserting localized organic results right into … localized results right into that organic, that they can take away the local packs and make them paid in some way.

Mike: Yes. The other view that might be, which is what we talked about just before we started, was that by decreasing the radius and increasing the display of the local packs on non-geo-modified which effectively becomes unmeasurable in any ranking tool, it could be that there is zero net effect on people’s local traffic.

You are just showing more on either longer tail terms or in more geographically restricted areas that are actually more relevant for you, and there is no net effect on your overall traffic. you’re still benefiting just as much from the local packs as you were before. That’s a way for Google to distribute the benefit over a broader number of locations and not impact traffic significantly.

So I’m wondering if that’s happening, as we move to mobile. We don’t really know. The metrics aren’t there to really measure it, other than after the fact we can go in and look to see what you’re traffic was, right?

Mary: Yeah, and we did see that with Pigeon. Everybody panicked that the pack shrunk, packs went away. And then as time went on, we realized people were gaining on one end of the spectrum and losing on the other, and it was all kind of evening out.

Mike: Right. So from a tactical viewpoint, I just want to bring up Phil’s article. He did a nice job of summarizing the logic behind going for less competitive terms, where you have a better chance of competing over a broader area, so you might be able to get state terms that are gonna generate more broader targeted traffic.

I think Phil’s article is a good read on that, and it also revisits the idea of barnacle marketing because the directories are still doing well, right? So…

David: Well, not sure Yahoo is doing all that well.

Mary: Yeah.

David: Yelp, definitely.

Mike: Yelp is doing well. Yeah. Right.

David: I haven’t seen Yahoo rank in a local result in five years, so…

Mike: If I said Yahoo, then that was a brain fart. Excuse me. Although that does bring up Yahoo, that I actually discovered a way to get Yahoo support.

You know, we talked about this last week, and it actually worked. I actually got a human to call me and help me fix my listings.

Mary: But what do you think about Yahoo? I mean, how much of a search share do they have? Is it worth paying any attention at all to Yahoo at this point?

David: My feeling is it’s honestly not worth the headache, like how many hours have you spent trying to clean this up, relative to the two people who might see that listing?

I have advised people not to worry about Yahoo Local, ever since Yelp listings started overriding, and then at that point, okay let’s put a little more energy into a Yelp listing which is gonna be seen by a lot more people.

Mike: Right. I don’t know if it’s two, David. It might be one.

But actually, I have now figured out, it took me … because I wasn’t familiar with the process, it took me about two hours to solve a triplicate listing issue at Yahoo, right? Which, agreeably, is totally irrelevant. You know, who cares? But I think now that I have it figured out, I could get the same thing done in about 20 minutes, and there is for whatever reason, persistent client demand for it, so the other SEOs want to know the tactics. I wrote about it yesterday in the forum. You can read it there.

But it’s just this issue that people want to do it, so if you want to do it, I guess the SEOs can respond that way. I agree with you, it should be ignored.

David: I think it’s a classic case of SEOs wanting to sell a defined deliverable to a client, no matter how relevant or irrelevant it is. So if you can sell, Okay, well, we are going to fix your Yahoo listings for the one person that can see them, that’s something that they want to sell to a client, and I would just advise agencies and consultants that you’re not really doing a client a service if your spending the kind of time on Yahoo that it sounds like people are.

Mike: So you’re saying that my Yahoo blog post is not going to be evergreen?

David: Might not be.

Mary: You know, we keep seeing this data from comScore about search share, that I think is really deceptive. And Google goes along with it because they don’t want to be perceived as any more of a monopoly than they already are perceived at.

But if you look in your analytics, and look across a bunch of different types of businesses, you will very rarely see that Google only has 65 to 70% of the traffic. You know, I’m seeing probably an average of 80 to 85%, and some of them spiking up to around 95%.

David: Most of my former clients . . . honestly, I have not looked at analytics in a couple years, but most of them were in the 87 to 93% range for Google, so . . .

Mary: And this was several years ago.

Mike: It puts the Yext’s total market share at one percent or something, other than Yelp. So when I go and look, I’ll see a couple percent from Yelp, a couple percent from Bing, not very much, and then most of it is Google, and then the rest is split up against you know, who knows what. I would agree. I mean, Google is probably, with mobile, probably approaching 95% local, when you count local apps in.

All right with that, I guess it’s a wrap. Thank you very much.

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