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Every year, Moz details the local ranking factors they can identify in Google’s algorithm to help small businesses get a foot up in the listings. Earlier this week they announced the release of this year’s findings and everything seems… surprisingly the same.

Analysts have only found a few notable changes, but the findings are largely the same as last year’s. However, David Mihm did highlight a few important things to notice in the findings, including:

  1.  Behavioral signals such as click through rate, are more of a factor this year that others.
  2. With Pigeon‘s release, experts are saying Domain authority is more of a signal today.
  3. Google may have tuned up the proximity to searcher factor as well.

You can see the charts from the study below, or you can get more details from the results over at Moz.

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It has been a few weeks since Google caught the search world by surprise with the release of its local search algorithm which has been nicknamed “Pigeon.” Out of all of Google’s search algorithms, Pigeon was likely the most well-received at its initial roll-out, but is that still the same now that some time has passed?

PigeonWhile we at TMO still feel that Pigeon has the potential to help local businesses and searchers improve their local results, it is always good to get the opinions from other experts in the search marketing community. Thankfully, Search Engine Land did just that. They compiled the opinions of several authority figures in search marketing, and needless to say the consensus is mixed.

Much of the criticism is related to buggy issues likely to be resolved in the near future, but there is also plenty worthy of discussing and lots of room for improvement. You can find out exactly what the experts had to say here.

Local businesses are often the most hesitant about investing time and money into getting their business online, but recent studies are overwhelmingly showing that businesses without an online presence are missing out on huge opportunities, especially with the growing-number of smartphone-savvy consumers.

First, comScore found that 78 percent of local-mobile searches resulted in an online purchase. Now, new consumer data from Ipsos MediaCT, a research firm sponsored by Google, confirms many of comScore’s data and also finds that local search may be important in more phases of the buying cycle than previously thought.

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Ipsos collected the data through an online survey of 4,500 consumers from nine vertical segments including Auto, CPG, Finance, Local Services, Media & Entertainment, Restaurant, Retail, and Tech and Travel. The firm also reviewed and incorporated data from a smartphone shopper diary study involving 653 respondents.

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Perhaps the most eye-raising finding of the survey is the news that 88 percent of smartphone users and 84 percent of tablet users conduct local searches, specifically focusing on hours, directions, address, and product availability queries.

The survey also refutes the common belief that local search tends to only occur in the last phase of the buying cycle. Instead, like comScore, Ipsos found that local search was used at all phases of the buying cycle, even at home.

Local businesses will also be particularly interested in finding that the majority (56 percent) of “on the go” searches carried local intent. However, this does not mean that more than half of all mobile searches are local.

By now you may have heard the claims that internet traffic from smartphones and tablets will outpace traffic coming from desktop computers any day now, but yet a large amount of the internet isn’t optimized for mobile devices in any viable way. If you’ve ever wondered why, it is because many businesses don’t see the value of investing in mobile traffic, due to lack of information and misunderstandings of their audience and the market.

The question most businesses need answered isn’t “how much traffic is coming from mobile devices?” If we spent all the time that has been used answering that question every few months on instead answering “how valuable is all that mobile traffic” most businesses of every size would already have perfectly usable mobile websites.

It is true that the mobile market is constantly growng, but the most interesting data is how mobile internet users are doing online. Compared to desktop traffic, mobile users are exponentially more likely to take action. People tend to do in-depth research and general browsing on desktop systems, so each visitor you receive is as likely to politely look around and leave as they are to convert. In fact, they are statistically much more likely to not take action.

However, each study on the consumption behavior of smartphone users only shows that people are using their phones more and more to purchase or take action every day. The latest study from comScore.com and Search Engine Watch says 80% of local searches coming from mobile phones lead to conversions.

There are a few industries that benefit the most from these conversions, as mobile searches for localized results tend to favor restaurant, auto service, and arts queries. You can read the whole breakdown of the report at Search Engine Watch, but if you are a local business owner who has been telling yourself that mobile websites only benefit major businesses you are likely selling yourself short.

The team from Neustar also created an infographic highlighting the results of the study, which can be seen below:

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Search engines have been attempting to get local search right since the invention of the internet, but they have only managed to make local search a major player as smartphones have allowed us to take the internet everywhere we go. Now that we can search for locations nearby, or double-check the time of the next bus from a bench outside, local SEO has gained real importance in how we organize use the web.

That also means it is more important than ever for businesses to make the leap into establishing an online presence. With the high level of connectivity in the modern day, not having an online presence for your business is becoming more and more like not existing. Searchers may be standing right in front of your business and decide not to come in simply because they can’t find anything about you online.

To really get your business cemented online, you need to do more than put a site online and wait for visitors. But, many places will barrage you with a million optimization techniques you can use to raise your visibility all at once, so it can be hard to know exactly where to start. Sarvesh Bagla made a checklist specifically so you know what you need to have done right now to expect your local business to have any online success.

Each step is laid out and explained in Bagla’s article on Tech Magnate, but they also created a nice graphic that you can keep close by, which can be seen below or printed off and hung by your computer to keep you on track.

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On January 15th, Facebook announced they will be starting their own personal search engine called Facebook Graph Search. That’s right, the little white bar at the top of your page now has an actual purpose. The search engine relies strongly on “likes” and other relevant Facebook information such as page popularity and location signals.

While this new change could lead to some interesting methods of finding businesses close to you (for example, Facebook claims you will be able to search things like “Italian restaurants that my friends have been to”), but it also has business owners and SEO experts wondering how to take advantage of Facebook’s search. As Matt McGee found out however, Facebook was already ahead of everyone.

They released tips for how to make sure your business gets found in the Graph Search. Releasing these tips helps them as much as it helps others use the search, because it will help business position themselves to appear in the search while simultaneously populating the search engine for Facebook.

The most important things to know are that Graph Search is only available for a few right now, but it will offer local search from the very start, and the search results are created by compiling information created and shared by businesses, especially through their pages.

That doesn’t mean you have to have a page for your business however. It will help enormously, but businesses also will show up so long as customers or visitors have tagged them as a “place”.

We will have to wait to see just how Facebook’s Graph Search works once it is unveiled for the wider public. It could become another gimmick type feature of Facebook that many don’t use, like the FourSquare like ability to check into locations is treated at the moment. But, it is possible Facebook’s new search engine could be a useful tool for finding local businesses.