3 Steps to Better Local Search Visibility

Local search use is way up

A recent survey shows that more than 20 percent of Google searches are for a local business and that users are gravitating toward the local listings over the organic listings. If your business serves local customers on a face-to-face basis you need to respond to that. Here are three steps to take advantage of local search to build traffic to your website and in turn build new customers for your business.

The Big Three

To start with, you need your own page at Google Places, Yahoo Local, and Bing Local to even be considered for a local listing. Once it’s set up you need to flesh it out as much as possible, with your logo, other images, information about your service area, hours of operations, payment methods accepted and more. Then the more challenging part begins: getting citations and reviews.

Sample local search listing in Google


There are lots of local directories that that people use to search, and it’s very helpful to ensure you’re listed on the most popular/powerful ones. Not only will it help your local SEO and your organic link popularity, but it also provides another way for customers (or clients or patients) to find you.

Here’s a list of the biggest general ones that you need to be listed in:

  • Angie’s List
  • City Search
  • Dex Knows
  • Express Update USA
  • Insider Pages
  • Judy’s Book
  • Kudzo
  • Localeze
  • Merchant Circle
  • Shop City
  • Superpages
  • Yellow Bot
  • Yellow Pages
  • Yelp


Reviews from customers, clients or patients can be very helpful. For one thing, they add legitimacy to your citations and the more positive ones you have the more likely you are to be listed prominently in local search results. For another thing, if you have a lot of stars and many excellent reviews, people reading your review will be more likely to click over to your website or call you.

I recommend asking a few delighted customers to go to one of the listings that accepts reviews and write a few words about how they feel about you. Caution: don’t put words in their mouths and don’t try to phony up reviews yourself. Search engines are very conscious of the natural temptation to do that and are quite diligent about sniffing those out.

When asking a customer to write a review, it helps to provide them with a direct link to your listing page where there’s a clear “Write a Review” button.

Find this process a bit daunting? Rank Magic can help.

Yahoo & Bing May Now Require Robots.txt File

Robots.txt File May No Longer Be Optional

Bing logoIt’s come to my attention very recently that Yahoo and Bing are purging websites from their listings if they don’t have a robots.txt file. One of our clients just got a notice from Bing that their website couldn’t be crawled because there was no robots.txt file.

Yahoo logoThis used to be optional, but apparently that’s no longer the case for Yahoo and Bing. We’ve seen a couple of websites where there are plenty of keywords ranking well in Google but nothing (or almost nothing) showing up in Yahoo and Bing. Upon checking, we’ve found they’re missing the robots.txt file.

Please check to see if you have a robots.txt file, and if not then ask your webmaster to create one for you. Your webmaster will understand what that is; they’re not difficult to create.

Search Engine Market Share

New search engine ordering - Google then Bing and then YahooWe haven’t reported on the respective market share among the three top search engines for a little more than a year, and we see some new trends going on. A year ago Google had 64% of all US searches, Yahoo had 16% and Bing had 14%. That’s changing.

Google & Bing Up  — Yahoo Down

Now Google’s share has improved to 66%, Bing is up to 15% and Yahoo is down to 13%, their lowest share of the market yet. That moves Bing into second place for the first time.

Ask has about 3% od the search market and AOL comes in at about a percent and a half. So the big three still monopolize search adding up to 94% of all searches.

Need help getting found in Google, Bing & Yahoo? Request our Overview & Pricing Guide via the button on the right.

Bing & Yahoo Search Share Increases

Last month, Bing and Yahoo increased their share of total US searches, at the expense of Google.

BingGoogle now accounts for 64% of searches, Bing powered search  accounts for 30%. Both Bing and Yahoo are powered by Bing now; Yahoo gets 16% of searches and Bing gets 14%. All the remaining search engines split the remaining 6% of US searches.

Google’s share is down  by 3% last month, Bing’s share is up 6% and Yahoo’s share is up by 5%, continuing the improving trend for the Bing-powered search engines.

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Bing Now Powers Yahoo Search Results

Yahoo!The Yahoo/Bing “merger” has happened within the past two weeks in the US and Canada. Searches on both Yahoo and Bing are now powered by Bing’s index and pay per click (PPC) results on both will be combined soon. Both companies see this as a big deal, especially in terms of helping them compete with search goliath Google, which still gets about 70% of all searches.

BingThis doesn’t, however, mean that results on Bing and Yahoo will be identical. While both are using the same index (the list of pages on the web with information about their content and linking), the two search engines maintain different algorithms. That means that different ranking factors are being weighed more or less heavily by each of them.

We can expect rankings in Bing and Yahoo to resemble one another more closely than they used to, but our client rank checking shows they’re still quite different.

Web Pro News has a video news report that goes into more detail on this and some of the implications for SEO.

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June 2010 U.S. Search Engine Rankings

GoogleGoogle Sites led the U.S. core search market in June with 62.6 percent of the searches conducted, followed by Yahoo! Sites (up 0.6 percentage points to 18.9 percent), and Microsoft Sites (up 0.6 percentage points to 12.7 percent).

Both Yahoo! Sites and Microsoft Sites have experienced gains due in part to the continued utilization of contextual search approaches that tie content and related search results together. For more detail on contextual searches, please read this post on the comScore Voices blog.

Ask Network captured 3.6 percent of the search market, followed by AOL LLC with 2.2 percent. More from comScore here.

At Rank Magic, we’re changing our keyword ranking reports to focus on Google, Yahoo! and Bing alone. We’ve found that including other search engines tends to confuse our clients, and since the three top search engines account for more than 94% of all searches it makes little sense to worry about tracking the others.

More Bad News on Yahoo Site Builder

Problems with Yahoo Site BuilderWe wrote in April about problems with sites created with Yahoo Site Builder: some important SEO techniques couldn’t be applied. Now there’s more.

When we optimize images on a page, there are three opportunities to employ keywords: in the file name, in the alternate text, and in a title attribute. The title attribute shows up in a small text box when you hover the mouse cursor over an image that has one.

A client of ours found themselves unable to create these title attributes, so they called Yahoo Site Builder for help. The person they spoke with didn’t know what title attributes are, so my client asked me to intervene and ask the Yahoo people about it because we could speak the same language. I submitted a help request, and got the following response:

We’re sorry, the feature you are mentioning is not currently available through Yahoo! SiteBuilder and we do not have an estimated date as to when or if it will be available. However, we’ll pass your comments on to our Development team for further consideration.As you Yahoo! Site Builder uses alternate text (alt tags) on images.

Once again, we must conclude that Yahoo Site Builder is not prepared to allow full search engine optimization.

Don’t Use Yahoo Site Builder

Don't use Yahoo Site BuilderOne factor we’ve seen that can hurt your rankings … and that almost no web site owner is aware of … is known by the tongue twister “canonicalization“. It can be fixed by three lines of code, and we explain all that on our web site and in optimization recommendations we provide for our clients.

Unfortunately, Yahoo Site Builder can’t let you implement those simple three lines of code. We ran into this on behalf of a client of ours this month. When I wrote Yahoo for assistance, this is the response I got.

We’re sorry, but the feature you are mentioning is not currently available through Yahoo! Web Hosting, and we do not have an estimated date as to when or if it will be available. However, we’ll pass your comments on to our Development team for further consideration. Since Yahoo! is a share hosting service, we currently do not offer access to .htacess files.

When I pressed them for more details, they were no more helpful.

Bill, as mentioned in the earlier, if you would like to redirect to this has to be done using .htaccess or using 301 redirect and currently Yahoo! do not support both the options, hence we’re sorry to inform you that there is no other option to redirect to, we apologize for any inconvenience.

There’s a blog rant on this and other reasons to avoid Yahoo Site Builder that you might want to check out. If you’re considering Yahoo Site Builder and would like to consider some alternatives, refer to our strategic partners who do excellent web design and hosting.

MicroHoo – The Microsoft/Yahoo Search Deal

Microsoft  Bing Supplies Organic Results for Yahoo Yahoo and Microsoft have finally partnered in a search agreement, one that’s been expected ever since Microsoft tried to buy Yahoo for 44.6 billion in early 2008. It seems that Microsoft will power Yahoo Search and Yahoo will become the exclusive search advertising (pay per click) provider for Microsoft’s search engine Bing.

Yahoo will supply sponsored links for Microsoft BingSuddenly, the Big Three search engines are only two, with results in Yahoo and Bing being essentially identical. There may be some slight differences, so we’ll continue to track client results in both Yahoo and Bing (as well as several others, of course). In terms of techniques for optimizing web sites, we don’t anticipate any change.

Don’t Ignore Yahoo!

Optimize for Yahoo!, tooGoogle’s influence on the web is so powerful that we tend to forget that there are other search engines. The forefather of modern search, Yahoo! still serves around 20% of all internet search queries. This pales in comparison to Google’s close to 70% majority but is spread over a different demographic making it an intriguing prospect for certain types of web properties.

Search Marketing Standard explains that often Yahoo! is more attractive to women, and some research shows that Yahoo! searches sometimes convert to sales better than Google searches. So don’t ignore Yahoo! in your monitoring of results and in your SEO. Read the article at Search Marketing Standard for some tips on how optimizing for Yahoo! may be different from optimizing for Google, especially with respect to meta tags (it pays more attention to these than Google), page structure, alt tags and heading tags, and external links (only closely related links really count for much).

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