Local search optimization is wildly important to any company that has a local focus. Some research I’ve read states that 11% of searches have a local focus, but you’ll notice that even if you don’t include a location in your search, if the search engines think there is a local angle to it, they will usually return a map result anyways.
We’ve been very focused on local search optimization for the past few years and I’m amazed at what a black box it still is. Google local business center continues to evolve and just today I noticed a major improvement, which is the way they validate a claimed listing. In the past you would be given a PIN, then be called and told to enter the PIN over the phone. This is now flipped, so GLBC calls you with the PIN and then you enter it into your account online. While a minor change to some, we validate a lot of listings for clients by calling each location and walking the person who answers through the process. But this means that we have to ask a complete stranger to type a PIN into the phone. Now we don’t have to ask people to enter anything, just relate the information back to us. I’m thinking this will decrease the distrust level and make it easier to validate listings.
Local business center optimization involves a number of levers to pull, we’ve worked hard to figure it out and are ready to help clients who want to get better results on local searches.