Since the end of 2010 when the Google Places listings integrated with the organic search results, it highlighted the need to understand and optimise “local search” from a broader perspective then just traditional on site optimisation, and external optimisation techniques.
Late 2010 saw Google’s might enforced to ensure map listings met their quality guidelines. Anyone unfortunate enough to be sent to Google purgatory will know the frustrations of ever hoping to have your edited place listing reviewed.
Although this research was carried out over a year ago, it provides a wealth of knowledge for anyone interested in local optimisation. The survey was conducted by David Mihm with the input of “34 prominent SEO figures”. I would advise a quiet corner with a cup of tea and a note pad / pen. It is well written and even the most novice/ experienced site owner will understand and take something away with them.
2011 has seen a huge shift towards the “social” aspect of internet marketing and the authority of “recommendations” is not something to be over looked from an SEO perspective or a potential customer perspective. Historically local businesses have always grown through good customer service and word of mouth recommendations. Local search results are trying to emulate this with citations and customer testimonials to try and provide searchers with the results that are recommended highly by their customers.