Here’s something that I have been speaking about quite a lot of late: The impact that getting it right with local search can have on a business. As Google evolved and developed its universal search methodology, opportunities arose for small businesses to compete with well established organisations for SERP positions on competitive keywords. Google Maps (now called “Places”) allowed local businesses to generate overnight exposure from historically competitive terms, delivering qualified, targeted traffic. Naturally, as awareness increased, keyword spamming and rule bending became rife as businesses sought a competitive advantage. This was most evident in trade service industries (plumbers, electricians, locksmiths etc) i.e. companies that could exploit Google’s maps to highlight areas that their service is offered in, rather than where their company is physically located. Initially Google, perhaps pre-occupied with making public examples of household name rule-benders (Ocean Finance, BMW, for example), was slow to penalise map spammers. However, Google is always as keen as mustard to protect the integrity of their results pages, so the question of penalisation was always “when” rather than “if”.
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