Is Google Local Search For Sale?

I’ve always assumed that Google Maps (and other local search directories) would build up the free local directory, drive other for pay players out, get us hooked on their service, and then start charging to be listed in the prime spot. In this case the prime spot for local search is the Google Seven box shown below for a search for “Attorney Houston, Tx”

Sponsored local search
Click to enlarge

Something else you might notice is that while optimizing your web site to appear in the lucky seven box is a great idea, the majority of these results are sponsored. That’s right, Google is playing with selling enhanced listings in several cities and looks to be headed towards paid listings in local search.

At first this may not seem like such a bad thing to those on the outside looking in, but it may price some folks out of yet another organic search option.

Making Your Google Alerts Smarter

If you follow my writing you know that I’m a big fan of setting up routines that let you listen in on what’s being said about your brands, products, people, industry and competitors using free tools like Google Alerts. Google Alerts let you set-up custom searches and then have any mention of that search term sent to your RSS Reader (like Google Reader) or email in box as they happen or at the end of the day. This is a great way to keep tabs on things that matter without needing to scour the web universe for this kind of intel. You can set up very specific searches such as your name or broad searches so you know who is talking about a concept like referral marketing.

Alert Rank detail – click to enlarge

Recently I came across a tool call Alert Rank that works hand in hand with Google Alerts to make them smarter. You see, Google picks up everything, including the very low value content scraper sights that simply republish other people’s stuff. One of the main ideas behind keeping tabs on what’s being said is it allows you to jump in and join the conversation. Few things make a blogger happier than when someone they mention in a post shows up and adds a comment.

Alert Rank looks at the mentions of your alert terms and gives you solid information about the quality of the mention. Now quality is a loaded term, but what Alert Rank does is measure things like numerous inbound links to the site, PageRank, no follow, comments allowed, and delicious tags to come up with a quality score about the link. You still get the alerts in your inbox, but you can quickly use the quality score to decide if you need to jump right in. You can also click through to get lots of information about the site that mentions your term. This is simply a much better way to manage alerts and find networking opportunities.

Alert Rank report – click to enlarge

Alert Rank also offer reporting tools that make it easy for anyone that monitors alerts for clients to set-up custom reports in excel of PDF format.

The one thing I need to tell you though is that if you already have alerts created you will need to set-up a new Google account and create your alerts again using your custom Alert Rank email as that’s how the alerts get routed through the Alert Rank system. It’s not a big deal, but may not be readily apparent when you first read the set-up instructions. All in all it took me about five minutes to get it going and it works wonderfully.

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