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In an earlier, and very informative thread by Linda, the question was asked, How do you answer the "how long will it take to see results" question???

A lot of people in the industry stated that by simply performing 'on-page' - Google Local optimization, their clients had improved rankings. This includes proper categories and keywords in the description.

The general consensus is that by using the above formula, a client can get improved rankings (even with little to no NAP creation or consolidation) depending on the competition.

However, this brings up a few questions I had such as:

1. Improved rankings meaning what? From an organic serp below the 7 pack turning into a 'merged 7 pack listing, and if so, what position within local will they be ranked in?

2. Are there keywords in the business name, including GEO descriptors?

3. How long is the business intro/description. Are you using keywords within the description? If so, how many and how varied are the keywords?

4. Categories. How many categories? What category is Google using as your main category, i.e - what is it choosing to display on a verified Google Plus Local page?

5. What if the client doesn't fit into Google's pre-formatted categories. If you're using a custom category, how will this affect your local rankings?

I'd be interested to hear fellow local SEO'ers take on this. It's nice to say "Yes, update your Google Local info and we can get you better results in 3 months", but there are so many variables that it's not as easy as that imho. Also, better results, and 'desired results' are two very different things :)
 
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Hi Andrew,
Thoughtful post. I think you've answered your own question in stating:

...there are so many variables...

The results are going to be different for each client, in my experience, and this is based on:

1) The competitiveness of their vertical
2) Whether their presence was zip, moderate or totally messed up before you started
3) The ability to actually effect changes you want to see happen (not always possible)

So, you have to say things like, "We are hoping for improvement," but no one in their right mind says, "You'll be number 1 in 5 days," right?

Good chance for discussion here. Thank you for starting this thread.
 

Linda Buquet

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Andrew, so sorry meant to get back to this one yesterday.

GREAT Qs and thanks so much for posting. Miriam gave you a great answer too.

Let me, for others who didn't read the post you linked to, repeat part of my quote because it had part of the answers to your Qs.

“When I was doing optimization services I was very conservative in setting expectations with potential clients. I always try to under-promise and over deliver. But this, in a nutshell, is what I would tell Dentists:

“Ranking in Google local takes a well optimized Google+ Local page AND a well optimized web site to match PLUS the right local hooks for Google to tie it all together, so ranking is a 2 stage process. (In my process – that’s the way I did it.)

“1st I’ll optimize your Google+ Local page. For 2nd tier keywords like ‘[city] teeth whitening’, ‘[city] dental implants’, ‘[city] laser dentistry’ we can usually get significant results in less than a month because those keywords I can typically impact when I optimize your Place page. (That’s if they didn’t already have those KWs in G+ Local categories.) Most of my clients move right up to page one, but of course there are no guarantees and it depends on the competition in your market for each of those keywords.

“For your core keywords like ‘[city] dentist’ and ‘[city] cosmetic dentistry’ – just optimizing the Place page normally won’t move the needle, as those keywords are the most competitive. To impact ranking for your core keywords will take the on-site Local SEO and Local Hooks changes I need to do. After those changes are complete we normally start to see an improvement in about a month. But then rankings can gradually improve for awhile after that.

You said: "A lot of people in the industry stated that by simply performing 'on-page' - Google Local optimization, their clients had improved rankings. This includes proper categories and keywords in the description."

That was a little confusing to me because you mentioned on-page BUT all your Qs seemed to be about on-page on the PLACE page not the site? So it sounds to me like your questions are about if you ONLY optimize the Place Page and don't do any on-site SEO? Because you are asking so much about cats and description that's my take on it, so that's what my answers below relate to.

In that case I don't think you can expect to move the needle much if at all on CORE keywords (like City Dentist). But you can get rankings pretty quickly on less competitive keywords if they were NOT in categories before and you add them. Again as Miriam said, based on competition.

1. Improved rankings meaning what? From an organic serp below the 7 pack turning into a 'merged 7 pack listing, and if so, what position within local will they be ranked in?

Totally depends on tons of factors. I've taken lots of Dentists from not ranking at all to #1 in less than 2 weeks, but that was for lower competition KWs like Teeth Whitening or Laser Dentistry. (My goal was always Top 3, not just page one.)

2. Are there keywords in the business name, including GEO descriptors?

Are you asking if we ADDED KW or City in name? Better not if it's not legal name! (#1 reason for suspended listings) Or are you asking if KW and City were PART of their legal name and therefore helped them rank? In my case no - never.

3. How long is the business intro/description. Are you using keywords within the description? If so, how many and how varied are the keywords?

Need to be VERY careful with KW in description and never add city to description . KW stuffing or City in description can give a rank penalty. Repeating name too. I just did the Places description of 200 char. If merge with G+ not the same limit but I would not go crazy and make it too long.

In my training I teach how to do the descriptions right without penalties and stress that desc should be more about impacting conversions. Talk benefits and use marketing statements that set the business apart not a string of KW and services.


4. Categories. How many categories? What category is Google using as your main category, i.e - what is it choosing to display on a verified Google Plus Local page?

I always use all 5. If you don't G tends to add more and some are wrong. Most of my clients Google shows either the main cat Dentist or sub cat Cosmetic Dentist. (But don't worry they'll still rank for the other hidden cats if everything else is done right.)


5. What if the client doesn't fit into Google's pre-formatted categories. If you're using a custom category, how will this affect your local rankings?

You can rank just fine with custom cats. Just BE SURE they comply with what I call the "Is not Does" rule. I teach a lot about this too. In a nutshell, you can basically tweak any KW to comply BUT need to test each KW to be sure it does. Read the guidelines and if need extra help just ask and I can explain how to test and tweak cats. But be advised I have seen Google penalize for this. So important to be aware of.

Hope that helped answer your Qs, let us know if you need more clarification.

Anyone else have questions or want to add feedback?
 
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