Local SEO Glossary 

Centroid / Proximity

A concept in the local search industry used to define a central point of geography or activity.Google basically shows you the businesses that are closest from the location.

Wherever a user is physically located at the time they search for something local, Google’s results will be customized to display the businesses nearest to the user’s device. This may be referred to as “proximity to the point of search” or the “user-as-centroid phenomenon”.

Citation

In local SEO, a local citation is a complete or partial web-based reference to a business’s name, address, phone number, plus other core data.

Structured citations can occur in the form of formal local business listings on local business data platforms. Unstructured citations occur as simple mentions of a business on a blog, news site, website, or other online publication.

Citation campaign

The practice of auditing, cleaning up, and building citations for a local business on a variety of local business data platforms.

Data aggregator (Directories)

A data aggregator is a company that collects data on local businesses such as their name, address, phone number, opening hours, etc. in order to present it elsewhere online.

Data is verified then sold (leased) to other companies in need of local business data. Companies that typically buy this data are online directories (e.g. YP.com), local-mobile applications, and mapping and GPS companies (e.g. TomTom).

Directory

Any website which lists business names and contact information in an organized fashion, typically in alphabetical order or by business type.

Directory information is frequently assimilated by local search engines.

First-party reviews

User reviews that are collected and displayed on your own website with no input from the business owner. An example would be Google Reviews. The person leaving the review would be verified by Google.

Geo modifier

Also known as a geographic modifier, location modifier or location qualifier, this is the part of a search term which references a location.

Examples of keywords with geographic modifiers would be “plumber London” or “plumber near me”, rather than just “plumber”.

Geotagging

The process of adding geographical identification data to various media such as a website, image, video, SMS messages, QR code or RSS feed.

Geotagging helps search engines make the connection between your content and the location of what it depicts.

Google Maps

A web mapping platform that offers street maps, satellite imagery, 360° interactive panoramic views of streets, and real-time traffic conditions.

It also offers route planning for traveling by foot, car, bicycle, air and public transportation. Crucially for local SEO, it enables users to search for places and businesses, and see their descriptions, reviews and more details from Google My Business.

Google My Business (GMB)

Google My Business is a free tool that allows businesses to set up a profile to promote business information on Google, such as address, phone number, email, social media links, and more.

Your profile will appear in Search and Maps, and you can use it to post photos and updates to your business profile, and see how customers are interacting with your business on Google.

Google My Business insights

A Google My Business tool that provides data on business profile views, searches and actions from both organic search results and Google Ads.

It includes metrics on search queries, direction requests, phone calls, and what a business is best known for.

Google My Business messaging

A Google My Business tool that allows customers to get in touch with a business in real-time, from the Business Profile.

Google My Business Q&A

Q&A is a Google My Business tool that enables searchers to ask and answer questions about a business, and also gives the owner or representative the opportunity to respond.

Anyone with a Google account can leave questions for the business through this section, and all Q&As are visible on the listing.

Google My Business verification

Businesses who have registered with Google My Business won’t be able to make changes to a listing until they have been verified. This is usually via a physical postcard sent out to the business’s registered address.

This is to make sure that only authorized representatives of genuine businesses can create and manage listings.

Google Places

The old name for the Google My Business suite of tools, which changed in 2014 when Google consolidated its Places services with Google+ Local.

Google Posts

A Google My Business tool which allows businesses to provide updates and promote offers from their Business Profiles, which show up in the local panel on Google search and on Google Maps.

Justifications

An extra snippet of text that Google displays in the local pack, local finder, and in Google Maps to signal to searchers that a feature of the business specifically matches their perceived intent.

Local backlinks

A link from another local website to your own website, which will boost your domain’s authority in the eyes of search engines.

Local SEOs can earn local backlinks from a variety of sources, including local business 

Local business schema

Schema (or structured data) is a standardized format for providing information about a web page to help search engines display relevant results.

Local business schema includes business hours, department sections, reviews, reservation or ordering systems, payment areas, and other actions.

Local finder

An extended listing of local businesses which appears when clicking on the ‘More Places’ link at the bottom of Google’s Local Pack.

Want to know more? Learn the difference between the Google Maps and the local finder.

Local landing page

A landing page is the page a user first visits when arriving on your website. In local SEO, a local landing page is one which offers details about a specific store location or branch, and which may be optimized for that specific location.

Local landing pages are particularly important for multi-location business websites, who may have a separate local landing page for every business location.

Local pack (also known as 3-pack, Local 3-pack / Google 3-pack)

Also known as the 3-pack, Local 3-pack or Google 3-pack, the local pack is a Google feature that displays a map and details of an area’s top three local businesses. For instance, if a user searched “restaurants near me”, it would display three restaurants near to the user’s current location.

Earning a rank in the local pack can drive a lot of local traffic and brand visibility to a business.

Local search intent

Any query in which a search engine assumes the user is looking for a local result.

Local search ranking factors

The components that contribute to the rankings of a local business.

These can change over time but tend to focus on Google My Business, on-site SEO, reviews and links.

Local SEO

Local search engine optimization is similar to SEO in that it is also a process affecting the visibility of a website in a search engine’s unpaid results.

Local SEO differs in that it focuses on optimizing for display by search engines when users enter local searches for its products or service, for example by including the name of a town/city, or by adding the phrase “near me”.

Local Services Ads

Pay-per-lead ads that appear at the top of local search results, above organic results and traditional Google Ads.

To run Local Service Ads, businesses must first pass a screening process that involves background checks, license checks, and insurance checks.

Localized organic search results

Search results returned for a specific location, dependent on local search intent, the physical location of the user, etc.

Name spam

Name spam refers specifically to any manipulation of the business name in Google My Business, such as keyword stuffing.

NAP

Local search engines use Name, Address and Phone number (NAP) information to judge the accuracy of the data in their own indexes. They do this by crawling the web to assess authenticity, or receive it from other data providers.

Consistent NAP information helps to improve search engine rankings and is beneficial to local customer acquisition.

Place IDs

Place IDs uniquely identify a place in the Google Places database and on Google Maps.

They are available for most locations and businesses, and it is possible for the same place or location to have multiple different place IDs. Place IDs may change over time.

Prominence

One of the three pillars of local search, along with relevance and proximity. These pillars drive Google’s local algorithm and help determine the local pack and rankings.

For prominence, the algorithm is asking, “Which businesses are the most popular and the most well regarded in their local market area?”

Proximity

One of the three pillars of local search, along with relevance and prominence. These pillars drive Google’s local algorithm and help determine the local pack and rankings.

For proximity, the algorithm is asking, “Is the business close enough to the searcher to be considered to be a good answer for this query?”

Relevance

One of the three pillars of local search, along with prominence and proximity. These pillars drive Google’s local algorithm and help determine the local pack and rankings.

For relevance, what the algorithm is asking is, “Does this business do or sell or have the attributes that the searcher is looking for?”

Reviews

A customer’s text summary of their experience at a particular business.

Reviews can be left on search engines, apps or websites, and are often simultaneously assigned star ratings. Google-based reviews are believed to impact Google’s local rankings.

Review gating

The act of soliciting feedback from a customer, and then deciding whether to ask them for a Google review based on their response.

This is strictly against Google’s review guidelines and can come with heavy penalties.

Review management

The practice of generating, and responding to, customer reviews, either manually or with the help of software.

Review spam / Fake review

A fake customer text summary about a particular business.

This can include fictitious positive or negative statements made about a business for the purpose of helping or harming its reputation or rankings.

Service area

Typically used to describe specific neighborhoods, towns, or cities served by the service-area business model, which includes businesses like plumbers, cleaners, or gardeners.

Service-area business

A term frequently used to describe go-to-client businesses that travel to customers’ locations to render services, such as plumbers, electricians, and carpet cleaners.

Small-to-Medium-sized Business (SMB)

Small businesses are usually defined as having less than $50 million in annual revenue and/or fewer than 100 employees.

Medium businesses typically make more than $50 million, but less than $1 billion, in annual revenue, and/or have between 100 and 999 employees.

Structured citation

Business listing information built into the structure of a pre-existing digital platform or database, usually a business directory.

Third-party reviews

User reviews that are collected by third-party websites, such as Google, Facebook and Tripadvisor, which are independent of the business.

Unclaimed listings

Where a listing for your business already exists on a business directory, but you do not have control over it.

Unstructured citation

A non-directory listing of a business’ complete or partial contact information, for example in an online news article, blog, best-of list, etc.