Local SEO Glossary: Every Term Explained

Local SEO Glossary: Every Term Explained

Maybe you’re new to the world of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), or you might be an industry pro who’s moving into a Local specialism?

Either way, BrightLocal’s Local SEO Glossary explains all the relevant terms to bring you up to speed, and is the perfect partner to our Complete Guide to Local SEO.

We’ve also turned this glossary into a quick-reference downloadable CSV for you to repurpose however you’d like!

A

Apple Maps

The default map system for Apple products, and the second most popular maps application among mobile users, after Google Maps.

Local SEO should target Apple Maps alongside Google Maps through Google My Business, and Bing Maps through Microsoft.

Average star rating

The rating that shows up next to a business listing on any directory that features business reviews, such as Yelp and Google.

The review score is calculated from user ratings and a variety of other factors, and after someone leaves a new review, it may take up to two weeks to get an updated review score.

B

Bing Places for Business

A free tool for businesses to appear in Bing search engine results, as well as in Cortana results.

It’s suitable for businesses with storefronts, chains with multiple locations, or service providers without a physical store.

Want to know more? Check out our dedicated guide to Bing Places for Business.

C

Centroid

A concept in the local search industry used to define a central point of geography or activity.

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.

Want to know more? Check out our Complete Guide to Local Citations.

Citation campaign

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

D

Data aggregator

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).

Want to know more? Check out our guide to data aggregators.

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.

Duplicate listing

Any time you have more than one listing on a given platform (like Google My Business) representing a single entity (a business), that’s considered a duplicate.

It’s important to regularly check for and consolidate any duplicate listings for the same business.

Want to know more? Check out our guide to removing duplicate listings.

F

First-party reviews

User reviews that are collected and displayed on your own website with no input from the business owner.

G

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 Guaranteed

A Local Services Ad label indicating that a business has passed the screening and qualification process and that Google will back the work of the business. This only applies to ‘home services’ businesses, including plumbers, locksmiths, electricians, etc.

If a customer that booked service via a Local Services Ad is not satisfied with the quality of the work, Google might reimburse the customer up to the amount they paid for the service (with a lifetime cap per customer of $2,000 in the United States).

Want to know more? Find out more about Google Local Services Ads.

Google Screened

A Local Services Ad label indicating that a business has passed the necessary screening and qualification process but is not backed by any kind of guarantee from Google.

Only businesses that provide professional services including law, financial planning, and real estate are eligible for the Google Screened badge.

Want to know more? Find out more about Google Local Services Ads.

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.

Want to know more? Find out how to get your business to rank on Google Maps.

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.

Want to know more? Check out our guide to Google My Business Q&A.

Google My Business products

A Google My Business tool that allows businesses that don’t have the ability to integrate product feeds via Google Merchant Center to add product inventory manually.

Access to GMB Products is dependent on a business listing’s primary category.

Google My Business services

A Google My Business option for a business to add the services it offers, along with descriptions and prices.

When local customers search on Google for a service that a business offers, that service may be highlighted in their GMB profile as a justification.

Google My Business spam

The act of unfairly employing spammy tactics in local search results to get ahead of competitors.

Examples include keyword stuffing, having multiple Google My Business listings, lead generation websites, and falsified reviews to manipulate local search results.

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.

Want to know more? Find out how to verify your Google My Business listing.

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.

Want to know more? Read our guide to Google My Business Posts.

J

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.

Want to know more? Check out our guide to justifications in local SERPs.

L

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 directories, newspapers, and blogs.

Want to know more? Find out how to get local backlinks.

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.

Want to know more? Find out why local business schema is so important.

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.

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 keywords

Any keywords that contain location-specific terms with the intent of generating results related to a geographic area.

A continuous cycle of local keyword ddeation and validation is needed for effective local SEO.

Want to learn more? Enroll on BrightLocal Academy’s free local keyword research course.

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

Also known as the 3-pack, Local 3-pack, Google 3-pack or Google map 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.

Want to know more? Find out what the latest local search ranking factors are.

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”.

Want to know more? Check out our Complete Guide to Local SEO.

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.

Want to know more? Find out more about Google Local Services Ads.

Localized organic search results

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

Ludocid / Ludo CID

The Ludocid, sometimes referred to as the ‘CID’, is a unique ID that Google assigns to a specific business location in order to identify it within its systems.

It can be used within Google search URLs to return the Knowledge Panel for that specific business. It can also be used within Google Maps to view a specific business.

Want to know more? Find out your business’s Ludocid with our handy free tool.

N

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.

P

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.

Want to know more? Find out your business’s current Place ID with our handy free tool.

Place Topics

A feature in Google Maps that looks at data from customer reviews, and highlights relevant information to a searcher.

Note that topics will only be created once there is a sufficient amount of customer reviews for the business.

Pointy from Google

A Google My Business add-on that helps brick-and-mortar retailers list products online
and appear in search engine results.

Want to know more? Find out how Pointy from Google can drive sales.

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?”

Want to know more? Find out how the Google local algorithm works.

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?”

Want to know more? Find out how the Google local algorithm works.

R

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?”

Want to know more? Find out how the Google local algorithm works.

Reserve with Google

A Google Maps service that allows for reservations and bookings of restaurants, tickets and appointments.

Review attributes

A Google reviews feature, where consumers are prompted to leave a ‘critical’ or a ‘positive’ quality rating, and offered pre-set buttons (such as “Good value” / “Not responsive”) to click.

Review attributes will show for almost all service based businesses, but the specific prompts will vary depending on the business’s primary category.

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.

Want to know more? Learn all about the risks of review gating.

Review management

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

Want to know more? Check out our Complete Guide to Online Review Management.

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.

Want to know more? Check out these statistics that show why fake reviews are a real problem.

S

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.

T

Third-party reviews

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

U

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.

Y

Yelp

A publisher of crowd-sourced reviews about businesses, currently with 100 million reviews worldwide.

Are there any terms you’d add to this glossary? Let us know in the comments below!

Mark Crowe
About the author
Mark Crowe is the Content SEO Executive at BrightLocal. With an interest in all things search, his past lives include work both in-house and agency-side for companies around the world, such as American Express, Microsoft, Yahoo! and Vodafone.

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