In a webinar on Thursday, September 5, I was joined by Elliot Danforth, head of listing data partnerships at Foursquare, to discuss the new landscape for local listings and evolving strategies for capturing consumer attention on the most popular sites and apps for local search and discovery.
In the first part of the webinar, I discussed the evolution of listing management from the days when you could rank well in Google search merely by building dozens of structured citations on smaller directory sites. Such "citation-building" strategies were critical in the early days of listing management when Google rebuilt its local index every week using citations as a primary source.
Now that Google has switched to a model based on the Knowledge Graph that treats businesses as relatively stable entities, the role of citation building is coming into question -- though most local SEOs still believe citations are somewhat important, they're no longer sufficient on their own and must be augmented with differentiating content like engaging photos and great reviews on Google itself.
I offered the argument that we sometimes focus too myopically on Google ranking as the only factor that matters, when in fact there are several critical channels of consumer activity, such as Apple Maps and Facebook, which have little to no relationship with Google. As citations have diminished in importance, channels have grown.
Foursquare, as Elliot Danforth explained in his section of the webinar, has developed over the last few years into a major channel whereby local data reaches consumers on popular apps and services. Foursquare powers or contributes to the location data layer for Snapchat, Uber, Apple, Airbnb, Samsung, Twitter, and several other partners.
Today's most popular apps and social networks rely on Foursquare because its location data set is rich and highly accurate, built on millions of precise check-in data points and augmented by direct feeds from brands provided by companies like Brandify. And brands should be aware that Foursquare is a powerful syndication path whereby they can ensure, for instance, that Uber passengers are directed to the correct store locations.
All in all, the webinar conveyed the importance of channels like Google, Foursquare, Apple, Yelp, Bing, and others in building a robust local marketing strategy.