For your reading pleasure:

3 Misconceptions About Google Places & SEO byMatt McGee

With all of the commentary and questions surrounding Google’s recent changes, Matt comments on what he thinks are some misconceptions about the changes. It is a short article but a good one, as is most of what Matt writes. The areas he comments on are:

1. This change diminishes/phases out organic SEO.
2. You can’t rank (or it’s harder to rank) for any city name outside the one where you’re located.
3. Local directories are dead.

The Rise and Rise of Local Reviews by Greg Sterling

SMBs will now need to solicit reviews (and Likes) from customers on an ongoing basis. Call it “review management,” as part of overall reputation management. But it will become a permanent feature of the local landscape. This shift involves some new tools and a new orientation to dealing with customers. Some of these tools already exist within the rep management platforms and some are being developed.

A couple of articles on “Google’s Priority”:

Cracking Local Ad Market Is Top Google Priority by Frank Reed

“Google’s local ad performance is one of the top priorities”

Google: Local Is Job One Here is Greg Sterling’s take on the subject

Google’s new emphasis on local makes perfect sense when you clearly understand consumer behavior and how users research online before transacting offline: 95% of retail transactions are offline but 70% to 90% of online consumers research on the internet (depending on the category) before making purchase decisions and heading into stores.