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So, another month equates to another round-up for the shortest month of the year. Interesting fact: the word ‘February’ comes from the Latin ‘Februum’ which means purification and interestingly fits in with some of the stories below.

Google Places Update: Codename “Venice”

City by the Sea
Creative Commons License photo credit: WTL photos

Was the beauty of Venice the inspiration for 1 of  the 40 updates released by Google? Probably not, with 40 updates released around the same time it’s understandable if they ran out of  ideas that didn’t consist of arbitrary name dropping.

Anyway, the Venice update is a pretty important one. It would appear that Google are trying to improve the local experience by pushing local results for generic queries deemed to have local intent! Feedback tends to be mixed – it’s forcing a strong natural link building strategy over just building up citations, but there’s issues with inaccurate location targeting (showing irrelevant local results).

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360-degree virtual tours: Google Business Photos

Google is rolling out a pilot program that allows 360 panoramic views of your business that will appear for Google searches, places and maps! The images are captured by professional ‘trusted’ photographers which mostly appear to our counterparts across the pond but we’ve heard they have UK based snappers as well (Yipee!).

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Check-Ins: Influencing Google’s Local Rankings?

Foursquare Pins and Tattoos - SXSW 2010
Creative Commons License photo credit: nan palmero

Chris from Search Engine Land discussed the possibility that Google uses additional ranking signals that include social check-ins – through popular platforms like Foursquare & Facebook – to identify site popularity. So, if you thought check-ins were lame you better change your attitude as rankings could  be determined by the highest volume of check-ins!

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Infographic : Search Ecosystem 2012

David Mihm of getlisted.org has realised an updated version of his very popular local search ecosystem for 2012. This Infographic basically highlights the major factors that contribute to local search and how they differ from the original  2009 version.

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Local shysters : Beware!

Shark
Creative Commons License photo credit: Jeff Kubina

An interesting post I picked up from Mike Blumenthal’s blog at the beginning of the month was centred around some dubious local optimisers and there heavy handed approach to client retention & black hat optimisation.

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