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Howdy Odd Dogers!
As we move deeper into 2018, it’s been really interesting to see what exactly SEO and Local Search have in store for us so far.
Will local websites become a thing of the past as Google makes the local knowledge pannels more robust? How important will backlinks continue to be, or will a simple mention about a business online be enough to boost search rankings?

Time will tell!


GOOGLE

• Google Bulletin – Hyperlocal Community News App in Testing 
From Google: “Bulletin is an app for contributing hyperlocal stories about your community, for your community, right from your phone. Bulletin makes it effortless to put a spotlight on inspiring stories that aren’t being told.”
Google is testing Bulletin in select markets now including Nashville, TN, and Oakland, CA.  It looks like this is another effort for Google to become the “front page of the internet” and to push more community curated content.

 Google publishes comprehensive guide to featured snippets
Google breaks down featured snippets in a recent blog post that reviews what exactly there are, as well as how they are improving on them.


GOOGLE LOCAL

• How Proximity Impacts Law Firm Rankings in Google’s Local Pack 
Does a searchers proximity to a law firm impact local results? This great mini-case study from Juris Digital has some interesting takeaways, including “Across 138 searches of “car accident lawyers”, 82 different law firms showed up in Google’s 3-pack at least once.”. Really interesting to see the number of different firms can all appear in the local pack at different times.

• How Is Google’s New “Questions and Answers” Feature Being Used? [Case Study]
A great post from Moz this week about how those Q&A’s are actually being used. A really interesting thing to note is that most of the times the owner’s response is completely missing.
If you have a Google My Business page, make sure that any questions are answered by your business owner account.


SEO

• Why It Can Pay to Get Links from Domains that Don’t Always Rank Highly
Another gem from Moz this week. Backlinks are one of the most challenging aspects of SEO and this great Whiteboard Friday shows that you shouldn’t ignore those lower ranking websites as great backlink opportunities.

• How to use brand mentions for SEO, or the linkless future of link building
And as an opposite point to the above article about backlinks, Search Engine Land deep dives into what are also called, “implied links” and how Google is actually using these brand mentions as part of their ranking algorithm. When’s the last time you did a branded search for your business?