It's been another remarkable year in Local Search. The space continues to evolve at a frenetic pace, the number of digital marketing opportunities that small business owners must try to make sense of has become truly overwhelming. This survey remains an attempt to make sense of at least one small sliver of the digital marketing space: how to improve your ranking in Google Places. While Yahoo Local and Bing Local remain important areas of visibility for any business owner, based on responses from previous surveys, none of the experts felt there were any specific techniques to rank in either of these two search engines that differed from those used to rank in Google's Local results. Google's Local results got complex this year-- specifically in October 2010 with the launch of "Blended" Place Search, which shows a hybrid of Place-related and website-related snippets on the search engine result page. Based on the responses from this year's survey, it appears that beyond just the difference in interface, the weighting of signals Google uses for these Blended results differs significantly from the that of it more traditional Local results (the so-called "7-Pack" or "3-Pack"). For more on why Google might choose to show a Blended vs. a Pure Result, see this addendum. Other key developments at Google this year include the rollout of its "Hotpot" rating and review system (now formally a part of Places), the continued increase in the influence of social and personalized signals in its organic results, and the public announcement of the time it takes your website to load as a ranking factor. Do the local search experts feel these signals have been incorporated into the Place Search algorithms yet? You'll have to read on to find out. This year's edition of the LSRF contains responses from 33 prominent bloggers and practitioners. Get the full study at David Mihm Web Design