Without a doubt, local search is the topic getting the most coverage within our industry at the moment. Changes to the algorithm, moveable maps, the importance of adding physical addresses, and review site influences have all been written about. So I figured I’d give a little overview of recent actions and reactions to bring any sidetracked by work or other outside influences up to speed.
1. Google Improves Location-Based Results
Seems Google is working toward really improving their location based results. Yellow pages — even the online ones — have taken a hit, and the scramble for improving search results for local businesses has begun.
“Local search is growing in popularity as consumers shift from traditional phone book directories to finding products and services online. According to Google, 20 percent of all search queries are local in nature,” Jon Schepke wrote a few days ago. The article also offers several good tips.
This a huge market. Google has dispatched one of their senior players, Marissa Mayer, into this arena, which should signal what a huge deal local searches are on Google.
2. Google Places: An Essential Tool for Local Marketing
Basically, Google gives local placement in return for having businesses fill in the information and building their yellow page killer for them. Everyone who fills in their Google Place information helps — themselves, as well as Google’s efforts. And the spammers are being picked off, along with legitimate brick-and-mortar sites, as discussions at Google Groups have noted.
The need to stay informed on what is impacting listings in Google Places is essential to every local business or the companies that handle their marketing.
What can you do? Have addresses in the footers of your site that link to in your Places listing, add bold and H tags to location phrases, and make sure you’re mentioned in the review sites, to name a few (feel free to add more suggestions in the comments section below).
3. Mobile is a Big Player in the Location Game
Searches on smartphones allow us to find locations while we’re on the go — whether it’s a local restaurant, business, or anything else we’re looking to physically find in the real world. Optimizing a businesses location so that it is found in mobile searches has become a hybrid part of local marketing.
Google knows that the percentage of local searches is higher when done through smartphones. Adopting best practices for this platform is another area online marketers must add to their arsenal.
“More than 100 million people a month use Google Maps from mobile phones to find directions and information,” according to another Search Engine Watch article on local-mobile-social convergence. The ones that find your website should be able to look at it in its most optimized format — using version redirects according to browser platforms is a good start.