It’s been around for a fair few years now and to my knowledge there have been no ma-hoo-ssive developments with local search recently however it has steadily grown in prominence and importance largely as a result of the Venice update which prompted a big surge in local. A lot of the important aspects of local search are similar to what they were, and in my mind therefore – easy to forget! As unless I’m in a blind panic things to seem to float in and out of my brain as swiftly as the coming and going of reality TV “stars”…
The National Ranking Benefits
The questions arises though what if you want to forget local and rank nationally? Good question – technically picking a geotarget that gets a lot of traffic is an option, however what about when you’re listing those citations on Yell.com and Tuugo? Unless you pitch a fake address (which is never going to end well) it’s preferable to go with your actual address and thus target your actual area.
One other potential indirect benefit of local optimisation is that increasing brand awareness locally where there is less competition for your niche can help drive branded searches nationally which Google just loves…I won’t pretend I know if it helps or not but I suspect branded searches will appear on the ranking factor list somewhere, I’ve certainly seen evidence of it in Google Analytics.
The Most Romantic Place in the World…
Aaaah – although rather despondent that it wasn’t named the “Zebra” update Venice will do…
The result of this was a steady infiltration of local search results into the SERPs depending on the area you’re searching in. I love this as it can act as a cheeky buffer, it also means that 10 sites don’t dominate ALL the SERPs, things are spread around more evenly.
Because this update was all about local search, associating your brand with your area of operation has never been more important.
Don’t see the benefit of going local?
The Venice update means that more and more local results are showing up in the SERPs, even when people are searching on national terms. This also makes mobile important to optimise for as those visiting your area temporarily can find you via this medium – another big big benefit of working on your local search. Generally speaking, desktops show the closest 7 Google Places results to the person searching, whilst mobile shows the closest 5.
Additionally, in terms of outreach to other brands, this might also be easier to do if you have a common ground with a link target where you can help each other out locally.
Noticed how Places listings all seem to convert and be done on Google+ now? This is actually great as the Google+ Local platform allows for far more information to be displayed. From May 30, 2012, Google began integrating Places with Google+, thus gradually ending the Google Places product and creating Google+ Local therefore if you don’t have a Google+ Page for your business, you should create one now. And if you do already have one, stay tuned for Google updates on how to get it linked to your local listing.
* Verifying your Google+ page is something highly recommended now, its simple to do and just requires a line of code inserted into the header tag of the home page, you can also verify via Webmaster Tools, just email your webmaster to do so.
Now to finish off, see the below reminders on how to expertly optimize that all important Google Places/Google+ Local listing:
1. Email address, website, description and categories – these are all optional fields but that doesn’t mean they aren’t necessary, fill them in!
2. Upload photos and videos, you’ve got the opportunity to promote yourself so maximize your listing and show yourself off. This will also count for profile completeness and improve the quality of your listing, quality score impacts PPC listings remember…just saying 😉
3. Keep the space for the brand name for the brand name…keyword stuffing isn’t likely to work, plus it doesn’t look pretty so could affect CTR. Go for the description, and for god’s sake make it look natural!
4. Customers don’t have to come to you for you to complete this part of the profile about where you operate, there is actually an option to specify a service area that customers come to – just think of all the professions out there that this applies to and fill this in too
5. Rats…its reviews again. I won’t bore you – but get them into the mix!
6. Get listed, some of the main platforms in the UK are Yell and FourSquare – Raven software monitors which you are listed on in the report wizard
7. Consistent NAP info (name, address and phone number) – see previous post here
Finally, take care to keep in touch…monitor and update your listing regularly.