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Local SEO: the importance of local search

The landscape of local search: make sure you can be found


Before it all began…

How did we search for basic things before the internet?

Nowadays we instinctively type in a search query to Google. But how did we used to find things?

Slide 2: how did we find the nearest fuel station?


Slide 3: how did we find the nearest pie shop?


Slide 4: how did we find the nearest cinema?

If you consider how many people are looking for restaurants, petrol stations and leisure activities in their locality, this will give you a pretty good idea of how many people may well want to find your business.

Slide 5: how did businesses advertise themselves?


This would have been a combination of traditional media such as:

  • Billboards and large signs
  • Printed maps
  • The yellow pages
  • Or the local paper

Slide 6: what does the search landscape look like now?


The percentage of search queries that have local intent according to…

  • Google: 20% of desktop queries were related to location. (2010)
  • Microsoft: 53% Of Mobile Searches Have Local Intent (2010)
  • Chitika: says that 36% of search query volume coming from iOS devices has local intent. 28% of Android search traffic carries a local intent. (2012)

This shows that searches from mobile devices have grown drastically in the last couple of years.

Slide 7: searches from a mobile device has overtaken desktop searches


According to a prediction from the Kelsey Group in 2012, mobile would generate 25% of all Google’s paid search click-throughs.  The graph shows an upward trend so we can only expect this to rise.

Google’s algorithim update

Slide 8: The evidence of greater importance placed upon local search


Updates to Google’s property, YouTube and Google’s own algorithm reflect the importance of local search.

Slide 9: statements from Google


More locally relevant predictions in YouTube:

“[project codename "Suggest"] We’ve improved the ranking for predictions in YouTube to provide more locally relevant queries”. – 2/27/12

YouTube will now show you tailored results based upon the location that you’re searching from. For example if someone typed in the query [lady gaga in...] performed on the US version of YouTube, we might predict [lady gaga in Times Square], but for the same search performed on the Indian version of YouTube, we might predict [lady gaga in India].

Slide 10: the algorithm update Venice


We recently talked about the latest Google updates in a blog post. This is what Google had to say about Venice:

Improvements to ranking for local search results: “[launch codename "Venice"] This update improves the triggering of Local Universal results by relying more on the ranking of our main search results as a signal”.   – 2/27/12

Venice provided ranking opportunities for local organic SEO. If you use a city modifier, Google now pulls in local listings to the main results page. This is great news for smaller, local companies. So now, more than ever you need to make sure Google knows where exactly your business is to meet searches with local intent.

Slide 11: how does Venice determine the local results it shows?


I think it’s through a mixture of these factors:

  • IP address
  • Signed in users – if you’re signed in to Google, which mobile users generally mobile users are, Google will identify your location
  • YouTube is Google property so if you’re signed into you’re YouTube account, this will also count as being signed in to Google
  • Google will know your preferences if you’re signed in
  • Google server locations – there are many servers and Google will know which one you are closest to.

How to rank locally?

Slide 12: diagram of factors that influence how you rank locally


There are five different categories to cover that will give you the best chance of ranking well locally:

  • Local citations (mentions of your business name on another website
  • Reviews
  • Local websites
  • Social Media

And all of these factors must be added in to on-page elements

Slide 13: on-site factors that help local rankings


If you can input content such as a physical address, postcode, phone number, geo-information and landmarks anywhere into elements such as page titles, meta-decriptions, headers, content, authorship markup, structured data, geositemap or an images alt text, this will help Google to understand more about your business and where you are.

Slide 14: how can social media help you to rank locally?


There are a number of social platforms that Google takes into consideration:

  • Foursquare – Google takes into account the check-in service from this app
  • On all other social network sites like LinkedIn, Google+, Facebook and Twitter, it’s important that you fill in your business page with your address
  • Geotagging your posts and status updates also sends local signals to Google. People will be able to find posts related to that location in searches.

Slide 15: how can local websites help you to rank better locally?


If you get a link from a quality, local business’ website – as long as they’re related to your business – this will also help to build your rankings.

Slide 16: use Business Listings and Directories to boost your local rankings


These types of sites are not set up for SEO purposes; they’re aimed entirely at the user to help them quickly locate services and products within their locality, therefore they’re considered authoritative directories.

It’s worth noting that Yahoo Local and City Visitor are powered by inforserve – globally recognised search specialists that offer businesses targeted local marketing.

Also, it is worth knowing that Google does crawl Thompson directories.

Slide 17: citations


Citations are mentions of a business name and address without a link.

They’re thought to be risk-free because Google is increasingly trying to reduce the weight that links play in rankings, therefore without the link, they’ll never incur a penalty.

Google Local

Slide 18: Google Places for Businesses vs. Google Plus Local


What are the differences between the two?

The differences you can see are that Google Plus Local has four tabs; you’ll be able to share more and include more content, increasing the engagement that you have with your audience.

Google Plus Local can also embed links, whereas Google Places for Business cannot.

Slide 19: why Google Plus Local is better


I recommend Google Plus Local  for increased local rankings because:

  • You have the opportunity to share richer content such as multimedia and status updates.
  • There’s the added benefit of social signals
  • And it’s more demanding than Google Business Pages, the layout and interface pushes you to manage your page

Slide 20: the impact that Google Plus Local has upon the search results


The example in the slide is specific to a branded search.

I’ve typed in “Taylor’s restaurant Devon”. It’s interesting to note that the restaurant I actually want is out-ranked by the site “taylorstavistock.co.uk” simply because they have a Google Plus Local Page.

Further to this, the site has also taken greater estate on the search results page, including the maps and photos results on the right hand side.

Another interesting point, is that a result has been returned from Trip Advisor for the restaurant I was originally searching for. Reviews sites are considered to hold greater influence over Google Plus Local rankings, but Google places greater importance upon its own property so its appeared lower down the results.

Slide 21: our case study: Sunrise Senior Living UK


The image shows that we are dominating the results page for the query “Sunrise Bagshot”.

We’ve taken the prime positions in the organic listings – we even have a graph on the right hand side

Slide 22: Google is rolling out a new map design


The image below shows a brand search result for Sunrise of Bagshot. If our images are geotagged they will be shown below in the ribbon.

Slide 23: The new full screen maps


There won’t be any organic listings in the new Google maps. These have been replaced with PPC ads. Individual listings will appear as icons on the map. Your first task will be to appear on the map. The challenging part will be making your icon look more appealing as there won’t be any accompanying descriptions.

What will also appear will be:

How many circles your brand is in on Google Plus. This emphasises the importance of social with local SEO

Reviews – You’ll need to encourage customers to write reviews. Identify people who write reviews and have authority on Google Plus

Slide 24: So Lo Mo (Social Local Mobile)


Social, local and mobile are now so intertwined they are inseparable. If you work on one, you must work on the other; everything is integrated.

Looking at the graph, Android is taking a large market share.

And ios continues to evolve. You should list your business on Bing if you want Siri to find you.

Thank you watching. If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments below.