So, you’ve been told 2011 is all about local. As well as mobile. And social. And video. And reviews. And probably a number of other important elements of the online world. So what the heck do you focus on? Well…when it comes to getting your site found on search engines: all of them.
But! Fear not. Don’t freak out. This doesn’t require elaborate marketing campaigns combining all of these mediums. (In fact, avoid that.) And you don’t need to have the next “Old Spice Guy” idea for social media to have an impact. This just means getting your presence into a healthy mix of all of these mediums, which really comes down to providing great service and engaging with your customers. In other words, do good business. And use these online elements in a natural way.
Here’s an example of how you might integrate them into your everyday business process:
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- Let’s say you have a special 3-day only deal for your retail website. Assuming you have your Google Places page claimed and optimized, you post the deal there on Monday (the start of the sale–one of your slowest days).
- You also tweet about it and share it on Facebook, thanking your existing customers for being loyal fans
- An hour later, you notice several retweets of your deal and thank those followers for sharing the love
- Another friend of one of the retweeters sees the message, but wants to learn more about you first, so they search for you on their mobile phone. Luckily, you have a well-optimized mobile site, so this person quickly finds you and has easy access to exactly the information they needed (maybe info like what your company does, some testimonials, products, etc.).
Alright, so you’re back in the office and ready to start the year off right. You want to invest more of your marketing budget in social media, email marketing, PPC advertising. You know that this year is going to be different. You can feel it. But you sit back and wonder, “what’s going to be the biggest trend and growth area this year in online marketing?” Local search. Trust me. Everything is going local.
2011 is going to be the year of Local. The Internet is getting bigger and bigger. Google has indexed over 1 trillion websites. There are millions of pizza restaurants, cafes, and florists. There are millions of everything. What does this mean? Local matters. It’s no longer important or in many cases possible to be number one on Google for the entire country. What matters is where your business shows up in your local market.
Remember that Google can tell where someone is searching from and this means SEO and SEM become a local game. You want to show up higher in search than the pizza place down the street, or more importantly you need too. With Google Maps, Groupon, Foursquare, Bing Local, Yahoo Local, and Facebook Places it’s become a local game. Just look at Google trying to buy Groupon for $6 billion….they understand what the most important trend is. The Internet has arrived in your neighborhood and it’s crucial that your house look better than the one next door, or at least be easier to find.
One place to start: Make sure your business address is listed on every database and online map you can think of. Google, Bing, and Yahool Local listings are critical in helping your business show up in local search. Claim the listings and optimize them to show all facets of your business. Always remember to think local.
Surprise! Google recently rolled out another change in their results pages. This time it’s to the local search results. When you do a “local” search in Google—something like “pizza Chicago”—you used to see a contained space at the top with a map and 3-10 short one-line listings of local business, each pulled from their associated Google Places pages. Now you’ll see Google Places results incorporated right within the regular organic results.
Let’s look at an example. Say you’re looking for something unique to do this weekend and search for “dueling pianos Chicago.” You might get the following results.
The 1st listing (our client, Howl At The Moon) and the 5th are both supplemented with great information from their Places pages—imagery, address, reviews, etc. But the title and description being displayed are still from the main website. Organic results and Local results living in unison…it’s a beautiful thing.
Okay, so why should you care?
Well, the buzz in the SEO universe is that this new combo of information is giving sites a boost in Google when their Places page is well optimized. Plus, take a look back at that screenshot—the 1st and 5th listings are more robust than the rest and look a bit more appealing, right? They just might encourage some higher click through rates.
So what next? Well, we told you in April to claim your Google Places page, so if you haven’t yet done so, get on it! And given the new impact we’re seeing on organic results, here’s a few tips to keep in mind:
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- Be sure to fill out your profile completely…it makes a difference
- What keywords are most important to your business? Use those in your Places description and in your categories, if possible
In the ever-changing world of SEO, and the constantly changing world of Google, local search has taken a front row seat. The past year or so has seen a growing emphasis on local search engine optimization and businesses being found in search engine results pages (the SERPs as we like to call them) in the area known as the Maps section (also known as the 10-pack, the 7-pack, or the 3-pack, depending on how many local listings Google decides to show…).
Announced this month, Google has made some changes to their Maps service, now known as Google Places, so read on below for some tips on how to make your business appear there!
1. Claim your listing! The simplest way to get started, type your business name or address into Google Maps and verify that you are the business owner so only you can make changes to the account.
2. Fill in all the blanks. Once the listing is claimed, make sure you fill out all the form fields they are requesting – the more info you can provide, the better.
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- Description – Provide a nice description with your service or product offerings, and anything that sets you apart from your competitors.
- Category – Fill out all 5 categories, and split them up between categories Google has provided and the ability to create your own category.
- Photos and Videos – Have them? Add them! Add your logo to the photo section, and any other images you may have. Pictures inside your local spa? Restaurant entrees? New car models available on your lot? Have you created a how-to video you’ve posted on YouTube? Get ‘em in there! NEW – if you don’t have images, Google now offers free photo shoots for interior buildings in select cities. You can apply for that here.