Google says organic + local = opportunity for local businesses
By Chris Marentis
GenNext Media Corp.
"What’s new with Google today?" is pretty much a daily topic of conversation for Internet marketers. There’s always something changing, improving (well, that assessment depends on the impact the newest development has on your particular website), and evolving with Google.
A couple of shifts in Googledom have served to further separate the SEO monkeys from white hat pros. You’ll recognize the pros by the smug looks on their faces — what we say works best is, no surprise ... still working. The monkeys are scurrying to find ways to save their sites from the full fury of a Google slap.
First, a quick primer:
Organic search results are on the results list because they feature text that’s relevant to what a searcher typed in. That’s in contrast to sponsored results, those pay-per-click ads at the top and down the right side of the screen. Even Google admits organic listings get way more clicks than ads do (although I’m betting they wish ads got more clicks!).
Do a Google search for anything a local business might offer, and about one-third of the search results you get will be for local businesses. They’re mixed in with what’s considered to be true organic results. Some of them show up with little red markers on a map. Many of these place pages remain "unclaimed," meaning the business owners are missing the boat big time. Either they don’t have a website, or they don’t know Google would love to send them some traffic if they’d just claim their listing.
What does the local, organic emphasis mean for businesses?
I believe Google’s preference for local, organic pages is great news for local businesses, especially given the fact that studies show most U.S. businesses serve a relatively small radius that only branches out some 50 to 60 miles from their location. And the fact that many of these businesses aren’t yet on the Internet leaves a huge window of opportunity for them, especially given the fact that the trend towards local search results appears to be continuing, with no signs of stopping.
How can you use the local search trend to build your business?
1. Focus on local SEO
This, coupled with typical search engine optimization for your business should boost your rankings vs. you only focusing on one or the other. Google appears to be increasing the number of words linked to local results. Even single word item searches pick up local results and show a map. The assumption is you’re shopping or looking for a local resource for the search term.
2. Fix your website
If you don’t have one yet, get one yesterday. Any viable business should have a professional website. If your business is coming up in local search engine results with contact information and location and you don’t have a website, you’re basically standing there waving bye-bye to tons of new customers. People usually go searching online for the type of business they need, not for a specific business’ name.
Though we’re still in the early stages of truly understanding the local formula for Google, it’s clear Google local search results are growing in importance. Yesterday is the time to get your business online, but now will work, too.