SEO: Google Local Results
The Google search algorithm will never be completely understood. While some very accurate assumptions can be made, and we can learn a lot from Google’s press releases and written updates, it’s ever-changing lifestyle will always keep search engine marketers and website developers on their toes.
One of their more recent changes was the growing predominance of local search results. It directly effects your search by taking into consideration where the location of the search generated geographically.
For instance: Let’s say you live in Atlanta, Georgia, and you’re looking for a website design company. You’ve contacted all of the companies in your area and you haven’t really found what you’re looking for. So you head over to Google and start your search again. It’s likely that you’re search will start with something like “website design company.” Previously, a search like this would produce results from various locations around the country, and whichever website was better optimized nationally would produce the better ranking. It truly was battle of the fittest.
Since local search has been a new focus of Google’s algorithm, the landscape of the results has changed as well.
Searching for something vague, like “website design company” or even slightly more specific like “Georgia website design” will now take into consideration where the search is being made from, and will produce more localized results.
For smaller companies, this is good news. You won’t be competing as much with national corporate business in regards to search, because Google will start producing results specific to your business location. That means that if someone searches for “website design company” in Georgia, they’re not going to be bombarded with results from all over the country. Google is trying to do some thinking for you. It will produce results almost as if you added in your state and city into the search, but will still allow for national results to be produced. As an example, if you live in Columbus, Georgia and search for the term “website design company,” your results will include website design companies in Columbus, Georgia.
Some Growing Concerns
The downside to local results is that companies that are optimized nationally will be effected by this. The business that used to own vague search results will be impacted by local search producing local results. Nationally optimized websites will still rank really well, but some businesses will be moved down the results list because of local results.
With these changes occurring, it is important that you assure that your company is optimized for local search. Start simply by making sure your business location and address are clearly stated throughout the website. You’ll also want to make sure that you have claimed or verified your Google places listing, as this will improve traffic to your site from local searches as well, probably more than anything else.
Concerns are starting to spark up all over the web. Below is a perfect example of the growing concerns coming from business owners, as well as the benefits to some of the smaller, less optimized website owners.
One person wrote:
“The party is officially over. It was bad enough to be the #1 result for a local search, and have to deal with three competitors being listed with a map regardless of how poorly their sites were optimized. Google has now pushed sponsored listings away from the top of the page, and is listing up to 10 businesses in the local results. Despite having the top spot in the organic results, now I don’t even show up in the ten local results listed. I was just starting to tolerate being overlookd for three less experienced companies, now I’m the 11th name they’ll see. Anyone else affected by this?”
The very next comment was “Exactly the opposite for me ;-)”