Optimising for Google Places and geographical search keywords
According to figures released by Google over 20% of all search queries are related to location and recent studies by Bing indicate that 53% of mobile search phrases are location based. As searcher behaviour changes and search engines gain the ability to surface more relevant local content businesses need to adopt a robust Local SEO strategy to avoid missing out on a large proportion of search traffic.
Branded3 offers a full range of Local SEO services including:
- Optimisation of Google Places listings
- Building citations in popular local directories
- Optimising sites for “keyword + location” type queries
- Optimising for the new “Venice” algorithm
There are two main aspects to Local Search – appearing in search engines such as Google Places (also known as Google Maps or Google Local) and making sure your website is visible in the normal search results when customer searches for a keyword related to your business with a local modifier (for example “lawyers in Manchester”).
In February 2012 Google launched the Venice Update which shows locally targeted organic results even when the searcher hasn’t specifically included a geographical keyword modifier in their search. For example a search for “plumbers” would yield organic results related to plumbers in Leeds based on my location rather than the search query. The “Venice” update was the first time that Google demonstrated the ability to geographically target the organic results as well as the Google Places results.
The Google Places algorithm is very complex and we carry out a lot of R&D in an attempt to reverse-engineer the signals used to move businesses up and down the rankings.
We know that location is important, but having evolved over the last few years, the system is far more advanced than a straightforward “find my nearest” application.
The modern Google Places algorithm takes into account factors such as reviews, citations in popular local directories as well as quality of a listing into account when calculating rankings.
Appearing in the natural search results for keywords with a local modifier is one of our favourite strategies at Branded3 – we’ve been creating localised databases since 2002 and some of our clients attract over a million visitors every year from natural search using this method. The boundary between the natural listings and the Google Places results was narrowed significantly during 2010 resulting in the format below which is now the most common search result type for a geographical query.
Local SEO is particularly suited to large chains of stores with hundreds of locations across a particular country, but can also be good for a business trying to target a particular group of customers. A good example is a caravan insurance provider who might try to rank highly for “caravan park south wales” to reach caravan owners. It’s important to remember that high quality informative content needs to be created for every landing page, which makes the construction of large databases across hundreds of locations quite time consuming.