The article about Universal search in relation to upcoming local search is my first article. It was Tom Crithclows inspiring presentation at the a4u Expo in Munich that made me want to share his views combined with a little insight of my own with a broader audience.
Thanks again to Tom Critchlow and the a4U Expo team. A great conference in all aspects. Will surely be there next time!
This article is based for a big part on the Distilled Universal Search Optimization presentation as held by Tom Critchlow: Head of search marketing Distilled Ltd. At the a4uexpo in Munich. In this article I try make connections between this presentation and my views on how this relates to Local Search.
Tom Critchlow is one of those speakers you have to have heard at a4uexpo Munich. This self proclaimed data Geek who also studies martial arts and is a keen poker player is a whirlwind of SEO knowledge. His energy and ability to explain SEO developments in simple terms with clear examples makes him a popular speaker. While his brother Will Critchlow is talking and inspiring at SMX advanced in London; the top 10 analytics reports being one of his subjects, Tom was in Munich delivering an inspiring presentation on Universal Search. In his first presentation he took us trough the recent developments in SEO (Universal Search) with a focus on (Google) local search.
Why should we care about the local search? Well, to put it simply: Internet users will be looking for local businesses or solutions when searching on search engines more and more. This means it is important to look at your business and decide whether you want one big global website or a local high level site for each country you work in. If you are in one country with more than one office of business location you think about one sites that links to the different locations or you could set up several specific pages aimed at your local surroundings. Local businesses are becoming more and more aware of this and also recent research has shown that on average between and 70% and 80% of household users perform some kind of search for a local product or service on a daily basis. And let’s be honest; We all like to get products or services locally if possible. Therefore ranking high in local search results means you get better and more relevant traffic which will (if you do everything correctly) lead to higher conversions.
Local, an important piece not to underestimate
5 key points you need to address and think about when working on local search:
- Verified Listings: Be sure you claim your listings! Look at owner verified listings in Google for example. This enhances the quality of the data. Manually upload your listings, this lets Google know the data is fresh and clean, which shows quality and thus increases your ranking. If you upload more data (bulk) pay attention to the following: You need to have a minimum of 10 business locations.
The (bulk) data is best submitted by the owner of all Businesses listed. The data also needs to comply with all guidelines and regulations of the Google Maps Local Business Center and as said before it is as fresh, clean and updated as possible. Also make sure all your data is in the right formats. All data on one or more businesses need to have been submitted by a single user. And of course but this speaks for itself: always UPDATE! A bit shady but useful for some: Use unclaimed listings to edit and put your own links in it.
A better and more effective idea though would be to start making your own user generated maps supported by content of your local surroundings. This way you become a known provider of relevant data and content to Google. Which means the data and or information you supply is regarded as of a better quality and relevance.
To support your business your maps and supporting content could be on topics like:
- The best walking routes through your cities parks or sites to your different business locations.
- The best places to visit in your town when linked to your page.
- The locations of your business with short but specific summary and details
- Google then sees you as a provider of relevant information, maps and content. Again be sure to update and clean the info on a continues bases.
- Than on to the reviews: Note that quantity is more important than quality, Why you ask?
Well its quite simple, the number of reviews is a sign to Google that lots of people took the time and effort to leave a remark or review. This outweighs good reviews placed by only a few people (Rating).
- Citations: The quality of data you place here is much more relevant to local search of users and to Google if you have for example your full address added in a clear way. This means better and more relevant content and as a result a higher ranking. You can have more reviews than your competitors but if your data and content isn't clean, fresh, clear and up-to-date you will not rank as high. Citations are where Brand mentions and Links cross-over. You do not need to do everything yourself. Look at your competitors, what makes them tick? Integrate all the good things into your own information. Combine this with (here we are again) fresh, data, good links and continues updates and you will rank higher. Simple? Yes! So go and act!
- Distance to center and Categories: Although Google says it doesn't matter Tom showed us it does make a difference when paying attention to how your content is organized. Just add a description with keywords in the Category field. Adding categories (up to 5) creates better content and ranks better. Its more data that´s relevant. Be sure to use strong keywords in bold type, and always keep looking at the competition. Why do they rank better and what does that mean for me?
Google Shopping: was the next item. Data freshness, data quality and reviews need to be supported by keywords and as many relevant keyword combinations as you can think off. Note: the more relevant they are the better. Five extremely relevant keyword combinations will be vastly superior to hundreds of less relevant keyword combinations!
Google Images: A few factors of significance: Big one is focus on the page not the image: image ranks but Google takes that form a (web)page! for example a site like Flickr has a lot of photos that are linked to pages. All those pages have an URL. So when you rank an image, work through the pages and not through the files.
Good content and alternative unique text around the image supports the ranking. Furthermore use buzz words and feel free to make them a little quirky and funny, it works. Last but not least make sure the filename is relevant because this is often forgotten. A good tip from Tom and also not always used to its full potential: The XML sitemaps combined with unique buzzwords and references. Look in to those.
Video: is not only great opportunity for getting more traffic but is also useful as a data gathering tool. You can use plug-ins, for example the combination of Vzaar and Mailchimp.
Also be sure to follow the Distilled Blog for all presentations by Tom, Will and many more experts:
Finally, some sites to visit and read up on: