SEO

Organic Search Engine Optimization in a Localized Universe

Organic Search Engine Optimization in a Localized Universe

Search is getting smaller, more local and personalized, a process which has been driven by paid-search advertising. Some have wondered about the value of organic listings when competing against huge budget paid-placement campaigns. There will continue to be a high value in organic listings but the cost of high placement in the free listings will probably increase. Organic search listings will continue to provide the backbone databases for all search applications in the future. To produce local search results, search engines are integrating results from several databases, both internal and external. Getting your sites into those databases frequently by making them simple for search engines to read will continue to get the best results.

About a billion times each day, keyword phrases are typed into search engines in the ongoing human hunt for fresh information. Search engines come in many shapes and sizes from the smallest site-applications to the massive integrated databases used by the major search firms. In an environment where the largest repositories of human knowledge ever compiled were built in a decade and are wide-open to everyone, change happens quickly and effects many. George Orwell said “… He who controls the history controls the future.”. Orwell didn’t live in a market-driven culture and certainly didn’t have a market-driven mindset. If he had, the quote may have read, “he who controls the delivery of information controls huge bags of money and therefore gets to code from the Caribbean every winter.” (with apologies to Orwell. He could be watching from above you know.)

As today’s thinking goes, the buzz word for the business of search is portability. “Where can we put it? How does it fit? How can people use it?” Thinking about search as a portable application is a good way to vision where the business of search is going in the future.

Search as an application has become “invisible”. In a 1992 essay, philosopher Neil Postman noted that televisions, toasters and even vehicles had become “invisible technologies”. Aside from technological innovations such as HDTV and Tivo, people don’t really think about using these tools, but use them on a daily basis. Like the telephone, light bulb and even the all-essential coffee maker, an invisible technology is one that is reached for without a lot of conscious thought. For the common consumer, search has become an invisible technology that is used without hesitation.

Search is going to get smaller while available content will continue to grow. Search applications will begin to appear on cellphones, in home kitchens, shopping malls and in personal vehicles. While the display size may shrink from an average 19” monitor to much smaller spaces, search will proliferate and the search firms are integrating various databases to produce localized and personalized results.

Local search is important. In a report issued yesterday, the Kelsey Group notes that “…more than 74 percent of survey respondents said that they perform local searches and of those that perform local searches, on average, 27% of their total search behavior is for local information.” Kelsey Group analyst Greg Sterling pegs 1/5 of search as local in nature. This number may actually be higher if searches conducted as a part of running a small business are considered local search.

In the past, consumers began using search engines to research products before going to the store to purchase them. Now, they are also researching destinations. Search engines can tell consumers where they can buy a product by showing nearby stores that carry it. Personalization of search results will allow consumers some control over the placement of results based on filters important to them such as relative cost vs. distance from home. For example, Google is using databases supplied by the publishers of local phone directories to compile their local search tool. Consider the power of an integration of Google’s shopping/pricing engine, Froogle and new mapping technology Keyhole with information gleaned from the local yellow pages. With intelligent and integrated tools, Google may soon be capable of delivering a highly detailed personal itinerary to go with your search results. Though Google has a huge lead and seems to be providing the most interesting developments lately, Yahoo, MSN, ASK, Vivisimo and others are not that far behind, relatively speaking.

This all loops back to organic optimization in two major ways. First of all, everything Googlebot, Slurp, or any other search engine spider finds and weighs can be provided through good SEO. Secondly, a factor that has not changed in the past decade is the common consumer’s faith in organic listings.

Good optimization should be able to facilitate good search engine results. There are a few new skills most SEOs will need to learn to help their clients rank well across a growing array of delivery models. SEOs should be able to facilitate Data feeds for their merchant clients in order to provide Froogle with the most accurate and timely information possible. At the same time make sure clients’ websites are constantly updated with the most timely information possible. As the number of sources used to compile search results grows, it will become increasingly important to offer search engine spiders information exactly as they want it offered to them. Clean, topically driven pages should always carry geographic and contact information detailing area codes, zip and postal codes and street address. Businesses housed in shopping malls should go as far as listing their unit number. Full contact information should be displayed on every page in the site. After that, standard common sense SEO should suffice to get specific products noticed. It is also wise to start researching the costs of submission to Yahoo’s directory, and researching the costs of SiteMatch Xchange for clients with large product databases and equally large ambitions.

Search engine users will continue to expect organic search results and search engines will continue to provide them, regardless of the appliance or screen they are displayed on. Most information on the web is not commercial in nature and the majority of searches continue to be for non-commercial or entertainment information. As long as a thirst for information drives users to search engines, the environment search results are presented in will be used to generate revenues. Search engines can’t have one without the other and will therefore continue to emphasize the relevancy of their results and the size of their databases. They will also continue to use their massive databases as the primary pools from which they get the information that fuels their own localized and personalized search ambitions.

In this transmogrification of the search industry, organic SEO has a good future and SEOs who evolve to work with multiple-source tools will benefit. Each of the search firms has a growing stable of tools to work with. Working with these tools and getting strong placements should be fairly straight-forward. In some ways, these are the same stable of tools working the same way except to produce localized search results, they’re going to start working together.

Jim Hedger is a senior editor for ISEDB.com. Also he is a writer, speaker and search engine marketing expert based in Victoria BC. Jim works with a limited group of clients and provides consultancy services. He has worked as an SEO for over 5 years and welcomes the opportunity to share his experience through interviews, articles and speaking engagements. Hedger can be reached at jim.hedger@gmail.com

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