It is now official that Google has launched Penguin 2.0 on May 22. Penguin 2.0 is a much “deeper” algorithmic update with increased focus on flushing out sites that were benefited from link spam. It also promises that more sites will be positively impacted by this than by its predecessor, which was launched in 2012. That update kept the websites with unnatural links in check.
Penguin 2.0 is especially focusing on backlink patterns, anchor text uses and manipulative link building tactics which can misguide the end users. Already the Penguin update of 2013 has scared many small or local business owners as they get confused about what to infer from its huge impact on local search results.
An Unexpected Boost to Local Results
Penguin 2.0 brings good news for local business. With the onset of the Penguin 2.0 update, some massive changes were observed as to how Google treats local search and results. Trevin Shirey was first to notice that Google seems to have been integrating large numbers of localized results into organic searches for broad search queries like “coffee”. It is also seen that traditional places listings may not even show up.
This is definitely a great bonus for local businesses. Small regional businesses could gain from an update like this as it increases their exposure for informational queries. For example, a local coffee shop has no chance at ranking for a keyword like “coffee” but Google appears to be ranking local businesses more importantly in this new update.
I think this is a high time for local business to radically increase their local marketing strategies to maximize from this update. This guide lists the practical activities that need to be performed if you want to be sure that your business is found in the search results in this post-penguin world. I hope these takeaways are something you can immediately put into action for your own business websites.
1. Obtain Local Citations
Original penguin algorithm already showed that quality citations had a promising future and now it is clear that along with links, local citations or brand mentions will also matter a lot – post penguin.
Citations play a key role in local search ranking. This simply means that the more your NAP – mentions of your Business’s Name, Address and Phone number, is found on websites related to your niche and location, the higher your local search ranking will be. As the citation building is the essential ingredient of your local SEO, it will be very beneficial to build a strong citation profile for your local business all over the web.
It is also important to ensure that all your citations are correct on the sites like Yellow Pages, MapQuest and City Search, as it will help you in establishing your business locally. Furthermore, citations help in authenticating your business as it is nearly impossible to fake a membership in the chamber of commerce, a city or county business index, a mention in local online newspaper, or on a popular blog. Local citations will give your business information to the sources – which are relied upon by the Search Engines for valid and reliable business information.
2. Guest Blogging
You need to focus on your branding citations for your SEO campaign as much as you need to focus on local NAP citations. For that you will need to create and distribute relevant content (with using NAP) on high quality trusted websites with natural backlinks to your site.
Guest Blogging is one of the most powerful and beneficial link building techniques in play at the moment. Local businesses consider guest blogging as a highly valuable asset as it makes their brand and content more visible. Guest blogging allows contextual links back to your website which boosts authority and local organic search rankings especially when the websites and blogs have geo-local presence.
#Bonus Tip: If the webmaster allows, add your Name, Address and Phone number (NAP) in the post. This is known as unstructured citation and its quality/ authority is an influential off-site local search ranking factor.
3. Create a Page for Each Location
For business with multiple locations, Google Penguin 2.0 makes it necessary to create location specific pages.
In the past, Google used to segregate the local search results in the listings. Local search results used to appear as Google Places results and the results weren’t localized unless users added specific locations. The scenario is different with Penguin 2.0, as it makes local results more integrated now. It seems like Google is making concentrated efforts to give users local results whenever possible.
If your business has multiple locations, then you need to make sure that a separate page is allotted to each location in order to optimize your chances of ranking higher in local search results. All such pages must include relevant information about store and services offered in that local area, in addition to the contact details and address. This is applies to any location where there is a physical presence.
4. Google+ Local Reviews:
Google is giving more and more importance to social signals like online customer reviews to confirm business’s relevance and position. Organic search engine position is becoming more natural by heeding what your customers have to say about your organization rather than what you have to say; reflecting the real world action.