Google Local Tips – Take Advantage of Local Search
Local search has been growing at a rapid pace the past year or so. So it’s no surprise that more and more firms want to understand how local search can be used to benefit themselves.
Recently, I had the opportunity to talk with someone from the Google Local Search team and he gave me some valuable insight into how Google Local works. We shared with me some tips to help improve your local listing as well as provide some ideas how to gain more exposure in Local.
The reason I went down this path was because I have a client who was interested in what local search could do for him.
He’s got a great site that already has 500,000 indexed pages and he does very well organically. In fact there’s a good chance you’ve seen his site and visited it if you’ve had to move in the past year or two.
So when he approached me to see what else there was he could do – what other markets were untapped by him – I immediately thought of Local search.
This is because, like any regional search, Google Local results will almost always appear at the top of the search results. Therefore if you have a matching geographic query your site should also appear.
And since his site was a geographic site I thought I’d explore the option more fully.
Well, it turns out that despite all the help files on Google, none of them really answered my questions. So I submitted a request via a help form and wouldn’t you know it, I received a response in a couple days.
The response wasn’t your typical “we’ve received your email and will get back to you” type of email. It was from an actual person. One who wanted to know more about what I was asking.
So we corresponded back and forth and within a few emails I was able to arrange a call with this person and my client. Imagine that – within a few days of initiating my fact finding I was going to be talking with a member of the Google Local Search team.
A couple years ago, a call between an SEM and Google would have been unheard of unless I was spending $250,000 or more on ads. So I was kinda blown away at this.
Anyways, we just finished our call so I thought I’d share some of the tidbits I got from him.
* Google wants your local data
That’s right – Google is busily trying to build their local search capabilities. They are going so far as to offer data from their competitors if it is useful to searchers using local search.
Now that doesn’t mean they are scraping Yahoo! Local pages. But what it does mean is they are likely working with sites like SuperPages.com and YellowPages.com to provide more relevant search results within local.
But they are also looking for any other type of data that sites can provide, so in this article I’m going to give you some ideas of what they are looking for.
So let’s say you perform a search for a restaurant in your area, and are presented with a list of results. When you click on the specific restaurant pages you are presented with a page of information pertaining to that restaurant.
For example, I did a search for “Chinese food” in Chicago and picked the first listing for a “P F Chang’s China Bistro.”
As you will see, Google supplies you with some basic information about the business along with a map across the top of the page.
Immediately below that is where you can benefit – this is the data they receive from other sites.
You will notice that in the case of this bistro there are hours of operation, links to a menu, specialties and so on, and in each section is a link to an outside source.
These reference sites are sites which Google has deemed to have content appropriate to this restaurant and are therefore providing links to the site that it got the data from.
Now below that you will see “Reviews” and “References” again from outside sources.
Generally what happens is the sites that supply the supplemental data about the business also qualify to have content displayed in these other sections. That’s why Wcities.com and Citysearch.com have links under the “specialties” section as well as the “reviews” section. Because they are providing some data (the specialties) while Googlebot is crawling the reviews.
Further down, in the references section, you could also see links to those sites which have previously supplied data.
Therefore a site could have at least 2 and sometimes as many as 4 links to itself from a single Google Local listings page.
And as we all know, more links usually means more clicks through to a site.
Granted, these may not always be the best clicks. After all they won’t likely convert visitors for you. But what they do help with is building brand for your site.
And once your name becomes known to them as a trusted source of information you could find that they bypass Google Local altogether and come to your site first. This increases your traffic and should also ultimately result in increased conversion (if that’s your business model).
So what I’ve shown you here is that you could have above the fold local results as well as preferred local organic results and all you need to do is provide Google with a little more access to your data.
Is that worth it?
Rob Sullivan is a SEO Consultant and Writer for Textlinkbrokers.com