Previously, we discussed why geo factors and local search are dominating the search engine ranking positions, and now we need to look at how you too can benefit from the changes made by the major search engines to personalise search for their users.
Once again, it is vital to remember that all search engine optimisation work should be carried out primarily for your intended audience and potential customers, rather than the search engines. However, in this instance, the search engines are well and truly on your side in assisting you to rank highly, and all you need do is to include the basic geo factors into your website.
Every potential customer wants to know that the company they intend to deal with exists. The use of mobile phone numbers when they were first introduced as a primary contact number did not initially engender trust – operators using mobile numbers were viewed as ‘fly by night’ or likely to vanish at a moment’s notice. This has now changed with the ubiquity of mobiles, but every customer wants to know where they can find you should there be any need to, so full contact details, your physical address including postcode, are vital.
Until recently, if you carried out any non-research based search on the Internet, the first results have often been accompanied by a map and local listings relevant to that search. So, if you put “search engine marketing Lichfield” into Google you will see a map showing the location of the search engine marketing companies based around the town and nearby.
However, during April 2009, many SEO companies noticed that suddenly Google is including local search results in non-local and research based searches. Whilst a searcher may type in a generic term, such as ‘italian food’ whilst looking for recipes, Google now returns local search results, either in blocks of 3 or 10, further down the SERPS eg position 4 or lower. This has huge potential for businesses, particularly small businesses looking for far wider exposure. However, one factor on which these results depend is the location of both ISPs – yours and the searcher’s. So, when considering your local search strategy, using a local ISP will make a considerable difference to your appearance in the listings.
The location factor also works when seeking to gain traction and exposure in international markets, and it is worth considering mirroring and hosting your website in the country you wish to target, as well as ensuring that your website includes the appropriate language. The language your content is in will affect your listings in search engines, so there is no point targeting a foreign market with an English language website that does not include any content in the target language.
Inbound and outbound links also make a difference in local searches, so when link building, also include links to local companies or locally based information of relevance to your audience. Think complementary not competitive ie do not list all of your competitors on your website just to get themed geolinks!
To summarise, for inclusion in local listings and to benefit from the search engines’ focus on geotargetting, you need to include and consider:
- Full contact details for your business or company
- The location of your ISP and of your potential customers
- Geo factors affecting backlinks and outbound links from your site, including anchor text
- Language your content is written in