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by Andy Williams on 30th May 2012
As most of you will be aware, there’s been quite a few updates from Google recently, especially with Penguin taking the headlines at the moment. There was an update back in February called the Venice update, and this had 40 different algorithms updates within it. There is one in particular that I’d like to look at today that I think has passed quite a few people by, and that’s the improved local results section of this update.
So what does this actually mean and what does this offer? Okay. Well, if you are not logged in to your Google account, you are now still going to see local results returned to you. Google will find out your location from your IP, and it will give you results accordingly. Now as a result of this, you could be midway up the first page, but because now there is more local results being returned, you could find yourself dropping to page two and missing out on traffic and custom. Even if you don’t have a local strategy, now is the time to at least implement the bare minimum just to make sure that your location is highlighted to Google.
So what should you be doing? Well, let’s look at on page first. The title tag is the obvious place to start, and if you are able to include your location within the title, tag that’s obviously going to be beneficial. This of course isn’t going to fit every single site. So if it doesn’t fit, don’t include it.
Meta description. Although this isn’t much of a ranking factor anymore, if at all, it’s a good place to include your location or even locations, if you’ve got multiple places that you can offer your products.
On site copy. Are you mentioning your location within your copy? If not, then maybe it’s a good idea that you start looking as to where you can include your location. But again, don’t overdo it. Don’t rewrite the copy just to include the location. The copy needs to be good content. It needs to offer the customers what they are looking for and the information that they require.
Have you got your address in the footer of your site? This is obviously a massive, massive indication to Google as to where you are located. So make sure you give your full address and include your post code. Also include your telephone number across your site. But when you do this, please be sure to use your local code as opposed to a more generic office number, like 0845. The local code will, of course, again give an indication to Google as to exactly where you are located.
If you’ve got multiple locations that you provide a service to, then maybe now is the time to start looking into location related pages, and the rules for these are slightly different to what you would do site wise. If you have a location in your URL, that’s going to be a good indication to Google. You can include a Google map as well on the page, which, again, gives that indication and include some local information. This is more relevant if you are providing a more local service and you want to give people more information about the local area. But it does give a good indication to Google again as to where you are.
Of course, there is also Google+ Local Pages and Google Places profiles. Every single business online should have one of these, regardless of whether they are going to offer local custom or not. When you set one of these up, make sure that you complete all of the fields. Make sure that you include your full address, your telephone number, again using the local code. Make sure you include the URL back to your site. Make sure that you are in the relevant category as well, because at the end of the day, you want to appear in the correct category so that you get the correct custom. There is also a section for uploading images. Make sure that you do that as well. Any other fields that Google offers you within this section, make sure that you fill those out. The more information you give Google, the better it is for you.
There is also Google+ now as well, and you can create a business page for Google+, and again you can include all of the relevant information, including a Google map. Again, this is going to give a good indication to Google as to exactly where you are located and what you are relevant to. Make sure you fill out those two.
Another section that is going to be highly relevant is using Schema and markups. This is something that Google is starting to push quite heavily, and Schema.org is a very, very good place and a very good source for gaining this code and what you should do with it. For a local campaign, you would want to mark up your address. So if you go to Schema.org, you’ll find the relevant coding. Make sure you wrap your address in that code, and again, you’re giving Google that exact information. There are other markups as well, for reviews and testimonials, etc. But for the local side of things, make sure you at least wrap up the address.
There are the basics of what you should look at. Personally, I think you should carry all of these out regardless of whether you have got a local strategy or not simply because the new update means that you could possibly drop off the first page without realising it, and you’re going to miss out on traffic and possibly custom. So look in to these. Apply them if possible.
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