Is Local a big deal to you? It is to Google…
Polly Holbrook | 14 March 2012
PracticeWEB's Search Manager, Gareth Beck, talks us through Google's local search results.
Back in October 2010 I wrote a blog post on changes that Google had made to the local search results and as it’s over a year later it’s worth having a look at what’s changed in that time.
Google still sees localisation as a big deal and a year later has made more changes to reflect how important this is.
This biggest change can be seen by looking at the kind of phrases which now return a localised search. Back in 2010 a search phrase had to have a local component to return localised listings: The search phrase had to have something like ‘accountant Bristol’, ‘Bristol Accountants’, ‘Chartered Accountants in Bristol’ to return the local listings. Generic searches like ‘ Accountant’ wouldn’t return local results.
This is no longer the case.
If I do a search for ‘Accountant’ then the screenshot below shows that as my location is set to ‘London’ local results have been returned as well, even though they haven’t been asked for in the search phrase:
If I change my location to ‘Bristol’ the local places change but the ones above and below it don’t:
So, essentially there are geographic results in a non-geographic search. The searches above were done on a desktop using a logged in account, we also tested some mobile devices as well.
We tried the same test using an iPhone 4S, an iPad 1 and also an iPad 2 (more on that in a bit), which delivered some interesting results.
Using an iPhone we get the following search results, as you can see the local element is very evident:
The phone knows that I’m in Bristol (actually it knows, even if I turn the location services off, but that’s a different conversation).
Using an iPad 1 it’s gets confused and thinks we’re in London – we were in Bristol when we did the search
No such problem on the iPad 2 (Although the picture shows that the ipad 2 was connected to a wireless network we turned that off and the result was the same)
What this shows is that Google is putting a lot of importance on local search and developing this aspect of your online presence is critical in getting traffic to your site.
So what does this mean to you and how should you change your approach to SEO as a result? The upside is that it means you don’t need a massive SEO campaign to get included in non-geographic search listings (which for the phrase ‘Accountant’ would be very expensive). Optimising your places page and doing well in the local listings will have the knock on effect of putting your company in front of people who are searching for services without using a geographic component – or in simple terms more people. And more people seeing your Practice’s website in their search results has to be a good thing.
As SEO continues to develop in its scope, as marketers and business owners we will all need to continue to respond to trends, developments and inevitably keep up with the folks at Google to ensure we get the best possible results out of our SEO strategy.
PracticeWEB will continue to watch closely any further developments or strategies from Google that will affect the way we plan and implement SEO. If you’d like our help in creating or refining SEO for your Practice, get in touch with either on 0117 314 9301 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.