Whether you have a traditional “bricks and mortar” business, or provide goods and services online, it is becoming increasingly important to ensure your web site ranks well for local area searches.
People are no longer just searching for ’widgets’ – more and more they are including locality information (such as a town or suburb) in their search queries. – trying to improve the relevance of the search results and narrow down their searches to businesses in their own local area or neighbourhood. Take a look at the types of search queries that you use yourself and you may be surprised how many of them do include locality information.
What is Local Search ?
A local search is performed when someone uses a search engine to find products or services in their own local area or community. Local Search has been a part of search results for some time – you’ve probably noticed the Maps that began popping up in Google search results during 2008 – with links to local businesses, and in early 2009, Google started to automatically include local site listings in their search results, based on your physical location (which they can often infer from your IP Address).
But my market is national – why should I care ?
Even if you are able to offer your product or service nationally or even internationally, it is very likely that the majority of your customers come from your own local area (check your own customer data to confirm). This is because people generally feel more comfortable dealing with business’s that are local to them – it may even reduce shipping costs, or make it easier to get support.
As People become smarter about using search engines, they are increasingly using locality information within their search queries. People realise that by entering a general search term, they are likely to get results from around the world, but if they include locality information (e.g Australia, Brisbane, or even a specific suburb or postcode) the results are likely to be more relevant and useful.
This is applies particularly when they are getting ready to buy. When undertaking research, search queries tend to be more general, but as they narrow down the specific products/services they want, the queries get more specific, and tend to include locality information as well. If you want to attract users that are wanting to buy – then getting good local search rankings should be important to you.
What affects Local Search Rankings ?
Some of the factors that can contribute to improved local search results include :
- Local Content – You can’t expect to be found for local based queries if you don’t even mention those locations on your site. Including address and locality information on your site is critical. This is also a good usability feature as well – how often have you spent time reading through a website, only to discover at some late stage that the site is US based and doesn’t even ship to Australia !!!!Including your address (and contact details) on every page (in the footer is fine) is a good idea. Mentioning the areas that you service or deliver to, directions on how to find your business, and even surrounding suburbs can all help to be found when people include those localities in their search queries.
- Google Places Listing – You’ve probably noticed the maps and business listings that started appearing in Google search results during 2008, and have probably noticed that they have started being displayed more regularly. This list, originally generated from Google Local Business Listings (now knows as Google Places) was known as a 10-pack (although the number of listing varies between a 1nd 10 – depending on how competitive the niche is). If your business has been around for some time – if you are lucky, you may even see your own business listed here – but you can dramatically improve the chances of this by claiming (or creating) your own Google Places Listing.You can register you own Google Places Listing for free – but there are optimisation strategies which can make it much more likely for you to rank well. For a small fee WebConsulting can setup and optimise your Google Places listing for you – please contact us if you’d like to know more.
- Local Links – Getting links to your website are important to get good rankings anyway, and link building is an important optimisation strategy. Links from local websites – such as the local chamber of commerce, local businesses, or even local business directories, will not only help your overall rankings, but will also give you a boost for Local search results.
It is crucial that business owners, who want their websites to display in the local results, optimise their websites correctly and utilise appropriate local links and directory listings in order to be recognised.
WebConsulting can help you to optimsie your site to make the most of local search listings.