With the recent change in the Google organic search layout it alerts us to the obvious question of how this will affect SEO and Internet marketing campaigns. Will it change the methods used to create top ranking results?
The changes that have happened effect searches with the local area attached (ie pianos London, restaurants Edinburgh etc), as the organic listings themselves now have Google Places integrated within them. Not only do these affect natural results, but also Paid Search as the Google Map image now takes priority in the AdWords position. Another crucial factor from this is the movement of the map, overriding the Paid Search listings when the user scrolls down the results page.
For a start you have got to look into the growing importance Google is placing on its ‘Places’ listings. These are sub websites initially created by the business owner, that Google pulls information from across the web to create a full reference of reviews, images, videos and other pockets of related information to form a user created opinion of the business.
This is made possible by the new technology Google has developed, giving it the ability understand how the web is talking about a specific business, even though people use different names to describe it. Just think for example, Yo Yo Bar & Restaurant in Shipley, this place is identified by the lots of varying names users have created, such as Yo Yo’s, Yo Yo Bar, Yo-Yo Restaurant, Yoyo’s shipley, YoYo bar and restaurant to name only a few, but in each of these cases Google is able to understand that these all specifically relate to the same Google Place.
Pretty clever stuff eh, but the technology doesn’t end there. For this to be truly effective it needs to understand what the business does in the area it operates in. From what it can crawl on the company’s website, combined with what it now understands from the wider web community, this creates effective results for local based searches. Users are instantly in contact with nearby companies offering the exact services they require. The map and pin locator make it quick and easy to spot where these companies are based and with the inclusion of the star rating system, this makes the comparison and decision making process much quicker.
We can already tell that this is having a massive effect on SEO. The importance for ranking highly in local based searches has shifted from link building to review creation. Try searching your business including the area which it is based in, are you in the handful of local based results it pulls through? If not you should definitely consider putting the time and effort in required to achieve this. We recommend you start with your website. Is it content rich? Is there enough on there to tell the audience and search engines about what you do and where you do it? Add your company to review based websites and directories. Look to see where your competitors are gaining reviews and match them across the board. Encourage your customers to leave feedback and opinions in these places, maybe even offer them an incentive to do so because at the end of the day, it’s their time being spent.
Ensure your Google Places listing is up to date and accurate, filling in all the details carefully. Remember, as this page contains enough information about your company, consumers may not even visit your website so make sure there’s enough here to reel them in.
Last but by no means least, ensure the pin marker is in the correct position! First impressions are always key, so don’t send potential customers to the wrong street or even 200ft away from where they expected you to be. Time will tell how Google will evolve its Places integration within search results, who knows, you may even be able to sponsor a map position in a similar PPC nature.
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