Best bang for your SEO buck, local search should be your focus if you are a Small Business
If you’re like me, a quick search on my mobile phone is typically the first step when I’m looking for information on the go. In fact, now, instead of using internet search I use Google Maps with the iPhone to search what is “near” me. Just this last weekend I was searching for a Pizza joint. I opened up maps on the iPhone and searched pizza, down came the pins, which showed me what Pizza restaurants were near me. Awesome, now I just select one, see the info, call if I need to, read reviews or get directions. This is the reality about what the future of search is for local businesses. Does this mean the web is dead? No, but you better be optimized for local search.
So the question for small business is: where does the iPhone or Google find these results? For the most part all of these results are coming from Google Places Local Business Listings. This is Googles answer to search for small businesses that can’t compete on search for local results. Google’s web based search also now gives preferential treatment to local results for regional searches (those that include a city name). See my two searches below.
The screenshot above is the result of my first search of “Chicago Style Pizza”. The results listed in this search are national results that Google algorithms have determined match your search. If a local Pizzeria contacts me and asks me to be on the first page of Google for the term “Chicago Style Pizza”, I’ll tell them it can’t be done for any reasonable cost, nor should it. The only reason to get traffic for that search term is to get customers – and if you have people searching in Florida that find your site and your restaurant is in Seattle, you are wasting more than just your time. The answer is Google local. The better search term and the way most people search is for the term “Chicago Style Pizza Seattle, Wa”. Review the second screenshot below and you will see I have circled the local results from Seattle that Google serves as results for that search.
These results I have circled above are Google Local Business listings from Google Places for Business. Google serves these results above the majority of its organic search results. You will also notice that Google is also giving you info on the Zagat Rating of the restaurant. Other searches may provide other valuable info as Google partners with trusted review organizations or rating organizations. As Google local grows it is bound to get even more micro and super-local to include neighborhoods of larger cities. If you are a small business, or any business for that matter, and you are not on Google Local you are missing out on a huge portion of search traffic that is bound to get bigger and mobile usage rises. Google local is the most popular and widely used but other apps are popular as well such as Yelp and Bing/Yahoo Local. These types of local searches are also bound to get more specific and granular in the way people search. So I may search “Sony Camera” and see who sells Sony Cameras around my immediate location. Google now lets you specify brands carried, services, hours, and other info you believe people searching for you may need.
I am still amazed how many of my clients are not on Google Local or have not claimed their business and added important info to it. It’s free and it works. You need to go to Google Places for Business here – then claim your business or create your listing. If you don’t have the time then contact usand we will get you setup for local search.
If you want to find out more about how you can improve your local search read up on Mike Blumenthal’s blog Understanding Google Places & Local Search – Developing Knowledge about Local Search.