The map that you occasionally see at the top of Google’s organic search results is the Local Business Listings. These listings tend to show up on service-orientated searches where regional modifiers are used as part of the keyterm, ie; Boca Raton Dentists.
The prime positioning of the listings on Google’s results page means that if you’re focusing on a particular location for sales, then Local Business Listings should be prioritized in your wider SEO endeavors.
Google’s Local Business Listings are technically separate from organic SEO, yet rely largely on the same basic rules for success – the main one being the use of good and relevant content. Listings are created through Google Accounts, with the option to add a brief description and the all-important location which is highlighted on the results map. It’s quick to set up, and depending on the type of company you’re running, the benefits can be considerable.
Following the basic principles of SEO good practice is the best way to get a strong listing;
– Create a clear title, with a single main keyterm included.
– Write the description for real-world users, in a no-nonsense copy style. Keyword stuffing, as always, results in unreadable copy.
– Focus on your main service – this offers a clearer message to both users and Google.
– Don’t forget to add the business URL – an obvious point maybe, but this isn’t a mandatory field on the set-up form, so it can be easily missed.
– If anything notable changes with your business – new services, services phased out, location changes etc – update your listing. It should always be up-to-date.
– Remember Google’s primary aim – to provide the user with the information they’re searching for – if your listing isn’t as helpful and useful as it could be, modify it.
While it ranks on its own merits in relation to competition, the performance of a Local Business Listing is assisted by the quality of the associated business website. If that website is doing everything it should with an ongoing SEO program, then the business listing will benefit accordingly.
Like organic SEO, you’ve got the top ten to aim for, as these are the results that will appear on the all-important first page. However, again like organic SEO, the competition can often run into the thousands depending on the keyterm and location in question. Approach the Local Business Listings like any SEO project – remember there’s no quick fix or silver bullet, stick to the known principles and the results will follow.
There has been quite a bit of news circulating within the Search industry lately, and some of this news may have an impact on your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) efforts. In case you haven’t heard, below is quick re-cap of two pieces of important information.
Back in August, I wrote a blog about Google’s Caffeine Update. Recently, it was announced that this update will begin to be rolled out in 2010. Not to worry, Matt Cutts reassured webmasters in his recent blog post that the improvements to Google’s indexing infrastructure won’t occur prior to January — after the holidays. They will release Caffeine in one data center for monitoring, prior to the full roll out.
Previously there was a preview of Caffeine available. This preview has now been removed and this Thank You note was kindly left:
“We appreciate all the feedback from people who searched on our Caffeine sandbox”.
Based on the success we’ve seen, we believe Caffeine is ready for a larger audience. Soon we will activate Caffeine more widely, beginning with one data center. This sandbox is no longer necessary and has been retired, but we appreciate the testing and positive input that webmasters and publishers have given.”
Stay tuned as this Caffeine update approaches!
Another important piece of information is that Matt Cutts announced that Google may be adding a new factor to the over 200 factors that are currently part of their organic ranking algorithm: website load time. If you’re currently an AdWords advertiser, you may be aware that page load time already plays a role in Quality Score. In an effort to improve searchers overall experience, this too may play a role with SEO in the future. If you are interested in finding out more about how to assess your pages’ speed, you can visit: http://code.google.com/speed/page-speed/.
A slow loading website may not only deter your visitors, but in the near future may affect your search engine rankings. In an interview with Google’s Matt Cutts, Webpronews.com recently reported that site speed may become a factor in ranking sometime in 2010. If you think about it, it makes perfect sense. Google wants to make the search experience relevant and fast. The faster searchers can get the information they are looking for the better.
While the above tips will get you started, Google has more information about increasing your page speed which can be found here: http://code.google.com/speed/.