Local Listings and Google Rankings Recently Google changed the way you see your search listings. By now I am sure you have seen the new look, especially if you were doing a local search. Google has apparently changed their algorithm (again) and instead of having two, one for natural and one for local search, it is now one algorithm for both. This is a significant change and has professional Colorado search engine optimization specialists such as myself working overtime to see and understand what is happening. This is one of the reasons that you hire SEO’s. So that when these kinds of major changes come about, you have someone in your corner working to ensure you don’t lose rankings. However, for those of you who have not yet taken advantage of our services here are some things you need to know if you want your website to remain visible to local searchers. With the new algorithm local searches have assumed an increased importance in the Google search engine listings. Google has been and continues to work hard at displaying local results based on your location. They do this by a technique called geo-targeting. Everybody that is online has a IP address associated with their activity. Unless you use a proxy server then your IP address tells Google and all the other search engines generally where you are located. By know this they can serve local results to your search inquiries. One of the biggest changes and surprises is that Google now combines the map-based Google Local (places) listings with the organic results. I don’t believe that they have ironed out exactly what it will look like in the end because from day to day the “look” is different. What I mean is that sometimes the maps listings are in the first positions, sometimes there are a few organic listings first, and I have seen paid listings on top as well. So the experiment to be more relevant to searchers needs continue. As I mentioned earlier this has caused quite a commotion among search engine experts. We are all trying to figure out how this change will affect our clients. So far, by my research this is what I see that you need to know, and by the way, these are things we do for our full-fledged seo clients already. Those who only concentrate on building links will need to address some of these issues. If you do business locally, you need to have a Google Places account as well as Bing and Yahoo. Traditional techniques and strategies that we use to help rank a website such as on-site SEO and link building assume even more importance. If you don’t have a website you are going to lose business, it’s just that simple. If you currently use Adwords then you need to have a professional taking care of it for you. Google is now placing them in such a way as to make them easier to see and therefore more important. They have noted that the new positioning has increased click through rates for their advertisers. Reviews and citations are now becoming even more important. If you want to be on top and stay there you will need to have reviews, citations and testimonials from clients and customers. They need to be spread around the internet as well on sites such as Yelp, CitySearch, InsiderPages, and Google. Directory-type sites will still serve a purpose but are less relevant with the new search listings. So what should you as a business owner do? Since there is no longer a real distinction between natural and local search results you have to ensure that your online presence is managed very well. It is going to be difficult for ANY business to rank high if they don’t have an optimized website, Google Places account, plenty of back links, reviews, citations, and some social media content and book marks. Right now, there’s a lot of volatility in the search results we are seen, but one thing is for sure and we don’t expect to change. Google, is making “local” listings a priority. Here are a few things you need to do: 1. Set up or claim your Google, Yahoo, and Bing Places listing. Fill out your listings completely. 2. Start collecting reviews on your Google Places page and see if you can get people to review you on 3rd party sites as well 3. If you don’t have a website, get one! If you have one but have never had it looked at and optimized, do so. If your website doesn’t currently rank well, call us at 719-387-1788. The longer you wait to take care of your “online business” the less of a chance you have to rank above your competitors. Whether you like it or not, we live in a digital world and you need to develop your local search strategy to keep up and survive. If you want a chance at getting business from local searchers then your website needs to rank well in the search engines and have well-optimized local “Places” listings in each major search engine. Virtual Marketing, LLC is a professional Colorado Internet Marketing company providing Search Engine Optimization, Social Media Management and numerous other services to businesses throughout the United States.
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