Google knows where you are.
When you do a search on Google for something you typically would find locally, say a plumber, a real estate agent, a butcher shop, have you ever noticed that Google only gives you the results that are in your city? If you live in Omaha, Nebraska, they won’t tell you about the plumber in Aiken, South Carolina. Your plumber results are all right there in Omaha.
This happens because Google has been focusing on local search results for a few years. Basically, they look at your IP address of your computer or your mobile phone, and deliver the search results based on that location. So if you’re in downtown Indianapolis, and you’re looking for an independent coffee shop, it’s going to show you the coffee shops that are located near you.
What does Google Local Search mean for marketers?
There are a few lessons we can take from this.
- In his post on Google Instant, Chris Penn says marketers need to take advantage of Google Places, the local listing service Google gives. In Google Places, you can put in your address, business hours, your map location, website, whether you take credit cards, etc.
- Second, you can use local domains — IndianapolisCarpetCleaning.com, CincinnatiCarpetCleaning.com — to gain higher search rankings. Google looks first and foremost at your domain name to see what your site is about. A URL like IndianapolisCarpetCleaning.com is going to rank much higher in Google’s local search than “SidCleansYourCarpet.com.
- Third, use fully optimized microsites to point back to your main site. Stick one page on each local domain that uses the SEO techniques, like keywords in the title, first four words of body text, in the alt tags of the photos, and in the hyperlinks. Point all links back to your own site, stick a phone number on there, and a big button that visitors can use to request a quote, get in touch with you, or get more information. (And that button also needs to lead back to your site.) You’ll not only get some SEO juice out of that for your own site, you may find that your microsite is ranking high on its own, bringing customers in that way.
Google’s focus on local search has been a boon to marketers everywhere, but they’re not all taking advantage of it. So if you’re trying to win local search for your business, figure out how to take full advantage of Google Places and Google’s local search results.
(Hat tip to Chris Penn of Marketing Over Coffee podcast for talking about this on his own blog. And special thanks to MOC for mentioning the Social Media 40 OVER 40 list on their most recent podcast.)