If I could sum up local search SEO in a few words as it has progressed over time, it would be to say that local search is showing search engines a relevant understanding of what you (as a business) offer/provide in relation to proximity. We have worked as local SEO experts in creating local listings and citations to help Google understand where we are located. We have created relevant and effective location pages on our site or through our geo-relevant keyword research to help Google understand what we do and where we are located. We have worked to create a tie in with the above two elements and, in the past few years, started tieing social media into our local search efforts.
So where are we now? We are at the cusp of Google making extremely large changes to the local search experience. We have traversed from the 2/7/10 pack of local results to integrated local listing/organic listing results. Now we have the Google Local Carousel. What is all this and why is it happening? What we are seeing is a much simplified first page Google search results? We are seeing the migration from several different result page elements to the stackable “info card” experience that may be happening sooner than you think. There is already a new Google Maps in Beta that is integrating the Carousel with the info card presentation.
How does Google do all of this? It is widely believed that they are pulling this together with data provided easily to them via schema markups as well as through the Knowledge Graph. Easier data retrieval and a greater understanding or your proximity/relationships/previous search behavior help to provide a better search experience.
So how do I, as a search marketer, ensure that I still succeed at local search for our clients? The keys to success will be found in a few different areas:
- Creating local listing presence that will facilitate the ability for reviews and engagement via local social review sites that Google pulls reviews from such as Yelp, Insiderpages, etc.
- Providing local content to listings, images, video, etc., all which are something for people to consume. No one wants to be the location in Google Carousel with no image of their location.
- Giving search engines the data they want to digest, the way they want to eat it. I think this one is a biggie! For the past few years we have had the ability to utilize schema markups such as LocalBusiness and PostalAddress to give structured data to Google about our locations. I have always been a big proponent of “If Google asks you for data, give it to them. They are needing it for a reason.” Even further, now Google provides a Structured Data Testing Tool to make sure it can see your markup but also a markup helper to assist you in creating this format. So, without a doubt I think migration of local markup onto location pages, on-site, is a must. Analyzing this concept further, we now have the ability to tag location page content via Google’s Data Highlighter for Local Businesses which is found in Google Webmaster Tools. This is another form of structured data markup that Google has provided to the masses.
Please check out the linked properties above. I hope that you feel the same way we do in that an emphasis should be placed on the fore mentioned for local SEO success, especially schema offerings from Google. Don’t understand this Local SEO stuff? Let us help you out!