Understanding Google Local Search.
Fact is that 97% of people use the internet to search for products and services. This means that Yellow Pages have become a thing of the past.
If you are NOT promoting your business online, you are NOT going to be found.
Google’s local search has evolved over the past few years and is constantly changing today. It’s important to keep up to date with all of the changes in order to get the most exposure for your business online. Just in order to keep UP with the competition you need to do some fundamental things.
It’s important to understand how Google works. First of all, Google wants to provide it’s users exactly what they are looking for right away. This keeps people using the engine and keeps their advertising dollars rolling in. So in order to give the users what they want they need to filter out all the spammers and other people trying to cheat the search engines.
In order to do this they constantly change their algorthms, which are the formulas the engine uses to sort it’s data. This keeps the content fresh and reliable so people keep using their search engine.
A new phenomenon that has recently come around after the last few years with the arrival of GPS phones and the desire to provide the best results, Google and Yahoo have added “Local Intent”. Using modifiers such as a city, address or location to your search string or an automatically geographical location will pull up different search results. Google for example gives you a map with red pins blended into organic search results. Local intent added to search results gives you not only the closest businesses to your geographical location but also the most recommended…the one with the most reviews or social signals pointing to their website.
Here’s an example of what you see these days when making a search:
The red area represents Paid Results. Pay per click advertising through AdWords and Adwords Express. The Blue are your organic results which are natural results given by google. And the GREEN which is the most important for small business which is the Local Results. These are the results that are represented with the Red pins and the map that you see on the top right. These are the results that are influenced by Proximity and social signals. Now keep in mind that the Closest to you ins NOT necessarily the top results. Google filters out businesses that are spammy, fishy or have bad reviews in order to provide the best results for you.
Here is a heat map which shows the way average users go through their search results.
As you can see the person focuses mostly on the top few results as well as the paid ad areas and next to nothing past the first page. This is proof that if you are not getting good rankings, you are just not being seen online by your customers and they aren’t going to buy your products and services.