In order to provide users with the absolute most relevant search results, Google is doing its best to provide a more local, a more social results page. The days where location doesn’t matter on the Web are over. Over the past year we’ve seen a strong push from Google to improve results by showing users what’s located closest to their neighborhood, be it a physical neighborhood or simply the neighborhood where they “hang out” on the Web. First they began automatically personalizing results by IP, then it was real-time and social signals. And they’re not slowing down.
Let’s look at two new advancements made by Google last week and how it may affect small business owners.
On Friday afternoon Google launched ‘Nearby’ search option. The new feature will allow users to filter their search results based on a geographic location that they can set instead of appending location names directly to their search. For example, many users have grown accustomed to performing searches like [New York City pizza] or [Denver plumber] in order to receive local results. Now they don’t have to. Instead, searchers will be able to refine their search by their default location or a custom one by using the Search Options panel that appears on the left hand sidebar. It, arguably, makes search easier.
The feature is live on the google.com domain but if you’re not seeing it, Google has pre-defined some searches for people to test out.
For example, Google listed the following search examples:[things to do on st. patrick’s day] – In the Minneapolis region
[food blogs] – Near you
[farmers market] – Near the city of Ithaca
[dmv] – In the same state as Tucson
Back in December Google announced it would integrate real-time search into its search results. The change instantly put live news, tweets, and blog posts directly into the search results and gave small business owners yet another reason to be proactive about monitoring their online reputation. Well, last week Google added another prominent source to pull content from and display in its real-time search results – Facebook. While Google won’t be pulling information from your individual profile, it will publish official updates from Facebook Fan Pages, profiles generally created for celebrities, major brands and, of course, local businesses.
This is a pretty cool new addition from Google because it gives small business owners another way to dominate the search results for their name. And because Facebook will only pull updates that the owner of the page creates themselves, there’s less of an online reputation management headache to worry about. You control what Google may or may not see about you. You can make sure that customers find out about special deals, events, and whatever’s going on at your business.
What Does All This Mean?
It means you need to start thinking differently about how you market your site. It used to be that location didn’t matter. Google ranked sites based on the relevance to a particular keyword or phrase. More and more we’re starting to see Google giving more prominence to information that is relevant based on other factors.
Local is more relevant. You need to ensure that Google knows where you’re business is located. That means getting the proper local citations, making sure your Local Business Listing is accurate and that you localize your Web content by using a complete address.
Social is more relevant. If you haven’t created a Facebook Fan page for your business, now’s the time to do it. Google is pulling this information into the search results and using it when someone searches for you. Use this to your advantage. Make sure you’re sending out valuable information and that you’re also letting them find a profile that is well-built and user-friendly. We’ve previously shared tips on how to get the most from Facebook Fan pages and how to get people to join your Facebook Fan page, which may be worth another read. With Google consistently turning up the social knob and updating its idea of relevance, you need to make sure your relevant in 2010’s version of search.