The Anatomy of a Search Engine Result
If you’ve spent any time over the past year working on search engine optimization (SEO) you’ve probably noticed that it’s getting more and more difficult to understand the different components of Google’s search results.
If that sounds like you, don’t worry you’re not alone. With some of the recent changes it’s challenging for professional SEOs, let alone local business owners, to fully understand how and where Google is getting its various pieces of information. The truth is that for today’s ‘search engine results pages,’ understanding the difference between paid advertisements vs. natural or organic results vs. social results vs. local results and how to influence each one, can quickly add up to a full-time job.
For queries that have local relevance (think “restaurants near me”, “where can I go rock climbing in Toronto”, etc.) Google tends to return results that include some combination of website, advertisements, and local info (often stemming from a business’ Google+ page).
Here’s a screenshot of what that blended landscape looks like. Note that for this query, “lawyers in toronto,” Google instantly understands the geographical elements of the query and serves up what it thinks are the most relevant results.
Since the spring of 2012, Google has slowly been rolling out these blended search engine results and has returned an increasing percentage of them for local queries. This means it’s more important than ever to optimize not only your website, but also the other areas Google may look for information about your business such as your Google+ Local page, your business’ Wikipedia pages, as well as social media profiles.
Visualizing the Current Online Landscape
The above graphic serves to highlight the importance of both organic search ranking factors (everything that relates to your website) and social media factors (such as reviews left for your business on your Google+ Local Page, Yelp, Facebook, and other sites around the web).
In order to truly standout in a local search, your business will need to focus on both the organic and social media efforts. The perfect balance of the two will largely vary on the type of business you operate and what platforms your business is using. If you’re not sure where to start, consider reaching out to a marketing specialist for ideas.
Where Should You Prioritize Your Resources?
Every business is unique and depending on your business model, local search may not be the first place you start with your online marketing. Internal factors such as the age of your website, developer availability, and the physical location of your business all influence whether local search should be your primary focus or whether you might be better served taking a look at organic search or social media first.
With that said however, if your business sells products or services to customers that are located in a specific geographic area, optimizing for local search is a must for success. Two of the search giants, Google and Bing, have released studies indicating the about 1 in 5 searches on desktop are local in nature. This figure jumps to 1 in 2 when considering mobile and tablets. With a growing trend towards mobile first browsing and as more customers expecting tailored results, local SEO will only become more important in the coming years.
Interested in learning more about Local SEO and whether it’s right for your business? Reach out to On Q Communications today and we’ll help you get you digital strategy on track! And if you’re looking for more great content check out our previous article SEO in 2018: What You Need to Know.