Local search results are getting increasingly important, but how do we influence these results? How do you rank number one for a competitive and lucrative term like [hotel new york”?
The New Type of Link
Link building definitely won't die off because of local search results. It will become even more important. But how does a link make you a local authority?
It doesn't! Your address does. Your address is the new link!
Just like a link, websites will list your company, including an address, as a vote of confidence -- to let their visitors know they should visit your shop, hotel, restaurant or office. And just like a link, an address listing shows various signals of relevance for Google to pick up.
Where links have an anchor text, address listings have a company name. You might expect this to be one uniform name for all your company listings, but research shows that various additions tell a lot about the real theme of the website.
It isn't surprising that the company name used in online address listings is one of the most important signals Google looks at in its Google Places algorithm.
Just like in normal links, text around the address is naturally relevant. Your address is listed either on a page with relevant other companies in the same category or it is listed on a page just about your company.
In any case, the entire page should be relevant to what you sell or do. The closer text is to your address, the more relevance it should show.
Normal href Links
Below your address there could be a normal link to your website. This is the finishing touch that verifies that the listing is for your company and not just someone in the same building.
The URL could just be your home page and should be the same as the one you'd like to enter in your verified Google Places listing.
Google Places Algorithm Evolution
The Google Places algorithm definitely is still evolving. The changes we currently see mainly involve the integration of various types of reviews.
Because the competition hasn't really started gaming these search results, many changes will still be made to combat future spam activities.
- Main Focus on Information From Business Owner: Depending on the amount of online savvy competitors in your region it should still be easy to rank for your desired keyword combination. For example, [grocery store Clinton NJ” should show your company as long as you're close enough to the town center and have tagged your company as a grocery store in the admin panel for your verified listing.
- Expanding with Social Information: So far it isn't a big ranking factor if you have a lot of positive reviews, but it does effect peoples choice to click your result or to contact your company. Expect this to become a much more important (direct or indirect) ranking factor in the near future.
- An Address Becomes a Real Link: Google knows how to evaluate links, but this expertise doesn't yet show in its local algorithm. For competitive industries (e.g., hospitality), I can still trick it and rank number one. When various types of spam detection are added to the algorithm, I can start to really benefit from my link building expertise.
Local Link Building
Local link building is all about getting your address on all the places where you'd normally settle for just a link. Always have your most important search term integrated in your company name and have it listed as such.
Besides business directories, you should start contacting industry authorities and get them to place great advertorials on your business, including your address. Where sites might be wary to place a dofollow link, an address will never be a problem.
Link building and address building will become similar activities. In link building, you focus on the additional value a visit to your website brings to their visitors. In address building, visiting your store or office needs to be a logical next step -- or the location of your hotel needs an address to determine if it's near the beach, the airport, or great nightlife.
Currently effective address building can be done by advertising. Opposed to paid links, there isn't something like a paid address yet. Try to find sponsorship opportunities where you get a permanent listing for a one-time investment.
Your competition probably isn't putting in a lot of effort into Google Places results yet. Create a clear advantage over them while you still can.
Join us for SES London 2011, the Leading Search & Social Marketing Event, taking place February 21-25! The conference offers sessions on topics including search engine optimization (SEO), keyword analysis, link building, local, mobile, video, analytics, social media, and more. Register now.