Archive for December, 2009

What happened to Google’s local search results? How does their absence impact your site’s SEO?

December 27th, 2009

It appears that Google’s local search results for some categories – including Internet Marketing, Marketing, Advertising, SEO and Web Design – have completely disappeared globally. As a SEO/Internet Marketing company, we not only utilize and rely on traffic from Google’s local search, but also stress its importance to our clients. It is a little difficult to do either now that the search results for our categories are no longer there. Go ahead, try it. Type in Advertising Agency New York City or Marketing Los Angeles or Web Design Chicago. You will not see any local listings. Type in Florist Dallas or Dentist Boston and you will. The question is will they disappear also?

Where did Google’s local search results go? We have Googled this question and found two forums that address it:

http://www.google.com/support/forum/p/maps/thread?tid=18b0412b6336989c&hl=en&fid=18b0412b6336989c000478bb9964569a

http://www.google.com/support/forum/p/maps/thread?tid=19f4b0936485546a&hl=en&fid=19f4b0936485546a000478b7db1a7347

A Google employee suggested that the local search results for terms such as Marketing and Web Design are not showing up because there is not enough local intent. This answer makes no sense because until a month or so ago, local listings for these categories did show up and they are categories you can select when you create your Google Local Business Center listing. Until these listings disappeared, local listings even showed up if you typed in SEO Warwick New York, which includes a self-created category and a small town.

The lesson. Relying solely on a Google Local Business Center listing for web visibility and traffic is not wise. While we don’t understand what is really happening with these local listings or when this issue will be resolved, we do still believe in the importance of Local Business Center Listings for our clients. However, you cannot rely solely on them. You need to optimize your site with your locale also in case the local listings for your industry disappear as well.

SEO, social media and real-time search

December 15th, 2009

In the last two months Google and Microsoft’s Bing announced deals with leading social media websites in an effort to focus on timelier search results. Google struck a deal with Twitter, while Bing aligned itself with both Twitter and Facebook. Then it was revealed that Yahoo also joined the real-time search race by partnering with OneRiot Inc., a web search company whose results are based on the links people share through social media sites such as Twitter and Digg.

What does this mean for search engine optimization and your Internet marketing campaign? In order to reach your target audience on the Internet, you need to go where the search engines are going, and they are heading toward social media and real-time search. If you were on the fence about incorporating social media into your Internet marketing campaign before, it appears your decision has now been made for you. The importance of SEO, however, has not changed – perhaps now it is even more important than ever.

How do you blend SEO and social media? The SEO process for real-time search will still focus on optimized, quality content that matches demand. How that content is created will change and morph as real-time search unfolds. The key will be selecting and incorporating the search terms of the moment. You or your SEO consultant will need to stay on top of real-time search trends and incorporate them into your SEO and Internet marketing campaigns, including social media profiles, user names, and excerpts.

Will this new real-time content on the search results pages be relevant? The answer to that question is still up in the air. At this point in time it is not clear how the various search engines will sort out relevance from clutter or even spam. Nor do we know for sure how the search engines plan on ranking social media excerpts. Google is showing them on the search results pages and new results appear automatically without having to even refresh the page. While the question of relevancy remains, other doors open to spam and online reputation management – both very strong reasons to jump into the social media waters if you were only thinking about it before.

Though we don’t know how real-time search with the major search engines will play out, we do know that the time for real-time search is here. If you want to stay front and center of your target audience on the Internet, and make sure the information about you, your company, your services and your products is accurate and positive, you better make social media part of your Internet marketing campaign.