Search is shifting, folks. It’s no longer just a world where we type in some queries and get a bunch of website listings.
In an effort to make their results ever more relevant for their audiences, Google and other search engines factor in more than just optimized webpage content. Location. Proximity to what you’re looking for. Peer verification. What others have to say.
Google is consolidating its offerings into one big mashup: local results are featured prominently on the search engine results page (SERP) with reviews associated with the listings. Google+ allows people to share results and give credence to what’s being discussed.
And they’re all coming together in one place: the SERP. Major changes in SEO are afoot.
For sure, if you want to get found in Google, the fundamentals haven’t changed, but now they’re just a starting point. Identifying keywords, building a site architecture that supports them, and continually producing content used to be the endgame. Now they’re just the beginning.
Local Results Matter
In order to be in the search game in 2013 and beyond, you have to play the Google Local game. People searching the Internet are likely to be out and about on their smartphones. Even if they’re not on their mobile devices, HTML 5 allows location to be a criteria. The modern browser is now geo-aware, and can pass that information along to search engines for local results.
Strategy: Make sure your business has a Google Places for Business listing as well as a Google+ Local Business Page. Learn how to use them well and execute.
Reviews are a staple of the net, whether it’s a Yelp restaurant assessment, an Amazon.com product review, or Ebay feedback. Google’s local listings incorporate reviews, so it’s critical to start cultivating them from your clients. In fact, Google’s advertising platform just announced Review Extensions, which allow legitimate reviews and awards to be tacked onto pay-per-click Ads.
Strategy: Embrace Google Reviews. Make sure you know how to respond to both positive and negative reviews. Solicit positive reviews for Google, Avvo, and even Yelp.
Related: How to Handle Negative Online Reviews and How to Handle Online Reviews for Attorneys.
Google+ is Google’s answer to Facebook. Instead of likes, popularity of articles are expressed by +1’s. Debate rages in the SEO community about the effect of content on Google+ with their rankings in the SERPs: some people argue that Google+ performance affects the ranking of an article or website while others swear up and down that it doesn’t make a difference.
Strategy: Start building out your Google+ profile for yourself and put together a page for your business. Invest more time in Google+ than you would in Twitter.
Related: Getting Started with Google+