Local search has gone to a whole new level

Google has gone ‘local’, and your web site could be set to score some major ranking wins. Here’s how…

Local search has gone to a whole new level

Chris Thomas

If you haven’t noticed already, Google has recently made some major changes to its ranking algorithm.

If you run a local business with a website, this could present you with an opportunity to get to the top of Google without having to do any serious SEO at all!

Google has thrust local search to the forefront of its new universal search results platform by squeezing 10 local results into (what’s been coined) a “local box”.

If you remember back to when I first raised the topic back in August, local search results looked like this:

google search results 1

So as you can see, there were three results next to the map. The three local box results were part of the top 10 at Google.

After Google’s algorithm change, here’s what we’re seeing now…

google search results 2

Essentially there are now 20 results on a Google page – 10 local results run alongside the local box and 10 run beneath (as standard results). If you used to rank first, you now rank 11th.

This change has propelled some businesses from “nowhere” into the top 10, and relegated others (who may have invested in SEO) to the bottom 10 results.

Life’s not fair is it?

I think Google’s probably rolled out the change to its algorithm a little early without fully testing it. Last week we were seeing some very strange results; some international bloggers we’re seeing ‘church’ results alongside local brothels!

So how do you give your website a chance at the top 10 with local results?

First off, you’ll need to create a Google account. That will allow you to create a free “local business listing” which allows you to enter all the information about your business. You can also move the map marker!

It certainly doesn’t hurt to think about keyword optimisation while you’re entering your information.

For example, if your business is a local florist in Leichhardt, you should enter “Joes Flowers – Leichhardt Florist”. Try and get important keywords alongside your business name – you won’t get in trouble if you keep it reasonable!

The next tip is to register your business with TrueLocal. Google and NewsCorp have a commercial relationship (hard to believe I know), where TrueLocal results help to power Google’s own local business results. It really helps if you’re included in both Google and TrueLocal.

I have it on good authority from an expert in local search, that at present there is no relationship between a premium listing at TrueLocal and Google rank. I guess that makes sense. If it were true, it would set a worrying precedent. You might at last be able to buy your way to the top of Google! At $900, that’d be pretty cheap in my book.

Finally, optimise your site as best you can. Spend a few dollars and obtain some strong authority links; get included in the Yahoo directory ($299 a year). I’ve seen websites gain dramatic ranking improvements at Google once their Yahoo directory listing was approved (with no other changes).

Please contribute if you have other tips.


Chris Thomas heads Reseo a search engine optimisation company which specialises in setting up and maintaining Google AdWords campaigns, Affiliate Programs and Search Engine Optimisation campaigns for a range of corporate clients.

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Cal Tod writes: Great post thanks Chris. I’ve also noticed keyword optimised listings on www.hotfrog.com.au seem to be helping the local listing of those in our industry. I’ve tweaked ours now and am waiting to see the impact.



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