There’s an unwritten rule in the search industry that the practice of SEO is always changing.
You have to be vigilant and keep your eye out for algorithm releases and search engine adjustments to always make sure that your business can be found easily, quickly, and effectively.
That’s what happens when an industry follows a juggernaut like Google. Google has the lion’s share of the search market. Get your marketing strategy right and it will deliver some incredibly targeted, relevant traffic.
You always have to be on guard, though, for when the team at Google wakes up one day and decides to change its entire algorithm! But that’s the world of search marketing, and its benefits far outweigh the negatives.
Local search, for instance, is an essential aide for small business looking to grow their online presence. But Google’s changed it again. At the same time, though, Facebook has released a ‘guided browsing’ feature, but is it a feature set to rival Google’s?
What are your thoughts on Facebook’s guided browsing feature? Will it help local search or be a competitor to Google’s efforts? Let me know in the comments section below.
It’s always a hold-your-breath moment when Google makes a change, but this latest one is more a design choice than a complete overhaul of its algorithm.
Never released in Europe Google had a feature stateside called the carousel feature which has been especially prominent for local search results in the US. We have something similar; when searching for an actor or a film Google’s Knowledge Graph always gives me immediate, relevant visual information.
It’s been a controversial local search measure in North America for SEOs, though, and has covered local results such as restaurants, nightlife, entertainment, and hotels.
It’s now gone, and in its place is what has been dubbed a ‘three-pack’ of results for local searches, appearing directly below AdWords results.
They’re not paid-for results, though, and are organic. Recent studies have shown that people will be able to book hotel rooms and possibly other options in future, alongside more information.
How is this relevant to us, though? Anything Google does is relevant. Though Europe hasn’t had a carousel it’s more than likely that we might be seeing this three-pack of listings sometime in the near future.
Places to see
It’s quite an overhaul for local search over the water and offers more opportunities for smaller business to attract traffic to their website.
But where does Facebook come into things?
Facebook has also been working on its local search capabilities and has recently released an updated version of its Places directory.
Facebook Places is clearly a work in progress, but a hugely interesting one, too. The new Facebook Places takes into consideration information from its graph search, a page location’s API, and more to create a new site that helps people discover attractions in their local area.
They’re calling it guided browsing. People can choose categories they wish to explore and the top results appear to be based on ratings, reviews, network affinity, and more. There are also options available for people to help them filter down their results.
It’s not perfect but a company with the resources of Facebook will look to refine it in the very near future. Don’t be surprised if they start to roll a feature such as this out for mobile devices.
It’s a natural progression for Facebook and, more importantly, one that is looking to bring more local advertising revenue into their model.
What do you do to attract local traffic to your website? Which success stories have brought people in your area to you online and kept them there? Let me know below!
Creative community building
I’ve previously written about how all signs are pointing to local search being the future of online marketing, and Google’s recent refinements combined with Facebook’s improvements to Places make the theory all the more convincing.
But why? Well, it’s a mixture of reasons. The advancement of social media, the improvement of technology, the reach of the internet, the recession… It’s brought people together in ways never previously seen, and opened up a new world for people to discover online.
And, as mentioned earlier, there’s a lot of money in local search. Smaller businesses that get it right, both off- and online, can build up wonderful communities of loyal customers over time and become real success stories.
It’s part of why the UK has such a wonderful entrepreneurial spirit; it’s smaller businesses that are the core of this country and help make it such a fantastic place to live and work in, not just the success of big business.
But, more importantly, this also shows how important social media is when it comes to search marketing, and how important several smaller strategies should be used in regard the bigger picture.
Small steps to success
Search marketing isn’t a one-size-fits-all marketing solution for everybody that’ll produce a huge ROI. Every business is different and has different goals and objectives.
Your strategy, therefore, has to reflect those ambitions. But the one thing every business has in common when they start out online is that they should start small and local, and cultivate a community that’s mutually beneficial.
The point to take from this post is not that search giant Google and social media company Facebook are competing for local advertising revenue.
The point is that there are more options than ever before for small businesses to create local communities and get themselves noticed than ever before.
The things that you need to concentrate on are your time and money. Which platform works best for your strategy, and how much time should you spend on each marketing channel to maximise its usefulness?
Combining channels and strategies is a fantastic way for small businesses to get themselves noticed on a local scale, especially if they remember to always put their customers first.
If you’d like to know more about local search and how to get your online business more visible in local search results chat to Webpresence today!