Venice Update Puts More Emphasis on Local Search

In case you missed it, one of Google’s most recent updates puts even more emphasis on local search. Called the Venice update, it was quietly released among dozens of other changes. Google now applies the user’s location data to organic search results. While searches used to give location-based results only when a local place name was typed into the search query, it now automatically adds the user’s physical location into the mix based on search settings and IP addresses.

According to the official Google Inside Search blog, the Venice update “improves the triggering of Local Universal results by relying more on the ranking of our main search results as a signal.”

In other words, a generic search term like “plumbing” will no longer give only generic global results for plumbing services and ideas. Instead, the search results will be influenced by the user’s Google search setting location and IP address location. If your potential customers have their Google search settings set to their local city, this city will show up in their search results. If the search is done in Virginia Beach, for example, some Virginia Beach plumbing services will be listed. If the search is done in Atlanta, some Atlanta plumbers will show up.

As a business owner, it is now more important than ever that you provide some location information on your website so that your company can rank well on search engine results pages. Here are a few Venice-friendly ways to do that:

•    Include your company’s physical store locations on your website. If your business is service-based, put the names of the cities and towns you serve within your website copy.

•    Use place names in your blog posts. Make note of local activities or events. This is not only helpful to readers, but to Google’s automated spiders that crawl the web.

•    If you’re a regional or national company, customize location-based landing pages for your website to particular regions, cities and towns.

•    If you use analytics to track your website’s visitors, use their locations as a basis for choosing which cities to highlight.

Adding your business’ locations to your web pages will help you rank on local and generic searches, even when your potential customers don’t specify a city in the search box.

One thing to avoid, of course, is using the exact same wording and information on different web pages with only the city name changed. Google frowns upon duplicate content, so keep it unique from page to page.

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