Law Firm Web Marketing

    

New Feature on Google Maps Pinpoints Your Current Location

Google Maps Location FeatureGoogle Maps recently implemented a new feature that pinpoints the current location of your computer.

 

When I first checked out this new feature, Google Maps had my current location set in Michigan. They were correct; however I could further dial in my location as specific as my street address.

More Relevant Results

According to Google this feature, known as Automatic Location will help make search more relevant for users. Google states that:

Google Maps will always provide results that we believe are most relevant to your search. Location is one of a number of factors that we use to provide relevant results. For example, if you search for a restaurant chain, you may want to find a branch near you. Now, your initial Maps view will be set to your current location, so that you can get easy access to local results.

In short, Google will automatically pinpoint a user's location based on their IP address. In turn, the search engine results will be customized results based on the user's location. 

Local Marketing Implications

Google Maps Local SEOSo what does this mean for local SEO's and small business marketers? It's an obvious sign that Google is further pursuing local search as the best means to provide quality search results. More importantly, the social media network Google+ is directly tied to locally customized search results. Google+ Local pages, which have replaced the Google Places results, are very important for local SEO.

If your law firm has yet to claim and optimize a Google+ Local page, now is the time. In the near future, these pages may have just as much marketing potential as your firm's website.

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Google's New Local Search Results & How to Optimize Accordingly

The search engine results page is constantly changing and expanding. For instance, have a a look at this screenshot of Google's brand new Local Search results.

Google Local Search

Those who frequently use the Google search engine will certainly find the new look of the local search results rather unique. So it raises a question for those with a business or planning to start one: How do I place my website in the horizontal listings at the very top of the page?

If you raised that question, then read on because I am about to share with you a few local SEO tips in order to help your business grow and get better ranked in Google Local Search.

Phase I: Claim, Verify, & Populate Your Google+ Page

The results shown when you search for a certain business on Google, or any search engine, depend on a specific number of variables, such as directory listings, business's web presence (such as social media pages) and last but not least, having a Google+ Page.

The last of these variables, The Google+ page, is an crucial step in getting your business properly listed. While it is true most of these businesses already have an Google+ page, usually one that's already generated by Google, more often than not the Google+ page is not properly claimed and verified the Google+ page in order for it to generate its maximum potential.

So the first step into getting your business optimized in Google Local Search is to find this Google+ page of yours and in the lower right side of the screen you will see an option to claim the Google+ page as your own. Once you click it, you'll have to go through a verification system, in which they'll send a postcard to your business address in order to verify that you truly own the business you try to claim.

In the meanwhile, you should go ahead and fill your businesses Google+ page with all the needed contact information, address, additional information, links perhaps? You want to include pretty much everything a prospect would want to read.

Phase II: Pinpoint & Build Citations

A citation basically consists of your company's Name, address and phone number, commonly referred to as NAP. Citations are commonly found social sites and directories that contain a listing of a specific business.

Citations are extremely important, for when Google is determining its Local Search rankings, it will sort them according to the volume, quality and accuracy of a certain business's citation.

So technically, the more citations you have, the higher your business's rank will be. Its rather obvious, but you should know the two most important elements of a citation:

  • Quality/Relevancy: Its extremely important not only HOW many citations are found but WHERE they are found. A business citation of a marketing business in a fashion directory is rather irrelevant.
  • Accuracy: Arguably the most important feature of a citation. If any of your citation information (NAP) is incorrect or inconsistent, it can potentially affect your ranking in Google Local Search.

So keep in mind what I said when you seek websites to built your citations. Below I have compiled a list of some of the most trusted and influential sources for citations:

Note that you should always keep on eye on the competitors. I recommend you thoroughly inspect the search engine result page and get an idea on which websites and directories your business should be on.

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Did Google Pigeon Help or Hinder Your Local SEO?

Google PigeonGoogle is known for its highly advanced search algorithms which form the backbone of its powerful search engine that drives majority of the searches that take place in modern day internet. Keeping in line with this trend, the company has released a new algorithm named 'Pigeon' that is all set to redefine how people interact with local search results.

Pigeon and What it Means for Local SEO

Till the advent of Google's Pigeon search algorithm, local sites and marketers had a really tough time gaining visibility for their businesses and services when it came to search engine results. Thanks to this major overhaul from Google's end, small businesses and local SEO have now a shot at making it big and gaining more consumers for their business.

Small businesses have long complained that Google was taking unfair advantage of its dominance over internet searches and giving them poor visibility. For example, prior to this update, searches with Yelp always took backstage when compared to local listings shown by Google which were paraded at the top of the results. But the Pigeon update has brought smiles back to the faces of local SEO as Yelp sites are now receiving their own space at the top of the search engine ranking podium which has been long due.

Google's release of Pigeon search algorithm shows that it is committed towards improving the visibility of local SEO and giving them their fair share of recognition. The search results offered via Pigeon takes into account new parameters which were previously ignored or given less significance by Google. This includes the likes of location of the business and the distance at which it is located. So users can now receive results which are far more accurate and relevant to what they are looking for.

What if Pigeon Affects your Rankings?

While some businesses might gain due to the Pigeon update, there might be others who might see a sharp decline in their search engine rankings, especially the smaller ones. This might be due to the fact that they might have gone ahead with their own version of search engine optimization for their website. But all is not lost.

Pigeon will continue to get regular refinements and this means that as a small business owner, you still have time to set things straight in terms of the SEO that your site has undergone. Hence, it would be preferable to handover the local SEO Traverse City of your business to a well-experienced company that has the resources to boost your sales. Plus, understanding the factors based on which Google judges your business might give you a cue on the areas that you need to improve upon so that your business receives a SEO facelift.

As of now, Google's Pigeon has not been rolled out to the entire world. For the time being, only US English results will be impacted by this change and it will be gradually released to other languages and nations as well. But we can safely speculate that Pigeon is here to stay and revolutionize the way local business use the internet to bridge the divide between them and consumers.

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