Having a website is just not enough any more. As Google becomes more sophisticated, looking to serve searchers with results as specifically as possible, the time of just getting onto the first page of Google no longer works for businesses or SEOs. But why?
In July 2014, Google introduced a new algorithm for local searches, which was later dubbed ‘Google Pigeon’ (most algorithms are named after animals – Zebra, Panda, Penguin, etc. – though Pigeon is an unofficial name). Pigeon was created to highlight local businesses and services over larger and more well known brands. For example, if you typed ‘Bookstore Liverpool’ into Google, you would no longer get the homepages of Waterstones, WHSmiths or Amazon. The pages (and map locations, opening times, etc.) of specific stores and even independent bookshops would be boosted, assuming they have a website.
So optimising your website to show up locally is now vital, as the Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs) can change quite dramatically depending on your location. While Pigeon was released in July 2014 in America, it finally became a factor for UK search results in December 2014, so if you’ve noticed any changes in your website traffic or sales since December (Outside of the Xmas madness, of course) it’s possible your website has been affected by the Pigeon algorithm.
It’s important to target your website geographically for a few reasons. The first is people searching locally are more likely to buy your products and services and are less likely to be researching or looking into a product. If they’re buying a new computer, let’s say, they’re more likely to search ‘PC reviews’, ‘PC Computers’, etc. If they have more intent to buy and need it quick, ‘PC Computers Liverpool’ or ‘PC Computers Merseyside’ then they’re looking for somewhere to buy and get their hands on it faster than through parcel delivery from an online store like Amazon. The second reason for Local SEO is, depending on your industry, local competition can be fierce. Every company now sees the need for a website and social media presence, early converts who could see the advantages are SEO are seeing more and more competition as more companies join in and Google gets better at finding local companies and presenting them as options to clients.
Let’s take some raw numbers as an example. Landscaping and Landscapers is a pretty competitive term in Liverpool. If there are 15 landscape firms in Liverpool, only 10 are going to be shown on the first page of Google. 90% of searchers don’t go past the second page, so a need to optimise a website is critical. But Google won’t just focus on one city, it’ll draw companies from a reasonable radius, so more landscaping firms will be included based in around Merseyside and Cheshire. For argument’s sake, that might boost the number of potential companies to 25. That’s 25 companies for 10 spots. Without Local SEO that’s a lot of potential business to miss out on. SEO is not something that can be done once and that’s it. Like a shark you have to keep moving forward and local SEO needs to be maintained or competitors can overtake you.
As Google seeks to become more specific and refined, the need for your business website to be designed and set out in a way in which Google and its technology can decipher it correctly and cleanly will become a key business imperative.
Here at Pixus we work with local and national brands on a day to day basis, helping them connect with customers both locally and nationwide. If you require advice on competing for SEO locally you can contact us via email or call us today on 0151 426 0317.