When Google announced on April 1 that it would be bringing back the "search nearby" function to Google Maps, there was an audible sigh of relief from various corners of the Internet. Search Engine Land recently wrote the search engine behemoth received significant blowback earlier this year in February after it updated its Map tool, which saw the local search option apparently removed. According to SEL, users still had the ability to search for local businesses using the new map, but it was anything but intuitive for most people.
Businesses should look local
The backlash calls attention to the fact that local search marketing continues to be an important resource for many companies, regardless of their size. Not only is Google a popular resource for customers looking for restaurants, service providers, government offices and any number of businesses, but it's probably one of the best resources for enterprises looking to take advantage of local search marketing. Not all organizations understand how to get started, so Forbes suggested they begin by adding their information to online resources, such as Google Plus Local or Angie's List. This is often as simple as clicking on a link that prompts the user to input contact information and other general content.
Google keeps local companies in view
From this point, Myles Anderson, contributor to Search Engine Land conducted a study comparing keyword use in various locations searching on Google, Bing and Yahoo. The research showed generic search terms, such as dentist or builder, were given greatest prominence – more listings on the first page result – on Google. On the other hand, longtail keywords, or those with a narrower focus, were displayed with much less frequency on the first page result.
At the same time, Anderson suggested Google serves local companies' best interests better by integrating location-specific aspects, including the searcher's IP address, to display results. Yet, Search Engine Watch explained the keywords that companies use on their websites are useful for unlocking the local market. These can include neighborhoods, city and town names, area codes, ZIP codes and well-known landmarks that customers can refer to so that they can find the business.
While many business owners want to drive more attention to the products and services they provide, this approach may be end up being too narrow and will negatively impact their SEO. Anderson's study, however, concluded geographically-linked keywords are far more effective on search engines like Yahoo and Bing, but the tools Google uses to integrate location are more effective to drive traffic to local businesses.