Localized Search: A Threat to SEM?
Both local and personalized search extend the "what" of typical search to add the "where" and "who." Geo-location techniques help search engines tailor for local and personalized search. In fact, if you have a Gmail account, you will see personalized and local paid search items based on your email content. What users may not see, however, is information from companies that span multiple geographies, who are at risk of losing ranking spots to more regional or personalized search algorithms.
With the rise in popularity, I think it would be particularly timely to take a look at how organizations can revamp their SEO strategy in this changing search landscape.
First off, you'd better make sure your Web site is fully optimized for content and is search engine "friendly" to begin with. Make sure that the company name, address and contact information (complete with city, state, zip) are on every page on the Web site.
Once your site is optimized correctly, start tackling localized search by making sure you are maximizing your presence on the mapping services like Google Maps, Yahoo Local and MSN Live Local. For example:
Another key factor in your quest to dominate localized and personalized search results is to ensure you are listed in local-specific search engines like Yellowpages.com, Verizon Superpages, Citysearch.com and AOL's City Guide. How?
Another simple yet valuable tip is to get involved in any local online outlets. For instance:
So what's the point of all of this? Research shows that local searchers are more qualified and ready to buy than broad searchers. For example: A user who searches for "used mountain bikes Burlington VT" is probably a lot closer to conversion than a user who searches for " mountain bikes."
Local businesses with little or no online authority can quickly outrank top brand and search competitors for their geographical area by using local search. Which is great -- unless you're MegaBrandX and you've spent millions on your Web site, only to see conversions drop off in six metro areas because of local outlets. With a projected growth rate of 80% per year over the next three years, local search may give SEO a literal run for its money. Big brands, who are already building multiple geo-specific versions of their Web sites (think Nike Running Boston, Nike Running San Francisco, etc.) will suffer the most if they don't step up to fully optimizing for local markets.
It has been said that search is the great equalizer for online businesses, but local search may just tip the scales in the favor of businesses that tap into its full potential.