It has been a little more than 2 months since Google unveiled their new Universal Search product to the search community at large. What have we seen since then? Hitwise reports that Google Maps and Youtube have seen significant increases in traffic from google.com. Google Images and Google News have declined slightly, as they lost their valuable positions within Google’s “onebox” results at the top of the SERPs. I have spoken with a lot of people who are concerned about their hard-won organic rankings being crowded out by several different types of search results on one page. Frankly, I would be worried too if all of my eggs were in one basket.
The challenges presented by Universal Search are only outweighed by the potential benefits to savvy online marketers. Universal Search, or some variation of it, seems to be the future of how search engine results will be displayed. Knowing that, here are some tips for you to take advantage of this growing trend by optimizing your content for the various channels that we see appearing in the new Universal SERPs. We will cover 1 search vertical per day, so check back tomorrow for the next installment.
7.31 Google Maps
1. Look for your business in Google Maps. Is your company listed? If not, sign up for Google’s Local Business Center to tell Google about your business. You can offer detailed descriptions of products and services offered, contact information, driving directions, hours of operation, payment methods and more. If your business is already listed in Google Maps, click the “Add or edit your business” button to take control of your listing and verify that they have the most up-to-date and robust information possible.
2. Make your business address easy to find on your website. The best place is in the footer on every page so that your site visitors will know exactly where to go when they are ready to buy. Search engines will find this useful as well. If you have multiple locations, consider an information page for each. Make them more relevant to their street, neighborhood, city, state or country by adding useful content.
3. Get links to your site from other local resources. Try the local media sites (press releases work well), Chamber of Commerce directories, local business associations, yellow pages sites, review sites (Yelp.com, epinions.com, rateitall.com, etc). Write content for local sites, blogs or forums and include a link to your site in your byline. Get creative. Be the “go-to” expert in your line of work in your geographic area. Host or sponsor local events or charities. Your search engine rankings won’t be the only beneficiary 😉
4. “Localize” your website’s content. Are your products and services geared towards a specific geographic area? Mention that in your website copy. Search engines will find your site relevant for customers searching in your area even if they don’t specify a location in their search query.
These basic first steps will give you control over your Google Maps listings and allow you to start optimizing your site, your content and your web visibility to start attracting more visitors from your local area. Check back tomorrow for the next chapter in “How to Dominate Google’s Universal Search: Google News”.
Updated list of categories covered:
7/31 – Google Maps
8/1 – Google News
8/2 – Youtube Video
8/3 – Google Images
8/6 – Google Blog Search
8/8 – Google Base
8/9 – Google Books
8/10 – Google Groups
8/13 – Google Code Search
Any others I’m missing? Leave a comment. Thanks!