This is no surprise to anybody that has investigated local search marketing lately, but Google just announced a fundamental shift in the way they represent local search results within the normal web search results.
You are probably used to seeing Google Maps local search results show up when you type a normal location-based query into Google. They tend to look something like this:
So what changed? They are now using your computer’s IP address to geo-target the local results even if you don’t type in a geographic modifier keyword.
According to their blog post:
We like to make search as easy as we can, so we’ve just finished the worldwide rollout of local search results on a map, which will now appear even when you don’t type in a location. When you search on Google, we will guess where you are and show results near you.
That means you can search for “pizza” or “dentist” without adding a location keyword such as “Richmond, VA” or “Ann Arbor, MI”. Google will show you the closest results based on your IP address if they can determine it with any accuracy.
Implications for Search Marketers
If you have a local business or any physical presence (storefront, office, distribution center), head over to the Google Local Business Center to create or claim your business listing in Google Maps. From there, you can take advantage of the following offerings:
- Verify that your information is correct and correct any errors
- Add more detailed information about your products and services
- Upload photos or videos
- Add coupons
Additionally, focus on optimizing your website for local search terms. Be sure to include your address, zip code, and phone number (with area code!) in your site’s footer, on a contact page, or any other appropriate place. Even if people don’t have to type them in to Google anymore, you want the search engine’s crawlers to note your physical presence.
Don’t try to fake your location to appear more relevant than you really are. Many companies are trying to create fake, spammy business listings in Google Maps. They are routinely getting removed and penalized for this behavior. Keep it legit!