Last week I sat down with a new client to discuss their new website, and they caught me off guard with their first question. “Okay Jeremy, I just have to know. How did your company get to be #1 in Google for Ohio website design?” “Huh?!?” I responded. The last I checked, we were on page 5 for that term. But suddenly – sometime in the past two weeks, we’d skyrocketed to position #1 on page 1!
The reason for the better ranking is part of Google’s new “blended search” results.
One component of their blended search results is the Local Business results — a list of 10 area businesses that are geographically relevant to the search. Online marketers have coined this part of the page the “10-pack.”
At first I thought this ranking was a fluke…
I’ve been kind-of quiet about our ranking up until now, because I thought it was a fluke. We HAVE put a lot of effort into optimizing our website for search engines. Regardless, I thought that the “10 Pack” was based more on geography than true SEO prowess. Of course, that begged the question… “why am I #1 when we’re in a small town on the north side of the state? Why aren’t all the Columbus Ohio firms in the center of the state ranking #1 for a search in a broad geography like ‘Ohio’?”
So I dug in and researched it yesterday, and found out it’s not a fluke.
Google seems to base the local results on a lot more than geography. A number of the same factors used in traditional SEO apply to Local Search results. We’ve implemented a lot of these things on our website to improve our search engine optimization. We’ve applied them on the websites we design for our clients too. It turns out that the common sense stuff we’ve been doing just happens to be the very criteria that Google is looking for to rank local businesses.
Google’s new strategy helps small, local businesses to compete with the mega websites.
Here’s the best part. Google is now mixing local results in, even for generic searches.
Take the term “florist” for example. If you do a search for “Cleveland Ohio florist” it stands to reason that you’ll see florists in Cleveland Ohio. But Google has found that many folks don’t think to put geography in their search. They live in Cleveland, they want a local florist, but they just type “florist” in Google without a city or state.
Google has identified many business categories like florist, plumber, lawyer, etc — and they are including their 10-pack on generic searches too!
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This is good news for small businesses everywhere. If you’re a florist — you don’t have to be buried on page 15 of Google while yellow pages and national florist directories & link farms dominate page 1.
We’re going to continue to put a lot of emphasis on search engine optimization here at Spire. This news about local search is further encouragement that we can help even the smallest, most local businesses build a strong presence online and connect them with their customers.