By Marc Purtell | Director, SEO
Location, location, location. Every business owner knows that for retail traffic, it’s all about your location. Increasingly, this adage is being applied to search marketing and search engine optimization campaigns. Yes, we have entered the era of geo-targeted digital marketing.
Given the current state of both consumer search behavior and evolving search algorithms in search engines and social media platforms, geo-targeted marketing is moving closer and closer to the center of many digital strategies. Search engines have long been customizing search results based on users’ IP addresses and delivering search results relevant to users’ location and recent searches.
Whereas IP-based search represented the first phase of digital services focusing on user location, the SEO landscape has fully blown open to the possibilities of geo-targeted marketing. Location-based user experience variations are a huge part of mobile search, as well as social media search (specifically with the introduction of Facebook Graph Search).
Let’s examine why that is the case.
The Emergence of Mobile Search
A strong local search presence is important not only to occupy more relevant real estate within search engine results (organic and local listings) but also to stay competitive with the growing market share of Web users who are searching on mobile devices. There are approximately 187 million Americans accessing Web browsers on mobile devices. This number is increasing at a rate of more than 50 percent year-over-year, while the year-over-year increase of those accessing browsers on desktop devices was only 3%, according to the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism 2012 State of News Media report.
With more Americans using mobile devices for Web searches, and the search engine results on mobile devices becoming more geo-centric, having a location-based digital strategy is essential.
Optimizing For Mobile Local Search
The first step to maximizing a company’s presence in local mobile search involves ensuring its website is mobile friendly. As an alternative, companies should develop a mobile-friendly version available and ensuring that NAP data (name, address, phone) is indexable, accurate and consistent across all pages of the site. Having accurate local search engine listings and other citations is also essential to improve visibility and facilitate consumers in visiting physical locations.
The mobile search landscape is constantly changing, and best practices are changing along with it. For this reason, it’s important to stay up to date with the latest trends and be sure to take all necessary steps to stay relevant and visible in mobile search.
The Facebook Graph Search Effect
The launch in January 2013 of Facebook’s Graph Search has forced brands to develop a more nuanced location-based marketing strategy. Graph Search returns results specific to a user’s location when they search for business-oriented queries. This enhances the need to leverage NAP data in a brand’s social media properties.
Graph Search also opens the possibility to leverage several different types of Facebook assets for a business to own as much Graph Search real estate as possible. Specific to location-based marketing, a brand should develop the following assets on Facebook:
- A general Business page
- A Business page for each location (if multiple locations exist)
- A Place page for each location
Developing the above three Facebook pages will allow a company to show up in at least two Graph Search results: one Business Page listing and one Place Page listing.
Given these latest trends favoring location-based targeting, it’s necessary for businesses that have physical locations to play the local marketing game. It’s even becoming important for strictly online businesses to publish website and social media content specific to various geographic locations, such as top markets, in order to maximize their digital presence.
The era of geo-targeted, local search marketing is here. How is your brand adapting to the need to deliver consumers with location-specific content?