Google’s incorporation of locally targeted sites is one of the most visible changes to the search engine’s results pages (SERPs) in recent times. During the roll-out of the Google Panda update, advanced local results powered by Google Places were also implemented. This has altered the way search results respond to search queries that have location-specific information within them or where user location is pre-determined by the search engine.
Local = Relevance
This major shift in Google results was an indicator of a general trend within the search market. Local SEO, powered by Google Places, is now a prominent element of search marketing due to increased use of search on mobile platforms. The high prominence and space devoted to local listings on SERPs on desktops mean that focus should be placed on targeting web users by location-specific keywords. Local modifiers, keywords with location specific information, are being used extensively and generally attain higher conversion rates than keywords without any location specified.
Local results are more relevant to search engine users because they provide results that are much more likely to be accessible to the consumer. While geography is a critical component for relevancy of local results, localized content also plays a key role. Companies that have an international presence should utilise Google Places to drive traffic and conversions by creating and managing local listings.
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Optimizing Local Listings
Localizing a Google Places listing isn’t primarily about the inclusion of geo-local information and local modifiers to attain a higher rank. Information provided on a Google places listing must be localized for the audience, i.e. a Paris listing should have information in French with local contact details.
Google Places information aids organic results by providing more information to search engine users. This enhances the visual appeal of a listing and increases the click-through rate. Generating user reviews on a Places page improves credibility and, in turn, visitor conversion rates. Furthermore, the use of different keywords or terms, in user generated content, has a fringe benefit of expanding the online reach of a business to a wider audience.
Adding localized keywords to a profile is a good way of attaining high rankings for targeted keywords. In less competitive foreign markets, a highly visible 1st page presence for local, relevant keywords is fast, relatively simple to achieve via Google Places.