Location Affects Search Results
Search engines are becoming more and more intelligent these days, as search results are determined by much more than the search terms alone. Currently, there are several different factors that Google and many other search engines provide their search results based on, such as:
Location is very important in search results now that Google has rolled out Google Places and Google Plus with integration to the Google Maps. Google uses your IP address and the settings your Internet Service Provider has put in place to determine the location of a normal computer.
Searching for "web design" will not only try to bring the most relevant results to the search words, but also to the location Google is assuming you are trying to search in. If you live in Albuquerque and you search "web design", you will get some results that are made relevant because they contain the "web design" keywords in their content, but they also have Albuquerque in their content and page titles. Google has made it easier than ever toget more relevant results based on our location.
While this may seem like a great innovation (and in many ways it is), it presents a problem for local businesses in small to medium sized towns. Why is that? It's pretty simple:
In smaller cities and towns, the ISP (Internet Service Provider) usually gives out IP addresses to its customers that are set to be associated with the nearest large city. This results from the fact that in order to serve the "smaller" areas, they are branching off of their big metropolitan networks which are headquartered in the larger cities. This causes a normal home user to surf the internet under a public IP address that registers from the closest metropolis. For example, here in Farmington, NM many customers using Comcast, Century Link and others have an IP address that Google relates to Albuquerque, NM. So searching "web design" without setting your location manually in Google (which is a very convenient feature Google has offered) will return results of "Albuquerque, NM web design".
For Farmington businesses, this introduces a significant problem since many companies don't think to put much about Albuquerque in their content, because they likely aren't doing business outside of Farmington, Aztec, Bloomfield or Kirtland. These location-based results cause the search results to be skewed and companies to be discouraged at their inability to get top rank because their site is not optimized for Albuquerque.
Our Search Engine Optimization services include optimizing for both Farmington and Albuquerque based searches, in order to give our customer the best possible results. Since most of Farmington has an Albuquerque IP address, we establish our "baseline" for results by using search results from an Albuquerque search. This problem will hopefully be resolved in the future, but for now we must rely on creative ways of having our customers content be relevant to both people in Farmington and in Albuquerque.
Thankfully, many users will prepend their search with the name of their city; for example "Farmington web design”, or "Albuquerque website design". Users who do this will get better results for their city, but they will still have to filter through a list that has been skewed by the fact that Google think they are in Albuquerque looking for web design in their area. Obviously the best way to get around this is to be as specific as possible, placing the whole site and state in the search field. When searching this way, Google will be bringing results back from Google Places and will give you maps to specific locations of Businesses.
Changes in Google Search Results
We all have used a search engine at one time or another, and for those who use these search engines casually your probably don't notice when the results changes for a particular keyword or phrase. On the other hand if you are in the Search engine marketing or web development business then you probably pay a little bit more attention to changes in results, or rather a lot more attention. Those in the search engine marketing industry often keep a close eye on their rankings and their client's rankings in search engines regardless of what search engine may be in use (Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.).
One fact that remains the same for any search engine is that the results change, and more importantly the means by which they determine their results also change. What I am making reference to is search engine's algorithms or the mathematical equation that determines a results relevance to a search query. Search engine's algorithms usually change through updates that will occur over a period of a few days. During the time that it takes for an update to take full effect, people will usually start to see their results move. Sometimes a little, sometimes a lot.
However we may start to see a change in the major search engine Google. On March 13 Google's Matt Cutts announced that Google Panda updates were going to become rolling updates rather than updates that would apply themselves over a few days. So what I took this to mean is that Google will now be always changing, to accommodate new rolling updates. This will make it harder for us to tell whether the differences in our rankings is because of optimizations or Google updates. Either way our advice for others in the web development industry or Search engine optimization is the same. Google has not changed its SEO standards therefore they still expect us to create great content that is relevant to users.
At Impala Networks we are always doing our best provide our customers with cutting edge web development and Search engine optimization. If you are interested with having SEO done for your site or you would rather just have your website rebuilt and start from there please feel free to contact us regarding our SEO packages and pricing for websites.
What makes a website have great Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?
SEO is a somewhat-complicated turned somewhat-simple imprecise science, that we happen to be great at! More than anything, great SEO for your website depends on 3 main factors:
- Your website should be constructed from the ground up in such a way that it's considered "Search Engine Friendly". If time permitted, this could br broken down into 10 or 15 basic points. Suffice it to say that if you want your website to have great SEO results, you should either hire out it's construction to professional with a solid track record of success, or you should dedicate several hours to learning about SEO industy standards. Search Engine Optimization best practices change more than you might think. It would be worth your time to consult with someone who's "in the trenches" on a daily basis.
- Your website should have helpful, relevant and unique content. Achieving even a very basic online presence for your business or organization is a step in the right direction, however when it comes to Search Engine Optimization results, there is absolutely no replacement for relevant, helpful content that your target audience will find useful and informative. The content of your website should NOT be aimed at search engines, but rather at your users. More and more Google and other popular search engines are leaning less on keywords and more on page content.
- Your website should have new content posted to it frequently. Just as there is no replacement for high-quality content, there is likewise no replacement for fresh content. Generally speaking, website content is not like your favorite book which you go back to time and time again even though no new chapters have been added. The internet is about information, and it's changing constantly. If search engines notice that your website consistently has the same "old" content month after month it can seriously impact your SEO results. The trick however is NOT to edit or delete older content. Once you've got a page in place, avoid going back to it and revising it time and time again; do however leave it online so that it doesn't become a "dead" URL. If you have to kill an old page, consider putting in place a rewrite rule directing that traffic to a new location. Focus on new pages, new articles, and new content.