Refining Local Search

As the prominence of local search results grows, and more and more businesses come on board, Google continues to implement plans to make local search more effective. Throughout the last few years changes and features have come and gone and this year will be no exception! One new feature, just recently announced, will include some refinements for local search results on Google.

Google’s Example

Designed mostly for exploring things to experience in a particular city, the results will now display other popular points of interest when you search for something say, in Maui, which is Google’s example. When a location is searched for, they will now provide results of other interesting and related attractions and sites in the area. At the moment, this is available in about 200 U.S. cities, with plans to expand to more in the coming weeks. As Big G continues to expand this feature and offer other similar items for local searches, the value could be enormous for businesses that have optimized their listings and have the potential to drive traffic from these points of interest.

Also important are the “enhanced listings” Google has been testing. The flat fee program allows you to highlight certain things within your local business listing, like videos, photos, coupons, and more. These enhanced features give more visibility and encourage more clicks on your listing, helping you get more traffic. Noted search expert Mike Blumenthal has a great post on enhanced listings with some screenshots, and some helpful insights as well.

Location Based Services Are Powerful Tools

Along with changes that Google is making to their local search components, the growing importance of sites like Foursquare and GoWalla is also adding new opportunities for local businesses to increase visibility online. Search Engine Land discussed what they called ”location wars” and the impact of “check-in” sites. The stats about the traffic for sites like Foursquare are staggering. As the article points out, “Check-ins and tips are to local business reviews what Tweets are to blog posts”. It could prove powerful to make sure you are utilizing these sites. Foursquare even has a program to help you encourage locals to check-in. So what does this all mean for your business?

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