Google’s catching up with local search focus

Google is at last catching up with Goop Digital. Seriously, the search engine giant is now pushing what Goop Digital and its Geelong search engine optimisation team has been selling for years – local solutions for local people searching online for local services.

For the better part of a decade Goop Digital has been creating SEO websites that get clients found online for what they do, where they do it! It’s one of the Goop Digital mantras: What you do, where you do it! Delete all the clever words, erase all the pretty pictures and bright colours, cut it back to the bare bones and the sole purpose of a Goop Digital SEO website is to get the name, telephone number and address of local businesses found online by local people searching in Google for local services. What you do = provide a local service. Where you do it = your locale.

Like we said, we’ve been focused on local since day one. Now, amongst everything else it’s doing, both out in the open and behind closed doors, Google has sharpened its omnipresent focus and zeroed in on searches for local services. From an increased emphasis on its Google My Business listings and knowledge panels, through to the newly minted Google Local Service Ads, due to touch down in Australia any day, Google is trying to ensure its listings provide the local answer for local searchers seeking local solutions by searching in Google for local services. There’s enough local in there to send you loco!

As well as being a conduit leading searchers to websites which advertise the services searchers seek, Google’s stepping up the push of its own listings and products in the online mix. Looking at it from one perspective, it’s feasible to suggest websites which once fought to finish above other websites in the contest for searchers’ attention now have to compete with the offerings of Google, provider of the very arena in which websites are competing.

Before anybody cries foul, remember Google’s doing nothing wrong. It’s not stealing anybody’s online traffic – it provides the traffic! As well as being a superlative search engine, Google is a business and, like any business, exists to make money. And it makes money by offering its services, such as Google Ads and the new Local Service Ads, to those who want to pay for guaranteed prominence in searches.  If you object to the way Google and its search engine work, don’t use it. Use another search engine. You’ll be in a lonely minority if you abandon Google, but you do have the choice to take your search elsewhere.

SEO websites sticking around

From Goop Digital’s perspective, Google’s sharpened focus on local search is just another step in online marketing’s evolution and, just as Darwin’s theory of evolution posed, businesses will adapt and change as time passes. In the interim we know our SEO websites will be around for a long, long time to come. Why? There are plenty of reasons but here are two: First, a new study by US search marketing gurus Moz suggests businesses with websites that are prominent in organic search results are also prominent in Google’s local search results. The SEO websites from our Geelong HQ certainly tick off that box. Second reason, because as well as evolution being a slow process, there are gaping holes in Google’s offerings, the most obvious being that, outside its search engine, many Australians have little idea about Google’s other marketing services, let alone how to use them or how they work.

The Moz study,  The State of Local SEO Industry Report 2019, has revealed serious pitfalls in local search, perhaps the standout being that a business’s proximity to a searcher doesn’t necessarily mean quality. Moz puts it a little more bluntly: “Nearby results can be terrible experiences for searchers.” Ouch! Moz also says the ball “is in Google’s court to correct a clear overemphasis on location for the sake of improving searcher experience”.

But the Moz study doesn’t just challenge Google, it also throws down a metaphorical gauntlet to small business marketers, challenging them to get with the times and start learning about opportunities online. The Moz research revealed 60 percent of companies don’t have a strategy for handling online reviews, one in five in-house small business marketers don’t use SEO and most have little or no strategy for implementing best-practice marketing techniques. Worrying, but not surprising, 20 percent of in-house marketers have no idea about the Google Knowledge Panel.

How’s your knowledge panel knowledge?

Do you know about the Google Knowledge Panel? If you’re a business owner or marketer you should know, because it’s a free online marketing tool and shows up in about 40 percent of Google searches. At Goop Digital, checking and taking care of clients’ business listings and knowledge panels is one of our first tasks when new businesses sign up with us.

The Google Knowledge Panel is that box, or card if you like, that appears to the right of Google’s search results underneath information about a business. Do a Google search for “Goop Digital” and you’ll see our business listing and knowledge panel to the right of the search results. Our phone number’s there, our address, our hours, our reviews. It’s great free publicity. Google dictates what knowledge panels show – the knowledge panel of Apple, for example, includes the company’s stock price, details of its founders, its subsidiaries and more – but it’s a great marketing tool and every business should be using it to its advantage.

Enough! We’re around the 1000-word mark and that’s more than enough to test anybody’s attention span. Google’s foray into local search will continue and businesses have two choices: Stick their heads in the sand and ignore Google’s offerings at their peril. Or businesses can embrace change and evolve. At Goop Digital we’ll thoroughly test what the search giant produces because some offerings simply don’t work – Google+, Google Hangouts and Google Buzz spring to mind – and we’ll implement what works and abandon what doesn’t. If you’d like your business to evolve with us and want to find out more about local search opportunities, our thoughts on the Moz report or about the range of services available at our SEO website company in Geelong, please contact Goop Digital online or give us a call on (03) 5222 4220.

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