Google announced another algorithm update a few weeks ago under the code name Venice. The update is rumoured to include 40 algorithm changes not all of which affect local SEO but none the less that is the biggest news story to come out of the Venice release.
You may have noticed that when you perform a search even if you aren’t signed into a Google account you are presented with your location on the left hand side. Invariably this is based on your ISP and can sometimes be adrift by a few miles or more from your actual location. This is the information that Google is using to refine or influence the search results that it returns. You can change or override the location if Google have got it wrong and this is what we’ve done here to illustrate how the Venice update is changing local website search results.
The photos below show a search for the word “Restaurant” with the location set first for Wigan and then again for Liverpool. You can see how the local Google places listings dominate the results page even though our search was for a generic term without a town name modifier. It’s not only the Google Places results that are influenced its the normal organic listings below them too.
So generic search terms are being affected as the above examples show. This is great news for local businesses that have a website designed to be focused on one town, It’s not good news however for national companies or even small businesses who want to rank in more than one town. Your business may be based in Wigan but also want your website to target St Helens and Warrington, You may even want your website to target the whole of Merseyside or Cheshire. If you’ve snubbed SEO until now then you really should consider changing your mind and fast.
I’ve done quite a lot of research and conducted experiments on test websites and domains since this update. I’ve analysed data from clients websites in Merseyside and competitors websites and there are quite a number of consistent patterns.
The good news is that website structures and content can be edited and adapted to take advantage of this latest algorithm change. It isn’t a simple edit however and depending on your current website design or structure it may be worth considering that new web design that you’ve been putting off for months.
I’ve already spoken with several clients who have noticed a slip in local search positions since the Venice update and who are now looking at implementing the changes to their website that I have discussed with them. On the downside, we have no idea how long this algorithm change will be around. If Google decides in a few months time that the latest update is providing less relevant search results then it may make further algorithm changes, that said, the changes that we propose are all ethical SEO techniques that won’t harm your Google search rankings even if the next update moves the goal posts again.
This latest Venice update is a classic example of why any business large or small should have an ongoing SEO plan in place. If your existing website has fallen recently from some local search results then please get in touch using the contact button on the right of the screen to see what can be done.
If you are planning on having a new website designed anytime soon that targets multiple towns or cities then make sure that your chosen web designer is familiar with this latest update and can design a website to rank for local searches.
This article was written by Gwiz
SEO Geek, Web Designer and Online Marketing Advisor. Steve works with businesses of all sizes across the UK and blogs about small business, marketing, web design and SEO at http://stevegrady.org