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Local Search Challenges for SEO

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What is “local” in a global community?  The internet first expanded outward, bringing the furthest corners of the earth closer together.  Now, the focus is on drawing us back to our local areas.  Search is narrowing and becoming a more personalized experience.  Google, as always, is on the leading edge of search innovations, and the search giant rolled out Places.  This change to the search algorithm puts local businesses at the top of the SERP.  What does that mean for global or international businesses?

How does Places work?  When a user conducts a search for local services, such as hotels in London, several area businesses will appear at the top of the page with a red symbol by it.  The symbol is for local places, and you can go to the left side of the SERP and click on the “Place” link to search results that are limited to local businesses.  What is the problem for internationally-based businesses?  In many ways, it is very similar to the problems faced by small, local companies who try to compete on the global internet scene.

The local companies have a disadvantage there because they typically do not offer the same type of volume pricing and services as larger, international corporations.  They do not often have the same type of brand power.  As search localizes, some experts say that international or at least non-local businesses will be seen as “outsiders,” which is a difficult concept with which to compete.

It remains to be seen how Places will affect search engine optimisation efforts for global companies and what, if anything, will need to be adjusted.  For now, targeting long-tail keywords and optimising them for specific markets remains a good idea.  If you do not have a physical location in a specific area but do serve people and customers there, set register with Places so you can appear on local searches.

Local searches are a benefit to consumers and for specific types of searches. It is doubtful, though, that Places can take down multinational corporations with one fell swoop.  It is always smart, however, to remain committed to your SEO campaign and continually look at ways to improve and enhance it.

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