Cliches exist for a reason: They are true. The phrase in the headline has always been good marketing advice — for both bricks-and-mortar businesses as well as online ones.
If you wanted to open a four-star restaurant with $40 appetizers, $100 entrees, and $1,000 bottles of wine, you would not place it in a blue-collar, working-class suburb. You would put it in the an affluent neighborhood in the downtown section of the nearest large city, preferably close to the business district.
Likewise, it is also important to consider location for your online real-estate — namely, your business’s website. And Google may have just made it easier to do so:
“We’ve always focused on offering people the most relevant results. Location is one important factor we’ve used for many years to customize the information that you find. For example, if you’re searching for great restaurants, you probably want to find ones near you, so we use location information to show you places nearby.
Today we’re moving your location setting to the left-hand panel of the results page to make it easier for you to see and control your preferences. With this new display you’re still getting the same locally relevant results as before, but now it’s much easier for you to see your location setting and make changes to it.”
When you navigate Google from an online-marketing standpoint for your business, it is important to ensure that the new setting is for the location of your target market. That way, you can see industry-focused search results for that locality — not only can you see how your website appears, you can also see those of your competitors. (First, of course, you’ll need to add your business to Google Places — formerly Google Maps and Google Local.)
But this is not the only recent change by Google regarding local-based search:
“Now, when you look at a Place page for a business, you’ll see a section on the page called ‘Reviews from around the web.’ This section highlights reviews from a variety of sources, and helps you identify the sites that have high-quality, relevant information about a particular place. In many cases, this newly formatted section also provides a quick summary of what you can expect to see, including the number of reviews from each source and the average star rating that reviewers on that site gave a place.”
It is not an understatement to say the Internet has both globalized and democratized the world. Back in the 1990s, sites like eBay and Amazon revolutionized business by placing an heretofore-unprecedented emphasis on feedback. When buyers and sellers — or even clients and companies — interact digitally across countless miles and borders, the promise (or threat) of good (or bad) feedback is sometimes the only barrier to stop those few who are unscruplous and unprincipled.
Google had tried to incorporate user reviews through partnering with Yelp, but the relationship reportedly ended after internal conflicts. Now, however, Yelp has returned to take a place among the web reviews that are now being indexed by Google.
The search-engine giant’s increasing focus on local search and reviews will likely become yet another way for Google to deliver more-accurate search results and online advertisements to individuals. From keyword targeting to behavioral targeting to now location targeting, Google is looking to dominate online search and advertising further in a world of an infinite number of single-person demographics that has replaced the mass market once used by newspapers, radio, and television:
“Better location means better ad targeting and more accurate local organic results. Eventually location can become a proxy for demographic data if enough users turn over their home zip codes.
The location capture above is not necessarily seeking home zip. But ultimately Google might be able to start selling audiences (via location) along with keywords, based on Census and Claritas demographic data.
It may or may not ever happen but this is the general direction online advertising is going overall — selling people not publishers.”