No. 21
August 14th, 2007

Patent Expert Shares Insight on Google’s Local Strategies

Bill Slawski, who is probably the world’s foremost search engine patent expert, authored a post today that spoke to some of the factors Google looks at when deciding to display local information.

Bill’s article isn’t necessarily concerned with advice on how to use Google’s patent to your advantage, but rather a more objective look at what’s involved when Google’s algorithm makes the decision about what information to show next to your company’s result on the Search Engine Results Page. In some cases you can get a bonus “plus” that allows visitors to see where you are on a map even before clicking through to your business (see image).

Google Local SERP Results

Without regurgitating his entire article (which you should absolutely click through and read, by the way), the upshot is that it is absolutely critical for businesses interested in local search traffic to list their address and contact information in searchable text on as many pages as possible throughout the site. Whether that’s in a footer, sidebar, or what have you, make sure this information is present. Font size is irrelevant to search engines, particularly with the advent of CSS, so if you’re greatly concerned with how this will affect the look of your site, it can certainly be at 8 or 9pt.

If possible, make this information match your WHOIS record (the address and contact information you listed when you reserved your domain name–you can always verify or change this by contacting your registrar) as well as any Local Business Center submissions your company has made.

At first, I read this post with great excitement, because I thought it meant that REAL local businesses (as opposed to nationwide review sites like Yelp and Citysearch, or referral networks like Boulevards’ would really benefit from this algorithmic strategy. But after doing a couple of test searches and seeing this in action, I’m not sure it makes any differences. It looks like the programming engineers behind these big sites have figured out how to feed that information to Google’s algorithm anyway, making it even more important for real SmBusiness websites to do the same.