Where Does Location Fit into the SEO Equation?

Targeting Consumers Where They Are and Where They've Been

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We’re living in an increasingly open and revealing world where people are eager to tell you where they are, where they’ve been, and where they’re going. Not everyone is so eager, but location-sharing is a rising trend that is not to be ignored. Naturally, the phenomenon will have a growing impact on search.

There is still plenty of room for conversation about what location means to search.  Tell us what you think.

Remember when the industry was still trying to make sense of how social media and search fit together? It’s now fitting together in a variety of ways, and now we’re at a similar point with location and search.  

Google Has Its Own Significant Amount of Location Sharers

At the Web 2.0 Expo this week, Google Product Manager Steve Lee revealed some interesting info about Google Latitude, the company’s location-sharing service, which has been around since long before location-sharing became such a huge trend. Foursquare – the location-sharing service you hear about most these days, has a million users. Latitude has 3 million active users, and this year it’s grown 30% per month each month so far.

MG Siegler at TechCrunch says Lee hinted that Latitude would soon have a check-in component, something that has made services like Foursquare so popular, and of great use to local businesses. He also said that Latitude has taken some time to gain ground because of iPhone’s lack of the ability to run services in the background (so there isn’t a Latitude iPhone app), but the iPhone OS will have that ability, and Android usage is on the rise (apparently BlackBerry has been big for the service as well). Over 10% of All Android users are using Latitude.

Location as a Search Signal

Google has been very open about how much emphasis it is placing on mobile, and mobile and location-sharing go to together like corn flakes and milk. Smartphone usage will continue to grow. Therefore location-sharing will continue to grow. Android usage in particular is growing rapdily.

Diana Pouliot, Director of Mobile Advertising at Google recently said a third of all Google searches via the mobile web pertain to some aspect of the searcher’s local environment. The company has also been quoted as saying it thinks of location as a "hugely important signal."

With Google’s newly redesigned SERPs, location-based searches will increase, or rather filtering searches by location will. With the "nearby" option more visible, it stands to reason more people will use it. At this point, I’m not seeing real-time location-based info here, but that may change in the future. Google will continue making tweaks and adding features, and having real-time info here may begin to make sense.

Best Pizza in Nearby Results on Google


Of course you have the Updates option as well, where you get the real-time info. There’s not a "nearby" sub-option under this option at this point, but with Twitter enabling location info, Facebook launching such a feature soon, and of course Google’s own Buzz, it would also make sense for that sub-option to appear here soon. Don’t be surprised if it does.

Best Pizza in Updates Results on Google

According to Siegler, Google has been working "heavily" on location history with regard to Latitude, with updates to this feature expected in the coming weeks. "This will allow people who run Latitude in the background to get interesting information and data about where they’ve been," he says.

Facebook Will Likely Have Location Info This Month

According to AdAge, Facebook will be launching its location-sharing feature as early as this month. McDonalds is already building a campaign around it, and others are waiting to do the same.

Users will be able to share their location in status updates, the report says. With Facebook taking over the web in general, this will likely have huge implications, but for search specifically, it may play a significant role as well. Google of course has its real-time search, which includes publicly accessible status updates from Facebook.

With Google’s new SERPs, this feature is highlighted to a much greater extent. Before, users would generally only see real-time results for newsy queries that were seeing a great deal of current updates. Now, for any query, a user can simply go to the updates option, readily visible from the left panel, and see the results.

Wrapping Up

It remains to be seen just how important location will truly be. Despite its popularity and the rushing of companies and services to take advantage of the technology, it still freaks a lot of people out. Not everyone is going to share their info, or at least willingly. For this reason, there may always be a large part of the market MIA for any location-based campaigns. However, for search, as long as there is a substantial amount of location-related data out there (and it appears that this will only grow rapidly from here on out), local businesses stand to benefit, and so do consumers looking for location-based relevance.

It’s still unclear just how location-sharing is going to impact search exactly, and just how search marketers will specifically be able to take advantage as far as results go, but all signs point to new opportunities for targeting customers on a very relevant level – where they are, where they have been, and where they are going.

Either way, it might be a good idea to start looking for ways to reach consumers through their location-sharing habits. Without the benefit of search, there are still tremendous opportunities. As it gets more integrated into search, you’ll be ahead of the game.

Are you currently using or planning location-based strategies in your marketing efforts? Comment here.

Where Does Location Fit into the SEO Equation?
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  • http://seoeleven.com Ridho

    Yup .. Almost all web application will soon add a location based feature on it application.

  • http://www.aquapoxy.com Garage Floor Paint

    Promoting & Optimizing for Local Business location is huge, Great for businesses that do online & offline business. Optimizing your Epoxy Paint or Tile installs is good for the xposure in your area.

  • http://www.bestcasinosinfo.com/ martin

    this is the the next big thing, yessss

  • http://www.techchris.com Chris Johnston

    You are so right about the future of location-based search. I remember companies saying why do we need a Facebook page or Twitter account and now it seems everyone has them. It will take a little while to figure out how location-based search will fit into your strategy but eventually it will.
    BTW, I love WebPro News content but test your newsletter in Gmail, because currently it SUCKS. It has so many ads it takes away from the truly worthwhile content and until I white-listed it, it was being flagged.

  • Guest

    Location fits absolutely well in the SEO equation.

    As the main purpose of the searcher is to find what is available locally and globally. The website owners also want to have a local as well as a global reach.

    Without an ounce of doubt, location will truly be important.

    One has to be open and honest and has to share information on the web else you lose out.

  • http://www.webpro.in Bharati Ahuja

    Location fits very well in the SEO equation. Infact it balances the equation very well.

    As the main purpose of the searcher is to find what is available locally and globally. The website owners also want to have a local and a global market reach.

    Without and ounce of doubt, Location is truly important.

    People have to be open, honest and have to share information on the web else its their loss.

  • http://www.websites-marketing.net/Services/LocalSearchMarketing.aspx Elton Willis

    local search marketing is enormous. The beauty of it is you don’t need a website to leverage the power of search engines anymore.

  • http://www.websites-marketing.net/Services/LocalSearchMarketing.aspx local search marketing

    There’s no doubt that location fits in well with the SEO equation. especially as mobile internet use increases. The majority of sales of goods and services are made on the local level. it only makes sense as a business owner to be a part of that niche.

  • http://www.theinfogroup.com Dallas SEO

    I’ve been doing SEO for 11 years now and since day one have concentrated on attracting business in my area. In doing so a majority of my business is companies that target my city, state or region so local search is nothing new but it has grown and with the influx of new ways to find a business (social, mobile, maps, etc) location based search will continue to expand.

  • http://interactive-arts.com Chip Jones

    …your business. If you are a company with a physical location that depends on customers going to a physical location to do business with you, then YES, location is very important when it comes to your SEO efforts.

    If you are more of a virtual company that depends on web traffic reaching your web site from outside of your geographic area, then doing SEO for a specific physical location could produce negative results.

    In fact, Google’s focus on generating search engine results based on a search users location MAY end up hurting virtual businesses that depend on web traffic outside of their geographic location.

  • http://seo-website-designer.com Tiggerito

    All my clients are local and the first thing I do is localise their website.

    Focusing on the local areas which is a smaller more defined market means they can compete better. And its targeting where their real customers are.

    I’m glad the search engines and social networks ore moving in this direction.

  • http://induswebi.co Guestwebsite designing india

    Very Nice post, quite very impressive blog post to gain the very good knowledge. i like it, thanks to share.

  • http://www.1866umoving.com movers

    The location aspect of google and google local leads to many questions about how to choose a location for your business. Our lease is up in october and we will do our best to locate our facilitate close to where google says we should be located in order to show up for our search term “Atlanta movers”. Would love to have a line in our lease saying that when google decides to charge there location algorithm then we can change our location as well:)

  • http://groupemail.gteksoft.com jason

    Great opportunity for people doing business locally and need local information .

  • http://technoworth.net/ technoworth

    looking great that google facebook are working in location base features. it is good for promoting the business. If done correctly then locally it can grow well.

  • http://perfectvisualhost.com Perfect

    This is a really a welcome development.

  • http://www.hangar17.com Web Agency Hangar 17

    Hi, its quiet interesting. Instead of going to update on internation better we do results in local by using this local search. I welcome this apps..

  • http://www.cahabaweb.com CahabaWeb – Todd Rosser

    Business owners understand search marketing. Most of them “get it” to a certain extent now. It took more time to segment SEO as a business from web development. The mobile piece will happen faster which will give marketers more opportunity sooner. 80% of the targeting we do is already location based, it’s simply a matter of which provider will lead the charge. Actually, with foursquare I find myself not fully dedicated to usage…yet. Even though it sits on the top end of the stream. Foursquare >> pushes to>> Twitter >> pushes to >>Facebook. I am not sure that my “purpose” is always accepted via Twitter as is with Facebook.

  • http://webtrafficinsider.com Chris

    I think you need to educate your client and let them know that with local terms seo will only take them so far. They need to help drive awareness by asking for reviews on local websites.

    They also need to integrate their local strategy into their marketing material.

    It is not just about ranking for a term and watch the traffic flow in anymore and this so much more true with local search.

  • http://www.minimrp.com Mike

    It must be all but impossible for google to differentiate between sites of global interest or those that would only be of interest to ‘locals’.

    For example the (very nice) Coffee Shop on the corner of my street has a website. My street, by the way, is a small village in South Wales, UK. As you can imagine there’d be very little point in his site appearing in search results anywhere outside the “Coffee-gone-cold-on-the-drive-home” geographical area.

    I, on the other hand, develop software which is of no interest at all to anyone in my village. I really need my site to appear in search results around the world. A fair bit of my SEO activity is (successfully) making sure that my site appears near the top of the page no matter what country you’re in.

  • http://www.bytelaunch.com Orange County SEO

    Thanks for this awesome post. I was looking for this kind of information on SEO.

  • http://www.espinteractivesolutions.com san francisco web design

    Local targeting is the best to advertise your business and come at the first page of Google ASAP. I always like to use the country or city name my keywords.

  • http://www.gowebbaby.com wordpress designer

    As we are SEO company our clients ask us for local optimization, so it fits very well.

  • http://www.boostinternetmarketing.com WebDesignerSEO

    Great points and insight on localSEO… a must for any company especially a brick and mortar…

  • http://rachaelbutts.com/ WordPress Designer

    Isn’t that what Google places is already for?
    I get that location is an issue for brick and morter type businesses, but what about businesses that are not effected by location?

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