On February 27th, 2012, Google announced 40 changes to their search results, in what looked like a fairly robust and comprehensive update to their algorithm. One piece of the update in particular, codenamed Venice, seems to affect local search results. As taken from the Google Webmaster Blog:
Improvements to ranking for local search results. [launch codename “Venice”] This improvement improves the triggering of Local Universal results by relying more on the ranking of our main search results as a signal.
Mike Ramsey of Nifty Marketing, a local SEO company had a great post on SEOMoz, Understand and Rock the Google Venice Update, which breaks down many of the potential local ranking signals you’ll want to trigger, and provides a list of actionable steps you can take and try to implement today. I was also fascinated by Bill Slawski’s recent patent analysis at SEO by the Sea, How Google Data Centers may be split between Regional and Global Data. He has a great breakdown on the patent Google was granted in early March 2012, as well as some possible guesses we can begin to make about how Google indexes data globally / regionally / locally.
This recent emphasis on local ranking signals hints at factors that could determine if your content is catering to a particular city / state / region / country. It’s not too much of a stretch to believe that if you built out a neighborhood of locationally-relevant backlinks, you might start ranking better in local searches for your keywords across the board. The most interesting piece of this is that Google has specifically stated that their universal results are a direct signal for local universal results.
Let’s do an example. If you owned a business based in San Francisco, here are some of the sites you’d want to get links from:
1. 7×7 Magazine
7×7 is one of the most popular San Francisco living magazines. They review everything, post lots of content multiple times per day and frequently showcase up-and-coming artists, restaurants, business owners and more. Coverage from this magazine is worth its weight in gold!
2. SF Weekly
SF Weekly is another San Francisco-based daily with lots of bay area content updated multiple times per day. Getting a link from SF Weekly is sure to help in triggering a local San Francisco signal.
If you’re running a restaurant in San Francisco, then you want to get onto tablehopper. tablehopper is written by Marcia Gagliardi, a self-proclaimed “culinary concierge”. All the reviews I’ve read about tablehopper are great. Marcia provides absolutely fantastic reviews of local restaurants. A link from her site would certainly help with your local rankings. Remember, thematic relevancy is very important in search engine optimization. If you’re not a restaurant, don’t pursue links like this!
4. Curbed SF
Curbed, a magazine with a presence in a number of US cities, has a great site for San Francisco content. They’re frequently covering stories that apply to the Bay Area and seem to have a lot of engagement with their readers. Worth a look.
SFist is a San Francisco-based News, Food, Arts and Events blog. Coverage from SFist would again be a great local signal from search engines.
The SF Streets Blog is an aggregation of local links and events. Lots of bay area events get listed here. If you’re hosting an event sometime in the next month, definitely try to get on this list!
The Daily Clog is an east bay opportunity. Based in Berkeley, The Daily Clog focuses on life at Cal, the city of Berkeley and the online Berkeley community.
“The Skew on Arts and Culture from inside 5th and Mission”, SFGate’s culture blog. Certainly a local link goldmine in these posts.
It will be interesting to watch this Venice update unfold and determine whether or not this changes keyword research strategies for businesses that are brick-and-mortar, require face-to-face interaction or have any level of foot traffic as a larger percentage of their revenue.