Why Google Local Search is an SEO Priority

Google has evolved. It came from a simple search and list platform to something that almost reads your mind. Anyone who was caught by surprise by the “Did you mean?” search tool, knows what it feels like to experience this evolution. Inside the think tank that is Google’s product development team there are people who are always on the hunt for items that will add value to your search experience. One of the most prominent ones of late is the local search tool.

Before Google maps and Google’s local search tools, there was a once popular social platform called Four Square. It was a social media app which allowed you to know exactly where your friends were as long as they checked in through the app on their phones. Everyone who knew about it was excited about it at first and a lot of people signed up to used. The vision (before the apps sudden success collapsed) was to give businesses exposure through geo-location. If you check in at a new location on the app then your friends will know about the business. Fortunately Google (and Instagram) learnt a lot from Four Square. With Google’s navigation tools already a hot sell, it was natural that people wanted local search functionality in other Google products.

Google Search Prioritizes local

Using local search, Google is able to provide people with locally relevant page results. It does this by listing websites owned by businesses or brands that are within your surroundings. It even tells you exactly how far or near they are. This way if you are looking for something you could easily access in the real world it will be listed there… with directions. It is highly effective for anyone who wants a simple tool that combines Google maps and search functionality.

Given that local search results are provided at the top of the first page of any search that has local relevance, it is a quick way to boost your website’s ranking. But that’s not the only reason local search is important.

People Around You are the First to Find You

Most people are looking for convenience. Being able to find the things they want from nearby places and businesses is an added advantage. When given the option between a shop that is 50 km away and one that is 5 km away, most people will opt for the nearer one. It is known by marketers as the factor of place in the marketing mix. Fortunately, Google adds other pre-existing SEO factors into their ranking considerations when adding websites onto their local search results. This way, not only do people get the results that are nearby but those that have also ranked well too.

It Filters Your Audience

Google’s local search is not only good for your visitors; it is good for your brand too. Think about it. How often do we check our web traffic sources and find out that half of them came from halfway across the world. Unless you are an internationally based company or a tours and travel firm, getting clients from a different continent may not help you much. This is because a lot of brands serve local customers. They have set up shop within their localities and hope to be found by people living around the same areas. When such a business is optimized for local search it can bring in more traffic from local visitors. In fact it can easily miss out on appearing in searches made from other countries because such searches will produce similarly local results.

The Mobile Advantage

The entire local search network from Google is made possible by Google’s profile based search querying approach. Basically if they have your Google plus profile, they can match your search to your current location. When integrated into your Google activated mobile apps, localized searches give more real time results than ever before. Nowadays people use their phones to perform searches on the go. They could be in their cars looking for a specific product, or in a bus looking for a business they were referred to or an office they need to visit. With GPS functionality mobile phones add a navigation component to local search results making it even more potent and effective for driving traffic to both your website and to your office.

Getting your website listed on Google’s local search should therefore be the top agenda on your SEO to-do-list today.

The Question Social Media Practitioners Should be Asking Themselves

Your participation in the digital economy goes a long way. If you, say, see a Twitter ad and opt to never see it again because it is not relevant or is offensive, then that is one less vote for the effectiveness of that ad. If 100 more people do that then the advertiser may start reconsidering his Twitter ad spend. Eventually this will permeate to other advertisers as they discuss ineffective digital marketing platforms on their next marketing society retreat. The culmination of all this will be a collective retreat from Twitter as an advertising platform which inevitably result in losses for Twitter as they mark up their ad rates to cover for lost advertisers. With such a vicious cycle, Twitter may run into financial crisis and most likely close. If twitter closes you don’t get to connect with random yet influential people on the internet like you used to. You may lose networking opportunities that could have built your career, landed you a major business client or generally just opened doors where there were none before. Twitter loses and you lose.

The same would apply for every YouTube ad you skip and every LinkedIn sponsored post you flag unnecessarily. All our actions on social media have to be weighed in the same way that we weight our interaction in real life social settings. There is a gain for us in this ecosystem just as much as there is a gain for the company setting up the platform.

On the other hand, as digital practitioners and digital platform developers we have a role to make sure that the content we present to users is as meaningful and useful as possible. If your post sorting algorithm does not represent the best cohort of people I follow then it is wasting my precious attention. It will hence get less of my time and less of my time means less of my advertisers. Take the twitter algorithm that maintains a history of tweets on your timelines for instance. If you choose to mute a person, chances are that you will still see the previous tweets that they sent before you muted them. Normally anyone who mutes a twitter account is pretty much done with that handle’s content so having previous tweets muted as well would be a good value-add to your user experience. This is just one example of user experience improvements that could be developed to enhance a platform.

The best platform hence is ultimately a collaboration of two things, how rationally people behave (which is often not under our control) and how good their experience on the platform is (is it constantly improving and meeting their expectations?) . Since only one of these factors can be controlled to the exclusion of other competing platforms, our best focus as both digital media developers and content producers is to ask, How can I make you enjoy this more?

 

 

The Viral Adventures of Githeriman and Other Stories

All it takes is a socio-political event to excite Kenyans into an online conversation. If you look at your Daily stream of Twitter trends, there is ample proof that the song remains the same for the average Kenyan Twitterati. If it’s not Ndaaani, then its Tibim. All it takes however is a cherry on top phenomenon to make the mundane political discussion even more ballistic.

This year has seen a flurry of viral conversations explode amongst Kenyans on social media from the effect of a trend-cutting trigger agent that improved the conversation. The first example that comes to mind is the case of Githeriman; an ordinary Kenyan denizen who awoke to exercise his civil voting rights on one chilly morning on the 8th of August whilst attending to a casual brunch serving of githeri boilio (boiled maize and beans).

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Unearthing the Real Value of Twitter’s Follow Button

It’s quite a big deal. Follows have become the most immediate metric of any twitter user’s importance vis a vis other Twitter users. The more followers you have, the more influence you are deemed to create. Take a look at the some of the most popular personalities in the world right now, The Baracks, The Gates, The Oprahs and more recently The Trumps. They all flaunt enormous followings on their Twitter profiles. The impression created is that people generally want to listen to what they say. And more often than not that is truly the case. Take a look at famous brands, Coca Cola, KFC, McDonalds, Safaricom. They all have similarly large followings which completely match their real world reputations.

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5 SEO Misconceptions to Avoid When Marketing Your Website

Google’s algorithm keeps changing and that’s the root of many of the myths about SEO. Online marketers are always on the lookout for ways to rank their websites higher on most of the search engines. They create truths and half-truths on how to optimize a webpage, link building strategies and how to rank high on result pages. Some of these misconceptions include:

1. Meta tags and descriptions help a website rank

Some time back, this used to work but it doesn’t anymore. Well written meta tags will sometimes drive customers to click on your website but this has no effect on ranking. The meta description too has no effect on ranking although it may help drive customers to your website through search results.

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