Search engines used to be relatively simple, at least in concept. If a searcher had a question or a problem needing a solution, the searcher would type the query into a search engine. Then, either through keyword matching or, more recently, algorithms, the search results would display the most likely pages to have the answer.
However, search engines continue to evolve how they adequately assess and display information to searchers. In this article, we discuss two evolutions in search engine results that impact small businesses each and every day.
1. Google’s Proximity Factor - Local Business Details
Google has optimized every inch of their search results for local businesses. When a user types in a business name and a town name, the results don't just link to the business site. Much more comprehensive details are included through the business’s Google My Business listing including location, hours, menu, services, posts, interior and exterior images, videos, and on. Searchers can also easily see reviews from customers and overall aggregate rating.
To trigger more local results, a searcher used to have to specify a location in the search query, i.e. “…in kansas city,” or use the “…near me” variant. Now, those are not even 100% necessary. Google tracks your location when you create a Google search and will attempt to show you localized results that you might find relevant. Beyond biasing the results based upon which city you searched from and past search history, Google takes it a step further to take into account how close you are to the business – i.e. proximity. For instance, there are tons of coffee shops in the Kansas City metro. However, when searching for “coffee shops,” Google will look for shops in Kansas City, but be more likely to show you listings of coffee shops that are closer to you (proximity) since it assumes you are more likely to want/benefit from those specific results.
With that information in mind, you must make sure you have optimized your Google My Business listing and other business directory listings so (i) those relevant details appear on your Google My Business and (ii) the algorithm can more confidently determine your company should be a credible, top result for a query.
2. Google's Featured Snippets
For more informational queries, Google doesn't just display a page full of probable results. Instead, if the algorithm can reasonably assume a short bit of text answers your exact question, it'll pull that snippet of information right onto the search page in its Featured Snippets. Typically, this requires a very optimized website and well-written, very credible content.
Taking advantage of featured snippets can be even more powerful than ranking first in the results because your site (and your company) gains reputation as a subject matter authority. Many Search Engine Optimization companies affectionately call a featured snippet “Position 0” to designate its prominence on the Search Engine Result Page (SERP). For quality assurance, the algorithm analyzes searcher behavior with the featured snippet to confirm if it guessed right, and any confirmation makes your site stronger and stronger. As a result, there is more surface area and results on the results page that go straight to your site.
With that information in mind, it’s important the website on your content is reader-friendly and aimed at accurately and informatively answering actual questions your customer base may be interested in or searching for on Google.
How to Start Taking Advantage of Proximity and Featured Snippets
Effectively designing your website, generating content, optimizing your Google My Business profile, and utilizing business listings for your small business can dramatically impact the ranking of your website in search engines. However, there is a right and a wrong way to go about implementing these powerful SEO tactics. At Igniting Business, we include all of these strategies as a part of our affordable ongoing SEO retainers. Reach out to us to learn more about adding SEO to your marketing strategy.