The search engine giant Google has deployed us all as unsuspecting Googlebots. We create massive amounts of actionable data. I would like to be able to tell you it’s not personal, but it really is personal. Your phone is not a personal device that you can expect to privately use. Whether you know it or not we have all given Google our permission to collect, store, analyze and re-purpose data including what we search, our current location, where we where, how long it took us to arrive, the path we took, what we buy, from whom we buy it and more.
So how is Google using that information? It appears they will include some of what they learn to rank and recommend local businesses in search. If we search for “restaurants near me” and click on a search result, then call the location from our mobile device using the click-to-call feature on our mobile device, and then travel to that location, how likely is it that Google accepts that as a your approval of the local business?
There are a couple of Google patents discussed by Bill Slawski at SEO By The Sea that lead to the conclusion this is very likely. The first patent enables Google to check to see if people who searched for a local restaurant (as an example) actually traveled to the recommended location and how much time they spent at the location. The conclusion is that they may use that information as a quality score for recommending that location in the future and for local search ranking purposes. The other related patent measures how long someone might be willing to travel (time and distance) as a measure of the quality of the place recommended.
What Does This Mean For Local SEO?
First of all, make sure your NAP (business name, address and phone number) are clearly noted on your website. Inaccurate business data such as the NAP can spell trouble for local businesses, so make sure it is updated and complete on your website, directories, and apps.
Optimize for mobile. Make sure your site is responsive. 70% of local search leads to some type of conversion within an hour. You will want to check how quickly your site loads in a browser. There are free tools such as GTmetrix and Google Speed Test to check if there are speed issues that should be corrected.
In a study conducted by Econsultancy.com they found:
Schema is the standard rich snippets used by the major search engines Yahoo, Bing and Google to better understand content on web pages. We can implement schema for things like local business, person, events, products, reviews and places. At the very least make sure you have added local business schema appropriately to your website.
Local Citation Directories
Submit, claim and verify your business listings in local and national business directories. You can find lists of the most common at Bright Local or White spark. I am not suggesting you use their service, only as a reference guide. Ensure the information is consistent with what you have on your website. Google uses this information to verify your business and the data is propagated across data aggregation repositories over a period of time. You don’t want to untangle from inaccurate information once it has been indexed in databases across the internet universe. When possible enhance listings by including business hours, photos, customer reviews, and coupons.
Google My Business
Having a verified, fully optimized Google My Business account with reviews will increase your chance to be listed in the Google 3 pak for search.
We will continue to see this evolve as Google collects more data from our behavior online and offline – that is to say, how we react in the physical world to what we experience in our searches. For business owners this is a never ending process of staying educated, diligent and proactive when it comes to your business web presence. We indeed are all Googlebots.