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What Google’s Quiet Game Changer Means to Dealers

4 Jan, 2011 By: Corey Smith, Dealer Marketing Systems imageSource

What Google’s Quiet Game Changer Means to Dealers

Top placement in search engines like Google is becoming an increasingly important driver of business success.  Like most dealers, you want to be at the top of search results in your market.  However, you may have recently noticed your ranking slip. 

In late 2010, Google quietly rolled out a new game-changing search process. Most of us are familiar with Google’s local business listings now called Google Places. In the past, Google would sometimes place a map with local business results for searches that used a geographic identifier – such as “Copiers in San Jose.” Appearing below the sponsored links, and above natural search results, searchers had the chance to click a directly style listing and get contact information about any listed business.

Now, in a bid to capture more of the lucrative local search audience, Google has started to integrate Google Places’ results with “natural” or “organic” rankings – rather than simply showing a map with markers and a few links at the top of a page, Google Places listings can dominate the first page of results.

In many areas for many terms, websites that previously ranked in the top three can find themselves pushed to the bottom of the page. In some cases, however, if your Google Places listing is well placed it may offset the change or even show you at an advantage.

Compounding the change, there appears to be a wide inconsistency in the way Google Places is displayed. In some instances, natural rankings appear above Places results, in others it’s the old Places and Map display, and it in still other local searchers nothing from Places is displayed.

Lately, Google has been largely silent – no surprise – but a few items seem clear:

  • Given Google’s preference towards Google Places, every local business that wants to compete needs to find and claim its Google Places listing. If you don’t have one, you can create one www.google.com/places.

  • Google Places optimization is still inherently different from natural search optimization – while this is still a developing area, a good place to start is http://www.moovinonup.com/blog/optimising-google-places-listing. Keep in mind that a large part of Google Places rankings is entirely dependent on reviews of your business- it’s time to think about rewarding customers who rate you well. 

  • On a positive note, there seems to be a shift away from the need to have a physical address in every area served. Referencing cities/areas served in     your listing can help you reach adjacent regions with one Google Places     listing. 

  • Search Engine Optimization is more critical than ever – in many instances the top one, two, or three listings are the highest-ranking natural results. Getting there is going to be more important than ever.

With the changes in the way Google has positioned rankings in the current search results, you can be poised now, better than ever, to appear at the top of the engines. With a combination of traditional search engine optimization and Google places optimization, you’ll find more opportunities than ever to appear at the top of Google.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the visibility of a website or a web page in search engines via the “natural” or un-paid (“organic” or “algorithmic”) search results. As an Internet marketing strategy, SEO considers how search engines work and what people search for.  Other forms of search engine marketing (SEM) target paid listings. In general, the earlier (or higher on the page), and more frequently a site appears in the search results list, the more visitors it will receive from the search engine. SEO may target different kinds of search, including image search, local search, video search and industry-specific vertical search engines. This gives a website “web presence.” 

Corey Smith is the Chief Web Architect for of Dealer Marketing Systems (www.dealermarketingsystems.com), providing websites, e-newsletter and search engine optimization services to office technology dealers in North America and Australia. 

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