In 1968, the J.M. Smucker Company blended peanut butter and jelly into a single jar for a smash hit sandwich, and today, in 2010, Google has taken a page for the goober people’s book, layering organic results with local ones into a whole new kind of sandwich that has my friends and colleagues, Mike Blumenthal, Matt McGee, Greg Sterling, David Mihm, Andrew Shotland, and Yours Truly writing up a storm. If the new Google Places Search is news to you and you run a local-focused business, start clicking those links to read-up on this massive change in how Google is handling local results.
Rather than re-cap what has already been covered with such eloquence and smarts, I just want to state what I see as the chief upshot of these new circumstances. I have spent the last 48 hours looking at the results of clients who so sagely hired us to both overhaul their existing websites to include good general SEO, local SEO, human usability and design practices and to implement good basic off-page Local SEO tactics for them. I have spoken with a number of colleagues who have been doing the same. The outcome of this dilligent, smart work is turning out to be quite a tasty feast in the new SERPs. Formerly, this work was paying off in two separate places – the 7-Pack and organic results. Now, it’s all been whirled together into a single dense, rich, rewarding treat.
I love seeing this, of course, and it is pointing the way for our future relations with incoming clients. In the past, we’ve often had the experience of being asked to look at a client’s situation in Google Maps and have had our advice that the improvement of the company’s site needed to be integrated into any work we were going to do turned down.
“I’m happy with my site,” folks have said to me as I’ve sat at the other end of the line, looking at the flash-based-website-without-any-title-tag-optimization-built-by-my-nephew-who-knows-web-design. Yes, in the past, we’ve taken on a few projects like this, just creating some local business profiles in places like Google Maps, having lost the battle of explaining that sending traffic to a poor website is not a best practice. And I always walked away from these projects feeling like the work was half done.
Well, with the new Places Search, Google is finally backing me up in this. And so, future clients, I want you to know that I would love your business, but you’re going to have to take my advice about your website as well as your Place Page, because it all hangs together now. I cannot serve you well without integrating this and my job is to get you the best return on your money. It was always important, but its basically unavoidable now. Now is the time to take a long, clear look at your website to see if it’s as awesome as you can possibly make it. Is it optimized? Is it usable? Is it rich in solutions to users’ problems and answers to their questions? Is your location totally obvious? Your local area code phone number? Got that in your footer? On your contact page? How about in some of your title tags? Can Google crawl your site? Can people with dial-up load it? Is your text couched in images or shining through with good old HTML? How long are people staying on your pages? Who is linking to them? Are you using hCard formatting or KML files? Got MyMaps? Got citations? Got reviews?
Wow, the list has grown long of what can be done for the benefit of your business, and while all of these elements were always there, now the many streams are flowing into a single ocean of rewards for the savvy business owners who get the job done right. The peanut butter and jelly have become one.
Photo Credit from Flickr