Google recently updated the quality guidelines for Google Local pages, which often show up in Maps and Knowledge Graph search results. The search engine makes it clear if people simply followed its basic guidelines, they’d perform better in search results.
Mike Blumenthal pored over the updated guidelines and highlighted some of these changes, most of which are relatively simple. They include:
• Names and categories have to be used consistently for businesses with multiple locations
• Overly complicated descriptors shouldn’t be included in titles and summaries
• Solo entrepreneurs and business owners must use the ‘practitioner’ category
• Separate departments serving different customer purposes must have their own categories
Keep in mind that breaking these rules won’t get brands kicked out of Google’s Local Places – but it will make finding a company on various search verticals much harder. Basically, SEOs need to keep things organic and straightforward. If they’re being too specific or complicated to try to game the system for local searches, Google will penalize them – and that applies to content in general too.
Don’t try too hard to stand out
It’s important not to blend into the background, but it doesn’t pay to force it on the web. People won’t find you if you’re too specific or deliberately different because they probably aren’t searching for the terms you’re using. One example that illustrates this is a Brafton client in the legal industry. It had a blog written by on-staff attorneys on a variety of topics related to the law, but they weren’t quite accessible to anyone beyond experts.
By writing two to three blog posts with much more accessible language and fewer instances of legal jargon, readership and conversions shot up. In fact, after a month, the blogs had a 550 percent higher conversion influence, meaning prospects who read the blog were over five times more likely to convert.
This is advice all brands need to take to heart: You need to be available to the lowest-common denominator, even if you’re an expert in a niche space or sell very specific products. Think about the people early in the sales funnel who may need education to be able to follow along with technical information. A business might serve a very unique service in the marketplace, but being too committed to being different and idiosyncratic mean it will be harder to appear in search results, Google listings and even social media. SEO is about capturing search traffic and most people aren’t making expert-level queries.
To learn more about how Google provides searchers with content, check out our ebook:
Speaking Google’s Language: Optimizing content for the semantic web