Let’s be clear: Google’s Venice update is going to impact your sales in 2012. It’s just a matter of whether it will be positively or negatively, and that will be determined by your local search content strategy. Let’s discuss what Venice is, how it impacts your business, and what you can do to leverage it.
There seems to be an unspoken mantra behind most of Google’s changes of the last year-plus, and that is to make search more local, mobile, and personalized. Venice hits on points one and three. In the past, when searching for a broad category term like “moving,” the organic section of your search results would be primarily composed of national or even global competitors. Venice changes that, introducing more local sites and pages into the mix for a more local and personal experience.
It doesn’t completely eliminate national players from the mix, just makes the results more a blend of local and national content. So if you’re a small local player and your site is well-optimized with good content being added to it regularly (you can’t skate by on your local-ness alone), you might start to see a boost in your organic rankings for some high volume terms you couldn’t previously compete on. Conversely, if you are a national brand and haven’t taken steps to emphasize the local aspects of your business (specifically your brick and mortar locations),you may find yourself ceding ground to smaller local sites. And ceding ground means losing sales.
So what can you do? In either case (local or national competitor), you should look for every opportunity possible to localize content on your site. Actually you should have already been doing that, but I digress.
Do you have dedicated pages for every store, office, service center, etc. under your brand’s umbrella? If not, make that a priority. Are there local components to your link-building strategy? If not, there should be, and if there are already, amplify them. And look for other areas of your site where it might make sense to post local and location information. Are there other pages where location listings might make sense? Do you have a blog on your site in which you can write locally-focused stories? The strategy starts with dedicated local pages, but it doesn’t end there. Only by testing out different concepts are we going to be able to crack the Venice code and fully leverage it.
Unique, relevant local content has always been a great asset for your web site. But with Venice entering the picture, it’s going to play a significant role in your site’s rankings and in turn your sales, making it a must-have this spring.