What is Localization and Why is it important?
The Process of Localizing Your Business simply means registering your business with search engines (Google and Bing) so they can connect your website with what they find in their search index.
This makes it easier for the search engines to accurately serve-up business in searches. They won’t serve-up your business listing as often if they cannot verify that your business is legitimate and that the other information they have found on the Internet about your business is current. Without making this connection FOR THEM, you risk some search rank and that means missing a lot of potential business. This is not something you can take for granted.
Why its important: Whatever you do on Google Places and Bing Listing Center affects how your website is displayed, not just in natural search results, but especially on Google Maps and Bing Maps.
The History of Search Engines and Location: Its helpful to understand why this is important to the Search Engines (SEs). In the beginning there was only information on the Internet; books, papers, etc. The Internet was not a place of commerce then. But in the 90’s the Internet became a place of commerce, e-commerce. People became interested in advertising their things online. SEs were by default, the middleman. They suddenly found it very lucrative to encourage businesses to advertise online. Therefore you had a virtuous cycle fall into place where SEs want to help you and you want to help SEs. (Because you both want to make more money)
Justification: There are now more mobile devices in the world than personal computers. Consumers tend to use mobile devices for spontaneous consumer intent – where to eat – where to buy. The mobile device is changing the way businesses attract customers. If more than 25% of your traffic comes from Google Maps, your business is all about localization. If you don’t get 25% of your traffic from Google Maps, and you are a local business (meaning people come to your location in order to transact business) you need to to localize your business or you could miss out on significant online traffic that ultimately leads to $ business.
You need to know:
- Google and Bing change their sites often and the requirements change frequently. Are you up-to-date?
- You can generating penalties against your website, hurting your search rank, without being aware you have done anything wrong.
- And of course there are some tricks that work to improve your search rank.
Considerations: If you want to sell products online you may think you don’t need a location. While its true you can avoid claiming a location, the search engines will not favor your business (as quickly). The rational is fairly simple. If you are a scam artist, you won’t declare a location. If you are a real business, you probably have an address on your website. Search engines are inundated trying to deal with scams everyday. So their priority is to authenticate the legitimate business websites first, then sift through those that are questionable. If you declare and validate your location with Bing and Google, your online presence will shoot ahead (in search rank) of those businesses that do not. Localization done well can lead to doubling of traffic, done poorly it can get your website removed from Maps and or lose many places in natural search rank.