Google’s Top Down Search Navigation Is A Big problem For Local Businesses. Google, tell me you’re joking!
Most Local SEO’s know the challenges that can come from Google serving up the wrong location results on local searches. In MANY cases Google is showing the searcher results (Maps and other) from towns or cities several cities away from the searchers town. The solution has been for the searcher to find the “location” box and type in their city or zip. In my very informal survey about 35% of the people I asked had no idea how to do this, even before the new Google search options bar changes.
Here is what the new Search Options (on top) bar looks like. Notice any thing missing? In this case Google Thinks I am in Erie . Some times Google thinks I am in Thornton CO. and sometimes other suburbs I rarely visit. I am in Lafayette CO.
So, where is the location box? You have to click on the “search tools” Tab to find it. How many searches will actually find the location tab, I haven’t a clue. I suspect, that if Google doesn’t move the tab to the first line on the main bar were it is visible we will continue to see local results (especially in suburbs) served up incorrectly. Seems like an easy fix, just have a little statement on top for searches that Google perceives a local intent, saying “We think you are in _____ < location. If not type your zip code here.
Here is what it looks like once you click on Search Tools.
So, what’s the solution if your business or client is in a city that has this issue? Use organic optimization and visibility programs, and Ad Words. Yes, I said Ad words. It’s increasingly becoming (for a local company) an important piece of catching all the traffic for your client.
Of the 4 ways a person can make a local search (keyword no local intent, keyword with major city, Keyword with actually city, keyword with zip) The new Google Search Tool Bar has an effect on 50% of those.
Tell us what you see in your area. If your clients or business (and their prospects) are based in a major metropolitan area (example Chicago, or Phoenix) then this isn’t going to be a big deal. If your business needs to be visible to prospects primarily within the city you serve (example Broomfield CO.) this is a big deal, and you will need a strategy to work with each of the local search types we defined above.