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Google’s changed so much. So much so that people who were once at the top of the SEO game (e.g.; during the times of Altavista, Excite and the likes) may not recognize search engine for what it is now. Instead of bringing you a whole barrage of links and information from ‘all around the world’, the search engine made a revolutionary decision – to go local. This is where geography comes into play and how you position yourself in Google’s Places will have a bigger impact on where you come out on Google’s result pages. 

I am sure you must have noticed (if not, stop reading for a minute and make a search on Google. You might find the top few listings are from within your region. A safe bet would be to try searching for ‘restaurants’) that Google presents internet users with a list of local businesses FIRST before displaying other sites from outside of your region. You can switch to ‘results from the web’. Just hit the link on the left bar of the browser.

Top search engine watchers’ eyes this move with much curiosity and maybe some concern. And the conclusion is mixed. If your business relies on local clicks, then you are going to have to pay some attention to Google Places. Citations on your location are important now…as in, you want to have your address or location mentioned in as many places as possible. And according to some, Google’s a little stiff about being ‘strict’. What this means is that if you write ‘Street’ in some pages, stick with it and not write ‘ST’ the next time you post your address online. Another thing you might want invest your time in is to adjust your Google Places listing accordingly so that they are optimized as well. 

If everything about Google’s algorithm has changed, one thing hasn’t – content continues to be king. And as we all know it, Google knows it when you use content that is churned out by a robot or a program. If you want to invest heavily on something for your future marketing strategy, invest in a good writer. A real ‘human’ writer. As I said, Google’s smarter than you think. 

And you know what else have changed? You need a social networking site. Yes, NEED. I’ll have you know that Google draws (the extent of which, I am unclear about) cues and indications from online social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook; and also social bookmarking activities (Digg, Delicious, Stumbleupon, etc). If you are logged into Google and make a search on the internet, you can be sure that data is being dredged up from those sites to customize the search results page.  


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