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March 26, 2012

How to Optimize Content for a Local Market: Interview at SES NY

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Estimated viewing time:
6 minutes

Audience:
Businesses with a local audience

Top takeaways:
• Google now displays geo-targeted results for queries that do not include explicit local intent more frequently following the Venice Update.
• Businesses with location-relevant services and products should include city and location-specific content on their website.
• Location-specific content should not be duplicated or templated content with a city name added, but should demonstrate added value to the local searcher.  

Those responsible for an online businesses content strategy should be aware of recent changes to Google’s ranking algorithm when assessing content needs of a website. The Google update referred to as Venice places an emphasis on location-based, or geo-targeted, content relevance. Queries that suggest location is an important factor now receive local-specific results where before they were only returned when local intent was explicit.

Phillip Thune and Virginia Nussey at SES NYThe critical role of content that meets search engines’ automated qualifications and leads human visitors to convert is a coveted intersection that sets apart successful businesses from the competition. It’s why at Bruce Clay, Inc. content, both on-site and off-site, is a priority within our holistic SEO strategy and is among the top services we offer, including those for local business SEO.

When I spoke to Phillip Thune, CEO of Textbroker, during SES New York last week, he shared the discussions happening between his company and clients looking to build unique, meaningful, location-centric content for a savvy, on-the-go audience. Again, the local SEO need for content targeted to a geographic segment of the audience becomes clear. Our conversation and transcript follows.

VN: Tell us about Textbroker.

PT: Textbroker has 100,000U.S.based authors signed up at textbroker.com. They’re freelance-based authors, they can write just about anything. So clients come to us, they say they need blog posts, even social media posts like tweets, articles, news stories, travel reviews, all the way up to white papers, press releases, even some ebooks. We’ve even had a couple of our writers write some cook books on a ghost written basis for a client. So basically clients come to us and they want custom, unique content about whatever it is they’re looking for, and because we have such a big data base of authors, we kind of cover every level and area of expertise in our industry that you can imagine. I haven’t really seen our authors stumped. It’s one of the great thing about crowdsourcing, or using the crowd to solve the problem. If you need an article about nuclear fusion, there’s someone in our database signed up as an author with that area of expertise.

VN: So then I bet you got a big boom in inquires after something like Panda.

PT: Absolutely. In general, Google seems to be emphasizing unique content, fresh content and quality content. It seems like every update Google makes forces people who are concerned about SEO to rethink their content strategy and say I need higher quality content, I need to do it more often, I need to make sure it’s keyword optimized and it’s not just based on search engines but it’s really based for people. And then there’s social media, because Google’s not just changing their algorithm with Panda and Venice and things like that. They’re starting to revolve a lot of things around Google+, Search Plus Your World. I think that as you really start to think about your SEO strategy and the content on the page, you really have to take a holistic approach. You want to be ranked, you’re going to have to have some strategy to continually put content out there that shows you’re a thought leader, but also that content is optimized through the way Google sees it.

VN: You mention that with the rethinking of how to rank local results, what part of that is content in your mind?

PT: Venice, to take a step back, even if someone searches for something generic, say they search for financial advice, Google for the most part knows where someone is located. Based on your IP address they can tell you’re in New York City or Henderson, Nevada, or wherever you might be. They use that location information, even for a generic term like financial advice, and they will include local results, or at least results that have been optimized for your location. It’s almost as though searching for “financial advice”, from a certain location, it’s almost as if you’d typed in “new york city financial advice” or “financial advice new york city.” If you have ranked really well for financial advice in the past on a national basis, you may find, depending on where you’re centrally located, you may not be on the page or on the first page because there’s a New York City site that has financial advice that’s ranking above you because Google creating that even if the searcher doesn’t.

VN: Are you getting more demand for local content?

PT: Absolutely. You’ve done all this hard work and gotten to the first page for “financial advice.” Now if you want to keep that ranking, it’s going to make sense to have a page on your website about “financial advice new york city,” “financial advice los angeles,” “financial advice san francisco.” That’s the kind of thing that a writing service like Textbroker is perfect for. We have this database of writers, they’re located across the country. You don’t want to just keyword stuff. You don’t want to just take the normal financial advice pages we normally have and just put new york city into them. That won’t work because now suddenly you have duplicate content which Google doesn’t like. That was a big part of the Panda Update. What you really want to do is have someone understanding about New York City or about Los Angeles or San Francisco. And it’s hard to go to one place and find writers who are qualified to talk about each of those various locations and financial advice or whatever your topic is. It’s a perfect match for the kind of services that we deliver. And as a result we have seen a bunch of new work tied to that type of strategy.

VN: It’s excellent to hear about your solution to some of the issues facing SEOs and website owners today.

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4 responses to “How to Optimize Content for a Local Market: Interview at SES NY”

  1. charl hoffman writes:

    If you really think about local search its actually pretty logical. Using the same principle as a local yellow pages one can do it on the same basis. We have always done it for clients this way and it forms an integral part of how we write copy for the site.

  2. Nyagoslav writes:

    Well, “local” is just one more way to look at niche content. Well-written niche content = targeted audience. As Charl above said, it is logical + Google is using a lot of factors to determine when particular content is relevant to particular location, and only one of these is the mention of the location itself. Others might include ZIP codes, local phone numbers, mentions of landmarks, local slang and/or specific grammar usage, etc.

    Just a small notice: Google was showing localized content for generic phrases even before Venice. Of course after it this search “feature” was enhanced, but it has been here for at least a few years now.

  3. Peter writes:

    Honest and relevant content. Honest and relevant. – That won’t fly for a lot of industries. Interesting interview but pretty odd framing and location for the interview. :)

  4. Virginia Nussey writes:

    Lol to your comment about the framing and location, Peter. I kinda catch these interviewees on the fly and make the most of the facilities I’ve got at my disposal. Is it important to you as a viewer that it looks more professional? Perhaps you have higher standards than the average audience as Fish and Crane is a web video and film outfit. I appreciate your feedback and any pointers. :)



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