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Search Engine Optimisation: Getting Social and Local

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Over the past several years, Google has been making changes to its search engine optimisation algorithms to take into account the popularity of social networks, as well as the trust and credibility associated with people sharing their content and favourite websites with other sin their group or social circle. Furthermore, the advent and popularity of mega-websites, such as Facebook, are slowly losing their popularity for more locally based networks. Although we are only seeing the first signals of this, of the trends continue, we could see the devolution of all encompassing social network sites becoming differentiated, with the ability to better serve local people. In relation to search engine optimisation, local businesses serving local communities are the ones who are going to benefit the most from this movement.

In late 2010, the changing of search engine optimisation algorithms for Google Places has created a situation where local search results are being merged into organic results, affecting the ranking of specific websites; as well as the number of locational based search results appearing in organic results. Attempting to make local search results more personal, relevant and trustworthy, the release of Google Hotspot in November of 2010 has resulted in amore effective local search engine where Google Place listings are base don personal connections and ratings.  Furthermore, the release of Google Favourite places has enabled businesses to be rewarded with stickers and quick response codes for those who appear popular within the rankings. This enables consumers to quickly view the business, the physical location, read the reviews, access any specific offers or specials the business is promoting and the star rating.

Those businesses who have embraced local search and Google Places by listing their business on the platform and implementing a strategy to increase number of positive reviews and rating are reaping the benefits as the Google Place searches are, in many cases, being placed above organic searches. Although it is not as simple as getting the business listed and having a few reviews to achieve high search results; when combined with other important search engine optimisation techniques, the results can be effective and fast.

Google is now receiving ‘social signals', which now form part of the ranking algorithms. This is a result of the popularity of social network sites in the modern world. Utilising publicly available information from Facebook and Twitter now form part of the search engine results. Additionally, negative reviews are now being taken into account with the rankings. Google are now entering the social network market again, with the birth of Google Plus and the soon to be released Social Circles.

The key message for search engine optimisation is that the search engines are changing, those business that are combining the traditional search engine optimisation techniques with local search and social network involvement are seeing the best results. If you wan to succeed, the message is clear; get local and get social.
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