Google Local Search And The Impact On Natural OptimizationWritten by Rob Young
With advent of Google Local, a service that helps Web users find local businesses by typing in a search term and a city name, many questions arise concerning its impact on Natural Optimization.
Google Local tracks down local stores and businesses by searching billions of pages across Web, and then cross-checking these findings with Yellow Pages information to locate local resources Web users wish to access. In addition to local business listings and related Web links, Google Local also provides maps of desired region and directions made available by MapQuest. This makes Google Local convenient for Web searchers and extremely useful for local businesses, if their sites are optimized for local-searches. If not, some businesses could be missing out on a tremendous increase in local site visibility and traffic.
Case-in-point: The Home Depot, whose Web site features its own Store Finder with zip code-accessed location listings. Type "Home Depot" into Google Local and while a list of local stores appears, no related local landing pages come up. In fact, none of related Web links even direct Web users to Home Depot's home page. Most large sites that have retail stores have a search feature or "enter your zip" option. Google and other Search Engines will never be able to index this content. For retailers looking to increase sales and traffic from their Web sites, this could prove to be a big problem.
The Home Depot is not alone. Countless other large and small businesses alike do not have city-oriented pages accessible through local search sites. Many are not listed in top 15 return results for related keywords for Google Local, despite their location in immediate proximity to search location. Google Local ranks listings based on their relevance to search terms user enters, not solely by geographic distance. This means that unless your site has a city and/or county-oriented landing page for each location, Google will not be able to access your contact page, no matter how relevant your site is to a search term, or how close you are in geographic distance.
Summerís Internet Traffic JamWritten by Rob Young
Summer is finally here, and while for many, summer implies barbeques, school-break, vacations and trips to beach; for most Internet businesses, summer implies slower traffic.
For an online business, traffic is paramount. Without it, conversions drop off, ROIís dwindle and businesses can fail. In United States, netScore reported that seventy-four percent of top 50 Internet properties experienced less traffic between May and June of 2001. A big reason for this huge reduction is decrease in at-school Internet traffic. Visitor traffic from at-school computers, which represented almost 8% of U.S. Internet traffic in May, began declining as summer vacations started and decreased 40.5% in June compared to May. Traffic doesnít see an increase until mid-August. This means that for nearly four months, online sites are not seeing traffic they so desperately need.
International Web usage is seeing declines in summer months as well. Between mid-May and July of 2002, Russia reported a twenty-percent decline in summer Internet usage. Sweden saw its summer traffic stifled by eighteen-percent as early as July 1999, and many other countries around world are feeling hit of summer traffic reductions as well.
Seasonal traffic fluctuations are a recent phenomenon. The first few years of Internet usage saw such rapid growth in both number of users and number of pages visited, that seasonal variations were hardly noticeable. In recent years, however, Internet growth rates have slowed dramatically as United States and rest of world crawls towards user saturation point.