Posted by Craig Greenfield, Director, Local Search
From a natural search perspective, Web sites need to make it easy for search engine spiders to access their store locator pages. For instance, many sites have a ZIP code locator function where users type in a ZIP code to get to a page to find a store. Search engine spiders don’t have fingers to type in a ZIP code, so they generally can’t access these pages. Best practice is to create one page for each location, create a search engine sitemap of all these pages, and then submit the sitemap to the engines.
Another key is to make your addresses clear to the spiders. This means adding an “address=” tag that indicates to the spider the exact street address. Each store location needs its own address page. If your address is clear to the spider, you’re more likely to rank for that page in geo-targeted searches. We have also seen that it’s more likely that Google will be able to cross reference your address in Google Maps and display a Google Maps link with your natural search listing.
In theory, this is what could happen for a national-local advertiser (such as a coffee shop chain) who optimizes their Web site’s store locator pages:
1. The Google spider comes to each individual store location page and easily finds the exact address of the store in the tags
2. Google cross references this address with Google Maps and displays a Google Map link in the natural search listing for that page
3. Google bumps up the ranking of this page for geo-targeted searches, which are now happening even when a user is not logged in
In the near future, in geo-targeted or even GPS targeted searches, we could see a user search for “Brand” agent or dealer and get a top natural search listing for the sales channel reseller closest to them. The natural search listing may even include a Google Map.
We’ve seen sites like local restaurants rank higher in geo-targeted searches then they would in a normal search (as long as their address is apparent to the spider). So if you’re a national-local advertiser that wants to take advantage of geo-targeting and rank high for searches from people in your geo, you better let the search engines know where you are.