Website Basics: Tell Google And Your Customer Where You Are!

by Joanne Steele on February 15, 2013

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you are here mapGoogle has always tried to use geography to provide the best possible organic search results. And for the past year, they have been including those local results on the search results page!

“How does Google know where I am,” your prospective customer may ask?

Even if you or your customer aren’t logged into your Google Account. (hopefully you have a Google account because you have a Google Places Page), Google knows where you and your computer are by accessing the ip address and using geolocation. Use the links to learn more about ip and geolocation.

You don’t need to worry that geolocation capabilities allow search engines to target your exact location – privacy concerns have made that impossible. But Google can get close enough to dish up pretty accurate local results based on where you are and what you ask for that is nearby.

Make finding your business easy for Google and for your Prospective Customer

Here’s my beef and why I’m writing about this today. If I’m walking down the street and searching  for “restaurant” on my smartphone, I am expecting the search feature and geolocation capabilities to give me local restaurants nearby.

When I’m home on my computer searching for tourism info about Northumberland as part of my research for an upcoming trip, Google can’t read my mind. It doesn’t know if I want Northumberland, Canada, Pennsylvania, US or Great Britain.

I, the searcher, have to be specific, and the website needs to make it easy for Google to get me to the correct Northunberland. Sometimes it takes more that an IP.

This is my constant concern about rural tourism websites.

If you don’t tell me town, state or province and country, I don’t know where you are, and neither do searching prospective customers!!

If I search for tourism information, even if I put in Northumberland, Canada, if I get to a nice website that doesn’t’ tell me where they are located, I can’t be sure the search results are accurate.

Google may have given me exactly what I asked for, but I don’t know that if the website doesn’t immediately confirm where it’s located! Searchers, including me, are testy and demanding. If I don’t see in 3 seconds what I need to feel reassured, I click away.

Here’s an example and the reason for this post: website: RTO8

Peterborough, Kawartha Lakes, Northumberland, you get singled out because you just happen to be in my “rural tourism” Google Alerts” this morning! Where are you,  My Favorite Place??

This website is not a rural tourism marketing website, but it could be!! I shouldn’t have to read a word beyond the header and an introductory headline to know WHERE YOU ARE!!

If I happen upon this rural tourism development website while looking for travel information, I SHOULD BE ABLE TO ACCESS TOURISM INFORMATION RIGHT FROM HERE!

Does your small town forget to include state and country information right up front on their website?

If you’re a microenterprise organization, are you teaching your businesses and towns to include state and country information on their homepages?

This is important for several reasons.

 1. It helps search engines to get local search options right.

I’ve wrote recently about the importance of citations over at Take Control of Your Internet Marketing. When I reached the site, “My Favorite Place” and read “Northumberland” I was thinking Great Britain instead of Canada. With confusing citations, could Google make the same error?

As I said above when talking about geolocation, Google is very good at serving up accurate information for local search. Help Google by providing your state and country in your citation.

In rural areas, your IP may be based on a regional internet service provider. For me, that means my IP says I’m in Mt. Shasta, California. My actual location is Dunsmuir, California. Google needs help to pinpoint my location in Dunsmuir.

2. I’ve said many times that we rarely happen upon anything online anymore, but sometimes we do. Like when I set up a Google Alerts for “rural tourism” and get to RTO8.com.

It takes so little to clarify immediately where your business or town is located. Why not do it.

And if you’re a regional rural tourism organization, why not reward your regional members with immediate, easy to see links to their own websites. In this case, those links could be in the first paragraph of text.

A day rarely passes that I don’t click a link to a small town newspaper article and have to guess where in the world the small town is!! Why?! Those small town newspapers are regional marketing tools because they provide a taste of the authentic experience visitors are looking for! Ask your small town newspaper to correct their citation with city, state or province and country.

Google and the other search engines dish up information from all over the world. What you put online is available to everyone, everywhere. Please, tell us where you are. It might net you 2 or 10 or 100 more visitors with just a small addition to your citation.

Thanks, I feel better.

1 Paul Pettyjohn February 25, 2013 at 5:33 pm

I am trying to figure out how to use latitude and longatude of google earth. How do I do that?

2 Joanne Steele February 26, 2013 at 4:36 pm

Hi Paul, Here is the URL for Google Earth Help: http://support.google.com/earth/?hl=en#topic=2376074. As with many things internet related, you’ll need to refine your question and search the documentation for the answer. There are some latitude and longitude features that are part of Google Earth Pro – something you’ll soon learn about. Good luck!

3 Geoff Haden February 17, 2013 at 10:21 am

I take your point about no knowing where it is but it does mention Toronto in the first sentence.

I think what is more interesting is “What on earth is the purpose of the website?” It does nothing, says nothing. In the UK we have plenty of oovernment funded quangos who have similar websites – I suspect they tick the box which leads onto next year’s funding!

By the way we are in Clyne Farm Centre, Gower, Swansea, Wales, UK – God’s own country and birthplace of the poet and writer Dylan Thomas (www.5cwmdonkindrive.com)

4 Joanne Steele February 19, 2013 at 12:26 pm

Excellent point Geoff. Rural local business owners certainly deserve to have every website representing their area be a clear and effective pathway to their own community and business website. The question is, how to we get funders to understand that these websites should be models?

By the way, your website makes it pretty clear – not with an address with with your upfront showcasing of world famous “local” residents – nice touch! Makes me want to drop everything and fly over to have dinner with the ghost of one of my favorite writers!

5 Jane Reed February 16, 2013 at 7:29 am

Sometimes the most obvious gets forgotten. Thanks for the reminder.
Cuba, Missouri “Route 66 Mural City” U.S.A.

6 Joanne Steele February 16, 2013 at 9:36 am

Thanks Jane. With your excellent citation I can picture exactly where you are!

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