By Wayne Davies - SEO Specialist.
Imagine running a business here in London, selling a product only Londoner's will buy, and discovering Google thinks you're based in Bolton.
That's exactly what happened to a designer who lives and works in London, but has the surname 'Bolton'. And due to an unfortunate combination of circumstances her website kept showing up in Google for people living in Bolton, but not London.
In this article I explain how it happened, and what I did to fix it.
The Company Address
The first issue was the way the site displayed her company's address. This appeared at the top of every page of her site, but in graphic form. That is, the address was a graphic image. The original designer was displaying the address in a 'clever' way, and used a graphic rather than plain text.
Google can't see text that appears in an image, and wasn't able to read the client's postcode - or the word London. So it couldn't create a geographic association between the client's site and London.
This was easily fixed. All I had to do was switch the graphic image for plain text. It doesn't look quite as elegant, but is ultimately far more useful when it comes to getting indexed correctly by Google and other search engines.
The Client's Surname
This client is a designer, and has built a successful brand around her name. Removing her name from the site wasn't an option. Neither was it wise to replace her name with a graphic image, because we still needed Google to display her site when somebody searched for her specifically.
The most palatable solution was to inject the word London into the text on each page. I also created a special page that made it absolutely clear this site is intended for people living in London.
The other strategy I employed was to create both internal and external contextual links that point to the homepage of the client's site.
A link is contextual when the clickable text contains a keyword phrase. For example, the following link is contextual: Business Networking.
In this case, the link connects to my BNI Chapter's website with the keyword phrase 'business networking'. Search Engines read this text, and associate it with the site being linked to.
Google Local Business Centre
I also registered my client with Google's Local Business Centre. This removed all doubt, and made sure Google knew in absolute terms that the client was based in a particular suburb of London.
Registering with the Google Local Business Centre is an excellent way to get your site to the top of Google for a specific Geographic search. You can register (free of charge) here.
All's well that ends well...
It took Google 6 days to reindex the site, and have it show up for London-based search terms. This is thanks, in part, to some extra link-building and the creation of a Google sitemap.
Search Engines try very hard to understand what your site is about, and who might be interested in visiting it. But these decisions are made by computer programmes, and sometimes they get it wrong.
You can help Google get it right by giving it plenty of text to read, and include keywords that tell Google...
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Member since: 28th January 2011
Wayne Davies is the creator of The DIY SEO Seminar (explains how to get to the top of Google). It's designed for non-technical business owners who want to do their own SEO, or maximise the value they get...