What is Google’s Venice Update?
Well, that’s a very good question. If you run a local business and market your products and services online, Venice is something that will have a pronounced impact on your business for the foreseeable future. So, let’s get back to basics.
What is Venice?
Well, it’s Google’s equivalent of the Panda Update, but it’s specifically targeted at local search engine listings. It was introduced in February, 2012, but kind of got lost amongst the raft of Panda changes that Google introduced in the same month. Venice is best explained by Google itself. In a blog post in February, Google explained it like this:
- Improvements to ranking for local search results. [launch codename “Venice”] This improvement improves the triggering of Local Universal results by relying more on the ranking of our main search results as a signal.
- Improved local results. We launched a new system to find results from a user’s city more reliably. Now we’re better able to detect when both queries and documents are local to the user.
So it’s a new initiative essentially, geared to making local search results more relevant and intuitive. It works in exactly the same way as natural search, and will filter out poor results and weak content. Google will sift through the search results for your nominated query, and pull up the most relevant and robust results in your local area when you search. But how does Google know where to look. Well, if you look at the left hand side of the screen when you next make a Google search, you’ll see your locality listed. For Search and More that would show up as Manchester. Google therefore automatically searches for your query in that locality and will deliver results within that particular area. Does that mean you can only search in that particular area? Well, no: you change the default by clicking the down arrow on the region and choosing your own nominated search area.
Venice and local search.
The majority of websites are quite general in the sense that they are meant to appeal to as broad an audience as possible. Many will advertise nationally, and occasionally some may look to appeal on an international basis. Few websites are actually properly optimised to appeal to the local market. That in itself is a waste as the local market is the area that is showing the strongest signs of growth in the current deflated market. Local search engine optimisation is the future, and the sooner businesses realise this, the better.
If you look at local search results, having excluded the paid search listings, and analyse the listings that come out at the top of the SERP’s, you’ll more than likely find that those who head these listings have already been optimised for the local market These websites will probably have local landing pages, local keyword-rich content, title tags, Meta descriptions and Meta keywords optimised for that region. Undoubtedly, there will be other sites that are not locally optimised showing up, but this is due to historic reasons: established websites can show up in the listings simply because of the age of their domain names.
Making your website Venice-proof.
If you cast your mind back to the original Panda Update, you’ll remember that those websites that displayed weak or duplicate content were given a bit of a kicking and lost ground on the search engine listings. February’s update simply took the matter one step further, and made Google’s position on search crystal clear. Google wants unique content. If it discovers duplicate or flimsy content there’s every chance that the website that carries such content will see its search engine ranking fall. Websites will be punished if they display similar content on different pages, or use similar content to their competitors. It will be no different with Venice.
Optimising for local search.
- Google wants unique local content on each page of the website. That means businesses can’t just change the odd word on their existing websites in the hope that it will give them local appeal. What Google wants is new, unique pages for each local area of business. The new content must also be unique, local-specific and keyword-rich. Businesses will also have to make sure these local pages are suitably optimised using Meta titles, descriptions and keywords.
- Make sure your business is verified on the existing local search listing platforms like Google, Yahoo, Ask, and all other local maps. Also, if you add a KML file to your website, Google will know the precise address of your company.
- Create new profiles in business directory websites, such as Manta and Yelp. Each profile and link will create additional keywords, content and webpages and increase the local presence and effectiveness of your SEO campaign overall.