Last week a large number of changes to the way Google ranks and displays search results was rolled out. Many Search Engine Optimization specialists have focused on one piece of the update, codenames “Venice”, and have not looked at the 39 other parts. When you categorize the list of updates you will start to see an interesting trend. Many of the other parts of this update actually dovetail with the Venice update, making it even easier for small websites to compete than many SEOs realize.
The Venice Update – Making General Searches Local
To understand why Venice is more powerful than many realize, you first need to know what it does on its own. Google defines Venice in a nutshell as, “Improvements to ranking for local search results.” What this really means is that local businesses will be better able to compete against large, 800 Pound Gorilla, websites for general searches. For example if your business is a winery in Gilroy California you may show up for very well for searches like “Gilroy Winery,” or even “Santa Clara Winery.” While these searches are great and very targeted, not everyone searches using geo modifier terms, especially in the initial stages of research. When you really want to show up is when a person in San Jose searches for “Winery,” “Vineyards,” or even “California Winery.” The Venice update does just that.
The Other Updates That Make Venice Better
Out of the 39 updates quite a few can actually help a small business when combined with a “Venice Bumped” search result. We will go into a few of these more in depth and then tie it all together at the end, but a quick list of those Venice supplementing updates is:
- Better detection of a users location, which allows for better matching when a search has local results that may be relevant to the user.
- An increased number of images available to display in universal search (Codenamed “terra”)
- New images will be displayed more often (codename “turmeric”)
- Displaying better and more YouTube channel snippets in the search results.
- New content sill be displayed in the results faster (codename “freshness”)
- News displayed in Universal search results will display more often (codename “final destination)
Images: Complimenting Venice Updates
About now you are probably thinking to yourself, “The image changes don’t look like they mention anything about local.” Well, tell yourself that, “It sure does!” Images are a powerful way to tell the story about your brand. If images are correctly tagged with alt and title at a minimum, they will start showing up more often and in the universal search results. The real trick here is to optimize those images with and without the geo modifier terms you use for the page itself.
With the Venice update Google is already signaling that it knows your page may be optimized for a geo modified term but it is also about the general search term, which means it knows you images are most likely about those general terms as well. Since Google has not yet said that they are including local images in the universal search for general terms we still need to tell Google that the image is about both the geo modified term and the general term. Images are still an often overlooked part of optimizing a website, which means that if you optimize your images you face less competition than you do for a web page.
Using the Gilroy California Winery as an example again. One image on that site uses tags to optimize a photograph for both “Gilroy Winery,” and “California Winery” that is already themed for both those terms. Since the theme of the page matches the more general search term, and the images are also optimized for the general term, those images already had a great chance to show in universal search for the general term. With Venice displaying the geo modified page to local searchers, and the image showing up for the general term, the website now occupies more real estate on the search results page for the term “California Winery.” Occupying more real estate on the results pages means more visits for you and less visits to a competitor’s site.
YouTube Geo-Modified Search Suggestions
Again yourself is saying,, “I got them now, this doesn’t have anything to do with local search at all.” Well tell yourself, “I forgot about universal search again.” Optimizing a YouTube video is a bit different than optimizing images or webpages, but the results can be awesome. Since we know that Google already uses video as part of universal search, a YouTube channel that is optimized for your geo-modified and general search terms now has an increased chance to show up in the search results for those general terms. If your webpage is now showing up to local users for the general term thanks to Venice, and your optimized YouTube channel is showing up as well, you now occupy two of the ten positions in the search results. If Google is also showing your optimized image on the same page, now your site occupies quite a bit of those results pages. Now we are dominating the page and taking opportunities away from your competition.
“Fresh” Content, Means “Fresh” Visitors
At this point yourself should now be saying, “Wait, this is probably about universal search again, I bet I know where they are going.” Tell yourself that this one isn’t about universal search, but to keep trying. It has been long known that Google really likes content that is new and kept current. Now Google is telling us that it will start displaying that fresh content more often in the universal search results. So now it is even more important to provide Google with good quality, well optimized, new content. If you make sure your site regularly has fresh content on it that is related to the geo-modified and general search terms you are targeting, you have an advantage over those big sites with fairly static content.
Now that Venice is in effect, your site has an increased chance of displaying for general search terms already. Add in fresh content and now you have a really good shot at getting at least one page displayed for the general term. If you are really well optimized you may even get two or three pages listed for the general term. If Google is also displaying universal results for that search term, and you optimized your YouTube Channel and images correctly, you are starting to become a major force on that general terms search results page.
Add In Press Releases To Start Your Own Occupy Movement
Now yourself is saying, “Nope I am going to voice an opinion since I am probably wrong.” Make sure you tell yourself that no one likes a quitter, besides in this case it probably would have been right. The last update related to Venice that Google threw at us was a fix to a bug that kept news results from displaying in universal results. Besides being a great way to build links to your website, now a newsworthy press release has an increased change of being displayed in the universal search results. The real key to this is to make sure that the press release is actually newsworthy and not something you put out there just to try to get links. As a bonus, a newsworthy press release is more likely to get picked up by the media. This means that the press release itself may display in universal results right next to a news websites article about your press release. If the universal results also include your images, videos, fresh content, and Venice bumped pages you are now occupying most of the search results page for that local user. You are giving them no choice but to visit your website.
Now Tie It Together Easily In One Place
There is one REALLY easy way to tie all of these Venice supplemental items together, a blog on your website. If you regularly create a new blog posts (fresh content) about your newsworthy press release (universal news search), including new optimized images (universal image search), with an embedded YouTube video you created (YouTube universal snippet search), you have now given Google everything it needs in one handy package to fill up its universal search results pages. Add in the page on your site that is now “Venice Bumped” to a general terms universal search result, your blog post has moved you from one listing on the search results page to a dominant force pushing out those big powerful sites.