When we talk about the three pillars, we talk about Relevance, Proximity and Prominence. Here we’re going to talk about Proximity and what it actually means.
It’s important to note that these days, so many people search using mobile devices.
We do so much now on our phones, especially the modern phones, which are powerful computers these days and they can just do so much. So many searches are carried on mobile devices such as phones, iPads and that type of equipment.
Google is aware of this and so has moved to mobile optimisation and comes up with mobile optimised results. Also, for your lap top or desk top, it will detect your IP address so it knows where you are located.
So let’s look at the three types of searches you can do. These are:
- Non-geo modified searches
- Geo modified searches, and
- Near me searches.
I’ll say straight away that the ‘near me’ searches have virtually died a death. A couple of years ago someone might have typed in ‘a plumber near me’. But these days, especially with the younger generations coming through, people know they only have to put the word plumber in and Google will do its magic and find plumbers close to wherever you are on your phone or laptop as it can check your IP address and come up with the same set of results.
Google Search Results
So let’s look at the way these searches work and the different sets of results they come up with that you need to be conscious of. So I’ve just typed in the word ‘plumber’ (and remember we’ve been using the search ‘plumber Swansea’ in previous vidoes) and Google has detected my IP address so it knows the area of Swansea where I live.
These three results (the map and the ABC listing) are different than if I put in the search term ‘plumber Swansea’ even though it’s the same search query i.e. I’ve put in ‘plumber’ and I live in Swansea. If I put in ‘Plumber Swansea’, even though I live in Swansea it comes up with a different set of results.
So you need to be aware of this when you optimise your website and do all the things we’ve talked about with your Google maps, back linking and everything else. Because what happens here, when you put in ‘plumber Swansea’ or any other city, whether it be Cardiff, or London, or New York, once you’ve put that derivative in (i.e. city or area), Google tends to centralise it.
These results will change all the time as Google is always experimenting with different things but what I’m trying to say to you is, if you’re outside an area, what Google will do is show me the results local to a particular city centre.
So as you can see on the image, the results shown on this map are near the city centre. So I have three businesses listed, which are totally different to the businesses listed, which are actually near to my house, when I just typed in the word ‘plumber’ because Google knows where I am located as it has picked up my IP address.
If I did the search on my phone, I would get similar results as Google would get my geo location (my latitude and longitude) and so know what results to bring up.
So that’s the first thing you need to be aware of when it comes to the two different types of searches i.e. those that don’t have a geo location and those that do give two different sets of results.
The second thing I want you notice, again because you’ve just put the word ‘plumber’ in, Google’s not sure what you’re after. Remember when we talked about key words before, and we talked about long tail keys in the video on the topic of Relevance (the all inclusive golfing holiday in the Algarve).
Well, I’ve put one word in here ‘plumber’ so how is Google supposed to know exactly what I’m looking for?
What Google does in this case is put up a broad spectrum of results. It still comes up with the local maps in case I’m looking for a local plumber near to where I live; so it comes up with the map and the ABC listing.
Then the very first listing on the natural search is on Wikipedia, in other words was I looking for a definition of a plumber (ie I’m not actually looking for a tradesmen but what the term stands for). Then it will throw in another couple of results for local plumbing companies along with some other broader search results.
(Tip: while on this page, just look at the list and pick which ones you’d click on).
The first one because of its reputation, the second one because of its reputation, and the Checkatrade one for Eagle Heating and Plumbing based in Swansea because this one has also been rated.
So just be aware which ones are likely to get the clicks. Would you pick the company with no ratings compared to one that has?
So when you haven’t put a geo location in you’ll get a set of results highly targeted to where you are on your IP address or your mobile. You get a broad spectrum of results as Google’s trying to work out what might be looking for.
And you’ll notice when you only put in the single term i.e. plumber, there are no adverts at the top of the page, you have to scroll right down to the bottom of the page before Google shows you an advert.
Once you put your geo locator in there, you have the four adverts as before, as Google is saying ‘ah he is looking for a plumber that is based in Swansea‘. So it starts showing adverts, because that what brings in business; it shows the centre of Swansea and the ABC listings and then the next set of results, though they are directories like Checkatrade and Yell for example, they are all Swansea.
So Google is now coming up with a different set of results, all Swansea based businesses.
You need to be aware that when people put in a search that is geo-targeted and non-geo targeted, they are seeing a different set of results, even though Google is still picking up your IP address or mobile device location.
And when we type in ‘plumber near me’ there’s not much change in the results because Google has done its homework and knows what you’re looking for. In this example, it’s put an advert at the top of the results as it knows I’m looking for a tradesman, rather than a definition like on Wikipedia.
So it’s important when you think about Proximity and where you locate your business, or if you’re thinking of moving location, all these factors need to be taken into account.
You also need to consider how does Google know to bring up these different businesses. It’s what we talked about before i.e. NAP listings (your Business Name, Address and Phone Number).
That’s why it’s so important to put it into your Google My Business listing, on your Facebook page, your Twitter page, on your website and all these directories, so that Google knows the exact location of your business, so you can show up for all the relevant searches, in your particular area (i.e. they are nearest to you).
Imagine you’re a plumber and you’re based in a particular area of Swansea or Cardiff, you want to be showing every time someone in your geo area is searching for your particular service, you want to make sure that your website and other assets are showing on page 1 of Google because you’ve done all that work in the background.
When you talk about Proximity, make sure you’ve done your NAP listings and be aware of the different ways your properties are found using mobile devices, iPads, lap tops etc.