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Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Semantic Approach To Improve Your Local Presence on Google

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

In my previous post –Is SEO Dying? Yes, It Is! I have written 5 forces that are killing SEO. Mobile has been one of the strong forces killing SEO, as users on mobile are mostly logged in. They get personalized search results behind a firewall of SSL/HTTPS which Google shows ‘Not Provided’ in GA. SEO can’t move beyond Web 2.0. 

See the above diagram that gives you an idea of semantic search in web 3.0, probably SEO spam free zone  . 

With growing usage of mobile, tablets, and smart phones, local business search has increased by leaps and bonds. SEO sill recommends ‘local listings’ on various search engines, buying local IPs, and submission across local directories, and forums. 

If you are doing all these, seriously you need to stop, and avoid using these SEO tricks as much as you can. They don’t seem to be very prominent now.

Question - Why following a semantic approach when we don’t see Google has implemented yet? The search engine still displays results based on Google local listing, classifieds, and yellow pages. So, why do we even care for semantic approach or whatsoever? 

Answer- Well, it takes a while to fully execute any recommendations we make, doesn't it? So, Google needs time to execute this as well, based on what the search engine is recommending today. If you want to be ahead of curve, implement it or postpone it until you see Google has implemented.  

You can still register your company in Google Places but it’s just a registry that does not ensure that your local presence will improve on Google unless you claim your listing in G+ Local Page. Google Plus is not a social network, it’s an identity machine!

If you have a Google+ Local page and a Google+ Business page, the search engine says you should treat each page as different entities. This separate but equal stance won’t last long. You can sign up for an early upgrade request to merge your Google+ Local page with your business page, but expect some temporary issues as well. J

The newer browser such as chrome supports W3C Geolocation standard that uses IP addresses to detect a user's location; however, as a user's IP address can only provide a rough estimate of a user's location.

These days, users mostly search local information, products, restaurants, theater, pubs, etc. on their devices. Android based smart phones configure access points with Google location service. It’s a default feature on any Android phones. So, adding semantic markup helps you further improve your local presence, and findability on Google.

So, don’t be SEOtic, be Semantic!

What is Semantic Approach?  

A semantic approach refers to adding a few semantic mark-up on to your website or blog. This is what is known as Semantic Mark Up Approach (SMUA). 

For local businesses, SMUA is the perfect solution that may improve your local presence on Google. Follow SMUA to improve your local presence, and avoid the so-called local SEO optimization technique. 

SMUA Elements 

  1. Add Author Mark up
  2. Use Local Business Schema
  3. Implement Geo Tag  
  4. Add Brand Schema Tags on Logo
  5. Consider Facebook Open Graph
  6. Add Video Map of Your Location, and Tag it in Google Places
  7. Implement Rich Snippets
  8. Add Customer Reviews
  9. Use Data Highlighter (‘Local’)
  10. Claim your listing in G+ Local 

The old tactics of optimizing a site based on keywords and bulk submission across local directories, and yellow pages are gone. So, avoid SEO spamming!

Did I talk about SMUA that contains ‘keywords’? None of SMUA elements has keywords, for all elements, as I have mentioned, have human factors. Optimize for human first – the fundamental rule of SMUA!

Please, don’t say that semantic mark-up is an evolved version of SEO. Hardly do I think that SEO is even near and close to SMUA. SEO has never cared for human/users first. SEO abbreviates search engine optimization. So, obviously, SEO cares search engines more than users!  

People are already talking about semantic search, and we are seeing how Google is evolving to consider more human factors in its algorithm. And, the so-called SEO Industry Complex says ‘SEO is evolving too! Huh... anyways!    

Try SMUA, and improve your business presence. To implement SMUA’s elements, you need to invest in website infrastructure that has properties to support schema. Remember,  all, human beings are your customers, not search engines! UX is a continuous process which you can refine in parallel with other marketing activities including SMUA for your local audience.   
Make use of Schema, and improve your local presence.  


  1. Munaz,

    Excellent arguments and it honestly gave me some insight into a project i'm working on that I hadn't previously considered until now. I'd say the project is 20% SMUA compliant according to this article.

    Anyways, I'm not commenting regarding that project...

    What would you say is the place of the real estate agent in a SMUA world? Only a fraction of their business comes from the locals. Many target people looking to relocate to a specific area so someone in San Diego CA looking to move to Austin TX would be at a disadvantage in a SMUA world.


  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. @John Jones,

    A simple solution would be to use Geo-code for multiple locations. You can use them on home page without any problem. Also, you may have different location pages, and use schema to highlight the data for each location page in GWT. Hope, this clarifies!

    If you have any further question, please let me know.

  4. @Munaz Anjum

    So are you suggesting that, in my example, that the Austin real estate agent purposefully geo-code for San Diego, Las Vegas and so on based on where s/he thinks his buyers are coming from even though his or her office is based in Austin?

  5. Of course, yes because you are purposely geo-coding to target your audience, and you have STRONG reasons for it. Google says 'build anything by keeping your audience in mind. If your target audience is spread across different regions, you can basically let Google know via Geo-tags about your business models, and reasons for doing the needful.

    So, care first about your business models, your customer segmentation, their locations, and build a strategy around the same. Simple, isn't it? :)

  6. Simple yes and I plan on doing what I can to incorporate where I can because I don't believe it would hurt to do so.

    I however see plenty of opportunity for SMUA to be riddled with spam based on your response. So as I mentioned, the real estate professional deals with relocation all the time but why would they want to limit themselves to one, two or even ten areas when it comes to geo-coding when they want everyone anywhere looking to relocate?

    I still think SMUA is great for local on local marketing but there are industries that work towards bringing business into their local area from all over a country or even the world and I'm not sure how SMUA would be benefit in that regard without being seriously spammy. Thoughts?


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