Getting your business to appear on the first page of results for internet searches is not only an ongoing challenge, but truly a Darwinian survival of the fittest competition among businesses in your industry and locale. Google, Yahoo, and Bing use different methods and proprietary algorithms to determine which websites they serve to searchers, and these parameters are constantly changing. Business owners are often busy running their businesses and may be unaware that their site’s ranking for SEO (Search Engine Optimization) has fallen dramatically. They may not notice until they stop getting calls from new customers or find their sales drop.
So how the heck do you keep up with these changes in SEO and adapt to the new strategies that the internet search giants use? Hiring a reliable and knowledgeable SEO marketing expert is a good step, as they have your business’s SEO best interests at heart. Another is to give your websites a spruce-up with new photos, and ensuring that each photo contains important metadata known as geotagging information, which will dramatically improve your chances of ranking higher in local search results and getting the click-throughs and sales leads you need.
What Is Geotagging and Why Is It Important?
Geotagging is the process of adding precise global positioning data, such as specific latitude and longitude, to a website or image found online. Geotagging is the most common way to embed location-specific data into your website, usually by adding the information to photos and images. Your website visitors don’t see this information, but search engines read, catalogue, and analyze as they crawl the web looking for data. Geotagging helps the search engines make the connection between your photo and the location of what it depicts or where and when it was taken, or both. You can set the geotagging to be a particular location you choose, down to specific latitude and longitude coordinates.
Geotagging isn’t new. It’s been around in website development for over a decade. Its importance, however, is growing. It’s moving from more of a novelty to a necessity. As more potential customers search for information from their mobile devices, web search engines are factoring the person’s current location into the search results they deliver.
Furthermore, people are getting more specific and sophisticated with their web searches. Your customers want to narrow the thousands of web search results into the ones that are most relevant for them. If you don’t have geotagging information on your website, you aren’t ranking as highly as your competitors who do. It’s that simple.
Not ranking as highly in search engine results means that customers may never see your business online. The number one site from an online search has a 31.52% click-through rating. The percentage drops dramatically as you move through the top five site results, dropping to less than 2 percent click-through rate by number 8 on the results.
In addition, different search engines use different algorithms to determine their rankings. They keep their methodologies secret and proprietary, but both Yahoo and Bing have stated that geotagging is information that they use as part of their website ranking decisions. Even though Google has a massive 74.54% of all desktop internet searches and a whopping 90% for mobile, it would be a mistake to ignore the number two and three search engines, which each have about 10% market share. You wouldn’t ignore 10 to 25 percent of your customers or potential customers, would you? Of course not.
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Although different search engines handle the site ranking differently, all of them read and consider metadata, such as geotagging, as part of their processes. For local results, the location data becomes even more important in the ranking as the search engines strive to provide the most relevant and accurate results to the user. Users who do not find the search results to be what they are looking for are apt to change search engines. As search engines don’t want to lose customers, you can help them do their jobs by providing the most accurate data to make your business more visible and relevant in their results.
How Does Geotagging Help Me?
Geotagging is especially important for ranking with local search engine results. If your commercial cleaning business is located in Paris, Texas, you don’t care about finding customers in Paris, Virginia, or Paris, France. You only want people in your locality—the ones who are looking for commercial cleaning services and own businesses that your company could help—to find your business. It might be nice if someone in San Francisco found your site on the Internet, but it’s not likely to be very relevant to them. It’s even less likely that they will click on your site or contact you to become a customer.
To grow your local business, you need local results from web searches. You need to find the customers in your local area, and get information to them when they need it. Most people search for a product when they have an actual need, not merely a passing interest. So coming up at the top of ranked internet search results means that you are in front of the eyes of someone who has a need for your services, and—with geotagging—is looking for those services in your locality. It’s like advertising: you’re here, you’re close by, you have what the customer needs. Geotagging is essential for helping you pinpoint your customers and making your business appear as the top choice in the search engine results.
Suppose your potential customer is looking for gluten-free bakeries in Peoria. A search engine is going to combine those search terms to present the results to the person.
First, it will look for bakeries, then those that include the phrase gluten-free, then rank them in order of how close they are to Peoria. The search engine will need to look for location information on your website to determine where your business is physically. It may find that information on your “About” or “Contact Us” page, but that may not be the same page that the phrase “gluten-free” is located on your site. The search engine may disconnect your address and location from your services, or may misinterpret this information. Even if it does make the connection among your site’s pages, another site with clear location information will still rank higher in the search results because the search engine will have greater confidence in that location. Getting your site to appear higher in the results can be the difference between getting a customer and not.
Okay, But What Does That Have To Do With Geotagging?
Geotagging lets you put all that crucial information in one place, with an image, which will increase your SEO results. How?
Increases Search Engine Confidence Scores
The location information on a photo on the same webpage as your company’s description of services will boost the search engine’s confidence in the results it provides. It will be certain that your business is indeed located in the physical location that was included in the search question.
Increases Site’s Ranking with Search Engines
Sites with images rank higher in search engines’ analysis. Just having an image does this, but there are other ways to improve your ranking with how you name an image.
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Ever noticed that you can do an image search with most search engines? Well, it goes without saying that your website and your business aren’t going to come up in an image search if you don’t have good, clear, tagged images. Geotagged images will come to the top of the page for local searches, making this strategy crucial.
Opportunities to Add More Metadata
Metadata is data about data and is the core of what search engines use in their algorithms that determine ranking and results. Images offer myriad ways to boost your site’s ranking
- Image title or file name. Repeat your business name and location in the image file name. Every mention improves the ranking. Your users don’t see the file name, but the search engines do. Mentioning in different places, such as the text and the image title also improves your score.
- Image alt-text. Many web designers forget to enter information into this vital field. Alt-text assists those with visual impairment by providing text for screen readers to read that describes the image and provides information for those who are using text-only browsers or in case the images simply do not load for whatever reason. Alt-text for images is another way to reinforce location-specific information for your business, which improves your ranking in search results.
- Captions and words adjacent to the photo. Images may use captions, which is another place you can add essential keywords and location information. Search engines look at the text near an image on a website in order to gather more information about the image, the site itself, and its relevance.
- Geotagging data. This is very specific data that is invisible to users, but gold for search engines which are hungry for more information. geotagging is added automatically to many photos taken with smartphones or modern digital cameras that are GPS-enabled. The data are embedded in the photo itself and includes information such as where and when the photo was taken and with what device. You can add geotagging to your website most easily by just adding images that already contain geotagging data within them.
How Do I Add Geotagging Data to Photos and Images?
The first and easiest way to ensure all of your images have geotagging information is to make sure they were all taken with a modern GPS-enabled device, such as a smartphone or digital camera. These devices have geotagging of photos and images as a default setting, and will automatically embed the GPS coordinates and the named location, if available. Unless you have turned the location settings off on your phone—most people do not do this as it is important for checking in on social media and for the maps applications to work well—then any new photos will have this data. Simply upload them to your website, and follow the steps above to add additional information for the image filename and alt-text, and you’ll be on your way to improving your SEO.
Photos taken by a professional photographer will almost always have geotagging information embedded in them. This information is easily added using the photographer’s photo editing software such as Adobe Lightroom. If you aren’t sure, ask your photographer to deliver your photos with geotagging information. If they didn’t do that by default, your professional photographer can easily add the geotag information through a batch process using their software.
If you have older photos that you still want to use, it is possible to edit the photo’s geotag metadata manually. This information is stored in any JPEG photo’s Exchangeable Image File (EXIF) data, along with other technical information. A variety of programs allow you to open the photos and add geotag information. The programs usually provide a searchable map on the screen. Once you navigate to the specific location—such as your business address—you click or drag the photos to that location. Pinning the picture to the map adds the location information to the file. Apple’s latest version of their Photos software has this capability, as do other programs such as Adobe Lightroom, Adobe Photoshop Elements, GeoPhoto for Windows, and more.
Where Should I Have Geotagged Photos?
To optimize your search results, ensure that you have a geotagged photo or image on at least the following pages on your website:
- The homepage
- Your contact us page
- Your location page
- Your blog posts
Of course, adding a geotagged photo to every page or post on your site will help the most, as repetition is key in optimizing your search engine results.
Can I Add Geotagging to My Entire Website?
You can add geotags to every page on your website, not just a photo. Your web developer must handle this as it involves editing the meta tags in your site’s code. Yahoo and Bing! do still take these meta location tags with latitude and longitude positioning into account in their search rankings. However, Google has stated that they do not use them as part of their analysis. They cite too many inaccurate geotags as meta information for their reasoning (this can occur if a web developer copies code, for example, and does not remove or change the geotag information). However, it doesn’t hurt you to include the geotagging meta information in the site’s code itself, even if it may not help you with Google. Additionally, Google and all search engine providers are constantly changing their methodologies, so their preference for geotag metadata in the page coding may change.
If all of this sounds fairly complex, you’re right. If you’re looking for assistance with geotagging your photos or site, or for optimizing your website for search engine results in general, contact the experts at Romain Berg. We’re here to help. Check out our Discovery Form today and let’s start dominating your competition.