Google’s Gadget is Great, But Not for Local SEO

Filed in Local Search by Matt McGee on July 7, 2009 10 Comments

Google has a new gadget/widget that any webmaster can embed onto a web page so users can easily get directions from their location to your small business. If, for example, you were planning to drive to Kennewick for a meeting with my wife to talk about the great Tri-Cities real estate market and the joy of living in the same place as us :-), you might find this widget on her web site and quickly be able to get directions to the local real estate office.

It’s functional, it’s easy to use, and it’s a fine addition to your web site. You may think it replaces the need for a Directions page on your web site, and Google would agree. Here’s one line from today’s announcement:

“With the directions gadget, you no longer need to type and update multiple sets of text directions.”

Google advice = FAIL.

A well-written, detailed, and thoughtful Directions/Find Us page is still one of the best local SEO tactics around.

When I speak on local SEO, I often bring up this point because so many web sites have utterly terrible Directions pages. You can’t just grab a JPG/GIF map image, put a little red star where your business is, and post that as your Directions page. Well, you can, but you’d be missing a great opportunity to help users find you and teach search engines where you’re located.

bad map example

When I talk about writing a good, detailed Directions page to help with local SEO, I always seem to use this text as an example:

XYZ Widgets is located in the Shadow Trails Shopping Center on 4th Avenue in the North Hills area of Happyville, Washington. Our address is 425 4th Avenue, Suite 201, Happyville, WA, 99999.

What I like about this example is that:

  • it has the exact address of the business
  • it repeats the street, city name, and state a couple times
  • it writes out the state name and uses the abbreviation
  • it mentions the neighborhood (“North Hills”)
  • it mentions a local landmark (“Shadow Trails Shopping Center”)

Do you know what’ll happen if you use text like that as your business location description, and then add written-out directions from all incoming directions — making sure to also mention specific street names, landmarks, cross streets, and any other appropriate location-specific information that would help a traveler? You’ll end up with a killer page telling users exactly how to find you, and telling search engines where you are in relation to a lot of local long-tail keywords.

Be as detailed as you can when writing out a Directions page on your web site. And use that Google widget if you’d like, but don’t use it as a replacement for good, local SEO. It’s not.

Comments (10)

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  1. Melissa says:

    Amen, Matt! Cool tool, but can’t replace what is needed.

  2. Agreed! Great little tool, but it misses the SEO boat completely. Might as well stay out at sea ;)

  3. Don Campbell says:

    Great post Matt! I played around with this new gadget and came to a similar conclusion. The examples you give in this article are perfect. The little neighborhood references can be surprisingly effective.

  4. Matt, I totally agree. I am not impressed with tht gadget either. Oddly, Google already provides a much better way to do this with their “web elements”, which has a map element.
    It looks nice on a contact us page and is simple and easy to implement.
    I used it on a restaurant page here: http://www.kauaimedgourmet.com/contact.htm

    To use the Google map element, go here: http://www.google.com/webelements/maps/

  5. Great gadget! This really simplifies the process for all business owners and web masters.

  6. Miriam says:

    Like you, Matt, there is no way we are going to stop creating detailed driving directions pages. No way!

  7. Jared Bing says:

    This could be a greta gadget. I hope that more small business owners still create detailed directions, but I find a surprising amount who figure that seeing as it was an effort for them to get a web page up at all they just won’t bother!! Talk about not fully getting it! Hopefully this tool will be helpful to them… and their would be customers

  8. Katie says:

    I this could be a brilliant widget.

    I found Google’s map element quite difficult to use when I tried to insert it on my blog –
    But I found it quite difficult. Think I will try the one you describe here.

    Thanks again

  9. Richard Haussmann says:

    Directions as long tail keywords is an insightful idea. A great example showing tools for consumers and tools for search engines aren’t always the same.

  10. Ruri says:

    Well yes This is good way to tell people where w are but this is really for local market. When International people try this widget. It will comes up ‘kayaking across ocean’.

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