The Venice update provides more localised results for broad search queries and was rolled out on 27th February 2012. At the time of release it was noted on both Moz’s blog and by Search Engine Land that the update had largely been included amongst 40 odd other updates during the same month with little fanfare assigned for the Venice update. In fact, the Venice update has fairly far reaching implications for search and should certainly be considered by anybody looking to run an SEO campaign.

What does the Venice Update mean?

It means that for generic searches such as ‘sports store’ or ‘hair salon’ would now return more results that were local to your location at the time, or the location specified on Google. Note that you do not have to set location through Google. Furthermore, the Venice update has become even more effective in our modern age of mobile phones with GPS. So if you were searching for ‘hair salon’ and happened to be searching from a device in Sevenoaks it does not matter that you have not searched for ‘hair salon Sevenoaks’, Google will still identify your location and thus provide more Sevenoaks based results.

It was and is part of Google returning the most relevant result and no doubt in response to the user’s assumption of Google’s complexity and authority. That is to say that over the years users have stopped associating Google with a keyword based search engine and more as an advanced system that can provide the most relevant result with less detail (think Hummingbird).

What are the implications?

The implications are great for searchers. It means that they can see the most local results to them with minimal effort. For businesses and websites wanting to be found within a specific geographical area it means that they have to be conscious of local SEO techniques. A few pieces of advice if you are looking to target a specific area:

  • If you have a physical address make sure that you have a verified Google My Business listing
  • Localised content is essential, including onsite optimisation. Having your location mentioned in the title tag of a page and in the content will improve your chances of ranking locally. This can be a landing page with specific content to that particular geographical area or detailed directions on the contact page.
  • Local links – target websites that are specific to the area to demonstrate to Google that you are active in the local community.

In general the Venice update is just another example of search engines (especially Google) becoming more and more complex and how improving your ranking on said search engines requires more thought than just targeting a set of keywords.