One of the challenges of search marketing for local businesses and news sites is that with so much content from around the world online, it’s difficult for search engines to pinpoint local articles. Search algorithms have become better at identifying local content and Google has announced a new change that will make it easier for content creators to identify their content as local.
Google is adding a local source tag, that will allow content creators to identify their content as being by and for local audiences. This is useful to news sites and marketers, who can often find their local-centric content drowned out by content from larger, national organizations.
“But not all local stories stay local. When a local story is picked up by national publishers, it can be difficult for local sources to be heard even after they’ve done the legwork and research to break a story,” Google explained in a blog post announcing the new feature. “Consistent with our goal to surface diverse perspectives, we’re excited to share that a new “Local Source” tag is now live across all Google News editions.”
The local source tag will be invaluable to local newspapers or even to marketers who want their press releases to get more attention locally. Google is making it so that when searchers click on the expand link for Google News topics, more local stories will appear than they had in the past.
To illustrate, a story about local politician that makes national headline will show some major, national news outlet stories first, and when expanded, the Google News box would show links to local sites that information on the topic.
Google provide an even stranger example of how this helps small publishers by mentioning the story of a 9-year old news blogger who was covering a murder in her hometown. Though the murder got national attention, the new Local Source will let the lesser known content creators get attention.
The greater focus on local news and information is a smart move by Google. According to the March 2015 Pew Research study, Local News in a Digital Age, which looked at three metro areas across the U.S., “nearly nine-in-ten residents follow local news closely—and about half do so very closely”.
As with most features Google introduces, care has been taken to ensure that people don’t abuse the system in the hopes of getting more clicks on their site. A site in Washington State can’t add some code to make their content about Florida appear to be local. In fact, take advantage of the new feature requires no effort from content publishers.
Rather than rely on content creators to add their own local source tags, the whole process is done by Google. According to Google’s statement, “Local Source” articles are identified automatically by looking at where a publisher has written about in the past and comparing that to the story location.
While much of this is happening automatically, the new feature is something that content creators and publishers should keep an eye on. For more technical information on how the new feature works, Google has more details available on their help site.
And for more news about upcoming changes and updates to Google, read this article on new features Google is currently testing.