Why Google’s Venice Update Fundamentally Changes Global SEO

Google’s Venice update has caused surprisingly few ripples in the search engine marketing industry given the scale of its impact on search: it’s easily as important as Big Daddy from 2006, itself the most significant update made by Google up to that point.

Most important among the 50+ changes announced from our multinational / global point of view, is Google’s new handling of generic search queries which previously would not have been localised.

Where in the past a search such as ‘seo’ or ‘jacket’ would have simply returned Google’s non-local result set, now Google will include results specific to your location (whether you have actively set your location or not: Google will locate you based on your IP address).

Google SERP showing localised results for a generic search term post Google Venice

Google SERP showing localised results for a generic search term post Google Venice.

Obviously, the impacts of this change are far reaching.

Where previously in a multinational SEO or PPC campaign you would plan your Keyphrase Strategy around performance on localised sets of mid to long tail keyphrase terms and largely discount targeting performance for very generic (i.e. single word) terms for all but the largest websites or brands, now you will very likely start receiving traffic for very top level terms when you’re considered to be a localised listing to the searcher’s location.

This means that if you do operate in multiple territories, it’s now absolutely essential to be considered a local listing.

For a walkthrough guide on how to ensure localisation across all your target markets, follow my guides in previous Search Engine Land articles.

In effect, by thoroughly localising pages across your target markets, you are now able to be returned for the very highest traffic terms with minimal effort.

Such terms have the benefit of a very high percentage of new visit visitors associated with them (your SEO ‘net’ is cast further, capturing more visits from people who have never been to your website before).

This reflects the message you should be sending out to the Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs) of top line information about your company USP or brand message, and your fulfilment of that message on the associated landing page.

I’ve also written about this before in these hallowed pages, so I won’t go over old ground again.

But for example, if you are a high-street retailer and your point of difference is a guarantee of authentic third-party brand products with a rock-solid retail warranty, then getting those elements front and centre of your SERP snippet, and following through on that promise on the landing page is now vital.

Supplementing that message via PPC for successful top level organic search visit terms identified through your eCommerce data is also highly recommended. Partly because of the proven overall improvement in SERP conversion for such strategies, but also because going through this analysis process will highlight the new generic terms driving traffic to your site as a result of Google’s Venice update.

By matching your strategy to Google’s algorithmic triggering of localised results for generic search terms you will naturally be targeting some of the most valuable, least competitive (relatively!) SERPs that SEOs have ever seen to date.

They won’t stay uncompetitive for long, that’s a guarantee!

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: All Things SEO Column | Channel: SEO | Google: Maps & Local | Google: SEO | Google: Web Search


About The Author: has over twelve years web development experience & is the founder of QueryClick Search Marketing, a UK agency specialising in SEO, PPC and Conversion Rate Optimisation strategies that deliver industry-leading ROI.

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  • http://twitter.com/seocharlie Carlos Chacón l SEO

    Reading these lines reminds me the “Yahoo Local Places” from some years ago!
    I do believe all the local “signs” will have an impact on the SERPs, but it´s part of the optimization  process. I mean, the SEO will have to move ahead and take some advantages of that “localisation” geo-targeting all possible contents, videos, photos, etc. before Google comes and get indexed.

    Maybe the business don´t operate in all places around the world but can handle a local ZIP or virtual offices with a local phone number. I´m sure this can help Google a little bit… 

  • http://www.tylerherrick.com Tyler Herrick

    Searching from Bend, OR, If I query “design”, I also get the Design Museum London result, I don’t think that in your example it has anything to do with location, I would guess that happened to be a coincidence for you being ‘located’ in London. However in my results it appears in place #6, vs place #2 in your screenshot.

    I work within the Local SEO space, so reading this update when Google published it was not a very big deal in my mind because it was basically saying they’re improving local queries. The reason I didn’t find it a big deal was that all of our sites are already local-targeted, I *shouldn’t* have to do anything more to increase the traffic coming from those keywords. I imagined that when Venice was released, it would simply show more blended/local SERP’s for more “somewhat location-ambiguous queries”, like *design*.When I search “apartments in”, I get 3 local complexes, and then normal results for the rest consisting of Portland, London, New Orleans, Italy, Rome, Miami. It definitely seems like they’re still guessing. I would imagine that as long as you have a well-optimized local-seo website, that you will get to reap the benefits from the potential new searchers getting localized results; but I doubt there would be any detrimental effect to local-optimized sites from this.

  • http://www.gg2.net/ Garavi Gujarat

    I’m working for Local SEO, i thought everyone should have to get benefit of Local SEO for their website to improve their visibility in Google, Google’s Venice update changing Global SEO, but it is not effective for some people, just because of Google recently launched the knowledge graph to understand people’s query what they want to know from Google.

  • Pay4ResultsSEO

    Good content, Venice lies forgotten under the rubble of Panda and Penguin but, as you say, the  changes are important for search

  • http://www.easterneye.eu/ Eastern Eye


  • joebailey1

    This is an interesting update that has considered implications for ours and many other company’s strategy. I’m not too fond of Google tailoring results to an IP address though, what if I’m travelling but want to find important info from back where I live?

  • http://www.netmagellan.com/ Ash Nallawalla

     Using google.co.uk from Australia, I don’t see i-a.co.uk on the first page, but designmuseum.org is the second result after Wikipedia. I think a better example would have been something more intrinsically purchased locally, e.g. pizza. I don’t get any Australian results while still using google.co.uk to look for pizza. I am not using an incognito session and am not logged in. Switching to Chrome and an incognito window gives me exactly the same SERP.

  • olafpijl

    Perhaps it’s still too early to come to conclusions? It seems Google’s still experimenting…

  • ClaytonEsperanza

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  • ChronosMedia

    I’d only heard about the penguin update so far, thanks for the post. I had noticed something going on during my own personal searches, especially the fact that when I deselected local searching it still came up with an unusual amount of local listings.

  • http://sportsbooksforbabies.com/ Sports Books

    Even if it is temporary, it’s still something worth considering.

  • http://twitter.com/liversidge Chris Liversidge

    It’s a good question Steve: you’ll be localised in that example. You can set locations in AdWords to manage your bidding based on location.

    Possibly a good subject for a future post, I think!

  • steve70638

    Chris – you make a good point about the ability to get real granularity in adwords?  What about the adword tool?  Is there any real information on how those localized queries are counted so you can know what is out there?  What about organic….what keyword should I be optimizing for to maximize my exposure to “Dentists” being typed in to browsers localized to Denver?

    I truly have never seen anyone write about this topic but as more and more queries are coming from smart phones and iPad type devices, the localization issues and the localized traffic is going to become bigger and bigger.

  • johanperkins

    This is enormous, and anyone who thinks this doesn’t have an impact needs to wake up. Anything that is introduced as a ‘by default’ setting is not likely to be turned off or changed by 95% of users.

    As a marketing agency we have been tracking this for a while, and there is no doubt that it has had an impact both on our own enquiries and our clients.We now rank in the top 2 for ‘Marketing Agency’ in our locale and we have seen our website work much much harder for us as a result. We are getting enquiries on a regular basis from a channel that has never really brought us enquiries due to the competitiveness of the organic national search market. We rank highly for generic terms that prior to this update we would have no chance in hell of ranking under.It doesnt seem to impact e-commerce in the same way, thankfully, but I do wonder about companies that provide a mix of driving footfall to physical premises and e-commerce on one site. Footfall drivers are generally more generic terms, with product or brand specific usually driving the lions share of revenue for e-commerce. 

  • johanperkins

    I’ve set up a few localised ad-words campaigns based on 20-50 mile radii and specific population centres, and there is certainly a value benefit of running a campaign this way. Google sees the ads as more relevant to a local user, and you can get great average position at a much lower CPC on very generic terms. 


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