How the Google Search Engine Works (Organic Near Me Local Searches)

Published by Jade Reardon on

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How the Google Search Engine Works (Organic Near Me Local Searches)

Get Your Website Ranking with Google Search Engine Optimisation


This week I am diving deep into how the google search engine works. Normally, this topic would be way too big for just one blog post. Thus, I am focussing on local SEO and local search terms (such as organic near me).


What is the Intention of the Google Search Engine?

Answer: The Google search engine’s intention is to understand searcher motivation – and provide the best results with the fewest clicks.

Local website ranking in Google search engine optimisation is possible for everyone!

Sometimes it is nice to know how something works – rather than being told “it works – just do it”.

Read on for examples and interesting data on the google search engine and local organic near me searches. No fluff – just quality information to help you get your head around how the Google search engine works for local website rankings.

A couple of Notes on Google

  • Google is a business that wants to deliver top-quality service for every customer.
  • For your business to rank well, uphold Google’s values. Think of Google as your marketing partner.

Generations of Small Business Owners

(Does Word of Mouth Cut it?)

Heralding from a family of generations of business owners, I know first-hand the value of quality marketing for small business. Unless you are in a small town, word of mouth alone doesn’t cut it.

My great, great grandfather owned a cobbler’s shop in Forbes. He would need more than having a good-looking wife in the front shop and put up the open sign to get people in these days.

I have watched the marketing efforts of small businesses in Toowoomba change as the city has grown. Word of mouth still goes a long way – but it has limits. It doesn’t go too much further than the hairdressing salon, pub or local radio ‘best pie’ competition.

I’m not saying don’t worry about word of mouth. What I am saying is, continue to deliver excellent products, services and customer service AND market online (i.e. google search engine optimisation).

Organic Near Me Online Marketing

Not only does online marketing (particularly SEO) reach the people in the hairdressing salon and the pub, it reaches weekend visitors, people passing through and locals located across town. The Google search engine may be a part of a global brand but it is all business owners’ best marketing tool, no matter where they are located or how big or small their business is.

How Much do we Really use the Google Search Engine?

The primary objective of the Google search engine is to give us the absolute best results for every one of our searches. Thinking about searches, how many searches do we, as a global community submit every day on Google?

That’s a whole lot of Googling! (internetlivestats.com/google-search-statistics/#ref-1)

How often do you say (or heard someone say), “I don’t know, I’ll ask Google/I’ll Google it”. I remember a long time ago, hearing a loved relative (not naming anyone) say, “How do you do Google?”. Everyone is Googling – even our Nannas! ?

The Google search engine dominates because it is intuitive and fast1 (learn more on the SEO copywriting page). Nine times out of 10, Google understands our intention when we search for something. That’s why sometimes local businesses and a map, shopping results, images or featured snippets will be displayed.

How Does Google Know Our Search Intention?

Over the years, Google’s artificial intelligence (AI) bots have learnt what searches lead where. As a result, we now have the most intuitive Google search engine yet2.

According to STAT Search Analytics2, search intention can be simplified into five categories.

  1. Informational
  2. Commercial
  3. Transactional
  4. Local
  5. Navigational

Note: I just had a look on Google Trends to find examples of each of the above five categories that Australians are searching for right now. It seems Australians (this weekend, 13/14 June) are seriously keen on finding sporting results. From UFC Fight Night, Mallorca vs Barcelona, Canberra Raiders to Brisbane Lions (and heaps more). Oh, and Spongebob was also trending this weekend :-D.

So, I asked mum if she could buy something brand new, what would it be? She said a car. Thanks for the search inspiration mum! Below is what I came up with to illustrate the five search intentions.

How can we (Small Business Owners) Utilise This Information?

In our keyword search, we need to look at the intention of searchers (our future customers). Their intentions change as they proceed through the buyer’s journey. So, give them what they are looking for (quality content) and work hard to rank well so you are front and centre when they’re looking for their next ‘product/service’.

Page 88 has multiple buyer personas and thus, different journeys for each one. The more we learn about our customers, the better we can provide them with what they are looking for.

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Six Things You Can do for Improved Google Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

Earlier, I mentioned that you should uphold Google’s values to be ranked well in the Google universe.

Here are some essentials to include in your Google-informed marketing and content plan:

(1) Make it easy for people to find answers.

Does your website need a FAQ page?

Is it clear what you offer/do?

(2) Solve people’s problems.

Can you create content that helps customers in their everyday lives?

Do you have products that make it easier for people to do things?

(3) Provide Google with your business information so that Google maps can direct customers to your front door.

Is your NAP (Name, Address, Phone) easy to find in directories, Google My Business and on your website?

Do you have a Google My Business listing?

(4) Ensure Google knows your operating hours so they can advise customers and save them the hassle of a drive if you aren’t open.

Do you close on Sunday’s so you can have one day off with the family?

Update your opening hours and put posts on GMB and social media.

(5) Happy customers are great – but happy customers who share their love for your business are even better.

Provide opportunities for people to leave their reviews. Google rewards businesses who please their customers. Future customers checking your business out online also feel encouraged to try a new company when they can see other people have had a positive experience.

Where can customers leave public reviews of your business/products?

Are you prepared to respond to positive AND negative feedback?

(6) Deliver consistent, exceptional service.

What can you do in store and online to improve your customer’s experience with your business?

Customers love getting to know local businesses and what is important to them. There is a good chance that many of your customers share similar values and will appreciate being on the same page as you. Furthermore, they’ll appreciate you letting them know when you are available to serve them.

How the Google Search Engine Works for Local SEO

Local SEO is something businesses need to have a grasp of because it influences where (if at all) businesses rank in Google map and organic results. What is SEO? It stands for search engine optimisation (or if you’re in the states – search engine optimization)

SEO copywriting (and SEO content writing) is about providing value to web users. Additionally, SEO copywriting needs to be able to communicate with search engines. This is where SEO copywriting strategies must be implemented well.

For example, keyword research and keyword inclusion strategies (headline, first 100 words, synonyms in sub-headings and throughout the content etc.) There are a lot of different SEO copywriting strategies.

If you have a product or service you want to sell:

  • There must be quality content on your website and across the internet (i.e. forums, blogs, social media).
  • Content must be able to communicate with search engines (in their language).
  • You must ensure the content makes sense to your readers. Some people master how to get their content to communicate with search engines but fail to make it readable to humans.

Let’s Get Googling!

As you can see below, I’ve entered the search term ‘bakery in Toowoomba’ into the Google search engine.

Check out the number of results (highlighted in yellow). That’s how many other websites are competing for your page one position on Google for the keywords ‘bakery in Toowoomba’.

A Google Maps Result?

Google provided a local map and the top-rated bakeries in my area.

What was my intention when I searched for ‘bakery in Toowoomba’?

Let’s meet BERT…

Google (BERT specifically) assumed I wanted to locate a bakery in my local town – and it was right. “Where can I buy fresh bread from local bakeries?” (was my thought process).

Hang on, who is BERT? It’s not Bert from Sesame Street.

BERT (Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers)3 is the name of the Google search engine algorithm that picks up on intention and context. It analyses our content and what we’re trying to do with it (inform, sell). BERT is also the AI behind searcher intentions (why we sometimes get maps or shopping results for example)

Like most people, the local map and top organic results are the ones I look to first. Why?

  • Because I know Google has assessed these websites as high quality.

Note: I have been to just about every bakery in Toowoomba and Google was right. The top results directed me to local bakeries with scrumptious sweets, pastries and bread (and seriously fantastic customer service).

Organic Results and EAT

On most search results pages a couple of paid positions will show up at the top. Underneath these are organic results.

Across all search types, organic results are clicked on 97.4% of the time (over paid results)4.

Below are the organic results for ‘bakery in Toowoomba’.

Organic results show the websites with the best SEO (the best keywords, content quality, reviews, backlinks, on page and off page SEO – and much more) and who uphold the EAT acronym.

Google’s bots assess every website for EAT5:

  • Expertise.
  • Authoritativeness.
  • Trustworthiness.

Aim for EAT every time you produce digital content and you will be on your way to page one of Google search results.

Some Surprising Local Organic Near Me Searches

(Thanks to Google Trends for These Tidbits!)

In the 12 months (before COVID-19), Australians have been searching for polling booths and bushfire locations. No surprises there with elections held across the country – not to mention, our devastating fire season. Here are some lighter topics we’ve been searching for (some may surprise you).

350%

increase to ‘Baskin Robbins near me’ in QLD (Cold Rock wasn’t far behind).

250%

increase in ‘plumbing supplies near me’ (most notably Reece Plumbing in Marrickville). Either someone is nailing local SEO, or people are really getting into home DIY.

750%

increase in searches for ‘Spudshed near me’. Western Australians are all about shopping locally!

300%

increase in searches for ‘dehli rocks’ in Victoria, notably in Melbourne and Geelong.

400%

increase in searches for ‘Jaycar near me’ in SA.

Multiple Breakouts

Tasmania has had breakouts of searches for restaurants, cafes, liquor stores and Coles.

Bring it Home

Let’s bring it all home and review what has been covered. We (business owners) know we are expected to do some online marketing. What most of us aren’t aware of is exactly how important it is and how on earth you actually do it.

Starting right now, go over my 6 tips above. Following on from that, start delegating. Send your website off to an SEO web development team (such as https://top10insydney.com.au/) and have them do a free health audit on your back-end and front-end SEO. Top 10 in Sydney are the people who have taught me all about SEO and who inspire me to spread the word on the importance of SEO for small business.

peace sign with fingers

If you just need your front-end (content) tweaked to help with keyword rankings and improving the quality of your content, send me a message.

I’ll work my word magic for you. I can also do a social media feed of posts with testimonials, case studies, infographics, graphs, quotes and more – whatever suits your brand best!

If you’re still not sure if you need an expert, jump onto Google Analytics and Google Search Console. Set up your business website. Start analysing the traffic you are getting. Find out:

  • Where it is coming from.
  • What queries got people to your website.
  • What page on your website they started on.
  • Where they drop-off (exit your website).
  • The bounce rate and rate of conversions.

I am looking forward to chatting with you and helping you grow your business using the power of the Google search engine!

  • Jade

References

1. Stat Counter in Reardon, J. SEO Copywriting. Page 88. 2020.

2. STAT Search Analytics. Using Search Intent to Connect with Customers. White Paper: Retail. 2007.

3. Nayak, P. Understanding searches better than ever before. Google. 2019.

4. Fishkin, R. The State of Searcher Behavior Revealed Through 23 Remarkable Statistics. Moz. 2017.

5. Google Search. How Search Algorithms Work. Google. 2020.


Jade Reardon

Writer, researcher, nerd, storyteller and anthropologist. Freelance writer and founder of Page 88.

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