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Friday, October 23rd, 2009

Geo Tags – What Are They and Why You Need Them

 

If your business either has a traditional brick and mortar store front, or your site can value by being associated with your location, then you can benefit from Geo Tags. If your location is irrelevant to your online success, then Geo Tags will be of little use to you.

Geo Tags are trivially easy to implement and they can help to improve your ranking results for searches specific to your area. This ultimately results in higher search rankings and increased targeted traffic to your site.

Does Google Use Them?

Currently Google most likely ignores Geo Tags. I say “most likely” because JohnMu, a Google employee, recently stated in a forum thread:

“We generally ignore geo-meta tags like that because we’ve found that they’re generally incorrect”

He says “we generally ignore” them. This does imply that in some cases they don’t ignore them, and that there is no definite answer of “no”. With this in mind, that leaves room for the possibility that Google does pay attention to these tags. Because these tags can cause no harm (if used correctly), and because in most cases they are trivial to implement, it just makes sense to include them.

What About Bing?
Another reason to consider these tags is that Bing does in fact use them to influence search results. While MSN’s roughly 10% market share may cause you to say, “Who cares about Bing?” Remember that the recent deal with Yahoo provides a very strong possibility that Yahoo will be displaying Bing results before we know it. That deal will bump Bing’s 10% share up to 30%+, suddenly making Bing a worth while engine to be found on.

What Are The GeoTags?
So what are these tags and how do we implement them? Geo Tags consist of three simple meta tags to add to your home page; position, placename, & region.

1.) Geo.Position
The Geo Position tag simply consists of the latitude and longitude of your business. There are a number of tools online to help you find your latitude and longitude. One simple easy to use tool can be found over at itouchmap.com. Simply drag the arrow to your location on the map, and it will display this information for you. For Victoria BC, You would use “48.4;-123.4”.


2.) Geo.Placename

The Geo Placename simply consists of your city/town and province; “Victoria, British Columbia” for example.


3.) Geo.Region

Your geo region tag should include the ISO 3166-2 country subdivision code as per the ISO (International Organization for Standardization). You can find your corresponding country code on the ISO.org website.

If your location is British Columbia Canada, your code will be “CA-BC”. The first half is the two digit country code, the second is the 2 character state/province abbreviation.

For a real world example, StepForth would use the following:

<meta name=”geo.position” content=”48.4;-123.4”>
<meta name=”geo.placename” content=”Victoria, British Columbia”>
<meta name=”geo.region” content=”CA-BC”>

Simply add these three tags to your home page, with the appropriate content, and you’re all done. In most cases adding these tags to your site should not take more than a few minutes.

And that’s all there is to it!


7 Responses to “Geo Tags – What Are They and Why You Need Them”

  1. denis

    Nice article, Scott! Personally I think that using Geotags should be very beneficial as I believe that one day they could become used in other services offered by Google, possibly displaying your business location on Google maps automatically, without need to add it there? :)

  2. JuiceeLinks

    You would think that the search engines would rely more on Geo tags as you have described them, because what does it help someone who shop is on the East coast if someone from the West coast wants to visit their store and buy some shoes.

    But leave it up to hungry webmasters to blast their website wherever and whenever they can–even if it means useless traffic for them.

  3. Ralph

    You don’t need to code your geo tags by hand. Just use the geocoder at http://www.geo-tag.de

    There you also find a validation tool, to check your geo tag implementation.

  4. mark

    Now we can use Google Webmaster Tools and specify the target country of our website so Google will know where to rank it for SERPS. So for example, if we have a .co.uk site and target UK in our Webmaster Tools, then it should rank better in google.co.uk than in google.com.

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