SEO for Google Earth
Google Earth will become the launch pad for a new generation of Google location-based services. Did you know that you can optimise your site for Google Earth? In this article, David Viney shows you how.
Why on Google Earth am I suggesting optimisation for the world's favourite bit of fun? Well, Google are currently investing heavily in mobile and geographical information offerings, including a new mobile browser and location-based services such as Google Ride Finder & Google Transit. As the web becomes ever more local, you should seriously consider optimising your site for Google Earth and the next generation of local search products.
What is Google Earth?
Google Earth was formerly known as Earth Viewer prior to acquisition of the company that created it – Keyhole, Inc – by Google in 2004. Google Earth is a virtual globe program that superimposes images obtained from satellite imagery, aerial photography and geographical information systems (GIS) onto a 3D globe. The application has become very popular with web-users worldwide, keen to see what their house looks like from space and can be downloaded here as a standalone, desktop application.
It seems inevitable to me that, as bandwidth improves, Google Earth will eventually become the top level interface for the Google Maps service and the entire Google Local Search Interface. After all, the service can already be accessed using a browser at (the unofficial) Flash Earth and Wikimapia services.
Introducing Keyhole Markup Language (KML)
KML is an XML-schema supporting the display of three-dimensional geospatial data in Google Earth, Google Maps and other similar programs. Named after Keyhole, the company that invented the schema, KML has many different parameters to customise the display of geospatial locations. A simple KML file for the Statue of Liberty in New York (with the file name statue.kml) might look something like this:
Statue of Liberty
Statue of Liberty
Optimising for Google Earth
I recommend to all my clients the creation of individual Keyhole Markup Language (KML) files for all their business branch addresses. To find your own (longtitude and latitude) coordinates (to place in the tags, put your branch postcode into multimap.com and read off the resulting coordinates from the “map information section”.
Save the KML files to the root directory of your website (i.e. http://www.yourdomain.com/location-1.kml), then add a line of code for each location to your Sitemap file, so that Google will index your location data when next it crawls your sitemap:
After a few days, Google will crawl your sitemap and index the individual KML files. The final step is to add a link to Google Maps from the locations, branch finder or contact us page of your website, which follows a particular dynamic URL syntax. For example, this is some link code (you can try out) for the London branch of SEO Expert Services:
You will note that my KML includes a range of customisations. You could similarly add (a) a small picture of the building, (b) a link to the business website, (c) the business address, (d) links to the contact form, and (e) links to the other branches & their maps.
ConclusionsOver time, geo-tagged content is likely to become very important, as search becomes ever more local. Future-proof your business now by investing a little time in KML and the art of Google Earth optimisation. More help via my forum!
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
David Viney (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a leading website promotion expert - and provides search engine optimisation services to companies large and small, through his company SEO Expert Services. Further articles tackling the tricky SEO challenges faced by David’s customers may be found on the SEO Expert Blog.