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Where on Earth is your Website?

By Robert McCourty
Posted Monday, June 28, 2004

You've just finished congratulating your marketing team. After six
months of concentrated effort you can now actually find your own
company web site within the search engines. Everyone is busy
handshaking and back patting when a voice from the back of the room
rises above the din. "Yeah this is great! Can't wait until we can
find ourselves on wireless devices."
All conversation comes to an abrupt halt. Eyes widen. Everyone turns
to the fresh-faced intern standing in the corner with a can of V8
juice in one hand and a PALM device in the other. You, being the
Department Manager, barely managing to control your voice not to
mention your temper, ask the now nearly frozen with panic intern,
"What do you mean find ourselves on wireless? We just spent thousands
on our web site visibility campaign!" "Well... Explains the sheepish
intern, "There is no GPS or GIS locational data within our source
code. Without it, most wireless appliances won't be able to access
our site."

Guess what? The intern is absolutely correct. Anyone interested in
selling goods and services via the Internet will soon be required to
have some form Geographic Location data coded into your web pages.
There are approximately 200 satellites currently orbiting the Earth.
(even Nasa won't confirm the exact number) Some are in
geosynchronous or geostationary orbit 27,000 miles above your head.
The Global Positioning System (GPS) is the name given to the
mechanism of providing satellite ephemerides ("orbits") data to the
general public, under the auspices of the International Earth
Rotation Service Terrestrial Reference Frame (ITRF). Sounds like Star
Wars doesn't it? It's pretty close. The NAVSTAR GPS system is a
satellite-based radio-navigation system developed and operated by the
U.S. Department of Defense (DOD).
The NAVSTAR system permits land, sea, and airborne users to determine
their three-dimensional position, velocity, 24 hours a day, in all
weather, anywhere in the world, with amazing precision.

Wireless devices, WAP, Cellular, SATphones and a whole host of newly
emerging appliances and indeed, new software applications, will all
utilize some form of GPS or more likely GIS data retrieval. GIS stand
for Geographic Information System and relies on exact Latitude and
Longitude coordinates for location purposes.
Several car manufacturers currently utilize GPS for on-board driver
assistance and the Marine and Trucking Industries have been using it
for years. Obviously your web site is a stable beast. It sits on a
server somewhere and doesn't move much, so at first glance it seems
quite unplausible you'll need GIS Locational Data within your source
code. On the contrary. One aspect your web site represents is your
business's physical location(s) and if people are going to try to
find your services and products, shouldn't you at the very least,
tell them where it is and how to get there?

Let's look at it from the other end of the spectrum. The end user
approach. Let's say you're vacationing in a new city for the first
time. Once you get settled into your Hotel room, what's the first
thing you want to find? Restaurants? Bank machines? Stores? So you
pull out your hand-held, wireless, device, log onto the web and
search for "Italian Food in San Francisco." Five Hundred results come
back so you click the new "location" feature on your hand-held (which
knows exactly where you are) and ten Italian restaurants, who were
smart enough to code their web sites with GIS data, light up on the
screen. Guess which restaurants didn't get selected? The other four
hundred and ninety. Starting to get the picture?

How does this affect you and your web site marketing?
GIS Latitude and Longitude co-ordinates will soon be a must have on
every web site operators and web developer's list and an absolute
necessity for anyone wishing to trade good and services via the
Internet. This data may relate to the physical location of the web
site or where the site is being served from (if applicable) or where
the actual business represented by the site is physically located.
There may be multiple web site locations and coding involved, if for
example, you have a franchise with multiple locations, each location
will probably need a page of it's own with the correct corresponding
location data.
If you run a home-based business, I doubt if the co-ordinates to your
living room are going to be necessary, but you should provide the
latitude and longitude of the closest city or town. Large
corporations such as banks may want to code the exact location of
every automated teller machine across the country.
Industry standards and the methods of serving out this data are still
in the development phases but it's a safe bet to assume there are
plenty of people working on the solutions right now and given the
speed of technology, implementation will probably be much sooner than
later. Give yourself an edge. Find out where in the world your web
site is...before your web site is nowhere to be found.

About the Author
Robert McCourty is a founding partner and the Marketing Director of
Metamend Software and Design Ltd., a cutting edge search engine
optimization (SEO) and web site promotion and marketing company.
Scores of Metamend Client web sites rank near or on top of the search
engines for their respective search terms.


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