Throughout the week, we receive a multitude of calls regarding Google’s local business results. Everyone is (rightfully) concerned with getting their business listing to the top, in an effort to get even more traffic to their website. If you aren’t familiar with Google’s local business center, you’ve likely seen them at one point or another; both Yahoo! and Bing now provide similar local business results. The benefit of having your business listed in the local business center is invaluable; it provides a quick and easy interface for potential customers to learn more about your business and services, find directions, and write reviews. They are also a great source of website traffic, as the maps stand out prominently on the results page.
When you perform a local search on Google, say “Thai Food Burnside Oregon”, you should notice a map with businesses listed to the right. The algorithms for websites and local business listings is entirely different. This is a great thing for small businesses, as it gives them a much more level playing field against larger companies because of the local business listing structure. Everyone who uses a local business listing gets the same, limited “workable” area. This is a very different approach than website design, in which, a given website could elect to have thousands of pages of quality content — in the local business center you don’t have nearly the amount of control.
Another great benefit to the local business listings is the accuracy of the geo-targeting. Since your business address is listed on a map, the search engine is able to determine the proximity of the results. For business owners who sell services or products that are not shipped, this means that quality, geographically targeted traffic will be directed to your website — qualified customers! By default Google will try to list the five closest local business center listings, and will compensate if their are more or less results.
Setting up a Google Local Business listing is relatively easy; setting up a local business listing correctly is a completely different issue. Google has stringent requirements for the local business listings, which you can review in full here. The key points to take out of these business listings is the following:
- Only One Map Listing – To further this, one map listing means one map listing. If you have multiple physical locations or offices, you are allowed to create one additional listing for each location. PO Boxes are not physical locations! Creating multiple map listings will (not might, but will) get your listings removed and you will have to start all over again assuming you don’t get banned or suspended.
- Don’t Keyword Stuff – If you’re business name is Widgets Unlimited and you sell cogs, your map listing should be Widgets Unlimited without any variants. Many people will choose to list the example business as: “Cogs: Widgets Unlimited”. This might have a short term payoff that could ultimately result in you being permanently removed from the map listings, or worse yet, Google!
- Use a Local Phone Number – Most businesses have multiple phone numbers, usually a local number and a toll-free phone number. Make sure to list the local number! By using a local number, you are at a significant advantage because the search engines are intelligent enough to correlate phone number localities with search engine result localities!
- Completely Fill Out Your Profile – Do you accept Visa and American Express? What are your hours of operation? Do you hold any special licensing or certifications? Do you have picture and video that you would like to share? All of these elements collectively make a complete profile. The more complete your profile is, the more likely you will show up in the results
Hopefully this article has shed some light on Google’s Local Business Center, its application, and some good (read: mandatory) guidelines to follow. Now that you are familiar with the process, why don’t you jump on over to Google and create a Local Business listing!
Effective Web Solutions is highly knowledgeable when it comes to Google’s local business listings and getting companies to the top of the results. Give us a call today at 888.400.4002 to find out what we can do for you!