Local listings are certainly becoming one of the most important (and free!) things that small and local businesses can do to achieve more visibility online. With that visibility comes more website traffic, and more chances to grow your business. On most search engine results pages, local results are now listing at the top of the page, even higher than organic listings. This prime placement means big things for small businesses.
Here’s an example of a typical search engine results page with the local results for searches on “fresh flowers”:
So what can you do to get to that coveted Google listing? It involves several things, and fortunately, there are some simple steps you can take to help your listing rank in the best position possible.
1. Sign up with Google Places for Business.
Create an account and sign up with Google Places for Business http://www.google.com/business/placesforbusiness/. This allows you to create the listing that Google will show to searchers, and put in information such as description, images, contact information, hours of operation, and other pertinent information.
Then create and verify your Google+ page. Sign up with Google+. Be sure to select “Local Place or Business” category, then enter the name and address of your business. You can then verify your listing either by postcard that will be mailed to you; or by phone.
2. Be sure to include your location in your website’s title tag.
It’s generally considered a best practice to do so, and it encourages the user to choose your listing by drawing the eye with location they are searching for. Including your city or area reaffirms that you are indeed a good local candidate.
3. Include relevant, keyword and location rich information in your description.
This area is the most you get to say about your business- so use it to your advantage. It not only assists the search engines, but it also helps the searcher decide whether or not they want to consider you for their needs.
4. Use a local phone number.
Local phone numbers are one of Google’s main ways of ascertaining that you located where you claim.
5. Ensure there is only one, optimized listing for your business.
Multiple listings can vastly decrease your chances of any of those listings ranking well. If you are creating a new listing, Google will typically give you a chance to claim any listings that appear similar to your business.
6. Make sure your listing is 100% complete.
Google is all about the user experience, and providing thorough, complete listings tells them that your listing will provide more information (and thus a better use experience).
7. Get Reviews.
A statistic from eConsultancy found that 70% of users will trust reviews online that come from people they don’t know. This word of mouth increases trust in your business and helps consumers feel confident about working with you.
8. Update your listing when you can.
Keeping your content fresh (i.e. add a coupon, change a little text) assists the search engines in knowing that you have relevant information for the users.
These are just a few of the ways you can help your local business listing achieve a placement in the Google Places for Business. While not guaranteed, taking these steps puts you in the position to succeed. Have any tips you would recommend? Share them with us in the comments section!