Google Local Business Listings are relied upon by many businesses as a way of generating more traffic to their website and thereby more enquiries and more business from local customers.
For any unfamiliar with the term, Local Business Listings are the search results you see next to a local map when you type in a localised search term, let’s say ‘electrician oxford’ (see results left).
Click through rates vary from industry to industry, but as the local results appear before the standard stuff, a Local Business Listing is not something that should be ignored! Watch/read more information on creating/claiming your Google Local Business Listing on the Google site: www.google.com/local/add.
Getting on the map
What I want to cover in this post is how you can improve your chances of ranking in the results that appear next to the map on the first results page.
There is no one single factor that will win you that number one position – as with organic search results, it’s a combination of lots of different factors, some of which are more important than others. Most of what is below is taken from the results of a survey published by David Mihm earlier this year, so if you want to go more in-depth, have a look at his write-up here: Local Search Ranking Factors by David Mihm.
- Where possible, & without making the listing seem ridiculously unreadable, try & get your keyword product / service (e.g. electrician) in the listing title & also in the categories your business is listed in.
- If your Local Business Listing address is in the city/location the user is searching for – so Oxford in this case, you’re more likely to rank. This can prove problematic if you’re not based in the same area in which your target market is 🙁
- Citations – these are the ‘links’ of normal search engine optimisation. Citations are references to your business; they are often links to your website too, but it might just be a directory entry containing your business name and telephone number. Look at the ‘Web Sites’ section in your listing and in those of your competitors – can you add directory listings for your business to increase the number of citations? Bear in mind that quality (of citation site) does have a bearing as well as quantity. Industry and location specific citations are important. Have a read of this blog post by David Mihm on citations in the UK.
- Reviews: Previous clients have the opportunity to leave a review on your local business listing, & Google also picks up data from other review sites. A good number of positive reviews can have a big effect on your listing position. Why not get into a habit of asking each client to leave a review for you? For starters, ask existing clients if they would mind going back and adding a review; send them the link to make it easy.
- Pictures. So this is less about ranking, and more about usability & trust. From a user perspective, if you add GOOD images to your listing, it will stand out that bit more from the rest. It’s all about engaging trust – whether it’s a picture of your office, a product example, or something else, just make sure it’s relevant & will work towards making the user feel more happy about picking up the phone and talking.
That’s it for now – I hope that helps you in your quest for local business; unfortunately for me, Google recently has stopped showing local business results for web design and seo companies for some bizarre reason yet to be established…. frustrating!! Google, please reinstate ASAP!