Local Search | Google My Business

What are local search results?

Local results display prominently at the top of search results right below paid ads and depending on your search term often before any organic search results! Local results show a number of local business on a map and include additional information about those businesses. Google will display business listings to users based on their location.

As a local business you’ll want to do what you can to boost your local business listing profile here. Yet many small businesses have not claimed their local business listing, this is a missed opportunity.

Let’s look at the term “toronto psychologist”. Ads display at the top of the search results page followed by map listings before the organic search results. Organic results are pushed down below the ads and the map. If I search “wordpress designer”  I see ads, a few organic results and then the local map further down the page.

Geographic terms are commonly searched. It makes sense, if I’m looking for a florist I will in all likelihood search Toronto Florist. BUT even if I don’t add a location, Google will use geotargeting and deliver local Toronto-based results for me.

Knowledge Panel

Screenshot of knowledge panel in local search results
click on screenshot to view larger

Knowledge Panels are boxes that appear to the right of search results. The Knowledge Panel provides additional information about the local business such as the Google Map, address and phone,business hours, photos and reviews by Google users

Verifying a business does not guarantee that it will appear in the Knowledge Panel but will help. Relevance, distance & the prominence of the business all contribute to its ranking in local search results.

Reviews in Google Maps

Reviews in Google Maps can make or break a business listing. As a business owner you cannot delete bad reviews. Google removes reviews that are probably spam.

What if you don’t have a storefront?

Place listings are primarily for business that actually serve clients/customers at a physical place.  So you may wonder,  “can I still use Google My Business if I don’t have a storefront?

  • Absolutely. Whether you’re a home-based business or a service-area business, you can list your details to appear on Google with or without an address.
  • For most businesses, verification means requesting, receiving, and reading a verification postcard from Google. You might also have other verification options.

Start by listing your business

If your business qualifies as a place begin by verifying your listing in Google Places for BusinessBing Places, and Yahoo Local Listings.  You also want to ensure that the NAP in each of your business listings is consistent.

What is NAP and how to use it to improve your standing in local search?

NAP is an acronym for Name, Address, Phone Number.  The key to using NAP to boost your local search is to use it properly. Here’s what you need to know….

  1. NAP as a citation – A citation is any place online that uses your NAP in the exact same format as your local listing. Search engines will look to multiple sources to make sure your location data is accurate. The more citations they find, the better.
  2. NAP consistency – Everywhere you list your business name, address and phone number online use the exact same format as your local listing. If your local listing uses St then always abbreviate street as St.
  3. Website Microdata Markup – Schema local markup will help search engines better identify and show your location. Don’t worry I’m not going to get technical here, you don’t need to understand Schema.org markup. Just use this handy Microdata generator for local NAP. Make sure that you enter information exactly as it appears in your local listing. Grab the code and paste it into site’s footer.

3 tips to boost your local listing offsite …

The three most important elements that impact a local listing are to:

  1. Claim and Verify your listing
  2. Complete all the applicable fields and upload photos.
  3. Ask your customers to write reviews on your Google local page. Increasing the number of positive reviews is the single most important thing you can do.
  4. Create multiple citations around the Web with NAP consistency.

Follow the rules:

As with all things SEO related, stay authentic and natural. Don’t buy reviews or overdo the citations. Learn a lesson from those who bought into the link building schemes of the past, Google doesn’t like to be tricked.

It’s a good idea to read the Google Places quality guidelines.

Please leave a comment and let me know if you found this post helpful.

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