Get Listed In Google Local
15:23 on Fri, 19 Feb 2010 | SEO | 5 Comments
Welcome true (SEO) believers to another instalment of Pete’s SEO Corner. This month, we’re going to take a look at local search in Google.
Horrific picture courtesy of cbc.ca
What is local search exactly? Isn’t country level searching specific enough? Well, you can actually get more specific than that, even down to the level of your city or town.
Google displays this in what it has dubbed the “Local business listings”. When searching for a term, you will sometimes find a small box embedded within the search results consisting of a small Google map and listings of various businesses. In the example below, a search for “photographers” yields the following results:
If the keyterm isn’t location specific, like “photographers” as opposed to “London photographers”, Google will attempt to pinpoint your location (known as geo-targeting) based on your IP address so sometimes it doesn’t get it quite right. The screenshot above shows results for London despite the fact we are based in Norwich which is a 2 hour drive away. Google will also geo-target results whilst you are signed in if you register an account with them and list your hometown in your profile.
Only businesses with brick and mortar locations can be submitted, so unless your site has a physical location then you won’t be eligible.
Some SEO companies will claim to get your site to “1st page in Google” and charge you £200 for the privilege when all they are basically referring to is a listing in Google Local Business Centre which will take them all of 5 minutes to submit your site.
Although technically your site will be on the 1st page, your site will only be displayed to searchers locally.
While time is indeed money, I’m pretty sure you can take out 5 minutes of your day to save yourself a couple of a hundred quid.
Sign me up!
Submitting your business to Google’s Local Business Centre is easy. Once you log in, clicking on “Add new listing” will take you to a page where you can key in details about your company.
Google maps will automatically move the marker to the relevant location based on your address although you can adjust it manually if it gets it wrong.
Just like the regular SERPs, there various factors which will determine how high your site ranks in the local listings. Although, unlike the regular SERPs, building links to it won’t help it much.
The first thing is the category. It’s important that when entering the category, you use the most relevant keyterms for your listing. This is one of the factors which will determine how high your site ranks for a particular keyword so try your best to make the category match the keyterms you are chasing.
When entering in your category, Google will suggest some common categories for your site although you can also specify custom ones. Don’t be too overzealous in your attempt to insert keyterms though, I’m sure you’d agree “cheap photographers in London” won’t pass as a suitable category.
Once you have entered all your details you will be asked to verify this listing. Google will give you the choice of either confirming the listing in one of three ways, a) via an automated phone call, b) text message or by postcard to your business address. Verifying your listing is important as it is one of the factors which will determine how high your listing ranks.
Another ranking factor is the number of reviews your business has. Google compiles them in two ways: from trawling other review sites and also reviews on the Google local listings pages themselves. The number of reviews is a much greater ranking factor than the star rating so it’s a good idea to encourage customers to write a short review of your business.
In a similar vein to the reviews, the number of citations of your company around the web will affect your ranking. The citations can be seen under the “More about this place” section in your listing. A good way to find good sites for a citation is by looking at your competitor’s listings and find out where their website is being mentioned. The pieces of information which Google looks for in a citation are mentions of your company’s details such as brand name, phone number, address and URL.
Distance your business is to the searcher is also a factor. Google will rank businesses higher which are closer to the searcher’s location. Unfortunately, this is one aspect of your business you can’t change (easily anyway) but it’s worth it to bear this in mind.
There are many other factors which will affect your listing’s ranking although what we have covered today are the main ones. Now go forth and submit a listing if you haven’t already!