If you have are are thinking of starting a new business with a physical location, local search is going to be very important. Luckily, getting listed in free. But getting ranked #1 might not be so easy.
What is Local Search
The best way to see what local search is, is to use it. If you are logged into your Google Account it will happen automatically. As an example, search for the word “dentist” in Google. You’ll notice that there will be an alphabetical list of dentists in your area. You didn’t event have to search for “cityname state dentist” Google is smart enough to know that people searching for dentists don’t want to find a dentist in some random place like Greenland (unless they happen to live in Greenland).
Not only does Google give you a list of local dentists in your area, they show you a map of where those dentists are located, so if you want you can choose the one closest to you, or choose the one closest to your house. How convenient.
This works anywhere people are searching, including their smart phones. If you haven’t made the connect yet, this is essentially the new phone book. If I get a tooth ache and I don’t have a dentist, I’ll pull out my phone, do a quick search, pick one from the list, and call them.
This is great for the people on that list, especially the first couple dentists listed. It isn’t so great if you aren’t on that list. So first I’ll explain how to get listed, and then I’ll give a few tips on how to move higher on that list.
How to List Your Business
If you are an established business you may see that you are already listed, probably because you had a preexisting Google Places page. But if you don’t have a Google account now is the perfect time to start. It is good for a whole bunch of things besides just this.
To create an account with Google you simply visit accounts.google.com and set up your account. Click the Sign Up button in the top right.
Fill out your contact information. It doesn’t have to be accurate, just remember to save the username and password so you can get back in later. The username will become your new Gmail email account.
On the next page click Next Step. On the following pack click Get Started.
The name you entered will now be displayed in the top left bar any time you are logged into your account.
Clicking your name will take you to Google Plus.
To create a Places Page look down at the bottom of the left-hand menu. Hover over the More link and you’ll see Page. Click it.
Other Sites to List Your Business
There are lots of directories and places to list your business. A great way to find them is by using getlisted.org (its free). It will show you how your business is being listed with the major sites and if you aren’t listed or don’t have control of the listing, there is a link to take you to the page you need to set that up.
Seriously a great tool every business should check out.
Improving Your Rank
Ranking a local search results is very similar to ranking a webpage with a few additions. Here are the biggest factors and some of the things you’ll want to do in order to move up the rankings.
You need to have the physical address of your business listed on your Plus business page but it also needs to be other places. The more places the better. And it needs to be listed the same way on each. Places like:
- Your website - The footer and header are both good locations for it, also it should be listed on the contact page.
- Business Directories - Most of these cost money to be listed in, but if you have the budget, directories like Yahoo can be worth it.
Your website has a lot to do with your local search result rankings. The more authority your website has the higher your local search results will be. You can still get listed without a website but it has been shown to help improve results.
If there is a field to enter content add it. Include lots of photos of your business if you are given the option. Enter your hours of business, a description of what you do. The more complete your profile looks the better it will be received by Google. Not to mention real people will be seeing these profiles as well. This is your chance to make a good first impression and get their business.
Google ranks the businesses that look like they are getting a lot of attention online. Which means search traffic or people directly searching for them, but it also means on other websites as well. It is important to get real reviews and comments on your Plus page and on services like Yelp. The more the better.
Getting reviews on your Plus pages is the most important but other sites help too.
Promote Your Plus Page
You want to link to your Google+ Local page and encourage customers to write reviews for you.
Links for Local Businesses
For your local business you want to get links from other businesses in the area.
For more information on what helps improve your rankings and what might hurt them David Mihm has put together a huge list of local search ranking factors.
So you’ve seen that having a website helps improve your local search results but it has tons of other benefits. Your website will be the center of your online presence. It is the main place where you can send potential customers to:
- learn about your products or services
- sell products and services
- provide customer service and support
- promote new offers
And a whole lot more. Learn how to use your website to promote your business.