Google Local Search is one of the fastest growing segments of search. Have you heard of it? No?! Well, that’s okay. But you’ve absolutely already used it and by properly harnessing Google Local Search for your business you can grow your traffic, sales and business, like never before. Read on…
I spent much of last week diving into Google Local Search. We’ve had experience with it, but honestly, it used to be as simple as, verify your business address, and come up on the first page for related results. But, things have changed. And, you really do need to strategize if you have a lot of competition. But, before we get to the meat of how to rank for Google Local Search. Let’s take a look at what it really is:
Google Local Search
You are familiar with Google Local Search. Trust me. Even if you have no idea what I’m talking about, you’ve seen and used Google Local Search. Odds are you’ve seen these listings, clicked on them, even purchased products or services through companies you discovered via Google Local Search.
Google Local Search is simply Google’s way of showing you more targeted local results.
Many times these results are listed beside a big map when you do a search. Take a look; go do a local search for car insurance. In my area I typed: “Naples Car Insurance.”
If you’re in the Naples area, you’ll see a map of Southwest Florida with points plotted, along with a list of A through G of companies that fit your search. Company G is Naples Car Insurance company, Pro America Insurance.
As a side note, if you’re not in the area you may not see the local listings. You can try your own local search to see a similar layout.
How Does Google Local Search Work?
Google local search works through location. Location is determined in two ways, your location (as the person doing the search) and the businesses locations (the results google shows you). Based on these two factors, as well as many other smaller factors, a list is shown. Your location is determined by your IP address (your physical address on the web) so Google can pretty accurately determine what City you are in. The business address is determined in a number of different ways (business website, outside local websites, business owner) – we’ll come back to this in a minute.
Why Local Search?
Why local search? There are two ways to look at this, why would Google do this and why do we want local search? Google wants to do this because it’s inline with their mission to index the world’s data, and provide the best search experience to users. Companies have been trying to do this for years. I remember attending a meeting with a new upstart company, funded by a pair of smarmy millionaires who wanted to do local search. They had this nifty idea on how to get all of the data in – paying stay at home mothers. It was kind of crazy, but possibly lucrative. It failed. Other comapnies have tried – yelp.com, citrysearch.com, among others. The truth is search has been good when it came to general information, but not location. Google came up with a simple idea to:
a) spider through all of the websites/companies out there and try to determine their address and
b) allow business owners to claim or post their own listings
As users we want this because it provides us with even more data on local companies/businesses, and for the first time it really puts the onus of what is revealed to searchers on the business owners. Local seasrch – in part – relies on businesses creating their own account, page, adding descriptions, selecting relevant categories, and physically providing Google with the correct info.
Why Your Business Needs to be on Google Local Search
Because of greater exposure. More views, more business, more sales. Google’s had local search setup for years. But, it wasn’t until very recently that google started displaying local search results (remember the map and A-G listings) alongside normal search results. And they do look good and bring in business! First of all they pop, they are totally differentiated from the other listings (either paid, or organic) and they look much more professional with an accompanying map. Finally, they bring in tremendous results. A local listing not only shows (hopefully) for popular search results in Google.com, but it will also appear when a person is doing searches specifically at http://local.google.com. To give you an idea of just how often people are using this kind of technology, a client of ours was at the back of the list of 1600 businesses in their same genre/area, but they still received nearly 1000 impressions (people seeing their local listing) in one month.