With the recent changes to local search results (they are now much more prominent on Google) it’s now more important than ever to have your Google Places (Local Business Center) listings up and optimised to rank as highly as possible. Check out the results for a highly competitive keyword like “plumber sydney”. There is no doubt the first results here are doing well over 100k per month business from these leads alone.
So let’s have a look at some techniques to help you dominate your own local market. Firstly visit http://www.google.com/local/add/businessCenter and sign up.
1. Fully complete the status bar of Google Places to 100%
2. If your company name has keywords in it this will help greatly, don’t modify your company name though if it doesn’t have keywords in it naturally, it may work temporarily but Google may delist you.
3. On site optimisation – include your full address on every page of your website, I usually do it in the footer (see bottom of page). Side note: If the goal of your website is to generate phone calls include your number prominently on every page also (amazes me how many people only have it on their contact page).
4. Select five categories that closely describe what your business is, not what it does (see below). Make sure the content on your site is related to these categories.
5. Make your listing comprehensive, photo’s, video’s, payment methods, opening hours, parking etc all these are good things to have on your page.
7. Make sure your website and business is listed in as many quality directories as you can find. e.g. truelocal.com.au, yellowpages.com.au they all have free options. All the business details should be consistent on each website.
8. Encourage people that have done business with you to leave a review. You could make a link in your email footer when sending invoices or something similar. Every one of them does not need to be a glowing review (this will seem fake anyway). Instead focus on being the best you can and earning higher reviews. Do not review your own business it’s likely these services track your IP address and know if you are.
Once you have done all the above and verified your listing you will no doubt begin to see some highly targeted leads coming into your business. For stats on your listing you just return to http://www.google.com/local/add/businessCenter. Impressions are the number of time your listing has being viewed. Actions are the number of clicks interacting with your listing, including requesting more information, viewing photos, or getting driving directions.
With it’s new prominence expect a higher degree of scrutiny headed towards local business listings. As I’ve hinted a few times above do not try and game Google, it may work short term but you will almost certainly be headed towards a ban on your Google places listing (which will take months to resolve at best). Some details may seem a little bit fiddly but they will make a difference to how many people find your business when they are searching for your services.
If you are interested in doing your own Google Places account I recommend following this checklist carefully.