Google local search has been around for a while now and I'm still surprised by how few small business know how to take advantage of it. For many who are not experienced with it, organic SEO can seem confusing which may be why many may just ignore it. However, local search optimization is one of the easiest ways for local business to generate traffic to their websites. Since millions of searchers are using Google Maps to find businesses, Google can offer a steady stream of traffic to almost any business that optimizes for it.
Lately, I've also noticed Google Local results appearing in organic search more and more often. And as Google fine-tunes their search logic, it would make sense that local results continue to appear for a greater number of searches in the US and worldwide when they are relveant. This further argues the point that a local search strategy is worth the time.
First, lets look at an example:
In a recent search for Miami Movers, I get the following search results:
You'll see in the image that a map and several local business results appear in the first position. These results are being pulled from Google Maps listings. While it may not be reasonable for many companies to rank in the top position for specific keyword phrases in general search, a well-optimized local listing can still yield a good amount of traffic as the local results seem to trump the general search results.
Here's how you can take advantage:
First, go to Google Maps and search for your business name. Chances are pretty good that you your business already has a listing if you've been around for a little while. If so, click more info next your listing. Then, look for a link that says edit and then on edit this listing. At this point, Google will take you through a number of steps to validate that you are in fact the business owner. Once you've confirmed ownership, you'll have access to edit your listing.
Now that you've validated your listing, it's time to edit a few things. First, make sure that all your business information is correct. Check the phone numbers, email address, hours of operation, etc. Next, you'll want to make sure that your business name and description are fairly keyword-rich. For example, a moving company in Miami might assign the business name Bob's Moving Company - Miami. The business description should also have relevant, location specific keyword phrases such as miami movers, moving company in miami, etc. Lastly, make sure your business is assigned to the appropriate categories. You're allowed to assign yourself to multiple categories so be sure to assign all categories that are relevant.
Once you updated and saved your listing, wait a couple weeks and log back into your Google Local Business center. You'll then be able to view statistics regarding the number of times your listing has displayed and how searchers found it. As with any SEO strategy, this can take time. Following these steps and the other fundamentals of SEO will yield long term results for your company.