In my most recent post, I discussed the recent changes Google is placing on it’s search results when it comes to local business. A recent study done by Google showed numbers that could not ignore. 84% of every day searches are for local business. As a company that places user experience as a top factor in getting ranked, this in turn means that they must pay attention to what those users are asking for, and why Page 1 of Google is becoming noticeably different with local listing starting to take up, at times, more than half the page. While for some, this seems like a welcome gift from the Google Gods, it is still not that handed to you on silver platter and comes with some limitations that every small business owner should be aware of.
49% of small businesses have never updated their online listings
50% of small business listings are inaccurate
The first thing to keep in mind is that is Google, and you still have to play the game. Just because you have a local business doesn’t give you a free pass to Page 1. A recent study done by the Constant Contact SmallBiz panel showed that almost half of the local businesses haven’t even attempted set up their local listing or didn’t follow through all the necessary steps in making sure their info at the very least is up to date, much less even there. Local business optimization is now just as important web site optimization and taking the time ensure that everything is accurate and up to date could mean make you a major player in search results.
Your first step to be included in the new “it” group is going to be to verify your business. At times, the listing may have been created for you and your work may seem like it is done but in reality you allowing someone else with limited information of your business advertise for you. For a good number of your customers, this will be their first impression on your company and if a suite number is overlooked or the wrong zip code is included, not only will it hinder people from actually finding you, it could cause you to look unprofessional.
This brings me to another point and one of the major limitations of local listings at the moment. You will need an to use an actual physical address. While this may not seem like a disadvantage to storefronts, home-based business owners usually do not want to make their home address known to the general public. This, in addition to, Google being known to only list business that actually receive costumers at their location, unfortunately keeps them from results in the local listing field and forcing them to continue to compete for just organic listings.
To get verified with Google, you can start here but keep in mind you aren’t finished when after you submit all your info. You will need to look for a small postcard in the mail with a verification code that needs to be submitted to Google. Once that is completed you’re officially a “local” business and have the opportunity to be listed. The keyword here is opportunity. Just like organic listings, you still need to prove you’re worth listing. The best way to do this is to remain proactive in getting Google Plus and Yelp reviews, as well as making sure your social media presence remains strong. Showing Google you’re a favorite with the locals, will in turn open allow you to open the door to new local business.