When searching for things on Google you might have discovered Google Local — it’s the results displayed on Google Maps at the very top of your Google search. Basically, it’s Google showcasing local businesses. The question then becomes: how do you rank so well with Google that your business ends up in those results?
First, let’s have a look at the benefits of being listed in the top three results displayed in Google Local.
Why Google Local Is Better for Business Than Regular Organic Search
Stats show that four out of five consumers use search engines to find out about local hot spots. If they use Google, 93% of searches show the Google Local results.
As consumers tend to be looking for local options, being listed on top of Google Local is often better for business than simply being on top of Google search for non-local keywords. For example, ranking on top of Google for “buy ham” is all good and well, but if the person looking for ham is in California and your shop is in New York, you won’t get the business, unless they are looking to order the ham online and are prepared to wait a day, or two, to make their ham sandwich.
Another great thing with Google Local is that, apart from listing the business on Google Maps, it shows the telephone number and opening hours. It allows people to straight away know if the business is open and they can press the phone number and call directly if they’re using a smartphone.
The stats overall are pretty impressive — 50% of people who conduct a local search for something visit the business they found within a day. In other words, people aren’t just window shopping when doing local searches.
Voice Search and Google Local
How many times have you asked Siri, Alexa or Cortana where the nearest petrol station, or restaurant is? These days when we are out driving, or looking for something in a hurry we tend to use voice search. It’s fast, easy and simply convenient. And it tends to bring you straight to Google Local. In fact, according to Search Engine Watch, voice search is three times more likely to be local, meaning people are looking for local things.
ComSearch actually estimates that more than 50% of searches will be voice searches by 2020.
Citations and Getting Ranked
How does a business end up in the Google Local search results?
First of all, sign up for a My Business account with Google.
Secondly, get listed in local directories. Google wants to display the correct information to their users. A business only linked in one directory isn’t a safe bet as there are no cross references.
When listing your business on your Google business page and the different directories, make sure the details match character by character. This is important.
Also be sure to use different kinds of directories — local ones, national ones, as well as industry specific ones. Don’t list everywhere at once though, as Google penalizes for this.
Once you’ve done it, use Moz to check your Citation Flow to know how well you are doing. Or, if you can’t be bothered to do all this, or simply don’t have the time, let us do it for you.
Your Online Reputation
To get a top ranking on Google Local, you need top ratings from customers. Google wants to be known as a reliable search engine that sends people to the best places. That means that the more favorable reviews you get on Google Local and other places, the more likely they are to give you a top ranking.
The best way to get reviews? Ask for them.
The best way to avoid unfavorable reviews (apart from delivering a top notch service and offering to deal with any complaints that arise, as they arise)? Send out a form one-to-two weeks after a customer has purchased something/visited your store. Have two buttons in the message — those that would rate the experience as good is taken to Google/Facebook to leave a review and those that press “unsatisfactory” is taken to a private contact form. That way you can help improve their opinion of you by solving the problem they are facing BEFORE they leave a review.
It’s no secret that backlinks can improve SEO (i.e. search engine optimization) — but they can also destroy it. Compare backlinks to how business was done in the olden days, where the businesses with the best reputations often got the best spots. Backlinks is the currency for that reputation, where if you’re being mentioned by a magnitude of reputable sources, Google will bump you up the lists.
Now, Google is looking for backlinks from popular sites online. If you get a backlink on a site that’s got a high domain authority (metric used to measure a website’s reputation), then it can increase your SEO and Google Local ranking. As an added tip, it is important (but not absolutely necessary) to try and get as many local websites linking to you as possible, for example a local council (government websites are especially great) or charity.
You can use Moz to check out how popular your site is — both anything above 25 is deemed good. However, if you’re getting backlinks from another website if their domain authority is under 30 only in exceptional circumstances is it actually worth it. The higher the better, if you can get a handful of 80+ domain authority backlinks they’re worth 10s of domain authorities that under 50
The best way to go about increasing your score? Create content worth sharing and then reach out to publications and blogs about it. When we offer SEO services to clients, we try to create the content for them, distribute it and then tweak it to the publications need. It’s a slow process, but it’s also a great investment.
Click Through Rate
If everyone on the high street walks by a certain shop without stopping, they get no customers. It’s the same on Google. If no one stops to check out your site after reading the page description on Google, after a while Google suspects you probably aren’t right to show for that particular keyword – which can be costly!
The best way of ensuring you increase your click-through rate? Check the title and meta descriptions for all the pages on your site listed by Google and then improve them. We’d very much recommend hiring a copywriter!
Structured Data Markup
This sounds difficult to anyone who isn’t a tech geek, but it isn’t as complicated as it sounds. Basically, it’s about organizing the data on your site in a manner that makes it easily accessible by Google (and the world at large). If you work with a good site manager, it should be a piece of cake for them. Just have them look at look at Google’s Introduction to Structured Data.
Hopefully this article has given you some solid tips on how to get a better ranking with Google Local. It may require a little bit of work (or a lot, if there are many similar businesses in your area), but it is quite feasible. We help clients with it all the time at Heue Digital, so we know of what we speak. And it is a rewarding job as you know that the effort you put into your business will pay off as Google will take note. It’s really not that different from any other aspect of your business — the better a job you do with it, the better results you reap.