Google Local Business Centre & Local Search Engine Optimisation

Google Local Business Results MapAs Google moves more and more towards to the concept of Universal Search, so the concept of Local Search Engine optimisation becomes more important. One of the most important tools in all this is the Google Local Business Centre. Yet, we frequently find organisations aren’t really aware of what it is, why it’s so important and what they can do to improve their visibility. So, what can you do to promote your business at a local level?

Google Local Business
Google Local Business results typically appear at or near the top of SERPs when a user performs a search for a phrase that contains a local (or geographic) element. For example, if you carry out a search for ‘distillery glasgow‘, you’ll see a couple of businesses, plotted on a map, at the top of the page (one of these is our client Glengoyne). These are the local business results and naturally, if you want to attract customers, being in that list is going to be of benefit to you.

How Do I Get My Business Listed?
It’s actually very easy, if a little fiddly. All you need to do is visit the Google Local Business Centre and add set up a profile for your company. If you don’t already have one, you’ll need to set up a Google Account. You can add the following information to your listing:

  • the name of your business
  • your phone number
  • an email address
  • a web site address
  • opening hours
  • payment types accepted
  • other facilities on offer
  • photos
  • videos (you can link YouTube videos from other users)

Once you’ve added this information, you need to verify your listing, which you can do in one of three ways:

  • by postcard – this takes a few weeks so we don’t advise you go down this route
  • by Phone. Google gives you a call and when you answer, they’ll ask you to key in a 4-digit PIN number. Once you’ve done that your listing is verified and will appear shortly thereafter
  • by Mobile Phone – most of our clients don’t specify a mobile number so we don’t tend to use this

What Are the Benefits?
As we’ve mentioned, the biggest benefit of doing this is that your web site will hopefully appear within the Local Results listing when people perform a search related to your business. This ought to lead to more traffic.

The other benefit of doing this is that your listing will look more attractive to users and will hopefully attract more clicks than businesses that haven’t tailored their listing. It simply makes you look more professional.

Another benefit is that the data you provide can be shown in other places – in Google Maps, Google Earth potentially, and when other web site owners insert Google Maps into their web pages.

How are the Local Listings Ranked/Ordered?
This is one of those million-dollar questions and is the subject of intense debate amongst the internet marketing community. We’re always honest and would say that we don’t know for sure, but we do believe that the following factors do influence where you appear:

  • the services and keywords you add to your listing
  • your proximity to the ‘centre’ of a city – this might be defined by postcodes. EH1 is just to the east end of Princes Street in Edinburgh, for example, so businesses located in or close to that area ought to rank more highly
  • the presence of the search phrase in your company’s name
  • the content of your web site
  • the number of reviews that exist for your business
  • the rating of your business through those reviews (this is one that’s unclear at the moment)
  • close to a telephone exchange – this is a theory we have (strictly unproven as yet) which states that the results may be influenced by how close to a telephone exchange a business address is. This is based on there being a large telephone exchange in Edinburgh near Waverley Station, around which local businesses in SERPs are often clustered. This may be due to Waverley being next to the EH1 postcode, so that may be the influencing factor in this, rather than the exchange.

Other Local Web Sites
There are a number of popular local web sites around and we’ll be writing a longer and more detailed post on how you can increase the exposure of your business through them.

In the meantime, some simple advice: ask your customers to write reviews for your business on Qype.co.uk – do it now!