Earlier this year when Google started displaying local business results for product and service searches that were not location-specific, they dramatically changed the local search game.
For example, as early as March of 2009, a search for the phrase “dry cleaner” would trigger the Google 10-Pack, featuring local businesses at the very top of Google results—the most sought after real estate in Google.
Google search, “dry cleaner”
Earlier today, online marketer Chris Silver Smith highlighted the effect of Google’s power grab on local search market-share in an article filled with insights entitled “Brave New World For Yellow Pages.” Utilizing analytical data from Google Trends, Chris reveals a sharp reduction in the number of Google referrals to internet yellow page websites (IYP’s) such as Yellowpages.com and SuperPages.com.
The not-so-subtle change in Google’s focus to recognize local intent in their search results has turned into a gold mine for small businesses with prominent visibility in the local business listings. This move has also posed the challenge for small business marketers to reach the top of local business results and score a fluid stream of free advertising.
Use these tips from a Google Maps help guide entitled “Creating a great listing” to optimize your free local business listing:
When you enter basic information about your business, make sure you include the following:
- Company/Organization: This is the official/registered name of your business.
- Address: Enter your address the same way it would appear on a paper mail envelope.
- Phone number: Make sure to include the area code with your business phone number.
- Website: Make sure to list your authoritative business website as your homepage, since Google uses information from your homepage to help improve search results. The URL you provide can be a maximum of 255 characters.
- Description: Tell users what makes your business special.
- Email address: Let users know how to contact you.
Categories are ways to classify your business that help Google show your business for the right searches. The Local Business Center will suggest categories that match what you type, but feel free to create your own if you don’t see a category that fits your business. Make sure that the categories you choose are accurate and describe your business well. It’s ok if they’re specific; Google’s search algorithm makes sure that users looking for a general business type, like ‘book stores,’ will see businesses in more specific categories too.
Hours of operation
Let customers know when your business is open.
Specify the payment types you accept.
Including photos and video adds visual appeal to your listing.
Create custom attributes that allow you to include additional information that you’d like customers to know. For example, you can list what brands you carry, or if your business has parking.