As Google continues to make changes to how local businesses are displayed in search results, one thing remains clear; unless you are the only game in town, as a local business, you must do something with your online presence to stay visible in Google search results.
If you’ve verified your business on Google Maps, your company’s position in search results is based on Relevance, Distance and Prominence. They combine those factors to determine the best match for a person’s particular search.
Here’s a more detailed description of Google’s Relevance, Distance and Prominence.
Relevance: This is defined as how well your local listing matches what a prospect is searching for. To make sure that your local business is relevant in local searches, you need to make sure that you have included detailed business information on your business’s Google Map. If you’re doing a search on a mobile device for a particular service, for example, Google may not return the service provider that’s physically closest to you if they feel that a business that’s farther away is more relevant — that is, a result they feel is more likely to provide what you are looking for.
Distance: When someone does a search for your particular service or product, Google will of course look at all of the listings closest to the location term used in a search (for example, “house cleaning Naperville IL”). However, as I mentioned above, Google may list a business that’s further away on the top of your search results if they find that it is more relevant.
Prominence: Google actually takes into account how prominent a place is in the offline world when returning search results. Famous landmarks and brands are likely to be more prominent in local search results. However, prominence as defined by Google is also based on information that it has about a business on the internet, such as directories, links and articles. This is why it is important to have detailed information about your business on multiple locations around the web. It’s also important, whenever possible, to get your site’s web address listed on other websites that have a good amount of traffic.
Google also takes into account the number of Google reviews your business has as well as the scores. Businesses that have a 4.8 overall review score with 15 reviews will probably fare better than a business with a 2.5 review score from 15 reviews.
How can you begin to help your company’s position in local search results?
- Make sure that your business’s listing on Google Maps is filled out completely and accurately.
- Create your company’s Google+ page and post to it on a regular basis. Although there is a debate about how much a Google+ page influences your company’s rank in search results, it is a Google product, and if you’re posting to Facebook, you might as well be posting to Google+ as well.
- Ask your current and past customers and clients for Google Reviews. As I mentioned above, Google Reviews really do have an influence on your appearance in search results. Probably the easiest way to ask for Google Reviews is to ask customers to find your business on Google Maps and then click on the “Write a Review” blue link on the bottom of your information box.
- Create and/or claim your business’s listing on other sites such as Facebook and Yelp. Fill out the information completely and add your logo and photos.
- Make sure that you have a website that you can list on your Google Map. It’s estimated that around half of all small businesses still do not have a website. Give your business a leg up by getting one and sending people to it. Better yet, make sure that you add and/or change information on your website on a regular basis.
- Share content from your website to Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. The idea is to get real visitors to your website so that Google sees your website as having importance.
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