There was a time in Google, not all that long ago, when you could search for Pizza and the results would be the same, regardless of where you were searching from. Since 2010, with the introduction of Google Places, Google began to show maps listings in local search results.
In order to qualify for Google Places, businesses needed to sign up and verify their location through a postcard and PIN number verification.
In this blog, I am going to show you how Google Places has evolved into what we now call Google My Business and I’m going to explain why it is much more challenging to get shown in Google for local search results.
Before we get into it, take a look at the 2015 Moz Local Ranking Factor Survey Results. This will give you a good idea of what the experts are saying influences local ranking the most!
Overall Local Ranking Factors
Now that you have a bit more context, I’d like to outline the reasons that ranking locally is now more important and more difficult than ever before.
The Big Shift
Up until July 2015, Google would show seven map results for searches like “dentist Toronto” or “accountant Toronto.” In early August 2015, Google began experimenting with only showing three map listings for local search results.
More recently Google has decided to include paid ads in 1 of those 3 spots! This has made competition for local advertising 71% more difficult going from 7 spots down to essentially 2.
The Top 11 Ways to Drive Local Customers to your Business
1) Get registered on Google My Business, Bing Local and Yelp.
Even if you’ve never registered your business here, it likely already exists. These sites collect information on the web in order to populate their listings with data. If you find your business on there, look for the link to “claim your business.”
This is the the first step towards getting local customers to find your business.
2) Fill out your listing descriptively and accurately. Use keywords, select the right categories and avoid the temptation to pick broad and loosely related categories. Upload your operating hours, a keyword rich description and photos.
3) Create a Google 360 Business View virtual tour. Let customers see inside your business and take a look around. This is great for any dentist, physiotherapist, car dealership and many more businesses.
4) Use Google paid search to hyper-target people within a certain radius. Maybe you’re a chiropractor and you know that 50% of your clients live within five kilometers of your business. This is a great reason to run a paid search campaign and only target people searching within five kilometers of your business.
5) Create city pages on your website. If you want to target cities outside the cities near you, create pages that talk about those cities and how you have served their customers. This will help you target people who are searching for “your service + city.”
6) Optimize your website with the main city you target. Make sure to include the city name in your title tag, meta description, H1 tag and your content. Sound a bit complicated? We do this for clients every day at TechWyse!
7) Make sure the Name, Address and Phone number of your business are 100% identical on your Google My Business listing and your website. Little things like suite vs. unit, can make a difference in terms of how your business will rank on Google.
8) After you’ve ensured a consistent Name, Address, and Phone Number on your website and your Google My Business Page, it’s time to start building external business address citations on third-party websites.
Why? The more Google sees your consistent Name, Address, and Phone Number on other websites, the more likely they are to trust that you still exist at that location, i.e. haven’t moved or shut down.
At TechWyse we’re even able to build Name, Address, Phone Number citations en mass through our direct API connection with several high authority web directories.
9) Even though you’ve built citations or have even used TechWyse API citation abilities, your job is not done. Name, Address, Phone Numbers can easily become corrupted and competitors can even build incorrect citations for your business.
It’s not only citation creation that is important. It’s important to repair any citations that are incorrect before doing the hard work creating new ones. This is especially crucial if your business has moved, if other businesses have resided at the same address or if you recently got a new phone number and there are existing occurrences of that number on the web.
10) Ask for reviews. Reviews increase your click-through rate and if people click on your site more often, Google is more likely to feature you higher up in the results because it sees that people favour clicking your website over the site of your competition. Apart from that, authentic reviews increase trust and can go a long way to influence people when they’re making purchasing decisions.
11) Get featured in GPS Systems for high-end automobile manufacturers. People who drive luxury vehicles are more likely to use their vehicle’s navigation system versus using their phone. TechWyse helps businesses get their Name, Address and Phone Number into GPS systems for Audi, BMW, Mercedes and more.
12) Links. Create great content that other websites will want to link to. This is what we do at TechWyse and our team of Link Builders use our clients’ content to answer other people’s questions and in turn, we are rewarded with a link.
Links act like votes for your website and the more quality links you have, the more authority your website will have and the more likely it is to rank in search engines.
There are many things you can do to improve your site’s visibility in local search results. I’ve included some of the major strategies but for the average business owner, it’s difficult to execute all these strategies on an ongoing basis.
While reading this blog, you may have wondered why Google cares so much about Name, Address, Phone Number?
When someone finds you on a map result you are given a link to the website, a click-to-call button and a button for driving directions:
So again, why do they care about the consistent Name, Address, Phone Number across your website, Google My Business and other third-party websites?
It’s because Google constantly strives to provide a great user experience to ensure you remain a loyal Google user for life. If you were to look up a business on Google, get in your car, click “directions” and drive 30 minutes only to end up at the wrong address, it would be the worst user experience and Google will do anything they can to prevent that!
At TechWyse, we’ve launched a service called Local Business+. It’s designed to help business get found by local customers. This service syncs your Name, Address, and Phone Number with high authority directories to help you gain exposure to your local customer base. We also dedicate hours to building and repairing citations.
I hope this blog has helped you and if you have any questions or need any help marketing your business and winning local customers, don’t hesitate to get in touch with TechWyse!