Any business with an online presence can usually find a place in Google by registering or claiming their business on Google Places or Google Local. However, to improve your visibility, Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is essential for businesses with a more confined and local customer base. SEO can be especially useful for finding new customers and improving online visibility.
Search engines like Google are constantly updating their algorithms (Page Rankings) to provide users with useful search results. It is important to understand how these systems work to ensure that your business is being shown to the right people who are looking for the right things.
Use local listings from Google, Yahoo and Bing. Make sure that your business is featured on all three and that you are using up to date contact information, physical address information, operation hours and photos on your Google Places account. These are all essential tools for local SEO. It is these listings which are used to source the local businesses which are often displayed, complete with contact information and a map, at the top of Google searches.
Google+ Local Business – Google Places has partially merged into Google+ Local Business. So ask your customers with Gmail accounts who are willing to leave a recommendation, to review your services on your Google+ Local page. The higher number of reviews you receive, the better your ranking on Google. Get your customers to share these reviews too as this will all help with your ranking. Even the length of time your brand has been listing will help too. Finally, add videos with high-quality content associated with your Google+ Local page.
Google Maps – Google Maps has recently had a makeover that has brought optimised Google+ pages back into the spotlight again. The viewer has the option to find business results within a Google Maps search via ‘Top reviewers’ and ‘Your circles‘. Clicking the option ‘Top reviewers’ gives you places that have been reviewed by experts on Google+, while the option ‘Your circles’ shows places that are recommended by people in your circles.
Having an optimised Google+ page also makes a huge difference in your local business’ visibility on
To help you rank higher on Google Local Search via Google Maps. Try to do as many of the following as possible:
• Getting expert reviews in your niche on your Google+ Local page.
• Completing your Google+ Local profile.
• Using photos of the place of business section.
• Using accurate details for directions.
Home Page/Custom Landing Page
Having a customised landing page or home page will help rank your business better, whichever your Google Places and Google+ Local are linked to.
The on-page SEO elements and linking profile of this landing page or home page partially decides how well you rank in local Google.
Ensure that a good number of inbound links pointing to your page from locally relevant pages, such as local forums, local review sites, local business listing sites are included on this page.
Add a blog section as well using niche content and location-based keywords.
For local businesses, social media platforms play a big role in its local search ranking. Social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and YouTube give a wide array of opportunities for positive brand exposure to your local audiences.
• Gain a large number of likes on your Facebook page as possible. Try running local competitions or advertise as much as possible to gain these extra likes.
• Encourage content shares on Facebook as much as possible. Local or national competitions can encourage a post to go viral.
• Have inbound links pointing to your site from discussions on local community forums
• Use product or service-related keywords in your brand-page title or description.
• Use location-based keywords in your brand page title or description.
This list of local search ranking factors will help your local business rank higher in Google local. Improving some of these ranking factors may take a good amount of time and effort but they are worth doing. You must remember that improving your Google local ranking is a process that must be constantly worked on; it’s not just a one-time thing.