Local Business Listings and Google Maps: How does it all work?

Written by: Heidi Miller   Austin, Texas

Posted on: October 19, 2010

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Search engines are constantly adding new and improved ways for businesses to be found. A particularly useful service, offered by Google, Yahoo and Bing, is the ability for business owners to create their own local business listings.

What is a local business listing and where do they show up?

Local business listings associate the physical address of a storefront or office to an informational profile about the business. These profiles contain general information such as store hours, telephone number, website URL and even customer reviews.

Then, when someone searches for a product or service offered by local businesses, a map pinpointed with nearby locations is displayed. These local business listings are prominently featured within organic search results, as you can see in the screenshot below:

Why should I use it?

If you are offering a product or service to local customers, then you want as many people as possible to know where you are. Creating a local business listing can increase phone calls, store visits and traffic to your website.

Did we mention it’s totally FREE and takes only minutes to set up?

How do I get my business to show up first?

One of the most common questions we hear from customers is, ‘How do I get my business to show at the top of local map results?’ This is a reasonable question, since after all, we are a Search Engine Optimization company. However, it is important to understand the distinction between organic search results and local business results. Although there is a possibility of overlap among these search areas, completely separate algorithms are used to determine placement. Our SEO techniques are meant solely to influence and improve organic search results.

Watch out for map listing scams!

There are no proven methods that will consistently improve local business rankings. This is why you should be extremely skeptical of internet marketing companies ‘guaranteeing first position’ on local map listings. These guarantees are a complete scam and often exploit the loophole of demonstrating that your business ranks for a highly specific search term—such as, YOUR EXACT BUSINESS NAME.

Although it is irresponsible to guarantee results, we can offer a few tips that can help optimize and target your local business listing . . .

Tips for getting the most out of your listing:

  • Complete ALL fields: hours, contact information, website URL, payment methods, special offerings, etc.
  • Use relevant categories: Google relies heavily on the category tag to determine what keyword searches your business should display for.
  • Encourage customer reviews: it is probably no coincidence that many of the sites that show up towards the top of map results have a large number of customer reviews. Of course it would be unethical for an SEO company or the company itself to post reviews but it is great business practice to encourage genuine customer feedback. Try to shift the customer service from in-store feedback cards to online review portals.
  • Make sure all info is correct and up to date: customers will be turned off if the information in your listing (hours, address, and phone number) is incorrect or out of date.

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