July 26, 2014

How to Place Better in Google Local Search

google local search

You’ve noticed that list of local businesses often appear in search results.  And maybe you’ve noticed that you’re not there.  Same thing happen when you search Google Maps on your mobile phone? It’s time to take a look at your Google Places (formerly Local) account.  Now linked directly to your Google Plus account, it not only serves as an important verifiable source of information for organic search but it’s your link to mobile users.

As you’d expect, there are numerous factors that Google uses to determine placement in local or Google Map searches.   The most important are below along with tips on what to do for each.

Proper Category

You’re allowed 5 category selections for your business.  Pick at least one that Google recommends.  And obviously, you want to select Commercial Real Estate Agency if Google couldn’t figure it out.  But what about the other 4?  Here are a few to consider:

  • Real Estate
  • Real Estate Agency
  • Real Estate Agents
  • Real Estate Appraiser
  • Real Estate Attorney
  • Real Estate Consultant
  • Real Estate Developer

Or take a look at the complete list to find others that might be suitable:
http://blumenthals.com/google-lbc-categories/search.php?q=&val=hl-gl%3Den-US%26ottype%3D1

Another trick is to see where you competitors have categorized themselves especially if they place well in local searches.

Physical Address in Search City

You can’t do much about the city your office is in. But you can give Google an idea of what areas your business serves by selecting selecting the correct “business model” under service type.  Click on the edit address link in Google Places and select  “My business has service areas where I visit customers at their location.”  Fill in the mileage radius or zip code for the areas you cover.  Hide your address only if you are using a home address/working from home.  (Note that hiding your address does not adversely affect search results placement.)  This isn’t a fool proof way to get you to the top of city specific local searches but it’s better than coming up for only the city in which your office is located.

google local business model selection

Name, Address, Phone (NAP) Matching

Whether you know it or not, your company’s address is all over the place.  Google will check all the relevant/authoritative directories to make sure the address you provided matches those sources.  The link below lists the major business directories that you should check for address consistency.  You’ll likely have to register and/or go through a verification process to make any changes/claim a listing but if there are mistakes, it’s time well spent.

Don’t forget to review contact information on your website, blog and social networks as well.  Skip any only locally known references in the address like the building name.  Put a reference to that below the address or on a map note.  The last thing you want to do is confuse Google.

Citations (Links)

One of the reasons NAP consistency is important is because Google uses  your business address to find any and all sites where you company is listed.  Called citations, for CRE they would include national/global associations you’re affiliated with that list your company address:  local Chamber of Commerce, professional organizations, business groups and so on.

Here’s a list of general and business sites to give you some ideas:  http://www.localvisibilitysystem.com/definitive-local-search-citations/.  You can also try this little hack to view competitor citations so you can list yourself on the same sites if you’re not already listed:  http://moz.com/blog/one-dead-simple-tactic-for-better-rankings-in-google-local.

Google uses citations to determine not only your relevance but authority.  The more high quality citations you have, the more authority you have for your location – and the more likely you are to place higher in a local search.