Google has been working on search localization for years. It has been a major priority for the search engine to promote local search results. Now it is producing results. The change is driven by the increasing consumer demand (mobile search) for something close by and familiar. For an increasing number of consumers there is a small and growing level of mistrust for information gathered online. People are more aware than ever that it is possible that what they are reading online is not always true. Business reviews have become an important component in local search as is the location of the business. We are still more comfortable with what we know despite the internet.
What does it mean for Local Business?
Google started this local search push with Google Places back in October 2010 with the introduction of Places search. The now familiar red pins and grouped business listings became prominent in local search results. Places carries a list of local businesses in a directory that allows results to be shown based on three areas:
A local business does not need a website to participate just a physical location for their business. A home based business can easily take advantage of this slant to local. Google searches the in internet (crawling other directories: Yelp, Citysearch etc) to provide local business results to online searchers. Business owners can claim and verify their own business listing. Once claimed a business owner can edit their listing to reflect their business. There are around 50 million Places listings and currently only around 4% have been claimed. A business is shown in results based on how it relates to the search term via the three components listed above. By claiming, updating a business listing and providing all the relevant information possible a local business can drive itself quickly to the top of search rankings.
If you have not claimed your Google Places listing then now is the time. Our experience is that claiming, completing and fully updating your business listing can have a positive effect on revenue. It is not only Google Places; all the major search engines are providing local search results. Bing has recently introduced the Bing Business Portal a significant upgrade which includes links to Facebook deals and QR Codes. Yahoo local also carries listings of local businesses. There is no cost for your listing and by taking the steps to complete your listing you can improve the position of your business for relevant search results in your area. Local search is expected to continue to grow. This is not driven by the search engines but by consumer demand. Smart phones are at the front end of local search with recent studies showing that 1:3 searches on a cell phone have a local component and that up to 50% of those searchers walk through the door as a customer. Don’t miss out on this opportunity for local growth.