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Google Places

Search Localization

By | Bing, Business Listing, Google, Google Places, Local Business, local search, mobile search | One Comment

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:

  • Relevance
  • Prominence
  • Distance

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.

Next Step

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.

Local Search a Business Opportunity

By | Google Places, Local Business, local search, mobile search, Online Marketing | No Comments

Following on from our post on the mobilization of local search we want all local business owners to grasp the opportunity that has arrived. There is a mini revolution happening in online search. Its not only social media that is continuing to change the face of online marketing. The mobilization of potential customers is driving a change that greatly benefits local business. The growth of smart phones and tablets is at the center of the change. They are portable; and so consequently is marketing. Businesses can talk to potential customers while they are actually out shopping.

Talk to your customer on the move

Geo targeting in online marketing has evolved with the advances in portable digital communication devices. If you have a smart phone you are already using it to target your next activity. You can use Google Places to find any business you want close to you. You can use Facebook Places to say you are somewhere and tag which of your friends are with you. People are turning more and more to their mobile device for information.

The Mobility Opportunity

In this move to on the go interaction is an opportunity for local business. National companies cannot compete with the local business physical location. We detailed in an earlier local search post that distance is an important component in the Google algorithm for returning search results to a searcher. There are millions of people ready to buy looking for the nearest outlet.  To take advantage, a local business must work to increase its local prominence online.

Increasing Prominence

First start with the major local business directories:

Google Places

Bing Business Portal (Still in Beta)

Yahoo Local

Visit each of these directories to claim and verify your listing. This is important, the major search engines will list your business whether you claim it or not. People will be able to write reviews on your business and unscrupulous competitors can maliciously edit your listing. It is best to be in control of your online presence. Once you have done the major three (they control about 95% of online searches between them) you can move onto other directories.  All the business directories have premium positioning for a monthly fee. Our recommendation is not to spend the money. If you must spend it on the major three for the best value. There are literally hundreds of free directories consistently promoting your business by listing in these directories adds to your online prominence. Skilled use of the correct terms and words when completing your directory listings will also help increase the relevance of your business to those local searchers.

Once you have progressed your business directory presence move onto social media to develop your local search presence. We will post next week on some of the Social Media steps you can take to ensure you are prominent in local search.