For businesses without a storefront, local search can get tricky.

Google wants to avoid businesses appearing in local search results if that business does not have a physical location in the city searched. They address this in the Google Places Quality Guidelines, where they disallow PO boxes and fake addresses.

The only known exception to this guideline is a business with general service areas. In this instance, businesses are to create a listing under one physical location. They are then allowed to designate those service areas. However, listing the designated service areas may not be effective in those areas with heavy competition.

In order to begin ranking in local search, we recommend the following tips and tricks.

1. Focus on Organic

In competitive industries especially, you’ll want to take the path of least resistance. Other than Places and G+ Local having first page priority, organic local search results that are worthy and relevant are also listed.

A great example of an organic local search result is Yelp. National sites like Yelp can rank for endless local search queries while you can focus on specific searches (ie., oil change Lee’s Summit).

2. Avoid Using a Virtual Address

In the past, someone might have advised you to list a virtual office space in order to rank in local search. Well, unless you are using your virtual space for legitimate business purposes, we strongly discourage this.

This is a sticky situation for Google because it is difficult to tell if this is real or someone is trying to pull a fast one. While there’s a small chance of being able to get away with it and fudge a verification, the reward is certainly not worth the risk. I’d say getting delisted or suspended from Google search is marketing suicide.

3. Get a Real Address

Easier said than done, right? If it’s worth gaining local and lifetime customers through local search, getting a real address will prove valuable. While this probably isn’t the most simple solution, it certainly is a viable one. This is best for those businesses targeting a specific city in a highly competitive industry.

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4. Continually Optimize

Setting your target location and creating a page is certainly not the whole story. Once you’ve done these, you’ll want to build your credibility with customer testimonials. Add names and location for each to indicate areas you typically do work.

You’ll also want to boost your geo-signals by adding photos and videos to your site that are geotagged with your target location. Additionally, encourage ratings on relevant review sites that credit your location. Both offsite and onsite geo-signals will be helpful in local search.

5. Zip Codes 

Reiterating what was mentioned before, when it comes to ranking organically in local search, small businesses need to be looking for the road less traveled. Most businesses are going to select a radius to specify their service areas.

By listing zip codes, you are able to avoid spreading yourself too thin. For businesses that really want to focus on local search rankings for specific areas of their city, this works great. For businesses that don’t need or want to limit themselves in local search, the circle radius may be the best.

For more information on gaining optimal online visibility for your small business, contact Turn the Page Online Marketing today to learn more about our local search services. Give us a call at (816) 527-8371 or (844) 889-5001 or visit our office in Lee’s Summit

Author Amanda Hall

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