According to Ed Parsons 1 in 3 searches at Google are Local. This equates to 3.6 billion searches a month. So, how do you rank locally? This is a question that more people are starting to care about because of the huge amount of traffic that is coming locally. There is no simple answer to this question but the steps you must take are clear.
Have a Local Listing
Now this might seem a bit obvious but there are certain aspects which can be rather tricky. Every location or office should have its own listing and unique phone number. Every listing must have a unique phone number because Google ties a phone number to a location. What kind of phone number should be used? Some people would like to use a tracking phone number so they can see how their listing is performing, but according to the Google Places quality guidelines Google does not want you to “provide phone numbers or URLs that redirect or “refer” users to landing pages or phone numbers other than those of the actual business.” This means the phone number should be a local number that is tied to the office or location for that local listing. The best long-term strategy for Google + Local is to follow the guidelines as closely as possible.
Build Citations for Your Listing
What is a citation? A citation is a “mention” of your business name, address, and phone number on other web pages. In order to verify that the information you put on your Google + Local listing is accurate, Google looks at other web pages that mention your business to see if the information listed is the same as the information on your listings. A good tool to use to find places to put citations is Whitespark. After a free trial period, there are varying packages that cost anywhere from $20 to $100 a month.
One “high-powered” citation that can be used is the Google Virtual tour. This is a one-time paid service that dispatches a Google-approved photographer to your office to take pictures; then the photographer posts the pictures on your local listing so that users can see what your office looks like. This is a high-powered citation because the Google-approved photographer comes to the address on your listing. However, the first place that Google looks for a citation is your website so it is important to make sure the information listed on your website matches the information on your Google + Local listing.
Make Your Website Local Friendly
There are several steps that can be taken to optimize your website for local search, such as:
Having the location in the title tag of the page the listing links to
Using schema code on your site
Having a Google map with your address on your site
Having a strong organic presence
With Google + Local there is no “secret sauce” to make you rank; every step you take helps so the goal is to do as many things correctly as possible.
These are some of the more important factors that go into making a website rank locally. For a full list of all of the factors, check the Moz local search ranking factors. Since Google has not yet figured out how it wants to handle Google + Local, the algorithm for ranking and the interfaces are being updated very frequently.
EverSpark Interactive is researching Google + Local as much as we can and staying on top of the updates as best as we can. With the importance of local search constantly increasing, it is important for website owners to be aware of the different factors that go into play. Don’t get left behind in local search.