The shift to social (Google+)
is indicative of a more democratized local algorithm.Google Places Google+ Local Further evidence is Google Map Maker beingincreasingly relied on as the back-end for Google+ Local.
The Google Local Business Center
(owner dashboard) used foredits/updates/reporting will likely be wholly integrated into Google+ Localwith Map Maker serving as the back-end “mapper-driven” verification tool.
Map Maker encourages users (or
"mappers") to update geographic info, particularly in their localarea, within Google Maps. Updates are reviewed by other mappers before being published online. Note: “Google Trusted Reviewers” are allowed special editorial privileges. Opportunistic SMB Marketers would be wise to begin diligently working towards attaining this special status.
How local search content often
displays in a SERP (Search Engine Results Page) ... AdWords Ads; Sponsored Ads; PPC (Google paid advertising) Local business listings; Maps; Google+ Local (formerly “Places”)Organic Universal results: websites; Internet directory (IYP) listings
Making sense of Google’s local
search algorithm Consider that Google relies on multiple sourcesfor information verification, weighing various signalsto determine which businesses are the most relevant and locally prominent for any given search query.
Google+ Local Page Ranking Factors
(just a few):• Physical address in city of search on G+ Local page• Proper business category associations on G+ Local page• Domain authority of website• Quantity of structured citations (IYPs, data aggregators)• City and state in the page title of home page• Local area code on G+ Local page• Quantity of native G+ Local page reviews• Quality/authority of structured citations• Owner-verified (claimed) G+ Local page• Quality, quantity and diversity of inbound links to website• Product/service/location keywords in anchor text of inbound links• Photos and logos, and video, on G+ Local page• Depth of content, and % completion, of G+ Local page• Categories and location keywords in G+ Local page review content• Categories and location keywords in G+ Local page “at a glance”• Number of +1s on your website• Number of followers of G+ Local page• Historical performance of G+ Local page• Number of likes on Facebook• Number of followers on Twitter
Important: Standardize your NAP and
business details according to Map Maker User Guides. http://support.google.com/mapmaker N = Name A = Address P = Phone number (local)Tip: Pay close attention to Google’s grammar guidelines for business name andstreet address. Avoid address abbreviations, keyword stuffing, and use of specialcharacters such as # or / in the Name and Address field, with the exception of a dash or hyphen character -‘ or a ‘#’ used in this format: #suite number (#200).
Establish consistency Once your NAP
(Name, Address, Phone number) is standardized using Google Maps guidelines and ran through USPS verification, it is important to make sure your NAP is consistent everywhere else on the web – including on your website using hCard / schema.org format. Example: If Google crawls your listing on another site and instead of “Road”, you have “RD”, Google may not read it as the same address. Your NAP serves as the anchor in building valuable citations throughout the web and establishing your online “certificate of trust”. Treat it with care.Note: Do not list multiple phone numbers. Use the same local phone # on all listings.
Build-out your G+ user account
The user account associated with your G+ Local page should be complete. Add personal details, photos, etc. Ideally, use an email address linked to your business’s domain (email@example.com). Be active, build social connections and Circles.
Upload a minimum of 10
unique photosGeoTag: mark location of your photos. This featureis available on all smart-phones.Tip 1: Add GPS Tags manually via sites likePanoramio, Flickr, Mappr, and Google Earth.Tip 2: Use keyword descriptive file namesand provide image descriptions(ex: riva-motorsports-service-center.png).
You can enhance your page
with a Street View interactive 360-degree “see inside” tour:Locate a Trusted Photographer here: http://maps.google.com/businessphotos
Include a YouTube video(s) This
is an optimized 60-sec HD video we created for our client CrossFit: http://youtu.be/Y4gp8PZ1KsAGoogle+ Local pages with video not only consistently rank better but also generate higher engagement and response rates.
Generate a minimum of 10
customer reviewsEncourage customers to leave detailed reviews.It’s okay to incentivize, but make sure you don’tget too many all at once – spread them out.Target reviewers with established G+ accounts.Tip: Consider “Reviews” and “+1’s” to be the new “inbound links” of G+ Local.
Make it easy for customers
to find and leave reviews on your Google+ Local page Use QR codes on marketing materials and place review links on your website, emails, Facebook, etc.
What are citations?Citations are “mentions”
of your business name and addresson other sites (no link necessary). Structured citations fromwell-established sites and business portals/directories help increase the degree of certainty major search engines likeGoogle, Bing and Yahoo have about your business’s contact information and categorization.
Citations not all created equallyWeight
of local citations will vary city to city and by business category. Here are just a few worth mentioning: Yelp Yahoo Local SuperPages CitySearch Facebook DexKnows BBB.org YouTube City-Data Yellowbook.com Yellowpages.com Angieslist MerchantCircle ServiceMagic Manta EZlocal
Seek out citation sources by
looking for relevant sites around the web.Look for niche/vertical directories within your industry and locale by Googlesearching your phone number and that of your high-ranking competitors – identifying directory listings indexed in search results. Tip: Use tools like whitespark.ca/local-citation-finder to look for potential citations.
Building citations: Think outside the
box! Look for citation opportunities from a variety of sources -- be creative and think outside the box. The more locally popular and trusted the source the better. Examples: Set up a free Wi-Fi hotspot at your business and get listed in Wi-Fi directories. Offer check-in deals via Foursquare. Sponsor localevents and groups who will in return publish your business’s NAP on their webpages. Lots of opportunities out there.
Create KML (Keyhole Markup Language)
files KML can be effective for citations, especially within certain verticals. KML is a file format used to display geographic data in an Earth browser, such as Google (and Bing) Maps. Create KML files to pinpoint locations, add image overlays, and share rich data. You can do this with GeoRSS map feeds as well. ezlocal.com/mapTip: GeoSitemapGenerator.com is a free and user-friendly KML file generator.
There’s a frenzy of consumers
searching local86% of consumers use the Internet tofind local businesses. 258% of consumers begin a purchase onsearch engines, outpacing companywebsites and social media. 3More than 20% of all searches on Google each day have local intent. 4Online search is the #1 way consumers look for products & services. 2
Online reviews are kind of
a big deal 86% of consumers consult online reviews before buying, and 90% of consumers trust the reviews they read. 5 7 out of 10 consumers share reviews with friends, family & colleagues. 6 78% of consumers say reviews are important when deciding what to buy. 7
Word-of-mouth still important90% of consumers
trustrecommendations from people theyknow and 70% trust the opinion ofunknown users. 1145% of consumers say they haveproducts in mind, but do not conduct alocal search for a specific business. 12