Are you struggling to maintain visibility in local search? When it comes to Google Maps, every business wants to be in that all-important pack of three that are shown at the top for each local product or service search. Here are the main factors that Google looks at to determine whether your business is featured up there on the winners' podium.
1. Location, location, location. Or, to be more specific, proximity, proximity, proximity. The whole point of local search is to provide users with results that are relevant to their immediate area. This is determined in two ways. One is when they include the location they're looking for in their search terms. For example, they might search for "sportswear santa fe" or "law offices richmond". The second way is by the actual location of the device they're searching from - if they are close to your business and they search for "coffee shops near me", Google will use GPS and other methods to determine exactly where "near them" is.
The bad news is, there's not a lot you can do to change this aspect of your ranking. Your business is either located in the right place for the specific search or it isn't. But that's also the good news - if someone in your area searches for a local business, your location does all the work for you and helps bump you up in the rankings without you having to do a single thing.
2. Google My Business. Here's where your input does make a difference. Your Google My Business profile needs to be complete, accurate, and optimized for local search. Here are some things you want to make sure you have on your GMB:
- full basic information, including opening hours;
- correct location information;
- multiple photos of your business;
- the most accurate primary business category;
- a list of the products and services your business provides.
Don't skimp out on this or leave it for later - the more information you can share through GMB, the more data Google will have to help understand what your business does, and rank you highly for relevant searches.
3. Your online presence. You might think this is just about having a well-designed website with quality content, and although those factors are certainly important, there is so much more to having a valuable presence online. Not only do you have to present yourself as a local authority in your niche or field, others need to recognize you as an authority, as well.
Having quality business citations and backlinks is important. Business citations include listings in business directories and review sites like Yelp, Citysearch, and Apple Maps. Listing yourself in directories is generally free, and you can do it yourself, so create as many listings as possible on well-known directory sites.
Quality backlinks to your site might include those from local newspapers, area universities or schools, your Chamber of Commerce, or any other organization that is an established, authoritative presence in your community. For example, your business might offer a student discount, and in exchange the local university student union might link to your business from their page on the school's website. You can also work on getting a mention in some local news stories, which would not only create a strong backlink to your site, but could be good advertising in its own right, as well.
Although there's a lot to consider here, you can tackle it systematically - address each of these issues one at a time and you'll soon see your rankings climb. If you need some assistance making the right changes, contact us for a free consultation and we'll help get you on the right track!