We know that search engine optimization tactics, some as simple as having frequent, great content are important if we want to have our web sites listed high in search engines. However, it’s also important for local businesses, who want local customers to know how to maximize their listings on local sites such as Google, Yahoo, Bing, Yelp and others.
A press release came through my email box from LocalMarketingFaucet.com. It’s of course written to attract people to the downloadable guide about email marketing, which is fine. However, I felt the press release itself was pretty useful and full of good information, so I’ve shared it with you here.
Google is at it again. A recent change in how Google displays local search results has created a competitive advantage for some local businesses while others remain in the dark about the major competitive shift that just occurred.
If you’ve done a Google search for a local business or local service provider recently (for example, “Chicago accountant” or “chiropractor Sacramento”), you may have already noticed a brand new look at the top of Page 1 for many of these listings. These results are no longer coming from the regular pool of Internet websites that are shown with non-local searches. Instead, the results you see are coming from inside their own Google Business Listings (also known as Google Places and formerly Google Maps).
So what does this mean for local business owners?
It means a new type of Google Gold Rush is officially on, according to local search consultant Tim Adams, who is the Founder of LocalMarketingProfitFaucet.com
“This change is having an immediate and positive impact on the local businesses shown in these Page 1 listings,” says Adams. “The Internet-savvy business owners who understand how to take advantage of this are generating new customers for next-to-nothing. Meanwhile, a surprising number are still oblivious to the significance of this change. In fact, Google has revealed that only a tiny percentage of local businesses have even claimed their Google Places listing, let alone optimize it.”
Experts agree that Google is maintaining many of the same points of emphasis with their Places directory as with regular websites. “From our experience,” Adams continues, “Google has always given preferential treatment to unique, multimedia content that is kept fresh and up to date. And of course, stay away from any black hat tactics that try to game the system. Google always catches up to these shenanigans. When they do, your listing could be banned with no warning and no second chances.”
One of the biggest perks for local businesses is how this has leveled the playing field for those competing against larger, nationally funded budgets. Adams tells an interesting story about how “one small diner is outranking a nearby chain competitor because they’re using Google Places the right way. And this little restaurant doesn’t even have a website!”
Some of the best news with these changes is that getting ranked with Google Places doesn’t require advanced computer or technical skills. It’s just a matter of knowing what Google likes in a listing.
Adams reassures small business owners when he says, “It’s fairly easy to get ranked on Page 1 in most markets because the competition is still weak.” He goes on to add, “However, it’s not necessarily simple as there’s a lot of i’s to dot and t’s to cross to make sure you do it just right and get the extra ‘Google love’ that will give you an advantage.”
The importance of online marketing continues to grow as more and more customers use Google to find which company will get their business. The Kelsey Group has told us “97% of all consumers use the Internet to research products and services in their local area.” And Google has previously shared that a whopping 90% of searchers never scroll past the first page of results.
Adams doesn’t pull any punches when he tells you, “If your business has a storefront location or does face-to-face business with clients, then you’re just plain silly to ignore Google Places. That’s why I’ve made a Google Places Checklist that’s available at http://www.LocalMarketingProfitFaucet.com/google-places-checklist at no charge for anyone who wants to take that next step, yet avoid the common mistakes and pitfalls.”
What is Adams predicting for the future with local search results and Google Places?
“Count me in the group that believes Google will eventually start charging for a listing in the Google Business Directory. For now, I’m telling business owners to sit back and enjoy this free ride as long as they can.”