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Google Local and Your SEO

Google Local is a new feature offered via Google that assists in local searches. By creating a free Google Local Page people searching for a local business are more likely to find your Google Local Page within the first page of their Google Search, partially due to your SEO.

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If you've noticed, Google's search results now include a local map at the right side and a list of local businesses. Google local listings show up when you type in a specific city in your search, like when searching for "Miami BBQ."

It can be frustrating to find that you rank well in organic listings but don't show up in the Google Local search results. What's worse is when a business that doesn't even have a formal website is ranked above you. 

If you still have lingering doubts whether or not to incorporate local search SEO in your online marketing efforts, the discussion below will eliminate them. 

Why is Ranking High in Google Local so Important? 

According to Google, 20% of its searches are related to location. Also, if you take a look at Google's SERPs, notice that local listings take up much space in some search results. In effect, organic rankings are likely to become irrelevant when placed alongside Google Local results. 

What's more is that users might find local search results more useful since they contain a handful of information, including: 

  • Company name
  • Phone number
  • Address
  • Business description
  • Website link
  • Number of reviews 

The Google local results even include a small photo of the store. If you put yourself in the average user's shoes, there's really nothing more that you could need since these search results already provide a number of conveniences. 

So now the question is: How do we rank higher in Google Local

Google Local Optimization 

If you're wondering why you're not getting a good spot in the local results, but are ranking high in organic results, it's because the two search systems have different algorithms. While organic results depend mostly on backlinks, inbound links don't have much influence on Google Local

While Google hasn't hinted on the factors of the local search engine's algorithm, many local search SEO experts have come up with elements that influence the listings on Google Local. Some of these elements are: 

-    Keywords in your business name. Although this might look spammy, a business name with a keyword in it has higher chances of ranking higher in Google Local. McGee Real Estate, for instance, may rank better than a real estate agency called Tri-Star.

-    Address. Of course, your website is likely to rank higher for the city that you're located in. If your office is found in Huntsville, Alabama, for instance, your site wouldn't show up in Google Local search results for Madison, AL.

-    Customer reviews. The quantity of reviews is actually more important in local search optimization than their quality. While negative feedback can affect the number of conversions, it's still important to encourage customers to give reviews over the Internet.

-    Map search. Make sure your business has a KML file so that your location will show up on Google Maps, Earth and smartphones, etc. A KML file will ensure that your business name is displayed on these channels.

-    Citations from relevant websites. While backlinks don't really affect Google local optimization, there are relevant websites that can help with your rankings. As much as possible, strive for links from sites such as Citysearch and Yelp.

-    Claiming your business listing. Claiming your business means that you let Google know that you own a particular business. Once you've claimed your business, you can make significant changes to the listing. While unclaimed business can still rank well in Google Local, claimed businesses often rank better. If you're doing local search SEO services for a client, this should be the first step.

-    Business categories. Although having keywords in your business name helps in local search SEO, it's a bit more important to belong in the right categories. Make sure that your business falls under the right Google Local category. Doing so will help your company show up for the right Google Local keywords.

-    Consistent business data. This refers to the data you provide to all databases of local business information. You want to make sure your business information show up the same everywhere. 

For quite some time, online marketers have centered on being associated with a bunch of keywords and building website links. While such SEO strategies are still imperative, there are several other lucrative ways to get conversions, website traffic, and search engine rankings. 

Local search SEO is a worthwhile marketing strategy because many Internet users today look for stuff within their area. Another good thing about maximizing Google Local is that the competition is quite low. Since the keywords are targeted to a specific location, you'll appear considerably quickly on the top results. Also, since competition is not very tight, you'll have less chances of being displaced from your current Google Local search position. Therefore, there's a greater chance for long-term Web traffic for a certain keyword. 

While Google local optimization is a comparatively new concept, there are several SEO companies that can provide valuable services. Make the most out of this SEO tactic to reap the rewards.

Author: Matt Hodgson Matt runs a network of search engine optimization and search engine submission websites these include http://www.addme.com and http://www.needmorehits.com


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