Finding a product or service in this era of internet marketing has never been easier.
Every business, irrespective of their type and size is trying everything they can to establish their online presence and reserve the top slots in the Google search engine results page for themselves. If you are a local business, the objective is not to reach the global audience but to target your local community – city/state/market.
As per Google,1 in every 5 searches is a local query.
Google Local, previously known as Google Places is an advanced and straightforward search facility. It is one of the best directories that you could use to grow your business. And the best part? It’s absolutely free!
If you are not already using it, it’s high time!
Understanding Google Local
Google Local is a directory that helps you get listed on Google Maps and Google 3-pack local listing results so that your customers can find you easily.
It primarily has two functions, one is to help the local business owners improve their online visibility and second to help users find, engage and review local businesses.
This directory, for businesses that offer services in their local area, is by far the most comprehensive, interactive and accessible directory out there.
Taking into consideration the fact that Google usually combines Google Local page and Google Maps with organic results, Google Local can be an excellent way to advertise your brand.
Whenever a customer clicks on your Google Local Page, he would be able to see the following:
- Your Business's NAP (Name, address and phone number).
- Description of your business.
- Your business's exact location on Google Maps.
- Opening and closing hours of your business
- Link to your website/landing page.
- Photos and videos
- Reviews and rating left by customers.
Now that you understand what Google Local is, let’s discuss some reasons why it is important to your business.
Why is Google Local so awesome?
Two words – simple and free!
- You are not required to necessarily have a website:
Google Local is the new Yellow pages! You don’t need a website to list your business on Google Local
- Better search engine rankings
Google Local entirely focuses on local results. This means that the competition is restricted only to your local area and not within the entire city or state. Hence, better chances of rankings for your location and categories.
- Better chances of conversions
Local listings present your business to the customers exactly at the time when they are looking for the product or service that your business has to offer. Hence, being listed on Google Local improves your chances of conversions.
- Better search engine presence
Local results are displayed above the organic search results. This means that the websites or businesses which are listed there get greater attention.
- Helps in gaining trust from customers
Google’s algorithms do not allow unscrupulous businesses to make it to local search results.
Google Local has a verification process to claim your business. Apart from this, an unbiased rating/review system used by Google is what makes these results more trustworthy.
- Compatible with Mobile users
Google Local pages and Google local listing results are optimized for mobile devices. This means it is much easier for smartphone users to contact businesses who are listed with Google+ Local. Hence, they are more likely to reach you.
- Your business would also be displayed on Google Maps
If your business can be found on Google Maps via relevant keywords, customers using mobile devices who are on the go can easily find you.
- It is cost-effective:
Getting listed on Google Local is absolutely free. If you are a small business, it would be impractical to spend a lot of money on other forms of advertising (radio, television, billboards etc).
- Google Local is a much cheaper option than the traditional advertising mediums.
Making the best use of Google Local
Setting up a Google Local page is simple and involves just 3 steps. The first thing you have to do is create an account, fill in all the required details like your Business NAP, working hours, email id, directions, description, images, videos etc.
The second step involves verifying your business listing. You will receive your verification code either via a phone call or through a postcard. Once you have the PIN from Google, you can verify your listing by entering the code.
Here are a few tips to make the best use of Google Local:
- Weave keywords in your business description: Create an impressive and engaging business description that will appeal to customers. Mention what your business does and how it can help customers. Make sure that you don’t dump all your keywords in those 150-200 words. This can hurt your search engine rankings.
Category: Be careful while selecting the category of your business. These categories directly affect your local search rankings. Google Local lets you add 10 categories. Make sure the primary one describes your business accurately.
- Include Images and Videos: You can add up to 10 images for free. I would suggest you to add all 10. Include photos of your staff, some of your best products, your office etc. For videos, you can add up to 5 videos for free. For starters, you can add a virtual tour of your office/store. These give a personalized touch to your business and also makes it easy for customers to locate and identify your business.
- Multi-location business: If your business operates from more than one location, create a separate Google Local page for each branch with the respective address and phone number. If you have one main branch but you offer services in a number of location, you can do with a single Google Local Page by listing all your locations in it.
- Encourage reviews: Google Local reviews directly affect locals search results. It also influences click-through-rate by users. Ask your loyal and pleased customers to review and rate your business on Google Local. For starters, simplify your review process as much as you can, be candid while asking for reviews. For example, “We care about your opinion! We would really appreciate if you take a few moments and review the experience you had with us).
Apart from getting listed on Google Local, it’s important that you get your business details across other important generic and industry-based directories. Now, if you go about listing yourself on all these directories manually, it would take up a great deal of your time and efforts. I would suggest using automated tools. Local RankWatch handpicks important websites and directories on the web where you should get your business listed thus, saving a lot of your time.