Google Local – sometimes also called Google Maps, and previously called Google Local Business Center are listings put forward by Google when they think that the information you are looking for requires localised results.
This can be triggered by either typing the location in the search box – for example “Builders Essex”, or by looking for a service that is very specific to your location – for example “pizza delivery” or “car repair”. The former almost always triggers the Google Local results at the top of the page while they are still testing the latter (sometimes a box appears to save your location other times the Google Local results appear half way down the page).
We have highlighted the local results on the following result page for “website designers in Essex”
What makes up google local?
As the image above shows, Google Local is made up of two areas of interest.
On the right, a map more or less centred around the area searched. The map displays up to 7-8 bubble pointers with letters A to F-G. On the top of the search result under the sponsored listings, up to 7-8 listings – matching the pointers on the map, with:
the business name linking to a website – blue text underlined
the website address – green text
the telephone number
a link to the place page some of the time the word ‘More’ is used, but sometimes Google uses ‘Reviews’ (if they were able to identify reviews associated with this listing). This local display has been updated lots of times and may be slightly different the time you look.
There are no straight answers, because as with search engine optimisation, nobody can guarantee the position of your listing or even if your practice is going to be listed. But there are things you can do to ensure that your website has the best chance of getting listed.
Step 1: register with google places (local business centre)
Registering with Google Local Business Centre should be the first step. You can do this by either signing up for a Google Account or, simply log in using your existing Google Account details.
Once logged in, click the ‘add new business’ button and fill in the details as required. We would recommend you use a geographical telephone number for your main phone number (ie. NOT an 0800, 0845, 0300 or 0870). The information appears on the map as you type it in the form.
On the next page, click ‘claim listing’ (if Google recognised your business information) or ‘add listing’ otherwise.
If you clicked ‘add listing’ you will be presented with a new page to add your category, hours of operations, payment options, photos and even videos. Fill all the required information and click submit.
You will now have the option of verifying ⁄ validating the information submitted. The quickest way is to use the phone option. You will get an automated callback from Google that will ask you to enter the PIN number shown on the screen.
That’s it. Google will start showing your local listing between 1 day – 7 days after you verify it. It usually appears quickly within 1-2 days. But don’t hold your breath, continue with the following to increase your chances of gaining a higher listing.
Step 2: register your website with online directories
Online directories will not only help your search engine optimisation but also your Google Local listings. To specifically improve your Google Local listing, the emphasis should be placed on registering your site on directories that:
Make sure your practice details are also listed on yellow pages type websites (Yell.com, Thomson Directory etc…) and local business clubs and associations.
Step 3: make sure your details are up to date
If your practice is listed on yell.com and other such directories, make sure that those details match the ones you entered in Google Local Business Centre. Also make sure that your website contact page contain the same details.
Don’t forget, searches for most services based businesses are very localised, so Google Local ⁄ Google Maps is a great free tool at your disposal. Make sure you use it!