Google pretty much dominates local search at the moment. When that works in your favor, you’ll see your company sitting atop the search results for many a local phrase. But if you’re not ranking high in local search, or not appearing at all, it can seriously impact your business. If people can’t find you, how can they buy what you’re selling? It’s a big problem with a multitude of solutions. For some, it’s as simple as getting listed. For others, it’s a bit more complicated. Though local search has specific requirements, it’s still search and requires SEO. Bearing that in mind, let’s look at some reasons a company might fail to appear in Google Local and what can be done to remedy the situation.
This is by far the simplest reason you’re not appearing in local search results but not always the easiest to fix. Getting listed can be a bit of process. Google is very stringent in its listing guidelines so you absolutely must do your best follow them to the letter if you want to see progress. Your first step is to create a local business on Google. You only qualify for this option if:
So long as you follow instructions, set up isn’t all that difficult. But this is actually where a lot of people get tripped up.
As Local University puts it, Google’s quality guidelines for business listings shouldn’t be called guidelines at all — they should be called rules. Because if you don’t follow them precisely, the result is more often than not a failure to be listed or a failure to have your listing appear as you’d like it to. The guidelines are pretty detailed. For instance, if your business has a mail box or suite number, you need to include that information in Address Line 2, and under no circumstances should it appear in Address Line 1. It’s a bit persnickety, to be honest. You should definitely take the time to review them on your own. But let’s take a look at a few aspects here just so you’re clear on some of the bigger requirements:
I realize that’s a lot to wrap your mind around and it will take some serious time to familiarize yourself with all of these rules before you can get a handle on it. But it’s worth the effort if you want to see your business rank higher.
If you’ve gone to all the effort to do the above, it would be a real shame to forget to verify your listing, now wouldn’t it? But that’s often a reason why people fail to see their businesses in the local search results. They just never got around to this step. So take this opportunity, while you’re thinking about it, to verify your page. When logged into Google+ and navigate to your page then hover on the “Unverified” button at the top. Click on “Verify Now” and follow the instructions. Typically, you just need to input your mailing address and click on “Request Postcard.” You’ll have to wait a few days to get your postcard but this is your ticket to verification. Seems sort of low-tech, I know, but it’s Google’s way for business owners to prove they are who they say they are. Just follow the instructions on the card to complete the verification process. Your site should be listed and ranking in no time after that.
Once you’ve got the basics taken care of, you need to populate your listing with some real information. That means filling out your business introduction as fully as possible. Really take this opportunity to introduce yourself to your potential customers. What is your business all about? Why did you start it? What are you passionate about? What separates you from your competition? Don’t go all salesman mode in your introduction but you should definitely make the effort to demonstrate what makes you stand out. Another thing you need to remember to include is photos. As with anything online, photos add character and life. Without them, your listing will look incomplete and is less likely to engage potential customers. Plus, even if it does appear in the search results, it’s going to be a lot less enticing if there aren’t any images to attract attention. Your profile photo, especially, needs to be eye-catching. From there, you can share photos to your Google+ Page regularly. People always like to get a behind the scenes glimpse of how businesses operate, so the more photos of that nature you can provide, the better. Customers who frequent your business can upload their own photos and tag your company in them as well, which further adds to your credibility and literal visibility.
While not having any reviews won’t prevent a business from showing up in local search results altogether, it can impact your rank. A business in your niche with a ton of reviews will always rank much higher because it’s viewed to be a greater authority in your industry by Google. And reviews don’t lie. This customer word-of-mouth is worth its weight in gold and a highly coveted piece of the Google Local puzzle. Your “star” rating will appear with your business listing, along with review excerpts when somebody Google’s your company name. It appears along the righthand side of search results. This snapshot is your opportunity to really impress a potential customer. Think of how many times you’ve searched for a business or service. When greeted with the search results, which ones were you the most likely to click on? The ones with the most positive reviews, right? It’s human nature to pursue options that other people have already vetted for you. So by all means, take advantage of that fact! Google Local search results are becoming increasingly important — seemingly with every algorithm update. If you’re a small business owner with a brick and mortar location, you can’t afford to gloss over this optimization strategy.