Google Local Business Centre and Google Maps - Why they're important for your business
Have you ever gone looking for a local service - say, a bookkeeper or an accountant - and noticed that when you type in a business service qualified by a location (whether Bristol, Birmingham, London, or any other city) a small map often appears with local businesses offering that service listed? Didn't those businesses instantly catch your eye?
Those listings, provided by Google, can provide significant benefits to businesses. Registering with Google's Local Business Centre should be one of the first things you do to increase website traffic and improve your visibility online - it's also something that GWS can do for you as part of your online marketing. The Local Business Centre service is invaluable if any of the following apply:
- you are looking to sell a good or service primarily in a particular locality;
- you are a business that relies on personal recommendations and need to underscore your credibility;
- you need your customers to be able to find your premises easily;
- you want more information about how your website attracts traffic, to make your marketing more effective;
- or, you simply want to be as highly visible online as possible.
How does it work?
Google's Local Business Listings rely on criteria that are similar to those governing standard listings in Google - a cornerstone of which is the use of well written, relevant, and original content which matches your target search terms. The authority and credibility of your web site is important: now that more and more businesses have listings, Google has to rank the results, and the actual postcode and how close it is to the search can make a difference, while a site with more citations that confirm its details will tend to be ranked more highly.
The good news is, if you have a locally-based business with a good customer base but you're finding that national competitors are tending to dominate the standard search engine results in your target area and phrases, Google Maps can help you to leapfrog the competition.
How can I get listed?
Register for Google's Local Business Centre with a description of the goods or services you offer, and choose at least one relevant business category. You can add extra categories, and you don't only have to choose from the ones offered. It's also worth adding an appealing picture of your premises, and other images of your work. You have to verify your business with Google - this just involves receiving a PIN code by phone. Once that's done, you can encourage clients to leave a positive review under your listing.
Google will display a map result at the top of the front page for certain search phrases qualified by your location. This means that your business should now be listed in results for some of your target search phrases; and with the right optimization it could be in the top 3. Google will frequently increase your site's standard ranking under local keyword searches after this has been done - having your site verified on Google Maps gives the site extra credibility for local searches.
Other business tools from Google's Local Business Centre
There are other beneficial tools in the Local Business Centre which can help you to get more out of your online marketing, and GWS are happy to advise clients on these. The LBC is one of many services provided for free by Google that gives feedback on work done to enhance client visibility.
GWS can provide marketing reports, keyword research, and advice on how to use Google Analytics, as well as organizing and optimizing your Local Business Centre listing. Working with and understanding what Google wants is one of our specialities.