According to Chitika, 24% of searches have a local intent on Google search results. This means people are using the major search engines to find local businesses and more information locally. This is huge and the search engines have been taking action.
In our market, everything is local. Especially online.
The typical way a prospect searches is “the service they’re looking for + the town they’re looking for it in”.
Why this really matters, is major search engines are giving away their top advertising spots to local businesses. There is a service for local businesses called Google Places. Google Places are the local business results with the pushpin markers on the search results. These listings are free to the local businesses that take advantage and verify their listing.
These listings are displayed to prospects who are early in the research phases. They’re not yet looking for a specific community. For example, a listing will be displayed when someone types “assisted living Springfield MA”. This is where’s it’s critical to get your community in front of them.
If you do a search for Google places you’ll find where you can claim your community’s listing. To find Yahoo, and Bing’s services, just go to the respected search engines and type in “add local business listings to (insert search engine’s name)” and you’ll find the appropriate places.
When filling out the listings there’s 4 critical elements you need to have in order to achieve a top listing.
Name and Location
If you’re community’s name has the words of the service provided, or the town’s name, these are factors that search engines weighs when ranking the listings.
Now obviously you can’t change the name of your community. Your name is unique and part of your brand.
The most important thing to remember about your community name is to remain consistent with its usage throughout the internet. Such as Yahoo and Bing and the Yellow Pages.
Proximity to the person’s search is also another factor. Whether it’s based off their ip address, or the name of the town they’re searching in, the listings that person sees will be partly based off their location to the business and the intent of their search.
Keywords and Categories
Along with your business name you’re given about a 200 character area to describe your community or service for each search engine. This is a section to say what you uniquely do for your customers versus all your competitors. You’ll want to add your most important keywords here.
After filling out the description, you can add categories that describe your community. This helps the search engines and their users understand the products and services your business provides.
You’re only allowed 5 categories and below are some general guidelines to follow when selecting categories.
Categories should say what your community or service is and not what it does or things it sells. Also, look at your higher ranked competitor’s profiles and see if you can find any patterns. Put the most important categories first as they’re ranked by priority. Finally, you’re only required to use one Google mandatory category. Add the best performing keywords you have.
Number of Reviews
The number of reviews and quality of reviews is a factor in how high you rank online. Every review is a piece of content that helps the search engines determine what your business is about.
Search engines want to show the most relevant information to their users, so when a lot of people rate a place highly, this must be a sign that it’s important and should be shown.
A citation is a mention of your businesses information on websites including directory listings, news stories, and articles.
There’s hundreds, if not thousands of online directories and search engines for everything local. Include some other big ones, like Yahoo, Bing, and yellow pages.
There’s also senior specific sites that are relevant to the industry we’re in, and the more of these sites you get listed in, the better.
The biggest factor major search engines like to see is that you’re consistent with your information across all these citations. You’re using the same business name, phone number, description, categories, etc…
Consistency is a big part of creating citations and will greatly affect where you rank on the search engines.
The communities taking advantage of these listings are rising to the top and getting more local traffic. Follow these 4 critical guidelines when filling out your local profiles and you’ll be certain to have a top ranking profile that beats your nearest competitors.