mapSEO Page Analysis – Local search queries differ from conventional searches in that you are adding a “where” component such as an address, a city or a zip code to the “what” component (keyword, product, service etc) that you are looking for. Consumers have always been in the need for local products and services. What’s changed is their behavior and the tools they use to perform local searches. Traditionally, local directories like the yellow pages along with newspapers and local magazines supplied this information but the digital age has changed all that. Computers and search engines have replaced the yellow pages and increasingly smart phones and other mobile devices are your computer. Google’s focus on local businesses has resulted in a dramatic change in search results compared to the past. Geo-targeted searches return Google maps listings that level the playing field for small businesses that have one huge edge over national competitors: a local address.

Local Search and Google

Google Places is the #1 place for local search marketing on the Web, and it’s largely free. Google Places gives your business visibility to potential customers even if you don’t have a website. Google Places displays listings as ranked by a mathematical formula (algorithm). So your business may not always appear on the same keyword search or in same order or even in the same category day-to-day. Google Maps and Google Places are a free service, so there’s no way to request or pay for a better ranking.

Follow these simple guidelines to build a powerful Google Places Listing.

  • Consistency – Conventional SEO puts a high premium on having the proper keywords in place. Google places does give you plenty of opportunity to tell visitors what search terms your business relates to but you also need to ensure that your business information is consistent with the contact information (address, phone, URL etc) found on your primary domain AND any citation sites. Google needs to be able to trust you and when they see consistent business information across multiple sources it helps.
  • Completion – Complete your Google places listing. So many businesses go half-way and provide the bare minimum but a thorough, complete Google places listing will rank better and provide a stronger user experience. This means photos, videos, coupons – Google allows you to include a lot of information and remember: It’s ALL FREE.
  • Citations – To Google, citations equate to trust in the same way backlinks do. Citations are loosely defined as a link from an authoritative source or directory, review site or local pages directory. Citation links help establish trust with Google through the validation of business information. Be sure that all citations accurately represent your business address, phone, URL and other pertinent information (as mentioned above in the category section).
  • Business Name
    • Represent your business in the exact same way that it appears offline.
    • Save taglines, phone numbers or URL’s for their appropriate place. Inclusion here might appear as an attempt to manipulate results.
  • Business Location – Location appears to plays a key role in the places algorithm. Follow these guidelines carefully:
    • Use the exact same street level address that you should have listed in the footer section of your website. Consistency is key.
    • Keep in mind that this needs to be a physical address, not a P.O. Box.
    • One listing per physical business location – even if you operate in a larger service area. Don’t worry – you can designate your service areas separately.
    • Do you have multiple specialties in the same office? Create a listing for your offices and a separate listing for each practitioner. According to Google’s standards this should not appear manipulative.
    • Remember, this is about trust and consistency across many different information sources, if your address is somewhat rural or miles away from a city’s “epicenter” zip code you might be tempted to list just the city name.
    • Multiple business locations? Create listings for each!
    • Website and Phone
    • Provide a phone number that connects to your individual business location as directly as possible, and provide one website that represents your individual business location.
    • Your phone number SHOULD be a local number for maximum impact.
    • Also know that you should not select the “verify listing by phone” option if you use an automated phone system. Google’s system can only provide your verification PIN to a live person or voice mail.
    • Here is where your keywords will come into play.
    • Categories – Here is where your keywords will come into play
    • Keep in mind that Google Places categories should say what your business IS, not what it does. For example: If you are a law firm that is your category. Not “personal injury attorney.”
    • Google will provide category suggestions – you can override these and create your own but inclusion of location keywords will appear as an attempt to manipulate the listings.
    • Get as specific as you can within categories. Say you have a book store, try to choose a specific category like “college books store, “comic books”, “used book store”, “new books”, or “rare and antique books”.
    • Also, check and correct listings for your business on citation sites such as and because Google aggregates information about your business from other website to determine under what categories and for what keywords your Google Places business listing appea

 Yahoo and Bing Local

Much like Google Places, Yahoo offers a thorough local business listing that is tied directly into their search engine. Unlike Google, Yahoo local listings are not tied to a local area map. If you are using Yahoo for local searches in the U.S. it is likely that you see local directory results. Unlike Google, Yahoo offers a free basic listing but withholds many extended features for their “enhanced” listings which cost $9.95/mo. The free basic listing is limited to:

  • Contact information: phone, website, address
  • Hours of operation
  • Products or Services

Enhanced listings include the above plus:

  • Your logo and tagline
  • Up to 10 company photos
  • Detailed business description

Bing’s search volume has grown and many customers prefer Bing exclusively… registering with Bing’s Business Portal will ensure that you are capturing the attention of these non-Google web prospects.

Within the Business Portal you can:

  • Claim, create, verify, and manage local business listings
  • Identify key search categories where you want your listing to appear
  • Customize listings with enhanced details such as logos, photos, and more
  • Create a mobile Web site (and free QR Code) so customers can learn about your business on their mobile devices
  • Create a custom menu (restaurants and bars) for inclusion on a mobile menu
  • Create Deals (coupons) and promote them for free on Bing (both PC and Mobile) and Facebook

Bing’s listings also include testimonials and reviews from 3rd party sites like and Yelp. Make these reviews a high priority.

Website Concerns

While local listings on various search engines have been emphasized, it is important to highlight that your business website needs to be optimized for your geo-targeted keywords. Standard SEO practices apply here and try to include your city or regional keywords in:

  • Your URL
  • Page Titles
  • Meta Description
  • H1 and H2 tags
  • Throughout your site content


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