Google Local SEO Rankings

14 Top Factors Influencing Google+ Local Rankings

Google+ Local1. Your address. Carefully and fully fill in the fields for address, email, and phone numbers, etc.

2. Your business categories. Fill in all the categories that make sense for your business, not just one. Make sure you choose one Google-suggested category before adding customizable categories. You can enter up to five categories.

3. Keywords in the business name are a potential advantage, but many people do not recommend altering your business name to force them in. Certainly if you overdo it, you could get blacklisted. Since it is likely a small factor compared to citations(see #4, below), don’t get over-excited about this factor or you will risk penalties.

4. Citation quantity and diversity. Mentions of your business in various directories and local sites are like links in traditional SEO. They pass trust signals to Google that you are legitimate.

General places to get listed:

  • Local search engines
  • Hyper-local blogs
  • Locally focused directories
  • Industry-focused directories or blogs

Here are some directories (sites) that may help your Google+ Local listing and/or drive local traffic:

  • Citysearch
  • InsiderPages
  • Yelp
  • SuperPages
  • Infogroup
  • Localeze
  • iBegin
  • Acxiom
  • Best of the Web’s Regional Directory
  • Yahoo’s Regional Directory
  • MerchantCircle
  • Foursquare
  • Hotfrog
  • Kudzu
  • DirectoryM
  • Angie’s List
  • Judy’s Book
  • Comcast

Some people go crazy with this and get hundreds of listings. Sometimes it works, but if you cross a line you may be seen as a spammer. Start with the best directories and local citations, and test to see if you rank well with them first. Keep in mind that listings that are specific to your niche are also good. For example, lawyers should get listed and reviewed in AVVO.

5. Business data consistency. Watch over the various directories that link to you to ensure that your business name, address, and phone number are consistent across the many sources of local business information.

6. Reviews and ratings. Reviews are a huge help in your local search engine rankings, especially when they are on sites like Yelp, Insider Pages, Citysearch, Yahoo, Super Pages, and Yellow Pages. Get at least one review from Yelp and Citysearch or Insider Pages so you have two non-Google reviews. Google is using what reviewers say about local businesses and showing the sentiment analysis right on Place Pages. Again, it is all about trust and what others are saying in the new social web, not just what you say about your business.

7. Backlinks to your Google+ Local page also help it rank, but post-Penguin (a recent Google search algorithm update) it is best to focus on branded keywords in the anchor text instead of using too many aggressive links from your top keywords.

8. Completing your business profile/Page. Write a good description (up to 200 characters) using the keywords you want to rank for. Add extra information like hours and payment options, etc. Google sends lots of people to these pages and wants the most complete profiles to be at the top.

9. Proximity to location. Don’t worry if your business isn’t located right near your city’s red marker on a Google local map, since, more importantly, it will show up based on search in proximity to the exact location the user specifies in the search terms, such as “restaurants near Boston Common.”

10. My Google+ Local and other user content/data. People can make their own maps and this social element, related to the general trend of Google to include user activity, is becoming increasingly important.

11. Traditional SEO factors. Optimize your website for local search so the site itself matches the theme of the Google+ Local listing.

12. Add photos. We recommend adding at least 10, as the more information you have, the more Google “sees” that you care about your listing.

13.Add a link to YouTube videos. Since few companies do this, you really stand out if you make this effort.

14. Mentions of your business on social media sites may grow in importance, so be sure to take part in various social activities online. Google puts much more value on Google+, while Bing relies on Facebook’s social information, so don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

Beyond Google+ Local, be sure to also get listed in Bing and Yahoo Local, as well as in Yelp. Even though Google is the big dog, there is traffic to be had from a variety of local listings. As always, it is the power of multiple sources that cranks your web marketing engine into high gear.

Whether you are a realtor, a dentist, a lawyer, a home improvement contractor or a services provider, or operate a golf course, hotel, nightclub, retail store, or local pizza shop, having your brand at the top of the local listing can drive a lot of traffic and increase your sales for a very small amount of effort. Just be aware that others are also trying to master this very specific system, and they will check out your listing for ideas on how to beat you.

Considering Google+ Local is directly tied into social media and mobile and bumps down the organic search results it is absolutely essential that you integrate this tactic into your overall strategy.

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