Thursday 26 September 2013

Local Search – What it is and why it’s important for SEO

Google Places is the tool that allows businesses to list and manage their business details that appear in Google’s search results and is linked to Google Maps.

Being listed with Google Places is a key SEO opportunity, particularly if your business has a local angle and your customers are likely to search using local terms e.g. city/county name, then the free listing can help.

Google is bringing in some changes to the way the Google Places Dashboard. At the time of writing this article, the new Dashboard is only available to new users of Google Places but current users are in the process of being migrated over. The new Dashboard will fall in line with the current Google style and design across it’s products and include improved features, such as easier editing, integration with your Google+ Page (if you have one) and insights to help track your performance on Google.

It’s worth pointing out that if you use Google+ as a social media tool you can also access your Google Places account through the ‘Local’ tab within your Google+ account

Setting up Google Places is relatively easy to do.

  1. If you don’t already have one, you need to set up a free Google Account. The easiest one to set up is Gmail. You can then sign into Google Places using your free Gmail account.
  2. Complete your business details on the Places online form, bearing in mind that you must have a physical address and be a business that operates with face-to-face interactions with customers. Include keywords in your company description so that Google will automatically allocate your listing to appropriate search terms.
  3. Once your listing is completed, you’ll need to verify that you are the business manager, either by phone or waiting for a postcard to arrive with a verification PIN; this normally takes two weeks.

Once set up, you can add information that will help your SEO results

  1. Make sure you listing is complete, accurate and that you choose the most appropriate categories and key words to describe your business
  2. Get links and mentions in high ranking local directories
  3. Optimise the local information on your own website
  4. Ask customers and contacts for reviews on your Google Place listing. Having reviews will help your Google Places listing.

Google provides plenty of advice if you’re not already listed in Google Places.  The sooner you set up your listing, the sooner your website will be found