Over the last few years, Google has single-handedly changed the way users browse through the internet dramatically. Years ago, search engine results would appear more like a guessing game for the search engine algorithm. Brand names, large corporations and high-traffic websites dominated results for the majority of search terms while the smaller and local businesses were lost in the race and sent to the depths of Davey Jones’ search engine locker.
Sure enough, Google realized that though the large companies are benefiting from this, Google could benefit from having the opposite happen; display the local businesses and probably more relevant search results. Not only is this helpful for Google in the search engine war, but they can also make money from the advertising in paid searches for these small businesses and corporate monsters: hello, Google Adwords.
Another item Google added that has benefited many businesses is what is known as a Google Business Listing – a free way to promote your business in local search results and generally at the top of the first page!
With a Business listing you have the ability to add photos, videos, special offers, generate keywords, business information, hours of operation, a link to your website, gain valuable analytics and most of all – bring more attention to your business via the web on a local basis.
So now that you’ve signed up for a Google Business Listing, how do you improve your rank on that? Well, unfortunately there isn’t much of a science to this. For the time being, rankings in these listings are based on the street address for the listed business, the closer to the center of the city you are, the higher your ranking.
Another way to improve your ranking is to apply a keyword in your business name. So let’s say you’re a real estate agent, but only go by your first name, “Joe Smith,” some might consider it spam. However, placing your business name listing in as “Joe Smith, Real Estate” might not be a terrible idea.
And, as it’s been said before, user-generated content is some of the most valuable content you can have! At the very bottom of a Place Page, Google shows the user-generated content associated with a business. Users can add reviews, geo-tagged photos and other information about your business. Positive reviews are definitely a good thing to boost your Business listing as well.
Statistics show that 97% of consumers search for local businesses online. Though it might be a struggle to rank your website in organic listings for your services or brand, taking advantage of a free business listing and maintaining positive user-generated content could surely help you bring some local revenue to your business.