We’ve noticed that Google has been adding local search results into more and more SERPs lately. It makes sense with the much-publicized growth of phone and mobile device search and Google’s desire to hold onto that market. This could be great for your business or push your organic result to page two or three depending on where you’ve been devoting your optimization resources. What is lost in the trend is the opportunity provided for those of us who carefully manage our Google local profiles (or at least remember the login). The opportunity is that as Google adds more local search results to previously organic-only search results, this means that there are more categories that you can add to your Places (now G+, but still essentially Places) profile. Perhaps way back when you created your Places profile (back before the G+ conversion) there were only 2 or 3 applicable provided categories for your business. Log back in, you might find that there are now many more. Here are some tips:
Monitor your rank and your categories
This goes back to our original point. Because it is so easy (relative to organic) to rank for a local result and that ranking well locally is a one-way ticket to the top of more-and-more SERPs, you want to monitor your local rank and categories fairly frequently. If someone knocks you off the front page, you obviously want to show your local profile a little love. Also, as more categories are being included in the search results that show local results, there is much less competition for those search terms. Many business have a Places (G+) profile – not many check back often and update their local search categories. Updating your’s might just move you to the top of a new and noncompetitive search term.
Never use a custom category
First off (this is worth mentioning), you should never use a custom category for you Google Places profile. It simply won’t show up in search results. You’re essentially wasting an available slot for other terms that you could show up for.
Place a realistically wide mile radius
Depending on your business or practice, as your SEO strategy matures and coasts, you theoretically should be adding more and more geographic keywords to your SEO mix; i.e. Philadelphia, PA [your keyword]. As you devote more resources to ranking for these geographic keywords organically, your local results should/could see a benefit. So as long as your mile radius is set to include these geographies, you may find your local result ranking for geographies that it previously didn’t – especially non-competitive geographies.
Get out ahead of this
We’ve found that people are so generally confused by Google Local (then places, then G+) profiles, search results, and citations, that there is an inherent opportunity here if you can either figure it out or hire someone to do it for you. Very few business owners we speak with know exactly what goes into ranking for local results and how to optimize a G+ or Places profile. This means that typically, their ranking highly for local search results is often a product of 1. luck, 2. age of their internet presence, or 3. their being in the phone book 5 years ago, 4. all or some of the above.
What is Bernie talking about?
If you would like help optimizing your Google Local presence, feel free to contact us. While it is easy to build or optimize your local profile, the best use of your Google Places (G+) profile and your G+ contributor profile can be confusing and is beneficial to be optimized in conjunction with an overall internet marketing strategy. Call us today to see how you can leverage local search for your business or practice.