Getting your business listed on Google+ Local is a must for every business. When you consider the amount of real estate local listings take on a typical Google search, it would be foolish not to have your business properly listed.
In the Local Search Ranking Factors Survey that was released by David Mihm, it shows 90 specific ranking factors. We’ll touch on the Top 20 Local Search Ranking Factors in that list with brief descriptions of each below:
1. Physical Address in City of Search (on the Google+ Local Page)
2. Proper Category Associations (on the Google+ Local Page)
3. Proximity of Address to Centroid (on the Google+ Local Page)
4. Domain Authority of Website (on your website)
5. Quantity of Structured Citations – IYPs, Data Aggregators (This is done “off-site”)
6. City, State in Places Landing Page Title (on your website)
7. Quantity of Native Google+ Local Reviews with text (on the Google+ Local Page)
8. Quality/Authority of Structured Citations (This is done “off-site”)
9. Local Area Code on Place Page (on the Google+ Local Page)
10. HTML NAP Matching Place Page NAP (on your website)
11. Consistency of Structured Citations (This is done “off-site”)
12. Individually Owner-verified Place Page (on the Google+ Local Page)
13. Quality/Authority of Unstructured Citations – Newspaper Articles, Blog Posts, etc. (This is done “off-site”)
14. Quality/Authority of Inbound Links to Domain (This is done “off-site”)
15. Product / Service Keyword in Business Title (on the Google+ Local Page)
16. Quantity of Inbound Links to Domain from Locally-Relevant Domains (This is done “off-site”)
17. Quantity of Unstructured Citations – Newspaper Articles, Blog Posts, etc. (This is done “off-site”)
18. Product/Service Keywords in Reviews (on the Google+ Local Page)
19. Page Authority of Landing Page Specified in Places (on your website)
20. Quality/Authority of Inbound Links to Places Landing Page URL (This is done “off-site”)
Physical Address in City of Search (on the Google+ Local Page)
This is fairly self-explanatory. The business must be listed as a physical address in the area it’s being targeted for. PO Boxes and UPS stores will not count. Google will often verify a listing by sending a postcard within 2 weeks of the listing with a verification code. Once the postcard is received, you will have to enter your verification code into the Google+ Local profile before it will go live. At this point, Google may place your listing as “Pending Approval”, or they may allow it to go live right away. The reasons for this will be discussed in another article.
Some important points to consider regarding your physical address:
- Do not create a listing in a place that your business doesn’t actually exist. For example, Conditioning Specialist’s personal training studio serves the city of Montecito but is actually physically located in the city of Santa Barbara. Therefore, we would want to use our Santa Barbara address and we wouldn’t want to create a separate listing for personal training in Montecito.
- Google suggests that you put your suite or office number in line #2 of the address line and not in line #1.
- Do not create more than one listing at a given address. Exceptions for this are professional services such as doctors, lawyers, and real estate agents that practice under their name, but may share the main office. Departments within businesses that are publicly distinct, such as departments at a hospital or university, may have separate listings, but not other companies (such as FitnessProfessionalOnlne.com‘s HR Department).
- Do not use keywords in your business title. For example, American Self Storage has a location in Fairfield, so although tempting to list it as “American Self Storage – Fairfield Self Storage”, Google frowns heavily on that and would rather it simply be listed as “American Self Storage”.
Proper Category Associations (on the Google+ Local Page)
The category selected should be what your business is and not what your business does or sells. Tony Toro Construction has a long list of services, but their main category is construction. We wouldn’t want to list them under tile installation as this wouldn’t give them the most visibility in their listing.
The proximity of Address to Centroid (on the Google+ Local Page)
This simply states that your business must be near the location being searched. Using the example of Conditioning Specialists in Santa Barbara, it is close to downtown Santa Barbara and therefore will most likely appear (and it does) in listings for that area. The closer to the area being searched, the more likely the listing will appear highly in Google.
Domain Authority of Website (on your website)
The domain authority of the website, your website, is a way of stating how popular and trustworthy a website might be. NASA.gov has a high domain authority as it’s been around for a long time, is a government website, has many websites that link to it as an authority, and has a high trust factor. The higher your website’s domain authority is, the more likely it is that you’ll come up higher in search rankings.
Quantity of Structured Citations – IYPs, Data Aggregators (This is done “off-site”)
This refers to the number of listings your business has on other sites known as data aggregators. There are over 450 of these data aggregators that we use when listing a business. The more you have (with proper structure), the more likely Google+ Local will trust that your business is actually at the location you listed. This shows that other sites are listing you at your address, so therefore there’s a good chance you’re actually there.
City, State in Places Landing Page Title (on your website)
Placing both the city and the state in your landing page title is an easy way to increase the effectiveness of your on-page SEO. This will help with partial NAP – Name, Address, and Telephone.
Quantity of Native Google+ Local Reviews with text (on the Google+ Local Page)
This is self-explanatory. The more reviews you get, with text, from actual people, the better your ranking efforts will be. The days of fake reviews are numbered and we’re seeing more and more assurance that quality reviews from real people will rank higher, while these review farms are actually hurting listings.
Quality/Authority of Structured Citations (This is done “off-site”)
Structured citations are listings on other sites, typically data aggregators, that list your business on their site. An example of an off-site structured citation would be CitySearch.com. The key is making sure that your citations are consistent and structured in a way that makes it easy for them to be found and verified. A keyword or two certainly doesn’t hurt either.
Local Area Code on Place Page (on the Google+ Local Page)
As with listing your city and state on your landing page, listing your business phone number with a local area code seems to be a good way to get your listing seen by the search engines. So, what if you have a great business, but decided to use your old cell phone number from where you grew up as your primary business line? Well, there are ways around that… and I’ll explain that in another article. If you can use the area code from the city your business address is located, then this will help your results on the Google+ Local page. Use a local phone number instead of a call center number whenever possible.
HTML NAP Matching Place Page NAP (on your website)
It’s not an error that you keep seeing “NAP” showing up on this list. It’s often thought of as the most important factor in getting your business listing on Google. Here are some things to consider:
- Make sure your business NAP (Name, Address, and Phone number) are listed on your home page and any landing pages.
- It’s great, and ideal if you can get your NAP in the title tag of your page and any H1 tags
- Also, make sure you code your contact info according to schema.org
Consistency of Structured Citations (This is done “off-site”)
This describes the consistency of the information that is listed about your business on other websites such as Yelp, Citysearch, and Localeze. As with NAP on your website, your information must stay consistent throughout the web. I’ll often use this analogy:
Imagine you are an attractive woman looking to meet the man of your dreams on a popular dating website. You get back your results of possible matches and you notice a man that meets your checklist of an ideal mate. But wait, the next match has a picture of the same guy, but a different city… and the next has that man’s picture again, and although the city is the same, the name is different. Red flags immediately start firing in your mind and you discount all the listings that come up with that man’s picture.
This is similar to how search engines view your listing on the Internet. Although you run a very legitimate business, there are those out there that try to trick the search engines and con unsuspecting Internet users. The search engines are in the business of preventing this type of activity and therefore they use the consistency of structured citations to help prevent malicious activity.
Individually Owner-verified Place Page (on the Google+ Local Page)
An individually owner-verified place page is a page where a postcard has been mailed to the owner’s place of business and then verified. This is a checkmark in the system for Google that the business is legitimate. See Getting Found Locally.
Quality/Authority of Unstructured Citations – Newspaper Articles, Blog Posts, etc. (This is done “off-site”)
Getting traditional media is important for any business, even those that strictly have an online presence. Having your business appear in unstructured citations such as your local newspaper (or a national newspaper for that matter), blog posts, and online ads are more typical of a thriving and relevant business. I’ll commonly set up a search for a client’s business and contact any blogs or publications they’ve been mentioned in and simply ask them for a link to the client’s website and the listing of the client’s NAP. More often than not, companies are happy to do so. It is believed that the Google algorithm is set up to assume that a business should have a certain percentage of mentions (unstructured citations) across the Internet and thus gives your site more validity in the eyes of Google.
Quality/Authority of Inbound Links to Domain (This is done “off-site”)
Think of links coming to your site as votes; only in this election, not all votes are created equally. Websites linking to your site with a high level of authority (PR), especially one above that of your site, will boost the confidence in the search engines that what they are linking to is something worth reading. Think of it this way, if you wanted to know what the moon’s surface was made out of, would you trust a website that was linked to only by a new website called welovemoons.com or by one linked only by NASA.gov? NASA.gov is high quality and high authority domain. It’s assumed that it’s an authority on the subject it talks about, so if it’s linking to another website, it’s essentially casting a vote for that website. Although welovemoons.com may be a fine site, it’s most likely not of the same authority as NASA.gov and therefore isn’t as desirable to obtain a link from. The more high quality/authority inbound links, the better.
Product / Service Keyword in Business Title (on the Google+ Local Page)
This goes back to making sure your keyword is in your business name. If you had to place a bet on which company sold personal training between Xtara and Dave’s Personal Training, which would you bet on? If you have your product or service in your business title, that will do wonders for your search engine rankings. If you’re in the start-up phase of your business, this may be something to consider. For the rest of us, we’re stuck with the business names we chose before we knew about SEO or decided upon our products and services.
Quantity of Inbound Links to Domain from Locally-Relevant Domains (This is done “off-site”)
Keep it local! It may seem obvious, but the more local companies that are linking to you (the higher the authority the better), the more likely you too have a local business. It all goes back to validity. When Google sees these patterns emerging, it becomes more likely to them that you are a trusted business in that local area. This is where it’s good to have a product worth mentioning and great friends with businesses willing to help you share it.
Quantity of Unstructured Citations – Newspaper Articles, Blog Posts, etc. (This is done “off-site”)
This is essentially the same as Quality/Authority of Unstructured Citations – Newspaper Articles, Blog Posts, etc.
Product/Service Keywords in Reviews (on the Google+ Local Page)
Just as getting your product and service listing in your business title, it’s important to get them listed on your reviews that your customers (and friends) are giving you on your Google+ Local Page. You won’t be able to add these yourself, so make sure you mention this to key customers (and friends) who may be filling out reviews. We make a special review sheet for our clients to send out with specific instructions that will allow a customer to fill out a review in just a few minutes that will not only help inform potential new clients about your business but also improve your rankings.
Page Authority of Landing Page Specified in Places (on your website)
How popular is your website? This is important. Like the nasa.gov example, the more popular, or higher the page authority, the better.
Quality/Authority of Inbound Links to Places Landing Page URL (This is done “off-site”)
This is the same as Quality/Authority of Inbound Links to Domain but refers to the specific landing page.
Give our team at Doug Holt Online a call to help your company rise in the search engine rankings!