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Google Local Business - What is It, How to Get Listed on Google Local for SEO
Question: What is Google Local Business? How do I get my business listed, for free? And is there any way to leverage this as part of my SEO / Search Engine Strategy?
- Answer -
By Jason McDonald, Ph.D.
Google Local Business: Definition
Google Local Business (or google.com/lbc) is a relatively new service from Google that ties local searches (notably Google maps) to businesses. Think yellow pages meets Google. Think local customers searching for your business. Think where is the closest pizza restaurant to Sommerville, Massachusetts? Or in Google terms, the search is:
Looking at the search results, we can see a number of local pizza restaurants that come back. Here is a screen shot:
Of search results returned, we see a few truly local chains:
- Davis Square Pizza & Subs
- Mama Gina's Pizza Wings Subs
- Mystic House of Pizza
For each, we can click on the listing, and go to that vendor's websites. In addition, we can click on reviews and read reviews by real people about each vendor. In this sense, Google Local is thus competitive with Yelp.com. It seeks not just to show you what is local, but what people think about it. Think "social media" meets the "yellow pages." The reviews can be good, bad, or ugly. Do some searches for local things that matter to you - restaurants, bars, massage centers, Bed & Breakfasts - and browse some vendors and their reviews...
Google Local Business: How to Get Listed
OK, we have the concept. Google Local Business merges the brilliance of Google searches with the power of the Yellow Pages, and throws in some social media commentary as well. It's how people can find interesting businesses that are physically nearby, and read what the "community" has to say about these local businesses.
So you are a local business, or at least you have potential customers that might search for you, so how do you get listed on Google Local Business. Is it free? And how might it fit into your SEO strategy?
Getting listed is actually pretty simple. Go to this URL: http://www.google.com/lbc. Once there you'll see a slick video about the LBC. Or you can just watch the Youtube copy here:
Beyond that, it's pretty simple:
- Sign in / or up / with a free Google Account
- Enter the listing information for your business
- Verify that you are the business either by responding to a phone call or waiting in the mail for a postcard with a verification password
Google Local Business: Getting Reviews
Once you are listed, you'll want to get reviews. Ask your best customers - i.e., the ones who love you, to review your business. Having more reviews clearly helps propel you to the top of Google searches. Here's how they can review you -
- They'll need a free Google accounts, such as a Gmail email account in order to review, and they'll have to be "logged in" in order to review.
- Do a search to find your business. Something like "your business name" plus your "location" as in "Dr. John's Dentistry, Atherton, California."
- After you or they find your business, then, click on the review, then click on write a review.
- Write a review, and it will appear beside your business in search results.
Here's a screen shot of what the review page looks like:
Google Local Business: SEO Opportunities
Clearly the biggest SEO opportunity is just being listed on Google local. If your business has a local angle, and your customers search using local terms (like your city or neighborhood), then the free listing on Google local can really help you.
As you create and maintain your listing, however, think "SEO."
- Weave your keywords into your business title and listing description. Google is keyword centric, so we can assume that if the search query keywords are present in your listing, this will boost your chances of appearing at the top of the list.
- Get reviews. Clearly businesses with more reviews get priority in the listings.
- Get reviews that contain your keywords. Again, encourage your customers to include the target keywords inside your reviews.