September 3, 2014

Best Practices for Your Google Local Business Centre Listing

Update: In mid-April Google announced that Google Local Business Centre Listings will be renamed Google Places which Google says will simplify the connection with Place Pages.  This reflects Google’s ongoing commitment to providing business owners with powerful yet easy-to-use tools to enhance the SEO of their website and reach the local market. As a part of the relaunch, Google has introduced more features to Google Places.  Read more about Google Places

SEOG-Google-Local-Business-Centre-Listing-590-300Ranking highly on Google Local Business Centre listings is an important part of your SEO strategy if you want to reach the local market. The Google Map and the first seven listings are becoming increasingly important as the listings are displayed before organic listings even start.

Here are some useful tips to show you to optimise your Google Local Business Centre listing and become part of the ‘7 most wanted’.

So what is a Google Local Business Centre Listing?

Google’s Local Business Centre listings are different to organic or pay-per-click listings. They typically only show up when the user searches for a service oriented business such as hairdressers or an electrician pre-empted or followed by the city for their search.

A large map from Google Maps appears alongside up to seven URLs with a phone number alongside each listing. Try doing a Google search ‘plumbers’, followed by your location and see what businesses appear in your locality.

Want a quick preview? Find out more about GLBC listings here:

How can I optimise my listing?

We have identified ten key ways to optimise and enhance your GLBC listing.

  • Verify your Google Local Business Centre listing

Before you can start optimising your listing, you must verify ownership of the business. As part of the verification process, GLBC will send you a pin number via your mobile or post so you can authenticate your listing. When you receive your pin, enter it in your Local Business Centre under your new account details.

After the website has been verified, your Local Business Centre listing will go live and begin to show up in search results and you will be able to modify and update your listing.

  • Make sure you have a 100% completion rate

A 100% completion rate is very important as Google gives a preference to businesses that have completed the full form and ticked all the boxes including opening times, what payment types you accept and inclusions of images and video. You can check your actual completion rate by looking at the top right of your screen, when logged in.

  • Include the right category types

Try to include up to five industry types to categorise your business. For example if you own a hotel, you might choose categories like accommodation, resort and so forth to describe your business.

It is essential that your primary category is the most accurate description for your company and the one that your potential customers are most likely to search for. The remaining subsidiary categories should be used to account for all of your other service descriptions.

However finding all the categories that apply to your business can sometimes be difficult as Google only allows you to choose from a short-list of suggestions related to what you are typing in initially for the primary business.

Web design expert Mike Blumenthal released the beta version of a Google LBC Category Preview tool that allows you to search the entire database of Google Maps categories based on synonyms. It’s a great way to discover all the categories that might apply to your business.

It’s also important to do keyword research to find categories with good search volumes and monitor your competitor’s GLBC. If they are consistently appearing in the ‘lucky 7 pack’, do research to see what categories they are listing for their business.

  • Include a detailed description of your business

You need to enter a 200 words or less description of your business. As Google does not encourage more than one listing for different services you provide per physical location, the description is where you can explain the different services your business offers. This is a good opportunity to include at least one of your target keyword(s) here but don’t stuff your listing or name with obvious keywords and keep the copy compelling and interesting for readers.

  • Multiple listings on Google Local Business Centre

Multiple listings are only allowed by Google if you have multiple physical business locations. However, if you are a business who services several different areas but has only one physical address or if you provide several services per one location, you should only have one listing.

Represent your business exactly as it appears in the offline world. The name on Google Maps should match the business name, as should the address, phone number and website. Google Local Business Centre advises that a local number for your business is preferable to an 1800 or 1300 number listing.

Keep the physical address of your business up to date and standard across all the website presence such as your Google Local Business Centre listing, Yellow Pages and other directory listings, social networking websites, multiple websites, citations, and so forth.

  • Include updated videos and photos

Improve your Google Local Business Centre Listing by adding a logo, video and as many photos as you can to improve your ranking. When adding a photo to your listing, keep in mind the following guidelines:

- Each photo must be smaller than 1MB.

- Each photo must be under 1024 x 1024 pixels.

- Photos must be in one of these formats: JPG, GIF, PNG, TIFF, BMP

Google is trialling a premium feature in the US where you can enhance the way your Google Local Business Centre Listing appears in Google Search Engine results by including a link to point customers directly to photos, videos, coupons, directions or menus that have been uploaded to the listing.

  • Add citations to your listing

Find and keep growing your citations – these are growing increasingly important in Search Engine Optimisation. Citations are defined as “mentions” of your business name and address on other web pages, even if there is no link to your website. An example of a citation might be an online yellow pages directory or industry or business directory where your business is listed, but a link is not provided.

  • Link back to the listing

Ask local community organisations who have websites such as industry associations, your local Chamber of Commerce, clients, suppliers or other relevant businesses to list your GLBC listing on their website and build your local network. Refer to our previous blog article on link building.

  • Update your listing

Make it a point to update your listing regularly as Google always gives a preference to listings which have fresh and new content. This can include the following:

- new testimonials

- new photos

- new videos

- price lists and brochures

- sales and specials

- revised menus

- seasonal rates and

- coupon codes.

Google introduced a new coupon feature for the US market last year where mobile phone users can see a specially formatted coupon code that they can show retailers to redeem discounts. These are a just a few examples of ways you can refresh and update your content.

  • Real time updates

Google has introduced a feature where you can post to your Place Page directly from the Local Business Centre dashboard. All you need to do is login, post an update and it will go live on your Place Page in just a few minutes. You can see an example of this on the Crowne Plaza Parramatta page.

Google has introduced a badge for listings that have been claimed in the Local Business Center. This helps users identify listings that have been updated and improved by their business owners, helping them to trust that the information about your business is as accurate as possible.

Open up your business to a whole new local audience by using these Google Local Business Centre listings best practice techniques. This will help your website rank higher in the listings, give you the competitive edge over local businesses and grow your local leads and online revenue.

*Sometimes referred to as Search Engine Optimization