Google Local is yet another “piece” of Google. If you like to categorize things in boxes (or buckets) like I do, then Google Local is just another Google Bucket, just like Google AdWords or Google Webmaster Tools (that includes the Google XML Site Map).
All these “buckets” are accessed by the exact same Userid and PW, but have different URLS you use to get to your information stored by Google.
Synopsis: Google Local is Google’s version of putting a phone book listing on a map and making it easily accessible to your customers who web surf in Google.
For the purpose of this article, we simply want to make sure you verify that Google has you listed in their Local Listings, and if not – make sure you know how to submit your information yourself or know to contact us at Acorn to do it for you.
We also want you to have a few tools at hand to help you climb in the local listings – if you aren’t currently as high as you want to be, and if you are where you want to be – how to stay there.
But before you log into your account – let’s do a brief exercise to make sure you understand what the Google Local results look like.
Step 1: Go to http://www.google.com
Step 2: Type in the search box:
(Your City) + (Your State) + Bed + and + Breakfast
Example 1: Colorado Springs CO Bed and Breakfast
Example 2: Colorado Springs Colorado Bed and Breakfast
For those of you that have been watching your placement in Google, you probably remember back to a time when there were a total of 10 Organic Listings (all the listings down the left hand side of the screen). These days, in most cities, Google takes up 3 of the organic listings spaces, and replaces them with a Map and 3 business, “A”, “B” and “C”.
The Map and the 3 businesses listed are coming directly from Google Local.
So – What does this mean to you?
First of all the most noticeable difference is that now there are only 7 spots for organic listings, since Google Local takes up 3 spots for the map and 3 local map listings. This means that it is even TOUGHER to fight the SEO battle and show up on page 1 in the organic listings.
Second, in regard to the remaining 3 spots that Google Local is now taking up, obviously you want to try to be in the “A”, “B” or “C” spot (which is a very competitive place to be, especially if you have many other competitors selling your same product in the same city) but at the very least you need to make sure Google Local has you somewhere in the listing.
Notice at the bottom of the “C” listing, there is a link that reads: More Results Near…
If you don’t see yourself in the “A”, “B” or “C” spot, click this link (More Results Near…) and keep on looking – once you find yourself – browse through your Local listing.
- Note how many “stars” Google has awarded your local listing. Make a mental comparison to the number of stars awarded to the business in the “A”, “B” or “C” spot.
- Check your Overview content – is it correct?
- Check your Details page – this information comes from a variety of other web sites you site is being listed on. Is this information correct? You want all your address information to be exactly the same on each and every place you are listed on the web. If it’s not – make a note to update your information on any of the sites you are seeing listed that are not longer current.
- Do you have any Reviews? From what companies (Trip Advisor, Frommers, etc?) Are the positive? Negative? Do your competitors have more reviews? Less? From the same companies? From Different Companies?
- Do you have photos and are they current?
- How many web pages does Google Local say reference your site?
All this information influences where Google Local puts your web site in their listings, not to mention, the age of your site and web address (URL), the relativity of where your business address is in relation to the city you are looking for, if your web site lists your address on each and every page, and variety of other items that Google is simply NOT going to share with anyone.
Now that you understand “WHAT” Google Local is, you need to know how to log into your Google Local Account – in case you need to make changes to the information that they have listed for you.
The Google “Local” URL is: https://www.google.com/local/add/login?hl=en-US&gl=US
Note: If you’ve never logged into Google (you or your webmaster) and you DO NOT have a Pay-Per-Click Adwords account – you’ll need to click on “CREATE A NEW GOOGLE ACCOUNT” to set up a user ID and PW. If you do have any type of Google Account – you’ll need to sign into the Google Local Business center using your current user ID and PW.
Once logged into your Google Local Business center, please follow the steps below.
Note: If you have never logged in or do not appear in Local – you will have a pre screen of information you must fill out about your business, simply follow the prompts, and check your spelling of your address once you type it. (Google Local placement keys from your address.)
Once you’ve filled out the information – Google will send you a PIN number via US MAIL that will have to be keyed into the PIN field. Receiving the PIN via US Mail may take a few weeks. You must key in the PIN to activate changes to your account.
Step 1 - Click on the “EDIT” link for the listing you wish to edit.
(Located to the right of screen under the Action Heading)
Step 2 – Update the information listed in the following categories.
(See Grey Tabs at Top of the Document)
- Required Information – You can change your Business Name, Address Information, Phone, E-Mail.
VERY IMPORTANT: Make sure to verify the RED Location Marker. Is the marker in the correct location? If it is not in the correct location, click on link “Fix Incorrect Marker Location” and using your mouse, move the RED Location Marker to the place it should be and save the changes.
- Category – You can update or change the category and sub category that defines the type of business you own.
- Hours and Payments – You can define your business hours and type of payments accepted.
- Photos – You can upload photos from your PC or from another website. There is a limit of 10. No one image can be larger than 1 MB. Ideal size is 1024x1024 pixels. Accepted file types are .jpg, .gif, .png, .tiff and .bmp.
- Custom – Additional fields that can be defined to tell Google more about your business.
Once you’ve activated your account and updated your fields, it will take weeks (at least 6 of them) for Google to actually update your listing in the Local Listings that the web surfers see. And then it could be months (3 to 6 of them) before Google Local changes your placement in the Local listings based on all the different elements of your Local Google Listing.
Final Note: We are planning a Web 2.0 article discussion in a future newsletter. Part of that discussion is going to be how in today’s world the public can dictate the future success of a business based on a given customer’s “experience” with a particular vendor.
Web 2.0 ties directly to Google Local. The public can comment on your business via the reviews. They can do this with Trip Advisor, Frommers, Gayot, City Search, Yahoo, etc. These are all sites that allow your customers to write about YOUR BUSINESS and Google Local counts the positive and negative toward where your Google Local Listing is placed.
That said, if you don’t encourage your guests to "TALK GOOD ABOUT YOU” online – your reviews will be low, and it will be difficult to show up in that “A”, “B” or “C” coveted Spot.