16
Jun
11

Local Search: Attention All Brick-and-Morter Merchants

Two questions.

  1. Are you a business with a physical presence?
  2. Are you prominent in local search?

If the answer to #1 is “no,” you may skip today’s post. If the answer to #1 is “yes,” then the answer to #2 had better be “yes” also. Because if you plan to do business in your community—that is, if you plan to attract customers to your place of business—you damn well better show up high on the Google page for search terms like

  • Your business name
  • Your industry + your city, your region, your neighborhood
  • Your product or service + your city, your region, your neighborhood

Because if you don’t, you are missing a rapidly growing market segment, namely those customers who never use the Yellow Pages. They instead look stuff up on the internet, at home or at the office, on their computer, on their cell phone, on their iStuff.

Try it. Go to Google and type your industry plus your city. Like “pizza eugene.” Are you on the map that appears covering the top 3 or 5 or so positions? If not, you’re in trouble. Your competitors have claimed that extremely valuable real estate. And even if you’re at the top of the “normal” listings (those beneath the map stuff), you are losing money.

Local search for Pizza, Eugene

And the winners are

So how do you fix it? First, you have to sign up with Google Places. This is necessary. Fill in all the details. All of them. Add photos. Use your best keyword kung-fu and pick great keywords for the description and services fields.

You will need to validate the listing. They do this by either robo-phoning your main business number and giving you a PIN code, or by mailing the PIN to you on a postcard. You will then need to enter the code next time you log into your Places account.

If your competition is weak, that may be all you need to do. If they are strong, you have to fight back. One very important way is to get reviews and ratings from as many people as you can.

One more thing. What if you looked yourself up just now and found a listing that’s just plain wrong? Like a competitor’s address or phone number in your listing. Or even somebody else’s business name in your address. Look through your Places account. There is a link in there that lets you report a problem. Do that immediately and keep doing it until it gets fixed.

And here’s something new! Google has just launched “City Pages” which is a collection of city information that will also be huge, I’d guess. Read more here:

Google Adds City Pages


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