Google Local Search

Recent studies show that almost 80% of buyers are doing research on the internet before purchasing financial products and services. And that number isn’t just limited to Generation X. Those between the ages of 60 and 80 are just as likely to have used the internet as younger generations.

With 80% of your prospects researching on-line, it’s time to ask yourself some important questions:

  1. Do you have an internet marketing strategy? Can you print it out right now?

  2. When was the last time your search engine rankings and directory listings were analyzed?

  3. Do you dominate your local internet market or does your competition?

  4. How much traffic does your website receive and where does it come from?

  5. What is the most popular word people use to find your company?

If you’ve never considered these questions before, you’re not alone. The majority of my clients understand that most marketing has moved to the internet; they just haven’t taken advantage of the opportunity because they’re unsure where to begin.

A great place to start is with Google Local Search.

When you search for anything using Google, their algorithm displays a list of relevant results, along with a local map containing 10 business listings. Google produces these maps for the more popular searches and identifies your location by reading your internet IP Address (that’s geek for “Internet Protocol” – kind of a local street address for your website). Google emphasizes these local results because their goal is to provide internet users with the most relevant search answers.

Getting Listed on Local Search

To get listed in the local search, you will first need to have an account set up with Google Local Search.

Google will ask for your business information including street address, telephone number, website URL and a brief description. It is critical that you carefully consider every word used in this listing and place your top keywords in it. Even the very order of the words is important.

Once entered, Google has a process for verifying the information by calling or mailing a postcard out with a verification number. Typically users will select phone verification because it is quick and easy. If you choose to have your listing phone verified, insure that you will be available to answer the phone and that no one else picks up the call. If an answering machine or someone else answers without the verification code, Google will fail the verification and send out the postcard instead. While it isn’t the end of the world, it delays the process several weeks and creates one more item on your “To Do List.”

How Local Search Can Benefit Your Business

Google Local Search is important because Google is the dominant search engine and local results are the most relevant. It will provide you with free advertising and lead to new sales. I have seen a growing trend in Google’s algorithm that places more weight on local results and I’m sure this will become even more important in the future.

Important Tips for Local Businesses

Google isn’t the only search engine with local search and it’s important that you get listed in all of the top sources. Here are a few more that are critical, in order of importance:

Yahoo Local Search

MSN Live Search

Aol Local Search

AskCity Search

While local search is important now, especially as it applies to SEO, it will become even more critical in the future. Take the time now to establish your presence and insure that you are not missing out on these opportunities for free advertising and new business.