- 20 Oct, 2010
- Jon Tucker
- 2 Comments
We’ve been seeing a lot of changes going on recently in Google’s local search results. Some of these changes have been changes to the look of the search results (i.e. how people on Google actually use it) while others have been changes to how Google decides what businesses to show and not show in the local search results.
Why “Local Results” Matter?
Before explaining how your business actually gets shown in Google’s local results, it’s important for you to understand why these local results on Google are something to be focused on as a small to medium sized business.
Getting on Google Used to Be Hard
If you are an accountant (this example can apply for any business), and someone came to you a year or two ago saying “I’ll get your business on Google when someone types the word ‘accountant'”, then 99% of the time I would have recommended laughing them out of the room. “Accountant” is an extremely competitive keyword to show up for on Google, so expecting to show up on the 1st page of Google for “accountant” would require massive effort and a deep pocketed budget.
But this was before Google started showing local results…
Now, if you’re an accountant based in San Diego it’s entirely possible to show up on the 1st page of Google when someone based around San Diego types “accountant” on Google.
Google knows where searchers are located
If someone is using a computer located in San Diego and types “accountant” on Google, the search results that they see are going to be shown are San Diego based accountants.
This means that as a San Diego accountant (remember, this can apply in any business niche), you need to do your best to make sure that you’re included in this “accountants in San Diego” list on Google.
How to Make Sure Your Business is Shown
While it’s out of the scope of this particular post to list exactly how to get your business listed on Google (that’s a post for another day), it’s important for you to understand some of the main reasons that businesses get banned from Google or are otherwise not shown when someone in their city is searching for their services.
3 Things That Can Lead to NOT Showing on Google
- Not Having Business Listings Online– There are a range of business listing websites that Google looks to (including Google’s own business listings) when considering who to show on the first page of Google in the localized results. As a business owner, you need to be sure that you have business listings on these major sites (Google, Yahoo, Bing, Superpages, Yelp, etc.) and that the information is consistent across all of them. While some of these sites may have your business listed already from national databases, it’s important that you have control of them so that you can manage your business information on these sites.
- Don’t Fill Your “Business Name” With Keywords– When you create your business listings, you’re asked to fill in lots of information about your business including your business name. While you should put “John Doe CPA” or “Acme Business Company” (or whatever your legal registered business name is), lots of businesses and web marketers are filling this area with keywords (such as Accountant, San Diego Accounting, and much more). While this may provide short term benefits and get your business on the 1st page, in the long run your business will get removed from Google and be very difficult to replace…Google’s recent changes are making this happen a lot more frequently these days.
- Don’t Fill Your “Business Categories” With Keywords– When you create your business listings, you’re able to categorize your business (i.e. accounting, bookkeeping, sushi restaurant, etc.). This is meant to help Google (and viewers) better understand your business. Many business owners and web marketers fill this area with keywords about their industry, which is a huge red flag for Google when their software reads your listing. While this tactic briefly worked in the early days of Google’s local results, it’s now a guaranteed way to get your business removed from Google quickly.
Rule of Thumb? Think Like a Human
While it is a bit creepy to consider, I recommend that business owners think of Google as a human reading through their website or business listing. If a human read through your website or business listing and saw the word “accounting” repeated a million times, it would look a bit weird, right?
Google is the same way and they have software to see these red flags. Google’s goal is to show the most relevant and helpful information to people searching on Google.com. If your business listing or your website is filled with keywords in a way to trick Google, then you’re almost guaranteed not to show up when people look for your business.
- Make sure your business is listed on business listing websites
- Don’t pump your business listings (and website) full of keywords…make sure human readers would agree your listing or website is helpful
Are you currently experimenting with Google’s local business results? If so, tell us about it in the comments.