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What your business needs to know about local search

If your business has a physical location, one area you definitely shouldn’t ignore is local business listings in search engines. If you don’t actively manage your business profile, search engines could be showing incorrect information every time someone searches for your business.

What are local search listings?

Both Google and Bing (the two most used search engines in the UK) show local business listings for a variety of searches. This could happen when:

  • Someone searches for a business category with a location e.g. hairdressers in Wells
  • Someone searches for your business name
  • Someone searches for a related business

Generally local business listings include a location, opening times, contact information, links to your website (and Google+ page on Google, if you have one) plus reviews. Depending on the type of business, other information may be shown, including photos, direct links to book and examples of similar businesses. 

How to appear on local search listings

Sadly there’s no guaranteed way to appear in local search listings, as like general search results, they’re dependent on the search engine’s algorithm. One way to make it more likely you’ll appear is to register the details of your business directly with the search engine.

Adding your business to Google

When you add your business to Google My Business, your listing will show up across Google sites including search, Google+ and maps. Depending on the details you supply, mobile searchers may also have the option to click to call or get directions to your premises.

Information on your website and other sources (such as online directories) may also be used by Google when displaying information about your business. This can be unbelievably frustrating for businesses wondering why their Google listing doesn’t match their Google My Business details. The best way to try and combat this issue is to ensure all the information on your website is also correct, and uses Google’s recommended formats.

Adding your business to Bing

You can also create a local business listing on Bing Places to appear on Bing maps and search results. Although used far less than Google, Bing is still worth registering your business on, as it has around 6% market share in the UK.

What affects local search results?

Like the main Google search results, there are many potential ranking factors affecting which businesses are displayed in the local search results listings, none of which are revealed by search engines.

Despite this, there are a number of factors that we can be reasonably confident may impact local search rankings. These include:

  • Reviews. Any Google user can add reviews of your business, and businesses with more favourable listings have been found to get prominence.
  • The ranking of your website. Specifically, the ranking of your website for location searches seems to be important. Therefore any investment in search engine optimisation will also be reflected in your local business rankings.
  • Social signals, for example  +1s on Google+.
  • Consistency of information. Consistency across your listing and website is important, you should also make sure you’re follow Google’s local business quality guidelines.

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