One Dead Simple Tactic for Better Rankings in Google Local



This post is short and easy to follow, just like the tactic it recommends. Most everyone who optimizes for Google Local (aka Google Maps) is familar with David Mihm's excellent and oft-referenced Local Search Ranking Factors. In that document, and in many places where local results are analyzed, it's clear that getting your business/website into more listings, in a consistent fashion is a very good thing.

Yet, somehow, this obvious tactic has gone missing from many GG Local optimization recommendations. Either that or it's so obvious that no one feels the need to mention it. Whatever the case, it's available now :-)
Step 1: Do Lots of Searches Related to Your Business & Region



Let's say you're working on local SEO for a Thai restaurant in Seattle, WA. Searches you might perform include:

You're seeking results that show competing or closely related businesses, so get creative.
Step 2: Identify a Handful (or a Few Dozen) Businesses that Consistently Get Top Rankings



You could build a formal spreadsheet and perform tracking to identify these or start with gut feel and expand later on in the process. For less competitive listings, an informal approach may work just fine.
Step 3: Go to the Local Business Profile for Each of These



Don't click the name of the listing itself. Instead, follow the links to the "reviews" about each of your competitors' businesses. You'll get a page with information about the business, reviews and lists of data that Google has found about them.
Step 4: Click on the Links to "More About this Place"



The "more about this place" section of the business listing shows brief snippets, titles and URLs where Google has found relevant information pertaining to the business. This is your potential goldmine for discovering listing sources.
Step 5: Go to those Sites & Get Your Business Added/Updated



The domains that are listed are places where Google is pulling information about your business. This is where the Maps algorithm comes into play - it relies on not only the number of listings, but the quality of the sources and the consistency between them. You want every listing to perfectly match one another, right down the the suffix on the reservations phone number and the formatting of your suite number (e.g. 1221 E Pike Street vs. 1221 East Pike Street vs. 1221 E Pike Street Suite 200 vs. 1221 East Pike Street #200 are all DIFFERENT - don't make that mistake).

As an example, I visited a link from Thaiku's listing in the example above to Intuit's Local Business Directory (I didn't even know they had one until now) and could then add/edit SEOmoz's listing:



In addition to the potential local ranking boost, a majority of these sources offer the potential to earn links! Even if you don't care much about the local results themselves, this is a pretty terrific way to get some good quality, trusted sites linking to you.
Step 6: Repeat Step 4 & 5 for the "Reviews" and "User Content" Sections



If you're hungry for even more sources, you can look at where listings come from on other competitors and/or go back to the business listing's page in Google Maps/Local and choose from the "reviews" and "user content" sections for even more potential spots. Much like manual link building back in the late '90's, perseverance and careful attention to detail will take you far.

There are automated services out there to help with this process, but I haven't yet seen one I feel completely comfortable about. The biggest issue is the dramatic value of and need for consistency in the listings. When automated systems submit, they can mix in a suite number in the wrong place, cut off a phone number because the form doesn't accept hyphens or confirm a URL that doesn't match what you've submitted elsewhere. For now, I recommend playing it safe and spending the hours (even if that's a dozen or two) to get those 50-250 listings correct. Google will reward you with local rankings and high quality traffic.










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