For those of you who do not live in a cave and thus use Google everyday, yesterday brought a change to the presentation of search engine results which favor the power of local search.
So, what happened?
The 7-pack has disappeared and in its place stands an integration of local results which better display as organic search results. While this means that someone looking strictly for a local listing may be a little confused at the absence of standard local listings in organic SERPs, they will now be given an enhanced listing which features an organic listing, a local address and the ability to see local reviews as well as a link to the Place page.
For a very long time I have preached about the benefits of review accrual from sites which Google aggregates reviews from. These include Yelp, InsiderPages, and Citysearch to name a few. Those who have paid heed in this arena will see that their localized organic listing features their locations amount of reviews as well as a five star availability. Another component of the recent change is that within the result display there are direct links to these reviews from the respective review sites. Oh, and by the way, your amount of reviews has long been considered a high local ranking factor so we know that these are important to Google.
Those feeling left out right now are the companies who never decided to make a local footprint in Google Maps. Also affected are the many that do not fully optimize their Map/Place page listings. Apart from the local listing information, your site should reflect the information of your local listing to create relevance and validity for the listing.
What You Should Do Now If You Have A Location
–Create a Google Places Page and verify your local listing if you have not done so yet
-Ensure that your local listing features an accurate title of your company name
-Provide an accurate description of your company and don’t be afraid to add a localized keyword in there too
-Choose a few of the most relevant categories which most accurately describe your company.
-Add relevant images and photos of your company, company hours, payment methods accepted, etc., to make for a better user experience as well as to show Google your commitment to your local listing
-Set up company profiles on local review sites such as Yelp and CitySearch. From your site, preferably a testimonials page, link out to these profile and ask your customers to provide a review if they are a satisfied customer
-Ensure that the address within your listing is represented on your site. I prefer adding it to the footer of all site pages. Also make sure that this listing is 100% identical to the address you provide to your local listing
Ultimately, as Google has shown, the marriage of localization and organic search is a clear indication that you should also have a synergy between your Google Places page and your site. This information on both properties should be quite similar and speak to your service offerings within your locality. Happy optimizing!