The Value of Google Places for Local Business and Map Ranking Factors

So as search engine marketers, we all know the value of Google’s local 10 pack, 7 pack, 3 pack, whatever you want to call it. But just how valuable is it and what are the factors that search engines use to determine local ranking? This is all what we will talk about in today’s entry.

For those of you who may not know me yet, my name is Matt Parks. I’m an online marketing consultant who helps small, medium and even global companies build appropriate online marketing strategies and enhance their brand awareness through competitive traditional and non-traditional advertising techniques.

Now for what you’ve been waiting for… the good stuff…

So, you may ask… Just how valuable are the local map results for my company? Well there is no simple answer to that question. Each company should have a custom built strategy. For instance, if you own a local Thai restaurant and want to increase your daily foot traffic, local listings will greatly help your efforts. On the other hand, you own a specialty shoe store that does 100% of your business online, local listings are just not for you. Google and other search engines developed their local results pages to assist users in finding small business owners with brick and mortar shops, retail stores or restaurants, and get quick information about them – such as hours, short reviews and even menu items and sale dates.

So, we’ve whittled a few of you out of the mix now. What’s next? How do I get premium ranking with these listings?

Ahhhhh. So you want to know the magic trick huh? Well, first you need to have a listing. You can create one by logging into your Google account if you have one, and selecting the local business center icon under your settings. If you don’t have one there, just type into Google: “local business center” and follow the easy to use, step by step listing creation wizard. When creating your listing, it is very important to make sure all the information you provide is correct, including phone number and address as before you finish, you will be required to verify by telephone or snail mail that in fact the listing is yours. Now on to the pot of gold. Lets go over the top ten ranking factors for local listings…

1: GENERAL IMPORTANCE OF CLAIMING LOCAL BUSINESS LISTING – You have to have a listing first.
2: LOCAL BUSINESS LISTING ADDRESS IN CITY OF SEARCH – The closer you are to the IP, the better.
3: ASSOCIATING LOCAL BUSINESS LISTING WITH PROPER CATEGORIES – This is a must, create new categories if you need to, just don’t try and keyword stuff.
4: PRODUCT / SERVICE KEYWORD IN LOCAL BUSINESS LISTING TITLE – Use your correct full name, but add a keyword if it fits right. ie: Garden Palace – Chinese Restaurant
5: PROXIMITY OF ADDRESS TO CITY CENTROID – Don’t use a fake address, but if you are corporate, a UPS box (no P.O. box, only physical address) near the middle of town couldn’t hurt
6: PRODUCT/SERVICE KEYWORDS IN LOCAL BUSINESS LISTING DESCRIPTION – Keep it short and sweet.. Remember, you are trying to appeal to the user/searcher.
7: LOCATION KEYWORD IN LOCAL BUSINESS LISTING TITLE/DESCRIPTION – Garden Palace of Nashville – Chinese Restaurant
8: ASSOCIATING PHOTOS/VIDEOS WITH THE LOCAL BUSINESS LISTING – Not as important, but try and at least upload a logo.
9: PRODUCT / SERVICE IN LOCAL BUSINESS LISTING CUSTOM FIELDS – Undetermined how much this helps, but they are provided, so use them… But don’t OVERUSE them and stuff em’ full of keywords.
10: ASSOCIATING LOCAL AREA CODE AS PRIMARY LOCAL BUSINESS LISTING NUMBER – Local numbers perform much better, may not help with ranking, but it does with consumer trust.

An extra bonus: Make sure information in your listing is consistent across the board.. ie: YellowPages.com, CitySearch.com, etc. as Google uses these Data Sources to add trustworthiness to your listing and gives you ranking bonuses due to it being more “relevant”.

Well that’s about it.

Medium Class Business and Internet Marketing Ideas

While it must be admitted that interest in internet marketing spans several quarters, it goes without saying that the uniqueness of each shade of internet marketers must be recognized. There are players whose participation is limited to freelancing, while some are just small or medium players. But if there is anything that binds all these disparate forces together, it is their desire for success. And this can only be achieved if they integrate various means of getting across to their target audience. This simply means that apart from engaging in online activities they also must take advantage of opportunities offered by the physical market approaches as well. Ignoring one for the other is detrimental to your success as a whole, this is because your possibility of getting more client in the physical market is as huge as getting them through online attempts. If you goal is drive up or generate traffic your internet business be sure to be holistic about it. You must be ready to think outside box. Creativity will open up frontiers for you, if only you refuse the mental stereotype associated with some class of internet marketers.

Another activity that can help give your internet endeavor a short in the arm is paying deep attention to rich keywords in your contents. This is invaluable, as it ultimately help boost your ranking on the search engines. It is pointless hoisting a website and no one visit it. The number of websites offering the same services with you escapes count. How do you stand out from the crowd if your keywords are obscure? You must get your website optimized by the search engines. You could engage the services of SEO (Search Engines Optimization) companies; they help provide you with important tips on how to make your website more visible in search engine ranking. By engaging their services you are bound to notice appreciable leap in your search engine ranking. In addition to developing rich keywords, you are encouraged to have back links.

Be sure to develop a healthy contents base as this in its self could help generate the much desired traffic to your site. This means you have to do a sort of market segmentation. This helps you narrow down the market to a manageable size. At this level you are able to understand and delineate the market you are out to serve and this help you design relevant products and services for them. You are able to understand the needs of your niche, its size, its age bracket, its habits, psychology and other demographic information crucial to your endeavor and those of others.

Internet marketing helps make your services available to all strata of the society worldwide. Irrespective of your market size you can benefit from the advantages on offer. Internet marketing when properly and professional harnessed can help catapult your business to the next level. This does not mean you should not take advantage of the physical market. The essence is to find the right balance and application that will help boost your bottom line.

Online Business and Offline Business – How Different Are They?

Online business seems tremendously different from offline business at first glance. Some of the advantages that online business offers include the following:

1. Online business requires less start-up investment, and the maintenance costs are low. Anyone who can afford a domain name and a hosting server can start an Internet business.

2. Online business can leverage exponentially on systems. You can literally work with the global market, and your system can sell for you 24/7.

3. A one-man business can grow to a million-dollar asset, through outsourcing and integration.

However, when you consider this issue more deeply, online and offline businesses share many common features.

1. Business success depends on the relationship with customers.

At the fundamental level, online business still deals with people. It is the long-term relationship between you and your audience and customers that determines your success. You still need to strive for a positive connection with them by getting personal, being reliable, being consistent, etc.

2. You still need to sow first and reap later.

Unless you make your online income by trading your skills, you have to work persistently for a while, typically 6 months, before you can wake up and count your money earned overnight. Successful Internet marketers are those who have the desire to succeed and are willing to work, even though there is no instant fruit to enjoy.

3. Your products still need branding.

People buy brands online just as they do offline. Products with good positioning are still at an advantage. A product must prove its credentials by being associated with experts or through proven results.

The Internet has changed the world, but consumption psychology remains the same, and some old rules that bring success to traditional businesses still apply to Internet businesses. With this mentality, we will be able to manage our businesses more successfully.