In recent months Page 1 of Google has changed to feature a local element. This post considers what is Google Local and the 7 pack and how they can help a business with a local customer base secure more enquiries.
Google+ Local provides business details and information on what Google defines as a local businesses. This information shows up in search results and is directly linked with the Google Maps listing for the business and the main business website (if one exists).
A Google Local page is effectively an mini website and includes information on the business Address, phone number, and reviews. Once a listing has been verified it also includes business descriptions, images, videos, and latest business news.
Google displays local listings on Page 1 according to a number of ranking factors. In the following example all the businesses shown with a letter are displayed whereas all those shown simply as red dots are other businesses that match the search criteria but are not shown. Up to seven businesses are displayed in the local panel on page 1.
Part of a typical panel is shown below. A click on the business name takes the user to the main business website. The business contact details are clearly shown with the number of reviews (if any exist) a rating and star system. There are a number of ranking factors used by Google when deciding which listings to display but it is highly likely a claimed listing that has a appropriate content and reviews has a much higher chance of display.
No charge is currently made by Google for the service and any local business is free to claim and set up a listing. There is a simple verification process to follow that can take a week or two to complete but once verified any business can go ahead and update the listing. The one critical point to consider during initial set up is the address and telephone details for the business during the verification process must precisely match those given on the business website.
As a standalone entity a Google local listing raises the profile of a business and builds the business credibility via content and its ability to post reviews and testimonials. It can be even more effective as an element of an integrated local marketing process built around a locally optimised website, a formal review collection process, best practice content marketing and a local linking strategy. Future posts will cover set up of a professional Google+ Local listing.