The challenge for many small businesses with a local customer base is how to secure more sales without relying completely on referrals and repeat work. In this post, we discuss one key element of any local business marketing plan a Google my Business listing.

The importance of a Google My Business listing should not be underestimated. Often those making location based searches (Florist in Canterbury or Italian restaurant in Skegness) are looking to buy.

Securing a place in the top three Google My Business listings (the 3 pack) gives a business with a local customer base a high profile position on page 1 of Google for a location based search phrase. The history of Google My Business is complex. It has evolved through Google places to Google+ local to its current form. The details are available in this post from WrightIMC so I don’t intend to cover it here.

A Google Local panel listing for the top 3 listings includes information on the business address, opening times, phone number, and reviews. It may also include a thumbnail photograph or a website link and directions link. A click on the more places link opens a panel showing more businesses that Google considers to be relevant to the search phrase.

Obviously, the objective should be to secure one of the first three listings. Even better, the top listing. 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 (worst case) take a week or two to complete, but once verified a business can go ahead and update the listing. It is possible to add more content including business information, services/product information and photography.

Posts can be added to cover what is happening in the business or to promote events. Customers can be engaged via Chat. There are sections to manage reviews and links to the website.

There are many factors that determine what position in the local business panel a business can secure. Distance from the location centroid, local links to the listing, the number of reviews and the amount of information provided by the listing all play a part. It is important to set up the listing correctly and make sure business information is consistent across the web.

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