Google has come a long way since the beginning of search. Just take a look at the new results page. The days of having just organic search results pop up are long gone. Now Google's search results are returning a more complex list of results including local results, maps, videos, images, products, paid search results, and a few social results just for good measure. Not to mention the webpage preview option which allows the user to get a quick glance at a website before they even get click the link. Talk about pressure to have a professional looking website and capture some attention.
If you're a local business it's no secret that having a local presence on the web is essential these days. Everyone has seen the Google Places listing in the search results, if you haven't you probably don't have a computer. The rest of the world is starting to take notice of these local search results. SEOmoz has posted some results of their eye tracking study. The results are very interesting showing that users eyes go right to the Google Places listings. First thing you should know is that there are a few different styles of local search results and in each case the test shows that the user gravitated toward the local listings. Check out the heat map below of the blended search results. You can also go over to SEOmoz and check out the study here: http://www.seomoz.org/blog/eyetracking-google-serps
If your business relies on local listings, make sure you show up in these local listing by doing a few simple things. Below is a short list. ▪ Citations: Ensure that your correct business information is listed in as many (reputable) sources as possible around the Internet. As always, consistency is king. If you write "Your Business, Inc." instead of "Your Business" on your Google Places page, make sure your other listings reflect the same. NOTE: Being consistent across all your citations and website is one of the best ways to build trust with the search engines if not you can be penalized.
▪ Google Places page optimization: Just like your website, make sure your Places page is properly optimized. Include categories that match exactly, and point your Places page back to a city-specific landing page if applicable.
▪ Reviews: Google will only display reviews from Google, but getting reviews from aggregators like Yelp, Superpages, Bing Local, or Merchant Circle will help with your exposure across the web.
Make sure to follow these tips for a great Google Places listing. Don't delay get started now and go and claim your business page and start building some citations.
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