For a moment, we’ll stop hammering the point that you need to focus on your online reputation by hammering the point that you need to focus on local search. It’s the most important search engine optimization tool for local businesses.
If your business has any local presence at all, you must take advantage of Google+ Local. Optimizing your Google+ Local profile is a critical marketing practice; it ensures that you reach the 97 percent of consumers who search for local businesses online.
Google+ Local doesn’t just help Web searchers find and share local business information — it also help your business get displayed near the top of Google SERPs. When a search is made with local intent, Google typically displays blended results that include Google+ Local listings at the top and organic results underneath. In some instances, the Google Local carousel will be shown at the top of the SERP.
Here are a few tips to help you dominate search results, own more real estate on the SERP, and best your competition:
Make sure your business profile is 100 percent complete: Amazing as it sounds, a ton of Google+ Local business listings are only 50 percent complete.
Google gives preference to profiles that are 100 percent complete. Providing as much information as possible allows Google to provide the best user experience for searchers.
Have a consistent NAP: We’re not suggesting you need to get some rest in the middle of the day. Your NAP is your Name/Address/Phone information, and it needs to be accurate and identical everywhere online.
For example, if your address has a suite number, be consistent. Don’t write “Suite” on your website and “Ste.” on your local business listing. Don’t use a local phone number in your business listing and a toll-free number on your site. The more consistent this information is, the better.
Use all relevant categories: Google no longer allows custom categories, so you can’t just create one that’s not already there, but you should be sure you’ve checked off every category that’s relevant to your business. Review all the categories and be sure you’re included in every one that’s right for you.
Solicit legitimate customer reviews: We’ve talked about this a good bit already, so we won’t belabor the point, but user reviews are integral components of your local search listing.
Employ a Google Local Map: Adding this to your website’s Contact Us page helps Google+ Local link your website and your Local Business Listing.
Make sure to add your actual business’s Google Local Listing Map — not just a Google Map. To do so, go to Google Maps, find your business, click the “Link” button, and copy and paste the HTML to embed the map in your website, preferably on your Contact Us page.