May 28, 2014 Grant Ruxton

‘We’re a local shop for local people’: Understanding Google Local

It wasn’t so long ago that if someone wanted a specific service, out came the Yellow Pages and a game of ‘which is best/cheapest/closest?’ was afoot. Nowadays if you want, for example, to find a dentist here in Glasgow it takes just one quick search to highlight not just the names and numbers of different dentists, but also show you where they are on a map, when they’re open, what their phone number is and how they’ve been rated too.

dentists map

There are a number of different types of search results Google can present you with. Certain terms can have images or videos at the top. Some can have links to shopping sites when you type in a specific product. When you see that a famous person has died, Google usually changes the results page to include the latest new stories detailing what has happened before normal search results. Even searching for a movie can pull up listings for where its on near to your right now.

movie times

In the example above, the first visible result for Godzilla wasn’t an IMDB page or a Wiki article on the history of the monster, but the showtimes for the new release in cinemas closest to us. This is an example of a location based result being seen as the most relevant for the user. What you search for can give you a very specific looking page to browse through. When searching for something on a local level though, a business’ position on a map and the search page can play a big role. So what is Google Local and why is it important? Let us fill you in.

The aim of local results is to find the user i.e. you, the best result possible when looking for a specific business. So when you have a sore tooth the chances are you’ll be looking for the closest dentist to you that is open right now, rather than finding out a full history of dentistry in the city. Having a local result is better than simply submitting your site to a directory (which is something you should already be doing anyway) as it turns the listing in to something a user can access more easily.


The results are listed by distance from where we are.

The results are listed by distance from where we are.

One important aspect of having a business listed locally on Google is that ‘unbiased’ reviews and ratings are also on show. The idea is that anyone logged in to their Google account in Chrome can find a place, then leave a review all about it on a business’ Google+ page. The page is necessary if a business wants listed and even though there’s no massive link between putting content on a Google+ page and ranking, making sure everything on your page is relevant and up to date is very important. Overlooking this (if for example you changed phone number and forgot to update it) could see you losing out on business quickly.

So is a Google local result of any use? Well yes. It’s a chance for a potential customer to not only see where you are, but if you’re listed in results like the example above, anyone will also see your address and phone number. This can prove to be very useful for mobile users who might be searching for your service nearby and want to have as few steps as possible to contact you and fix heir problem. In some cases it also has a sneaky way of making sure you’re the most relevant company for certain keywords. If you rank no.1 in your respective area, bolstering your info on Google Local could in theory lead to you ranking in first place twice on the the same page (both in local map results and natural rankings).

About the Author

Grant Ruxton I increase sales, traffic and brand engagement using digital marketing.

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