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Changes to Google Local Search

Posted by Jim Semlyen on 9 November 2016
Local search optimisation in York

Local search results

We’ve dropped off the business listings!  What can you do to get us back to number one?

We’ve been hearing that a lot over the last few weeks.  Many websites have dropped a few places and are not appearing in one of the three prized slots on the first page of search results for Google Local Business [map] listings, whereas they did before.

What has happened?  Google local search “improvements”.

Local results appear when you search for businesses or places near your location, e.g.  “roofer in York”, “York self-storage”, “Mot testing York”.

Google update the way websites are ranked all the time, making tweaks and changes with the aim of giving a better user experience and making more money.

Pay per click profits

“In 2015, Google’s revenue amounted to 74.54 billion US dollars. Google’s revenue is largely made up by advertising revenue, which amounted to 67.39 billion US dollars in 2015. As of May 2015, Google ranks first among worldwide internet companies, with a market capitalization of 373 billion U.S. dollars.” https://www.statista.com/statistics/266206/googles-annual-global-revenue/

Google want your money.   They would like you to pay for clicks with Google AdWords.

There have been two important changes:

  1. Google have increased their emphasis on directories in local search. Yell, Thompson Local, 118.com, Scoot, Free Index and similar sites have been boosted, often appearing above individual businesses in search results.
  2. Google have increased the importance of “Citations” as an indicator of relevance when deciding which sites to list at the top of the page in the business listings.  Citations are mentions of your business name and address on other webpages, even if there is no link to your website. An example of a citation might be an online yellow pages directory or a mention on local chamber of commerce pages where your business is listed, but not linked to.

What you can do

You need a validated Google Business Listing which is as close to “100% complete” as you can get.

Ensure the trading address in the Google Business Listing matches your company’s registered address and your domain is correctly registered to your company at the same address.

Your company’s social media profile pages should also display your trading address, especially Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram.

List your business in online directories. Make sure your address, phone number and email are consistent throughout.

Positive reviews prove to Google that you are a viable business and will help promote your listing above the competition.  Reviews will improve your click through rate too.  Most people will click on the listing showing most starts.  It takes time to build up your reviews so if you’re not actively seeking reviews already start now.

Tips for directory submissions

  • Set-up a new email address specifically for sign-ups, as inevitably you will get numerous marketing emails afterwards.
  • Use your main address as the contact address in the directory listings.
  • You will be offered premium listings for fees. These are not necessary just to get the citation.
  • Provide as much detail as you can, including, where applicable, opening hours, descriptions, photos, etc.
  • Claim ownership and/or verify listings on all sites that allow you to do so.
  • If a directory says you need to link to them in order for them to link back to your site, don’t bother with that.

Register in as many directories as you can. Here’s a list to get your started:

www.yell.com

www.yelp.co.uk

www.192.com

www.scoot.co.uk

www.thomsonlocal.com

www.hotfrog.co.uk

www.brownbook.net

www.opendi.co.uk

www.cylex-uk.co.uk

www.118.com

www.freeindex.co.uk

www.directory.independent.co.uk

www.directory.thesun.co.uk

www.locallife.co.uk

www.touchlocal.co.uk

www.uksmallbusinessdirectory.co.uk

www.citylocal.co.uk

www.cityvisitor.co.uk

www.approvedbusiness.co.uk

www.city-listings.co.uk

www.mybuilder.com

www.checkatrade.com

www.yourlocallink.co.uk

www.ratedpeople.com

www.infoserve.com

www.bingplaces.com

Quick solution: AdWords

To quickly improve your visibility in Google AdWords is the solution.  We set-up your ads and use comprehensive conversion tracking to measure effectiveness. We then optimise the account over the weeks and months.  This increases the probability of your ads appearing and brings down the cost per click and cost per conversion.

A strong web presence

In the long-term you need a professional website that was built following Google’s search engine optimisation guidelines.  It also needs to be updated regularly with quality content of genuine interest to your customers and other in your business sector.

Alongside this you need links from other websites and a strong social media presence.

Do it yourself or ask us

We are number one in Google in our sector in York.  Our success was achieved through longevity, patience, understanding and effort!  You too can improve your search engine positions by following our advice.

Not sure if you have the time, energy and inspiration to do it all yourself? We’d be happy to explain what we can do to make a difference to your listing and bring you ahead of the competition.  Call us on 01904 654036 or email info@castlegateit.co.uk

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