Google recently offered merchants three secrets on how to get your business found in search results. “Local results,” the site’s help page says, “are based primarily on relevance, distance, and prominence. These factors are combined to help find the best match for your search.”

This means, that if a customer in your local area searches for your business, he won’t necessarily find you simply because he is close. Google may display businesses that are several miles out due to their ability to meet the other important factors of relevance and prominence.

Let’s take a closer look at each of the three factors:

Relevance

This refers to how well a local listing matches the terms for which users are searching. For instance, if you’re an automotive repair shop that offers oil changes, you’ll want to make sure the phrase “oil change” is listed as one of your categories on Google. Such terms are often searched by customers in your area, and are therefore relevant.

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Distance

Have you specified your location on your Google business listing? If not, customers who are nearby and searching for you, won’t be able to find your business without being more specific. This automatically puts you at a disadvantage relative to your nearby competitors.

google-ranking-distance

Prominence

Prominence can be automatic if your business is well-known in the offline world. This applies to things like famous museums, landmark hotels, or elite brands (Nike or Target, for instance).

Even if your business isn’t well-known in the offline world, you can still influence prominence by ensuring you are widely known online. This can be done by ensuring links to your business are on relevant sites across the web. Have you been mentioned in a local (digital) news publication? Link to the article on your website and social media pages. Linking back and forth between your online listings is also a very good strategy. Moreover, if you aren’t on directory websites like Citysearch and Superpages, you are likely missing out in the area of prominence.

Another important factor in becoming more prominent relates to consumer reviews. The more ratings and reviews you have on not only Google, but on other top sites like Yelp and Facebook, the more prominent your business will be in Google search results.

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5 Tips to Get Your Business Found

Google offers these five tips on how to better meet each of the standards above and how to get your business found when potential customers are searching:

  1. Enter Complete Data
    This is at the core of what goes into Google’s search function. If a consumer is searching for “Dry cleaners,” and that person is either located in Des Moines, or he or she physically types in “Des Moines,” the businesses that have updated information for Des Moines are more likely to appear first in results. Ensuring you have complete data means keeping things like your physical address, phone number, and category information (i.e. dry cleaner or cleaning services) accurate.
  2. Verify Your Location(s)
    Google is more likely to trust and display listings and their information if those listings are verified by the owner of the business. Often, business listings on Google have been populated from an outside data source, and while they may include address and contact information, Google can’t be sure that information is right unless business owners take action to verify. Since Google prides itself on offering its user base accurate information, verifying (claiming) your business is crucial.
  3. Keep Your Hours Accurate
    Again, it’s important to Google that its user base finds accurate information through the search engine. If your hours of operation (including special hours for holidays) are inaccurate or not present, it’s less likely customers will find you in a search, and even if they do find you, they won’t know when to visit in person.
  4. Manage and Respond to Reviews
    Google stresses, “Responding to reviews shows that you value your customers and the feedback they leave … High quality, positive reviews … will improve your business’s visibility and increase the likelihood that a potential customer will visit your location.”
    Two things can be said of this: First, it’s not just crucial that you have reviews, you must also respond to those reviews since Google trusts business owners more if they engage with their audience; this builds loyalty and makes the tool more valuable to Google’s user base. Second, we can see from Google’s quote that positive reviews mean positive ranking results. If your business is well respected, this contributes to the area of prominence we mentioned earlier; meaning: Increased value to Google’s users.
  5. Add Photos
    Google aims to offer content that is relevant to its users, as we’ve previously discussed, so it should come as no surprise that Google also wants this content to look presentable as well.
    “Adding photos to your listings shows people your goods and services, and can help you tell the story of your business. Accurate and appealing pictures may also show potential customers that your business offers what they’re searching for.”
    Google displays the photos associated with your listing in several different areas online, including Map results and its photo search, so if you look better in these areas, Google looks better.

As you can see both the initial set up and ongoing management of your business listings and reviews is important to the success of your business online. Having the right tools and, more importantly, the right team to help you manage such a daunting task is just as important.

Merchant Centric offers an all-in-one solution with expert service, whether you are a single-location or a multi-location business, to help you control and optimize all of your business listings, while managing consumer reviews; not just on Google, but across top sites like Facebook and Yelp as well. In turn, this is how your business will get found on Google, earning you more customers, and increasing your revenue.

Learn more: Call (818) 889-1688 or

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