6 July, 2014

How to rank in local search without a Google+ page

At last count (April ’14), Google had over 2700 different categories which can be used to describe local businesses, not for profits, clubs, govt departments and so on.  And they’re constantly being updated and tweaked.  Yet even with this high number, I see businesses who qualify for a local page, but don’t get the advantage of having the local pack (the section circled in red in the image).google pages for local

First – add location to your search

Sometimes local packs only show if you clearly demonstrate to Google you’re looking for a service or business in a location.  For example, “business coach” doesn’t show as a search term, but “business coach Melbourne” will show a local pack.

Second – think wider

Sometimes your business shows up for terms that might be synonyms for what you’re thinking.  “Business coach” for example, shows businesses in categories Business Management Consultant, Business to Business Service, Marketing Consultant, Business Development Service and possibly more.

If you still don’t get a local pack, then it’s possible your business classification simply doesn’t show a pack. An example of this would be “NLP practitioner”. Still go ahead and create a local page and think wide on the categories if you can fit in one.

So what to do then?

Third – use video

In fact, even if your business does get a listing in the local pack, try video!

People like to click on images, and they like to watch videos. If your video meets the (slightly mysterious) criteria for Google to say it’s right for a video thumbnail, then your listing will stand out amongst others for key search terms.

How to best set up a video for local search

video for local search

  • Make your video interesting.  If someone watches your whole message, they’re more likely to become a customer. So Google tracks view time for videos – those that keep people’s attention longer get rewarded by showing up higher in the results.
  • Post the video as HD format (high definition).
  • Geotag your video (in Video Manager under Info and Settings, Advanced Settings).
  • Put a link to your website in the description in the first 3 lines. You could also put your phone number there.
  • Tag your video with your business name, the key search term and your location. Use a range of tags, general to specific, and put phrases in quotes. Most important words first. Use some of the same words as what’s in your title tag.
  • Name & Title your video with your key search term, the location and your business name at the end. Try to make it interesting to people so they’ll want to click on them.
  • Write a compelling description for your video – one that uses the key search term or synonyms in *natural* language. Write for people!
  • Add your business name, address and phone to the description.

Now, promote the heck out of it. You want to get attention to your video – watches, comments, likes, shares and so on.

  • Post it to your social media sites.
  • Post it to your directory listings & review site.
  • Put your YouTube video in your blog (use the embed code) and wrap it in schema ( makes this sooo easy!).
  • If you think your video is appropriate, put it in your email signature for a while.
  • Respond promptly to comments you might get – your blog, YouTube channel, social media, anywhere people might have a word or two with you.

Video isn’t the sure thing it was hyped up to be, but it is still effective if done right.

Five good sources for more research: