8 Steps to Building an Optimized Local Business Listing

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Now that you’ve claimed your listings and verified them, it’s time to optimize them. This article will contain little fluff and lots of actionable advice, so let’s get started:

Optimizing your Google Places Page (formerly known as Google Local Business Center) listing consists of paying attention to the following steps as you fill out your business profile:

  1. Basic Business Information
  2. Email, Description, and Website
  3. Business Category Selection
  4. Service Areas
  5. Hours of Operation and Payment Options
  6. Images and Videos
  7. Additional Details
  8. Review and Submitting Your Listing

Profile completeness is a ranking factor within Google’s local listings. Profiles that are more complete have better rankings than ones that are less complete, so it’s important to fill out the entire business profile.

Step 1: Include Basic Business Information

This includes filling out the required fields such as Country, Company/Organization, Street Address, City/Town, State, ZIP, Main Phone, and Fax numbers.

Make sure you use the actual DBA (Doing Business As) name for your company and that your address information is reflective of your actual address. Fill out the fields as accurately as possible, since Google will attempt to cross-reference them with information from other business databases that mention your company.

Step 2: E-mail, Description, and Address Display Options

  1. Use an e-mail address that is associated with your website domain such as info@yourdomain.com
  2. Use the 200-character limit in the description to accurately describe your business including product and service areas where possible. The business description should answer the following questions:
    • Who are you?
    • What do you do?
    • Where are you located? Where areas do you cover?
  3. Fill in your website details. If you do not have a website, it’s best to at least have a one page website freely available through any of the many free website builders.

Step 3: Business Category Selection

Selecting the right categories can make or break your chance at ranking prominently within Google’s 7-pack, that is, their list of seven similar businesses and organizations in your area.

Google offers one main category and four related categories to help define your services. Start typing in the main categorization of your business and you’ll find that Google Places will suggest a category for you choose. Choose the most appropriate suggestion as your main category and then proceed to fill in related categories or other services your business offers.

In the past, you may have heard that it is a good idea to stuff city or location keywords into your categories. While this was true last year, it is no longer effective and can even be detrimental to your rankings.

If the suggested keywords do not match your business services appropriately, you can you use custom categories. Employ this Blumenthal’s Google LBC Categories Preview tool to find synonyms that are recognized by Google Places. For example, identified synonyms for the suggested category “Lawyers” include:

attorney
attorneys
defense
DUI
family law
findlaw
law firm
law firms
lawyer
pro bono

Step 4: Service Areas

In recent months, Google Places has offered the option for businesses to define their service areas. This is especially useful, at least in theory, for mobile businesses such as plumbers, roofers, and other contractors, and home-based businesses. Unfortunately, Google Places still places more trust in brick and mortar based businesses than mobile businesses. Our testing has proven that selecting service areas results in a sharp drop in rankings. As per Google Place guidelines however, this is the only way for mobile or home-based business to represent itself on Google Places.

Google Places also offers the option to hide your business address completely, in case you want to keep your business address private.

Step 5: Hours of Operation and Payment Options

Filling these details out accurately will help you get closer to a 100% complete Google Places listing. You can also select split hours in case your business is open at different times during each day.

Step 6: Images and Videos

Adding images and videos not only helps your local business listing become more interactive, it also counts toward a 100% complete listing.

Make use of this option and upload some of your business related photos. They can help your customers get an idea of what to expect when they visit or call you. For example, if you are a real estate agent, you can upload pictures of some of the recent properties that you have sold. Be sure you upload 10 images to help make your profile complete.

You can also upload business videos to your local business profile. These can be promotional videos, company messages, and DIY or how-to videos for your customers. Google Places gives you an option to showcase up to five videos. While more videos provide increased interactive content for your customers, only one video contributes towards profile completeness.

Step 7: Additional Details

This section allows you to provide all additional details you wish to tell your customers about your business. You may add multiple fields, but only one is needed to count towards profile completeness. Example fields where you may add appropriate keywords include options such as parking availability, free estimates or quotes, or awards your business may have won.

A rarely known fact is that you can also add links in your local business listing to your Twitter or Facebook pages. Just add a field called “Follow us on Twitter” or “Follow us on Facebook” and copy the full URL for your Facebook or Twitter Profile into the field on the right hand side.

Step 8: Review and Submit Your Listing

Re-check your listing data to check for accuracy, then click the submit button to save your changes. In about an hour or so — and sometimes faster than that — Google Places will have picked up your listing. If you are in an non-competitive market, you may already have a place in the 7-pack of local business results. If you don’t show up on the first page don’t be discouraged, because in my next article, I’ll explain how to building citations or “links to your listings” that can strongly impact your rankings.