Google Local Listings
Local brick and mortar businesses like shops, restaurants, bars and salons can be highly dependent on getting ranked in Google Maps or Google local listing as it is more commonly know.
Recently, Google has changed the way it displays these important local listing and has reduced the number that are displayed in the search results down to only three. This means that if you are one of the many thousands of local businesses that depend on these listing for your customers you are going to have to work hard to appear in the lower number shown.
How does Google choose which businesses to show in these results? Well there are a few criteria that Google takes in to account. Location is important, the closer you are to the searcher the easier it will be to appear in the results. The second and the one you can do most about is “Citations”. A citation is where Google finds your NAP (Name Address Phone number) on another website, the more instances of your NAP that Google finds the more they see your business as legitimate for inclusion in the local results.
Exact match format: To be counted as a citation by Google your NAP details should exactly match in both detail and format of those shown on your website and in Google maps/local/plus. If you do not have NAP consistency and uses different formats, ie some using “Road” and other using “Rd” then Google is likely to miss out on many of them & discount a lot of your work. One tip that really helps is to use schema.org/ formatting which tells Google exactly what each part of your NAP details refer to. This can be added to your website with some simple HTML code as below.
Google Organic Listings
The organic search results are the normal 10 results displayed for a particular search query, they do not include the local listings or the paid for ads. Appearing in the first ten or page 1 for your keywords brings the most cost effective benefits for any business. Most searchers do not bother looking at any results that do not appear on the first page so if you are sitting on page two you could be missing out on over 95% of the search traffic.
How to get your website on to page 1? Well Google uses a very sophisticated algorithm to work out which website to show in which places. As part of it, they look at your website, judging the quality and relevance of your content and meta tags. The higher the quality and most useful the content the more Google will like it and reward it with higher rankings. But quality is only one factor that Google takes in to account. All the great content in the world can still be downgraded if your website is slow to load or does not display well on mobile devices. Google takes user experience very seriously now so your website will need to be fast and responsive if you want to appear high up on the first page.
Back links, these are often referred to as off page SEO as back links are links from other websites. Google sees these as votes of confidence in your website and the quality of it content. In years gone by, Google simply looked at the amount of back links that went to your website but since it became public that this was one of the most important factors in rankings Google has had to be a bit pickier about the links it uses. Also to help stop companies form just building thousands and hoping that Google will count some of them they introduced the Penguin update which looks for bad or spammy links. If Google finds lots of these your website is likely to get penalized with lower rankings. Google wants quality back links from author websites using relevant content. So how to create these back links in a safe and efficient manner. One option is to use multi tier links, these links are from other websites that have related content to your own as tier 1 links. You can then build almost any link to the tier 1 pages to boost the authority of them and make them more powerful. This technique creates a lower number of higher quality links pointing at your website which is what Google sees as a natural profile.