How to improve your Google Local Search Rankings

We commonly get asked the question “How can I rank higher in Google map listings?”. This is a great question that inspired us to share our knowledge on the findings.

Local listings came after Google’s Pigeon update in December 2014 which strives to provide users with more useful and relevant local results. The great thing about these listings is that 1) they often appear at the top of the search page 2) they are associated with Google maps and 3) you really don’t need a website to appear in local listings (although having a website really helps things out).

Therefore there is a huge opportunity for local businesses to increase their search rankings by following some of the recommended steps below:

Verify your Google My Business Page and make sure your information is correct

Your business Name, Address and Phone number (commonly referred to as NAP) should be consistent across all online and offline sources. If you have different phone numbers across listings, this gives an invalid signal to Google which may hurt your results. Also, be sure to create only one listing per location. If you have multiple listings floating around, contact us and we can help you clean them up!

Encourage customer reviews

Google pays a lot of attention on what others have to say about your business – and that’s done through reviews. Reviews are a huge factor when it comes to ranking position and we recommend a minimum of 5-7 reviews for your listing to show with the star rating!  In fact, it’s been said that businesses with star ratings stand out among search results, with a 150% more likelihood for a user to click on your listing. You may consider sending the link to your page out in an email to some of your favorite clients who should be more than willing to write a glowing review of your business.

DO NOT write fake reviews or hire companies that promise Google reviews.  Google’s algorithms is highly intelligent and can immediately detect spammy review behavior. This can have dire consequences for your business which could even lead to the removal of your Google My Business Page.

Add correct category associations

When choosing categories for your business, ensure the primary field (the first “Enter a category” box) has the most accurate description of your business and that your other category choices state what your business is (e.g. physiotherapist, physiotherapy clinic, osteopath, etc.), rather than the services you provide or the products you sell. Don’t worry if you can’t find your industry, you will have the option to create your own categories as well.


Make sure your Google My Business content is 100% complete

Google loves content so make sure you put as much information on your Google My Business (GMB) page as you can. Include photos, links to your social media sites, a good description, contact information and accurate map point.

Put your full business address on the contact page

Make sure that the contact page of your website reflects the same address as it appears on your GMB page. Remember Google will check that the information on your website contact page is consistent with your Google Maps listing information.

Increase your quality of inbound links

By creating links from other high ranking websites to your website, it not only helps your organic rankings but can also help improve your position in the local listings. Google views these links as indicators of “trust” as long as they come from reputable sources. Avoid any SEO company promising 100’s of back links to your site.  These sites are generally blacklisted by Google and you might likely be paying a company for poor results.

Great places to acquire inbound links include your local Chamber website directory or other associations that you do business with. For example if your business is sponsoring a local event, make sure to reach out to them and ask for a link on their website.

Have location keywords in anchor text for inbound links

How often do you click on website links reading “find out more” or “click here”? My guess is pretty often. When you are creating your own links, the links themselves should incorporate your location specific keywords. For example, replace “click here” etc with something along the lines of “Find a Houston Orthodontist”.

Negative factors affecting your ranking

  • Using non area specific phone numbers. Google looks for local area calling codes that match your location address.
  • Don’t confuse Google by using multiple addresses on your contact page. Ensure your contact page information is consistent with your Google Maps info.
  • Negative customer ratings on your reviews. Unfortunately these can’t be removed however what you can do is hide them among a greater number of good reviews!
  • Multiple listings with the same business name. If you have a business with more than one location, identify it with a specific location. For example, “Business Name London” instead of naming it “Business Name”.
  • Multiple listings with the same address or phone number.

We hope that these tips will help you navigate the best practices to higher local presence. If you need our help, let us know and we’ll be happy to work with you.