local search

The local search options

Local Search

Local search is the Internet's version of the phone book. It is the best way for local businesses to acquire new customers and not only is it getting bigger and bigger, its free!

Your competitors have a big advantage over you if you have not set up your local online presence. There are a few must do's that are required including claiming and setting up your Google My Business profile, getting listed on the major business directories, setting up your Bing account and getting your business on Apple maps.

Google

A Google My Business account is the first stop in creating you online local presence. Not only do you get a free business listing, your business profile lets you easily connect with customers across Google Search and Maps.
Google is the number one search engine and it appears that is going to be the way for a while yet. So it is crucial to get your small business set up correctly on Google. Currently Google has Google My Business which feeds of points of interest that are shown on Google maps. This service is completely free and is the first step to getting your business online.

You will see the benefits of setting up a Google My Business account very quickly and these benefits include an increase in traffic and sales, your business showing up in Google Map searches, you location made available to potential customers and the possibility of being included in Googles Local 3-pack.
Google also offers a free web-site that you can set up in minutes. It uses your business profile to create a professional looking site with contact and quote details. It is good for a simple short term website however doesn't offer anything like the control and professionalism of a dedicated, business domain name related website or blog.

Google will highlight three local business listings for a search query in what they call a Local Pack. The Local Pack will appear in the search results below any paid advertising for a search term and before the organic search results. The local pack listings are taken from the Google My Business Directory. It goes without saying that it would be an enormous benefit to get your business displayed in the local pack. A well optimised, accurate and consistent Google My Business listing will go a long way to get your business in the local pack. The Local Pack also includes a map of the relevant search area based on the search query and a link to More Places which displays the complete list of relevant local businesses.

Once you have set up and optimised your business listing Google will provide you with information that will allow you to refine and optimise your Google My Business listing going forward. You can access this information from the Insights tab of your Google My Business dashboard. You will need to maintain your listing to ensure accuracy, post updates for your customers and make sure people are aware of sales and specials by posting to your account regularly.

Bing

Bing Places for Business is a free service for local businesses on Microsoft's Bing platform. It connects your company with local consumers by simply listing your business with the Bing search engine. A Microsoft account is required to get started with Bing Places for Business.

You start by claiming your business, completing your listing profile and verifying your listing. If you already have a Google My Business account you can import the details directly into Bing and skip the verification process. Your listing profile includes photos of your business & services, hours of operation, services offered and the various ways customers can reach your business.

Bing offers a set of results similar to Googles local pack, where five listings are displayed along with a map. Each listing has a website link, a Facebook page link and a directions link along with an address, phone number and opening hours. The local results display below paid ads and above the organic search results. There is a 'see more results' button below the five listings which links to a larger map with a full list of results.

You need to have your business listed in Bing Places for Business to be displayed in the Bing local results. Note that while listing with Bing is worthwhile it only commands around 4% of the search market compared to Googles 95% in Australia, so most of your effort needs to go into your Google listing.

Apple

On iPhones and iPads, Apple is the default mapping app, not Google. Also when you use Siri to find a local business, the results come from Apple Maps.

To set your business up on Apple maps you'll need to set up an Apple id and password. You can then use Apple Maps Connect to add a new business page with your business details. Apple will call the number you supply to verify your business. Apple id's can be created throug the App Store for mobiles and iPads and through iTunes on PC's and laptops. To set up Apple Maps Connect you can follow this link: mapsconnect.apple.com.

Apple Maps Connect doesn't have associated business photos or customer reviews. They get these from other sources like Yelp and Tripadvisor.


Other local search options include business directories and review and rating sites.


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