Getting your website on the local search radar
2012 is turning out to be a blockbuster year for changes in the world of Local Search. As a small business SEO consultant, I admit it’s been a challenge to keep up with the announcements from Google which have been coming fast and furious since springtime. Even Apple is joining the fray with their forthcoming Apple Maps for iOS 6 which debuts in the fall.
For me, it means a few changes to the way I optimize the web presence for local small businesses. But for small business owners and the marketing companies that service them, it means being aware of the changes and positioning yourself to take advantage of them.
What is Local Search?
People use local search to find businesses online in their local community or while they’re on vacation. For example, you may search for a “chiropractor in wheaton illinois” or a “house painter in chicago.” These searches can be done on the main search engines like Google and Bing, on local search oriented sites like Dex Knows, or on maps applications on iPhones and iPads.
Online local searches are similiar to looking up a business in the paper Yellow Pages.
Generally, in order to be found in local search and on the maps, your business needs to be listed in an online directory such as Google+ Local (formerly Google Places), Bing Business Portal, Yelp.com, etc.
This article from ClickZ.com has a more detailed explanation: What Exactly Is Local Search?
How the Local Search Landscape is Changing in 2012
Google Places Changing into Google+ Local
Google has started migrating its Google Places content into Google+ Local. For now, you still log into Google Places to edit your Place listing. Your listing appears in Google Maps, but also in Google+ Local. In addition, your Google+ Local listing will show reviews from Zagat.com.
More changes are coming in the next few months. Receive updates from Google on changes to Google Places here.
Apple Maps to be released in the fall of 2012 with iOS 6
Since the launch of the initial iPhone, Apple has been using Google Maps for its built-in mapping solutions. Starting with the release of iOS 6, Apple will be using its own solution called Apple Maps. This is a brand new application which will integrate with several existing online business directories such as Yelp, Acxiom, and Localeze.
More on Local Search changes in 2012
For a more detailed article on Apple Maps and Google+ Local, I recommend this post by Stephanie Hobbes on Search Engine Land: Start Getting Your Business Ready Now For Apple Maps, Google+ Local.
Local Search Homework for Small Businesses
As a small business owner, here are some things you can do to take advantage of Local Search for your business:
- Set up a professional profile on Google+.
- If you haven’t already, claim your Google+ Local business listing (formerly Google Places). Use the same Google Account that you use for Google+.
- To take advantage of Apple Maps, claim your business listing on Localeze, Acxiom, and Yelp.com.
- Get your Local Search Scorecard on Yext.com to see how your business is listed in popular online local search directories.