Local search just got a lot more important. Why, because in almost all cases Google is now including their Google local one box results at the top of each local keyword search. (Example: city real estate). If you or a client just got bumped down 3 spots because of local search here's what you need to know.
Here in Canada the results are usually pulled directly from YellowPages.ca online business listings. I sat down with the online manage for YellowPages.ca on Friday to get a better understanding of how the system works and basically if you pay to be part of yellowpages.ca, they push their data to Google once a month.
In the USA, data is pulled from a host of different places and is some cases from niche directory sites focused on particular geographies. A good SEM is always looking at what might happen next, so remember that Google will start to use multiple data sources soon (if they aren't already doing that). This insures their data will be more accurate and it might mean they will start basing the results more on an search algorithm rather than on proximity.
Step 1 – Make sure your company is registered in the right place. Check to see where Google is pulling the data from in your area. In some cases they will tell you if you scroll to the bottom of the Google Local page.
Step 2 – Make sure you company has submitted and validated it's address with Google Maps [Google Local Business Center].
Step 3 – How do I get my site in the top 3 of Google's local one box results?
- Proximity to City center or major city landmark. In most cases (but not all) Google is listing the results based on their proximity to city hall. In some cities they are keying in on some other major landmark (not necessarily down town). A few quick searches of your own and you should be able to determine what landmark Google is using. In Vancouver, when you do the search "Vancouver Real Estate" or any other local search, you will notice that the results surround city hall and expand outwards as you move deeper into the results. The top 3 appear to be the closest to city hall.
- Reviews. Categories like restaurants and hotels include reviews from major portals and these reviews may effect the one box rankings.
Currently it is difficult to game the results unless your are willing to provide false address data to YellowPages.ca (the often verify this data anyway by checking the billing address of the phone number). But this should not stop you from ensuring your site is listed and showing up. If you have any questions please post a comment.