Every day, I have local business owners reaching out to me asking how to show up in Google when there are big-name brands eating up most of the search rankings.
Guess what? There’s great news – local businesses actually have an edge over the big brands, thanks to Google Maps / Google Local listings.
Have you ever noticed when you’ve searched in Google for products and services in a specific location the first several results are Google Maps listings?
Check out these examples of Google local map listings:
Search term: grocery stores in ashland ohio:
Notice how the Google local map listings dominate the entire screen. I can barely see the normal search results without scrolling! Also note that even though there are several chain grocery stores in the area (including WalMart), two of the three listings you see are local businesses. Hooray for the small guy!
Let’s try it again.
Search term: hair salons near me
Boom. Local listings dominate the results page! Again, even though there are a few big chain hair salons in the area, two of the three listings are small, local businesses without a huge ad budget. Also notice that I used the phrase “near me” instead of my direct location, and Google automatically knows to show the appropriate listings.
“That’s great for desktop, but many location-based searches actually happen on a mobile device.”
Let’s take a look at the mobile results and see what’s up:
Search term: grocery store near me
Search term: hair salon ashland ohio
Wow – a majority of the screen is taken up by local listings (as well as search ads for those savvy enough to run local text ads)!
And yes, it seems like the local listings area is a relatively level playing field… at least right now… which gives even small businesses a huge opportunity to out-rank big box stores, especially on mobile devices.
**Hint: Since many searches with local intent happen on mobile devices – and considering Google is allowing mobile local maps listings to absolutely dominate the normal listings – I’d highly recommend claiming your Google local listing right now, so you can make sure everything is accurate and give your business the best chance at showing up!**
Does Google always show local listings or maps for location-based searches?
Interestingly, Google doesn’t always show map results in some local search situations (see below).
Search term (desktop): coffee shop ashland ohio
As you can see, the map and local listings are nowhere to be found – except for when the top result happens to be a local company. In this case, because Downtown Perk is the top listing and a local company, the information appears on the right-hand side of the search result. Notice how much information is being displayed about Downtown Perk without anyone ever needing to visit the website – and how it grabs your attention right away? That’s all pulled in from Google’s local listings!
Ready to really blow your mind? Check out the results on a mobile device:
Search term (mobile): coffee shop ashland ohio
Whaaaaat?!?!? Do you see that? One business. One Google local map listing dominates the entire screen on a mobile device. Can you imagine what this could mean for your business?
So, why do you need to claim a Google map listing if you’re a locally-based business?
I don’t think I have to say much more, honestly. It’s pretty easy to see that as a local business, it’s imperative to get your business in the Google local map listings via a Google My Business account. But just in case you need a few more reasons…
**Note: If you haven’t claimed your listing yet, I suggest you get on it NOW – before the other guy beats you to the game!**
Ignore this suggestion at your business’s peril.
Warning: Just because you may already see a listing in the local map for your business doesn’t mean you have claimed your business in Google.
Here’s my last thought. Google is pretty smart. There is a good chance that they know your business exists. They may even be showing your business in the local listings. But – that doesn’t mean you actually own that space within Google just yet.
Unless you’ve claimed your listing, your company’s existence in the local results are simply a whim, and you actually give control of your business listing to outsiders. Yikes! Not sure if your listing is claimed? Give us a shout and I’ll get you the help you need.
To learn more about what tools you could be using, be sure to download the 47-Point Local Growth Checklist Jeremy put together for local small business leaders!
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