If your customers and prospects are locally based the importance of concentrating on local optimization of your web site and local directory listings gets more important with each passing day.

Google quietly upped the local search game by inserting the Google Maps local 10 (listing of 10 local businesses) into search results for local products and services regardless of whether the searcher used a geographic term in the search. It used to be that if you wanted to get local results for a good tailor in Kansas City, you typed in “Kansas City tailor.” Now, by detecting the location of your IP address Google will add the local result to the search results for the much more generic phrase “tailor.”

local search

Notice the search in the image above was for the word tailor, but returned listings for Kansas City tailor.

My feeling is that this makes it more important than ever that your local business is showing up in those Google Maps results. (For now the search terms returning these kinds of results are primarily limited to B2C plays like tailor, taco, or electrician )

So, I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again – get to work on getting listed and getting in the top 10 on Google Maps.

1) Make sure you’ve claimed your listing – Google Local Business Center
2) Enhance your Google profile by adding lots of descriptions, images and videos
3) Optimize your web site for local search with local terms, links, mentions, suburb names, and your business address and phone on every page
4) Get links back to your site with local phrases in the anchor text – ie:”Best Kansas City Tailor”
5) Get reviews on your Google Maps profile – anyone can add a review directly into your profile and Google appears to give profiles with reviews higher weight – be proactive on this one.

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John Jantsch

John Jantsch is a marketing consultant, speaker and author of Duct Tape Marketing, Duct Tape Selling, The Commitment Engine and The Referral Engine and the founder of the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network.
  • Leah

    What if I'm a film producer, for example, who is almost always looking for resources in other cities? If Google defaults to my IP address, will I have to work harder to get the info I want? Or will it still be just as effective to type in the name of city with the service?

    • Leah – if you put a city name into your search it will give you the results for that city – if you don't then it will give you some local to your IP, but it's just the 10 local in a box, you still get the same global results too.

  • shoupe

    Wow, I can't believe I haven't noticed this before. Thanks for the info.

    Leah, it looks like the only thing that has changed is that it gives you local results on the map portion of your search results. Everything else is still the same.

    But I wonder if all the organic search results will one day be somewhat dependent on your location.

  • Crestwood

    Great tip. Google seems to be fickle with how they keep and display reviews. One week (or day) a certain painter in Kansas City will have 11 reviews, the next only 4 (or 8, or whatever). Where did the others go? Better to have reviews left on many different sites, all on InsiderPages or just stay with Google?
    G Frustration or not – Local is key.

    • I think I would look to get reviews from a variety of sites as Google pulls them from other sites too. Not sure why the results change but probably has to do with how they get the data. I've noticed that at times it will say 5 reviews and then there are none?

  • I also agree about having reviews add extra weight to the local searches, but I cannot find definitive proof on this one. The local pages is in my opinion more of the important tasks you can have on the SEO front.

    • There really isn't any way to prove that reviews add weight, because they are just one of many factors, but you rarely see the top results without reviews.

      And yes, local is so important for the local biz.

  • Good call on noticing the ip targeting for local businesses that are B2C. Local search is gaining more and more visibility and bares repeating to more and more small business owners that people are going to Google to find who is in their area.

  • John,

    I'm not surprised they did this. I have been preaching to sm biz for long time now on the importance to these free local listings offered by Google.

    I have been testing with quite a few merchants on how to get your local listing in the top 10 too, it basically comes down to reviews and links. Treat the listing like a mini site. Add those photo's and videos too.

    If you can grab a few links back to your local listing and then gather some reviews from some clients, you should be able to make sure you show in the top 10 (unless it really competitive).

    I made a 2 video(s) showing people how to do this (it's over a year old, but most of it is still relevant).

    Video 1: How to set-up google local listing

    Video 2: SEO strategies for google local listing

    • Thanks Matthew – good stuff

  • I did this a months ago for my business (small consulting firm) and it still shows as “flagged” when I look at it. There's no information on the Google site that I can find that even tells me what “flagged” means, let alone how to resolve the issue.

  • Ben

    How come some businesses show up in the local Google maps section when they aren't local or even in the area??

    Is it the result of adding other keywords to their Local Business Profile OR a function of their IP address OR optimizations on their website or all of the above??

    How can one deal with an IP address set by their ISP in an out of area location??

  • Great post John! Thanks for the information. Enjoy your posts.

  • We are number 1 for mobile marketing in NJ

  • This has nothing to do with your IP…

    It has to do with “keywords”.

    e.g. catering Miami
    I just made it onto Google maps, after 3 months of trying and trying…
    As soon as I changed the profile, I am there…lol.
    Happy days, 50+ clicks today and counting

    • Afraid you've missed the point – glad you got in the 10 box but type in Catering when you are in Miami without the word Miami and you will get the same ten box as if you type in Miami Catering – that is based on the IP address.

  • Great tip John. My family’s restaurant is currently ranked #3 on the Google search for restaurants in our town. While people typically don’t come in and say that they have seen us on Google for instance, it is good to know that we show up ahead of all of the chain restaurants at the mall.

    I think that it is all-to-easy for small business owners to miss out on free advertising opportunities like this. Every person that sees your business name counts. Thanks for posting this tip!

  • Thanks John. I just went in to set up. Unfortunately the phone verification option did not work for me – they called my number but wouldn't accept the code. So I'll wait for the postcard to be mailed in a couple of weeks. I'll see how it works for my business.

  • I know of about 200 hyperlocal sites in our network that need to take this advice most seriously!

  • stankor

    Great article. I've noticed that when I'm logged into gmail, I get results based on the profile location that I registered. Also, when I'm logged into gmail, I tend to get the local results more often than when I'm not logged in. It is exciting to see this change and it's an event that I believe foretells what is to come.

  • stankor

    Great article. I've noticed that when I'm logged into gmail, I get results based on the profile location that I registered. Also, when I'm logged into gmail, I tend to get the local results more often than when I'm not logged in. It is exciting to see this change and it's an event that I believe foretells what is to come.