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It’s no secret that Google local listings now appear above organic listings in search results. Why did Google make such a drastic change? Well, Google’s main goal has always been and will always be to provide the most relevant information to searchers. If an individual is looking for a new dentist to go to in their area, it’s much more relevant for local dentists to pull up first rather than dentists who are far away but have better optimized sites.

In an article by Tech Wyse, they say, “since Google Places appears at the top of search engine results, managing and optimizing your business listing is important especially for small, local businesses. Just like your website, make sure your Places page is properly optimized for the search engine as 97% of consumers search for local establishments or businesses online.” Now that we know local businesses listings experience significant and qualified traffic, we can see why it’s crucial to properly manage you local listing if you want to try and capture this traffic.

For those doing searches on mobile devices, local business listings bear even more importance. As an article on Search Engine Watch points out, “if you are searching on a mobile device you will see that organic results are now shown below the fold (you have to scroll down to see them) and there are now only the top three Google local results being shown – so due to the on-page real estate Google local can take up, there’s huge traffic opportunities for being listed for competitive searches.”

To best optimize your local Google listing and capture the greatest amount of traffic you can, there’s some guidelines to follow. First and foremost, make sure that all of your information on your Google listing is accurate, ie. your phone number, address, website, etc. If these things aren’t inconsistent across the web or aren’t accurate, you listing placement will be negatively affected.  Search Engine Watch’s article also points out that “another big ranking factor is to encourage customers to leave positive reviews on your listing. Your star rating is also displayed on the map to searches so a high rating can also improve your click through rate from the SERPs. Google wants to translate offline popularity online. Getting positive reviews is critical these days so it’s a must that business owners work with their best clients to get positive reviews that mention their products and service.” Getting customer reviews will not only help with local ranking, but good customer reviews also captures more traffic than listings without a good rating and reviews.

So many local businesses are simply missing the “97% of consumers” that search for local establishments or businesses online. It’s never too late to create a local listing for your business and start optimizing it to capture search traffic.