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Can Customers Find You? Local Search Checklist for Businesses

Local Search

Why Your Business Needs a Local Search Strategy

Does your local business manage its online listings? There’s a good chance your answer is no. Only 50% of small businesses have updated local online listings. With over 40% of all Google search queries have local intent, it is crucial for businesses that value foot traffic to ensure customers can find them online. This Local Search Checklist provides the first steps your business can take to increase its local online visibility.

1. Claim Your Listings

There is a good chance your business is already has a listing on sites like Google+ Local and Yelp. To manage these listings you must first claim them. Since of 65% of the world’s search queries are performed on Google, start with Google+ Local. This listing will allow you to manage how your business shows up for local searches on Google or Google Maps. To claim your listing, go to maps.google.com and search for your business. Select it on the map and then click “more info.” This will navigate you to your Google+ Local listing (formally Google Places). Click the “manage this page” button and follow the directions to claim your listing. The easiest way is to select phone verification. An automated Google dialer will call your business with a pin number. Use this to claim your listing. While Google+ Local is one of the more important listings to manage, you should claim as many listings as you can. Start with these influential local search providers:

2. Consistent Name, Address, and Phone Number

The most important thing besides claiming your listings is constancy. It is crucial that your business’ name, address, and phone number (NAP) is the same on all listings and matches what is on your company’s site. Other information such as hours of operations should also be consistent online.

3. Upload Photos and Business Descriptions

Besides your location, business hours, and phone numbers, potential customers viewing your online listings want to learn about your business. Recent photos and well crafted descriptions can attract consumers to your location. Including a high quality picture of your storefront makes it easier for customers to recognize your location.

Pictures of Slow's Detroit

Your business description should include terms that people would use to search for your business. If a search for “downtown clothing stores” should display your business, include this in your description. Also, look for categories offered by the online listing. Select all that are applicable to your business.

4. Reviews

Reviews are very influential. Not only to potential customers viewing your listings, but to the online services as well. Yelp for example will show listings with better reviews towards the top of their search results.

Reviews for the Violet Hour Chicago

Most online listings do not let you input your own reviews. They also do not want you to actively solicit reviews. If a service like Yelp sees that your business gets a large number of reviews in a short period of time they may not be posted to your profile. If a customer tells you they had a positive experience at your business, casually ask them to leave a review on a service like Google+ Local, Yelp, or Foursquare. Tell them that your business actively monitors online reviews as a form of customer service and you would greatly appreciate their feedback. A casual approach will help generate a more “organic” level of reviews, increasing your chances they will be posted.

Google+ Local is notoriously difficult to have reviews posted. A few guidelines to follow:

  • Reviews submitted by users with established Google+ accounts from their home wifi network work best.
  • If your business only receives positive reviews Google may stop posting new reviews as to not inflate your business’s score.
  • Users must navigate to your Google+ Local profile using google.com or maps.google.com. Sending a link to your review page may disqualify that review.

5. Local pages with unique content

Does your business have multiple locations? If so you should claim listings for each location. On your company’s site, develop a unique page for each business with unique content. Each business location page should have accurate NAP data with pictures and a custom description of that location. Point links from each business’ online listing to the local page on your site.

Warby Parker New York

Having local pages will increase search results. If you own a pizza shop in Detroit and Chicago each local page will be displayed if someone searches for pizza in either city. A search “pizza deliver detroit” will be more likely to display your business if you have a local business page for your Detroit location.


Updates to your listings can take days, or even weeks to go live. Be patient when it comes to updates. Google+ Local does not provide customer support. If your listings are displaying improperly you can try using Google Map Maker. Visit google.com/mapmaker, then search for you listing. Map Maker provides more control over your listing. You can even view changes you have requested and see if they have been approved or denied.

The Importance of Local Search

Your company’s local search strategy is crucial in driving web and foot traffic. Using this checklist will get you started. Here are some other resources that can help increase your company’s online visibility:

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About Eric Wortman

Eric Wortman is a PPC analyst at Pure Visibility. He specializes in ads for Search, Social, Mobile, as well as Local SEO. Eric is founding co-chair of SEMPO Michigan and an experienced speaker. He lives in sunny downtown Ann Arbor and is good at soccer, excellent on Facebook, and horrible at photography. You can find him on Google+.