If you’ve ever done a search for a local business on Google you’ve likely seen a small map with several listed companies within your search results. My quick search for butcher in Bendigo brought up the following image.

Every one of those orange upside-down tears, or pins, are a Google Local Listing. Let me tell you a little more about them.

Why are Google Local Listings so important?

Firstly, they’re free. This doesn’t make them any more important but it does remove any barrier to using them. This also means that all your competition can also freely use them.

Secondly, they pop up in Google searches in at least three different places: in a normal “Google search”, in searches inside Google Maps and in searches inside Google+.

Thirdly, Google is the largest “yellow pages” in the world. If I was indeed looking for a butcher in Bendigo for starters I’d probably Google it. Given that all these butchers are listed at the top of the page, addresses and contact details, there’s very little need for me to even consider wading through the pages of search results reading individual websites. I imagine that you would do the same, as does 92% of Google users.

Lastly, Google has taken the “yellow pages” concept and beefed it up with customer reviews, photos, contact details, opening times, products and a wealth of other information. In many ways, it’s a little website all of your own.

In many ways Google wants to partner with your business and assist in people finding you as easily as possible. Google is in the business of linking people with the answers to their questions… and if there question is “where can I buy XYZ?” and that’s your business then Google will make it as easy as possible for people to find you. My suggestion to you is to leverage this massive marketing machine!

Ok, how to do I set up a Google Local Listing? It’s easy.

  1. Go here first: http://www.google.com/services/sitemap.html and click on the Learn More link under Google My Business.
  2. Click on Google My Business. At this point you will either need to log in to Google, or create a new account. It’s not difficult, just follow the prompts.
  3. In the search bar type the name of your business. You will be given a list of Google Local Listings (already created) that you can claim, or you can add your business at the bottom of the list.
  4. You’ll be given an online form to fill out, including your Business Name, Country, Street Address (not PO Box), City, State, Post Code, Phone Number and Category. Note, you will also see a check box that reads “I deliver goods and services to my customers at their location”. This is used for people like plumbers who have a shed/warehouse that they work from and visit customers at home. Instead of Google promoting an address for people to come to you, you can nominate a region that you service (eg, 30km radius).
  5.  You are then asked to agree to the Terms, and click continue.
  6. Google will then prompt you to verify your listing. In short, they’ll post you a PIN number and it will arrive in a couple of weeks. You can still use your Listing in the mean time.
  7. Now you’re taken to your brand new Google Local Listing dashboard and Google provides you a handy walk-through tour and prompts you to add your website, hours of operation, photos, etc.
  8. In a couple of weeks you will need to log back in to your Google Local Listing dashboard and verify your Listing with your PIN number, but the instructions to do this are in the pack.
  9. Voila! You’ve now got a Google Local Listing and you’ll be showing up in Maps, in Google Searches and throughout Google+.

Who shouldn’t use Google Local Listings?

Google Local Listings are really created for businesses that have a single local address. This means that businesses that have multiple addresses (multiple stores) or those that work from home and trade online aren’t ideally suited. That said a standard Google+ Business Page (essentially Google’s version of a Facebook Business Page) will provide a lot of benefit in these instances.

I’m having trouble getting my Google Local Listing up.

I hinted at it earlier, but there are quality guidelines that Google employs when creating Local Listings. Remember that Google is in the business of finding the best answer for someone’s question? This is where their quality control comes into play. Although it doesn’t often cause trouble, there are rare cases where a business finds that their Google Local Listing doesn’t go live.

Mary Bowling on Local University wrote a great post describing the guidelines and how best to navigate them. If you’re stuck this is a great place to look. http://localu.org/blog/rules-for-google-plus-local-for-business-listings/

Or if you’d like a walk through video check out the one below.

I’d love to hear your feedback on how successful you’ve found Google Local Listings. Just pop your questions in the comments below.