U. S. Representative Thomas P. (Tip) O'Neill (D-Mass.), the well-known Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, famously said, "All politics is local." When it comes to organic search results, Google obviously believes the same. The biggest power in online search is increasingly focused on the "local" aspect of things.
In the last 18 months, there has been a seismic shift in Google's local search engine results. The behemoth of online search has improved its local search capabilities, and is now using an address-based system to serve what it considers relevant results for its users.
The key phrase is what Google "considers relevant to its users." For instance, let's search the Greater Boston area using the term "basement contractor."
Notice the map?
More and more, those maps appear in Google's search results. In fact, homeowners are now using Google's maps much like they once used the Yellow Pages in the past.
If your company has not put itself into Google maps, you should do so now. People are looking, and you want to make it as easy as possible to find your company, online and physically.
How can a home improvement company improve its ranking on Google Maps?
While there seems to be some black magic in the answer, here are three tips that will put you on the map:
1) Proximity and Your Business Address
Google likes to display listings that are close to that of the searcher. To that end, your business address is an important key when it comes to displaying your company in organic search results lists.
The challenge here is that many home improvement companies cover large territories but have just one business address. A company with an address in southern New Jersey, for example, may well serve the Philadelphia market, but Google Maps may judge that as "far away" and not include it on maps it displays for homeowners in Philadelphia.
What to do? Make your company appear to Google as "local" across as broad an area as possible. If there are multiple addresses for your business, log them with Google.
The way to tell Google that your business serves a larger area is to establish a listing in the search engine for every possible address that can be connected to it. Creating Google listings for any and all sales offices, storage facilities and even the addresses of your sales reps enhances the likelihood that searchers in and around those places will find you on Google Maps.
Note: Listing these addresses is perfectly acceptable to Google and other search engines. In fact, search engines like knowing about extra listings because that enables them to improve the local nature of their search results.
2) Your Company Name
Your company name is important because Google is looking for keywords that match the user's search. When a homeowner in Seattle searches using the term "bathroom remodeling," Google will consider your company name in determining what to display.
A business named "Seattle Bathroom Remodeling" is naturally going to rank higher than a company called "Beautiful Home Remodeling Inc."
Obviously most home improvement companies don't want to change the name of the company just to improve their position in Google Maps. However, you can modify your company name within your Google Maps listing. For instance, "Beautiful Home Remodeling" can be recast as "Beautiful Homes & Bathroom Remodeling."
3) Thumbs Up to Reviews
As companies such as Yelp and Google compile reviews of businesses, search engines and Google Maps tend to favor those with more reviews from homeowners.
The favorable vs. unfavorable nature of those reviews doesn't seem to have a significant impact. Rather, Google appears to value the sheer volume of reviews and will rank your listing higher if it finds a good number of them.
Just getting your company listed on Google Maps isn't good enough. It's important to ensure that Google Maps lists your company on the search results for the maximum number of homeowners in your served territory.
Don't be shy. These local listings are becoming more and more important every day, so claim as many as possible.
—Todd Bairstow is a Web marketing expert and co-founder of Keyword Connects, a company dedicated to online lead generation for the home improvement industry. Contact Todd at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 781.899.3677.