Google Local Listings can be defined as the business listings in the map that you usually see at the top or at the middle of Googles first page results. These listings tend to show up when you search for a keyword accompanied by a specific city, i.e. Toronto Lawyers. As a result, these local search results are different from the organic results and sponsored pay per click listings. In this article Ill explain the three most important aspects you simply cant ignore when putting up your Google local business listings.

  1. How to submit
  2. How to optimize
  3. How to track

How to submit

The process of submitting your listing is very straight forward and its been explained before,  however, heres another quick review:

You have to open an account in the Google Local Business Center and fill out the information needed. If your business is already listed and you dont have access to it, claim it and verify it. This provides authority to your profile.

My advice here - make sure your profile is 100% complete with the business information such as email, business hours, payment options, services, coupons, photos and videos. You can upload up to 10 photos and link up to 5 YouTube videos as well. Be sure to fill the profile with as much as information as possible; showing Google that you are an active business and that your listing is the most relevant for the specific keyword being searched. If you are in a competitive market, take a look at your competitors listings, see how much information they provide and make sure to at least much their listing, and if possible to expand on an opportunity they may have missed.

How to optimize

One of the most important factors when optimizing for local search is to add your business in other places besides Google local. Make sure you add the same information on all the sites you add your business to. Get as much duplicated content as you can, when I said duplicate I am referring to business name, phone number, address, services, everything should be consistent across the various websites that will display your business information.

This point is extremely important as Google prefers to see the same business information when it crawls all the available data on the web. If you try to dupe the engines by providing false or inaccurate information across different platforms it can easily detect this, hence its highly recommended to keep the business listing information consistent across all platforms. In addition these sites will be shown under More about this place also known as Citations.

Some of the sites and directories where you can add your business are: Yelp, Linkedin, Canpages, Yellow Pages, Weblocal, Gigpark, Ziplocal and Praized to mention a few.  Again, analyze the competitor citations and replicate them, send it to the same places so they can be recognized under your site as citations as well.

Combine citations with reviews; reviews input directly into your Google local listing and other reviews from authority sites in your industry niche. i.e Tripadvisor, Homestars,Yelp are mostly pick up by Google and displayed in the maps. In this scenario, I am not advocating fake reviews but natural ones. Why not ask your clients or satisfied customers to write some positive reviews sharing their stories of how satisfied they were with your business, service or product.

How to track

There are many ways that you can track the traffic that your Google Maps listings sends to your website, but Ill focus on three which in my opinion are the simplest ones.

1)      Accessing the Google local Business Center Dashboard. This is the easiest way to check how the listing is performing, what keywords were used, and location where the search was originally entered. This will provide a great understanding as to what these potential clients are searching to find your business.

You will have access to data such as Impressions and actions in the last month, Top Search Queries and insights as to where driving directions requests come from.


-           Top search queries :  List of keyword terms that users entered when they start their search

-  Where driving directions requests come from " location where customers are coming from

2)      Track your listing traffic using a dedicated profile within Google Analytics. This will show what keywords people are using to find/click on your local listing in the universal map.

You have to use the Google Analytics Tool: URL builder

Follow the steps by filling in the information about your website and then generate the url. That long generated url should be the one that has to go in the Google local listing. http://www.abc.com/?utm_source=google&utm_medium=local&utm_campaign= universal

You can use a vanity url in your Google listing if you dont want to show the longer URL, i.e http://www.abc.com/r The folder r will include a file that does the 301 redirect to the url for tracking purposes.

3) You can change the predefined search engine within Google Analytics simply by adding the following line of code:

pageTracker._addOrganic("maps.google,"dq");

This is for the newest GA version. A more detailed explanation can be found here:
http://www.google.com/support/googleanalytics/bin/answer.py?answer=57046

If you dont feel comfortable doing this at the code level, you can create a new profile and add a filter that accounts for traffic coming from maps.google.

- Go to the Google Analytics Dashboard
-  Analytics Settings > Profile Settings
- Add a Filter
- Select Predefined Filter
- Include Only -  traffic from domains - that begin with
- Domain  maps\.google


There is another more customized way to do this as well

- Select Custom Filter, instead of Predefined filter
- Select Include
- Go to Filter Field
- Select Referral
- Filter Pattern: maps\.google

You can always find help here at the Local Business Help Forum where you will find information for business owners, duplicate issues, troubleshooting. Find answers to your questions, chances are someone else is having the same problems as you. The positive thing is that Google employees monitor the forum and they will answer your questions as well.

So what does this all mean for business owners?

-          Business owners need to attract the most possible visits to your site; local businesses feed other local business so its absolutely vital to make sure your local exposure is maximized online

-          Google local is free so make sure you are as optimized as possible! Dont want to miss out on any low hanging fruit.

-          Building online presence and authority; as with all things related to SEO the more online authority you have (more business listings, more local reviews) the better off you are and with Google Maps, the higher chances you have in ranking in the top local pack for your main keywords and city locations.