The REAL Secret to Ranking in Google Local


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The real secret? There is no secret! The truth is - there IS no magic bullet. There are a few choice 'tricks'
that may work for awhile, but then usually get you in trouble.

A lot of folks that take my Advanced Google+ Local training, I think are looking for a magic bullet. They seek that one secret trick that will push their client - deserving or not - to the top of their market in Google.

I just read a great interview with Mike Blumenthal by Stargazer Digital, that really boiled it down well.

Mike Blumenthal Talks Google+ Local

A business has to be careful about “optimizing” their Google+ Local page.
Google doesn’t take kindly to perceived manipulation
and it is important that the business owner read Google’s rules and follows them religiously to avoid being suspended.

There are really two types of optimization that you can think about:
ranking optimization and conversion optimization.


Many of the “tricks” offered up for ranking optimization have been cataloged and banned by Google. The main things that can be done are to give Google complete information, particularly category information.


Most ranking optimization is best done off Google by making sure that you have a lot of citations, links, reviews around the web and branded mentions of your business and a well crafted website.

Conversion optimization, where you are trying to stand out from the crowd and convince more clients to call you is well worth pursuing. Here are some ideas along those lines:

- Photos that are compelling and show well in the limited 64 x 64 pixel display that Google provides on the front page

- A great business description that helps you stand out from the crowd. Think of it as the most important elevator speech you will ever make.

- Review management; making sure that your clients are leaving reviews at Google and elsewhere on the net so that prospective clients can see from others what you do well.
So sadly no magic bullet. There are lots of ethical things you can do to fix problems and lots of best practices to follow that help ensure the listing will rank as high as it naturally deserves to.

One of the things I teach a lot about is how to learn to "think" like Google. How to evaluate listings like the Google Local algo does. Learn what she likes (relevance) and use multiple, ethical ways to build up relevance (trust). And also learn how to avoid a wide variety of things that are either blatant violations
OR violate unwritten rules OR trip a spam filter, because it mimics certain spam patterns. But all you can do is clean up data & represent the business as accurately as possible, in as many ethical ways as possible.

So there is no secret formula you can apply to a Google+ Local page that will help overcome other problems the client may have - like fractured upstream data, hidden merged dupes, a slow, poorly designed web site or organic penalties.

I liken the local algo to a giant complicated puzzle. He who has the most pieces AND the most IMPORTANT pieces in all the right places - wins in that particular market.

There are puzzle pieces on the G+ Local page, there are 3rd party pieces like citations, reviews and backlinks and there are lots of important puzzle pieces on the web site itself.

So you can get all the pieces just perfect on the G+ L page, BUT if their citations are a scrambled mess and they have a slow site with organic violations, you may have a hard time moving the ranking needle - regardless of how well you optimize the G+L page.

I really like the fact that Mike pointed out conversion optimization too. Because that IS something you can strongly impact on G+ L listings.

If you get a client to rank high, but their listing is not compelling and does not generate clicks or calls then you have not helped them as much as you could.

1/2 the listings out there have poor quality images and the description says "We offer blah, blah, blah, blah and blah. With just a long string of keywords. What can you do to set your client apart?

Focusing equal effort on things that will help your client stand out from the competition, is as important as ranking optimization.

So hope I didn't disappoint. You knew there was not really some secret trick right? ;)

In the Google local game - learning to use best practices, finding ways to enhance relevance and trust, ensuring data integrity and conversion optimization is what it takes to help your clients win! And that's the boring truth!

However getting all the puzzle pieces right & making them fit, is not boring or easy. It's a HUGE challenge! And that my dear, is why clients should be paying YOU the big bucks!
:)
 

Colan Nielsen

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So very true. It's too bad the secret wasn't the same as "The Secret", where we can just visualize the great ranking results, and the law of attraction takes care of the rest.
 
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I have my February Advanced Google+ Local group training course today and tomorrow. So actually wanted to get this all down in writing, so I could link to it in the course materials, instead of having to take up 2 training pages to explain some of these points. :)
 
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I think it may be a gread post to share with certain clients too. Those that have unrealistically high expections or have talked to someone else who's promising that magic ranking bullet!
 
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Great points, Linda. Too many people, and even SEOs, want to find that one little secret that rockets their Local listing to the A spot. But SEO involves a holistic approach--address everything, not just one thing such as your listing or backlinks. Mike also made a great point in the interview when he stated that too many businesses focus on Facebook too much. Facebook may have a lot of people on it, but when they're trying to find a business and are ready to buy, they will use Google.
 

Marie Ysais

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Wait.........so we don't get the SEO easy button at some point??

The secret is just good old fashioned hard work mixed with expertise and understanding the guidelines! It doesn't get any better than that in my opinion.
 

painperdu

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I especially like Blumenthal's admonition about conversion/CTR optimization. Google considers this one of their strongest signals in both paid and organic search.

Also, I only tend to use Facebook for local when I know the business already and want to see their menu or other info. But for looking for generic info on a local business category I go to Google.
 
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Linda,

First of all, thanks for such a great post. There is so much great info in there. I hate to ask for more, but I'm going to hahaha. Copywriting is definetely something I struggle with. I found a thread on here for best practices for writing descriptions, but no examples of rock solid A+ material.

Would you mind sharing some of the descriptions you have written for clients. I would understand if you didn't want to share. I am just trying to get a feel for what constitutes greatness.

Thanks,
Curt
 
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I offer a sample in my training but don't post it publicly.

Back before I got smart I did and had a spammy consultant copy that exact description word for word and use it on ALL OF HIS DENTISTS which made my Dentists look spammy to Google because that same one got copied to hundreds of his listings. And G+ L descriptions is just a tad off topic for this thread.

So if you ask over in that description thread I'll give some more tips if I have time this weekend but am way behind on training so no promises. But others may weigh in too and most regulars here have taken my training so know what I know.
 

Kristen

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Linda,

First of all, thanks for such a great post. There is so much great info in there. I hate to ask for more, but I'm going to hahaha. Copywriting is definetely something I struggle with. I found a thread on here for best practices for writing descriptions, but no examples of rock solid A+ material.

Would you mind sharing some of the descriptions you have written for clients. I would understand if you didn't want to share. I am just trying to get a feel for what constitutes greatness.

Thanks,
Curt
Curt, for descriptions, we include several things:

1. Consider the unique positioning for the business - what makes them stand out over competition?
2. Address the emotional selling point - (for example, with a divorce lawyer specializing in mediation, they might deliver quick and efficient results so everyone can begin a new chapter of their life)
3. How can we integrate what they do without making the description seem too spammy (repeating keywords)
4. What is the call to action? Free consultation? Call the office?

We answer these questions, make it a few paragraphs long and link to key areas of the site that reinforce these things. Also, sometimes in more competitive markets, we'll look at the competitor's descriptions on page 1 so we can create a clear distinction from what everyone else is saying.

Hope this helps.

Kristen
 
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Curt, for descriptions, we include several things:

1. Consider the unique positioning for the business - what makes them stand out over competition?
2. Address the emotional selling point - (for example, with a divorce lawyer specializing in mediation, they might deliver quick and efficient results so everyone can begin a new chapter of their life)
3. How can we integrate what they do without making the description seem too spammy (repeating keywords)
4. What is the call to action? Free consultation? Call the office?

We answer these questions, make it a few paragraphs long and link to key areas of the site that reinforce these things. Also, sometimes in more competitive markets, we'll look at the competitor's descriptions on page 1 so we can create a clear distinction from what everyone else is saying.

Hope this helps.

Kristen
Kristen,

It helps tremendously! Thanks for taking the time to reply. I'm adding this to my playbook.

Curt,
 
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Thanks Kristen,

Great advice!

Curt since you are in training now you can see my whole section on descriptions and I give example. And like Kristen I encourage meaningful descriptions that set you apart.

I also strongly recommend using psychological triggers that help your target customer understand that you can relate to their needs and have what they are looking for and give examples of that too.

I also caution not to make it paragraphs long for 2 reasons.
1) More rope to hang yourself with
2) Pushes your precious reviews down, which if good, can be your biggest selling point.

It's all covered in Video #4 "The Nitty Gritty ? Devil?s in the Details"
 

Laustin1878

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Which descriptions are you talking about? The description for your Google My Business page or the description for your website page?

I would echo most of what Kristen has said. Google usually takes a snippet from the content of your page and uses it in the search result. If you are struggling to write page content, than you may want to consider having someone write it for you. So, for website page descriptions (i.e. meta description) it really doesn't make a whole lot of difference b/c Google is taking what they want based on the search query. Some have abandoned meta descriptions altogether which I don't agree with. Something should be in there if not for anything else, the other search engines.

If you are talking about descriptions for Google My Business, I would follow Kristen's advice as this is a perfect summary of how to do it.
 

Gsmithmike

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I just asked this question before but unfortunately I did not get a good respond, something that i am not aware of.

If you have a local business and it is connected to Yext power listing it began to loose ranking a week ago, I am not seeing anything that i do is wrong, but again I have no answer on why some companies without website. without correct citations get ranked higher? - If the citation is a huge part of local then how come some people with less citations even wrong citations get higher ranking? Does it have to do with the PR ?

Let's discuss this!
 
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I just asked this question before but unfortunately I did not get a good respond
Mike I answered that in your other thread which is 20 posts long with people giving you help.

I said: "There are so many other factors and citations are not the main thing any more. There are over 200 factors that do into the local algo and citations, since the Pigeon update are not quite as strong of a factor. So I doubt that's the reason.

Several of us also gave you other suggestions.

AND pointed out lots of spam and violations, which all could play a part.

<a href="http://localsearchforum.catalystemarketing.com/help-support-google-local/25894-why-losing-ranking-while-your-citations-power.html">Why Losing Ranking while your citations are power synced and correct?</a>
 

Gsmithmike

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I am completely aware of my last post, and I think my new post clarifies why I sent another question, you responded with the same paragraph so I am not sure if that is helpful, also people here and there suggested some tiny things. I still did not get a complete answer on why it is loosing ranking while the most important signal was and will be citations! Some other thing I noticed and I explained last time was why businesses with incorrect address, or incorrect names getting ranked higher?

Is it because of PR? Is it because they are doing PPC? How important a yelp listing is when it comes to getting reviews and ranking, I am seeing yelp pages get ranking all the time!

What will be the suggestions beside keyword, and citations?
 
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Linda,

I would love to see an example of a well written description on a G+ Local page.

Anyone game?

The real secret? There is no secret! The truth is - there IS no magic bullet. There are a few choice 'tricks'
that may work for awhile, but then usually get you in trouble.

A lot of folks that take my Advanced Google+ Local training, I think are looking for a magic bullet. They seek that one secret trick that will push their client - deserving or not - to the top of their market in Google.

I just read a great interview with Mike Blumenthal by Stargazer Digital, that really boiled it down well.



So sadly no magic bullet. There are lots of ethical things you can do to fix problems and lots of best practices to follow that help ensure the listing will rank as high as it naturally deserves to.

One of the things I teach a lot about is how to learn to "think" like Google. How to evaluate listings like the Google Local algo does. Learn what she likes (relevance) and use multiple, ethical ways to build up relevance (trust). And also learn how to avoid a wide variety of things that are either blatant violations
OR violate unwritten rules OR trip a spam filter, because it mimics certain spam patterns. But all you can do is clean up data & represent the business as accurately as possible, in as many ethical ways as possible.

So there is no secret formula you can apply to a Google+ Local page that will help overcome other problems the client may have - like fractured upstream data, hidden merged dupes, a slow, poorly designed web site or organic penalties.

I liken the local algo to a giant complicated puzzle. He who has the most pieces AND the most IMPORTANT pieces in all the right places - wins in that particular market.

There are puzzle pieces on the G+ Local page, there are 3rd party pieces like citations, reviews and backlinks and there are lots of important puzzle pieces on the web site itself.

So you can get all the pieces just perfect on the G+ L page, BUT if their citations are a scrambled mess and they have a slow site with organic violations, you may have a hard time moving the ranking needle - regardless of how well you optimize the G+L page.

I really like the fact that Mike pointed out conversion optimization too. Because that IS something you can strongly impact on G+ L listings.

If you get a client to rank high, but their listing is not compelling and does not generate clicks or calls then you have not helped them as much as you could.

1/2 the listings out there have poor quality images and the description says "We offer blah, blah, blah, blah and blah. With just a long string of keywords. What can you do to set your client apart?

Focusing equal effort on things that will help your client stand out from the competition, is as important as ranking optimization.

So hope I didn't disappoint. You knew there was not really some secret trick right? ;)

In the Google local game - learning to use best practices, finding ways to enhance relevance and trust, ensuring data integrity and conversion optimization is what it takes to help your clients win! And that's the boring truth!

However getting all the puzzle pieces right & making them fit, is not boring or easy. It's a HUGE challenge! And that my dear, is why clients should be paying YOU the big bucks!
:)
 

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