Most customers of local businesses live within 8 kilometres of the business and Local search targets potential clients and customers in this area.

The beginning

Local search results began when Google scraped the Yellow pages of the major english-speaking countries and gave each business they found their own page on the internet ( on Google’s own computers ). Bing and Yahoo both did a similar thing.

These pages are the basis of the Local search results – the ones that appear in a box with the map at the top ( until mid-2015, they used to be labelled A-B-C with teardrops in the main search area). They allow you to list your business and show your business details directly in Google.

How they work

Google’s Local search results display for smaller geographical areas than the main search results. But this is good for local businesses, because it levels the playing field and allows them to appear high in the search results where before the competition from large companies was too great.

The local pages went through a few name changes – a Google Places page, then Google+ Local page and now they’re calling them Google My Business pages.

The main things influencing position in Local search results are …

  • An increasing number of online reviews. Google My Business pages allow reviews to be posted about businesses and reviews on other websites are also noted.
  • The number of mentions in a country’s online directories – called citations.
  • The distance of the business physically from the searcher. The location of a searcher using a smart-phone will usually be autodetected and searches from a desktop computer can set their location in the left column of Google’s search page.
  • The Google My Business page set up correctly.
  • A website set up well and with relevant information.
  • And starting in 2015, we found that the main ranking factors associated with the main search results are playing a big part as well.

This is what Google says about how they rank Local search results …

And there’s a good summary for 2015 here …

Google is constantly changing and tweaking their search result display, so techniques also need to adapt over time.

There’s nothing better than having other people saying good things about you and your business. In fact, the next thing most people do after searching for a product or service is search for what’s being said about the provider. They often type in the business name to see what comes up. Pushing good news about a business up in search results; it’s often called Reputation Management.