The Google Local Business Center is a tool that enables business owners to more effectively connect with customers searching on Google for information about local business. It puts business owners in control of their business listings and helps them to provide information about their businesses that is authoritative, helpful, and, timely.
The Local Business Center (LBC) is even useful for businesses that do not have Websites as Google’s LBC makes it possible for them to use the local business listing as their presence on the Web.
Signing up for an account with the LBC – and adding or claiming your local business listing – should be a top priority for your business for five key reasons:
1- Your Customers and Competitors’ Customers Search Google to find Local Businesses
The Google Local Business search engine – which you can find at either local.Google.com or maps.Google.com (maps is, by far, the more popular of the two) – gets an average of more than 50 million unique visitors every month.
That’s a lot of people searching every month for, among other things, local businesses to buy from.
And although it’s advisable to sign up for local business accounts at Yahoo, Bing, and other search engines, a Google Local Business account should be your immediate priority because Google is the runaway leader in local business search market share, with more than double the local business search market share of maps.yahoo.com, maps.bing.com, and yellow.pages.com combined.
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Of course, in spite of Google’s best efforts to promote the LBC – and the utilization of maps.Google.com – there are many millions of people who still use the google.com Website, even when searching for local business information. And, as you’ll learn in the next section, that gives local businesses an opportunity to capture some space at the top of Google’s “traditional” Web search results.
2- A Google Local Business Listing Can Take You to the Top of Google
Google’s launch of universal search in May 2007 meant that content from Google Images, Google Local/Maps, Google Video, and so forth could be integrated into its “traditional” Web search results pages.
This means that Google can – and often does – serve up local business listings as part of the Web search results even if location is not specified (it appears that Google’s search algorithm is able to detect “local intent”).
It’s increasingly common to find Google local business listings on the first page of search results – often at the top – as the “Google Local Business Seven-Pack” (a reference, obviously, to the fact that Google displays the top seven local business search results in a cluster of seven).
Alternatively, Google may display a search query box at the top of the search results page that asks searchers: Looking for local results for keyword?
Either way, a Google Local Business listing can put a business on the fast-track to a coveted position at the top of Google’s search results that may have been impossible to capture otherwise.
3 – People Who Search Google for Local Businesses Take Action
A Google-sponsored, comScore.com study that looked at the importance of search in influencing offline buying behaviour found that 25% of searchers purchased an item directly related to their search queries, and that, of those buyers, 37% completed their purchases online while an even greater 63% completed their purchases offline following their search activity.