Google has released a new feature tied to Google My Business (GMB) locations that allows users to ask questions and provide answers about a location directly within mobile search results and Google Maps. The feature does not currently appear to be accessible on desktop devices. It is available on all mobile devices from Google.com web search, and Android devices from the Google Maps app.
Local search is growing in popularity and Google is showing its support by including more and more local style features in the SERPs. Consumers tend to be drawn to local listings, so you definitely want your business to have a presence in this area. Of course, having a rich, optimized Google Places page is a necessity and should be the first place your start to build up you presence in local searches.
However, the algorithm for standard searches and Google Places or local search are not the same thing — the main difference being the importance of “citations.” A citation is any place where your company information is listed consistently, which helps search engines find and identify your business. Citations are to local search what links are to organic search. Similarly, to increase your presence in local search, you need to increase the citations you have. You also need to make sure they are consistent. For example, if you have “Street” in your address on your Google Places page, make sure it’s “Street”, not “St.”, across all your citations as well.
So what are the best ways to increase your number of citations? Social media, directories and aggregators are good places to start.
Social media elements are becoming very strong ranking factors that consistently appear in search results. Naturally, having complete and consistent information across all of your company’s social media sites — like Foursquare, Facebook, Google+, and others — will go a long way in helping your local search rankings.
Aggregators and directories are not just places to get more citations; they also provide an additional way for people to find your company. There are many of these types of sites you can establish profiles for. Some standard ones to start with include Yelp, City Search, Yellow Pages, and Angie’s List. On top of that, consider setting up a presence on local directories as well. Your city’s chamber of commerce is a good start. You can also search for “your city + your industry” to bring up even more local directories or aggregators.
These types of sites aren’t the only places you can increase your citations, but they make a great start. You should be able to build more citations as you build links and create content for your site — so keep at it!