Over the past few years Google’s search results have evolved from listing the top 10 most relevant web pages to something called Universal Search Results. These results consists of movies clips, news articles, images, tweets, status updates and local search results. Here is an example of universal search: (click to enlarge)
Notice that these search results contain news, websites, video and image results.
With so little space left for websites it is important optimize these other channels. The local listings section of universal search results takes up quite a big space, and with Google focus on local search, this section of SERPs often takes up a front seat of the SERP. By creating and maintaining social media profiles on sites like Yelp, Citysearch and other local search websites, you can create quality backlinks to your websites that will help you rank for local search results.
One way to help boost your local rankings is to create a Google Places account. This can be done by going to Google.com/business and selecting the option to create an account. When you have selected this option you will be prompted to create a listing for your account. Here you will be able to add things such as location, business type, hours of operation and other general information regarding your business. You also have the ability to add logos and videos related to your business. By completing your profile you increase the chances of your local listing being scene in results.
Here is a look at the search results for ‘sushi in Philadelphia’. Note many of the top listing are local results and the notice the map in the upper right corner. (click to enlarge)
Just creating these profiles won’t guarantee you receive and ranking boost. You have to begin to interact with your customers to ensure they create user generated content on your profiles. The best way to do this is to encourage your customers to review our product or service on sites such as Yelp and Google Places. By promoting your profiles in store and through other social media outlets you can increase the likelihood of a customer posting a review. Many companies will even run contests that promote their profiles and business in order to secure reviews.
Once you have these profiles up and running you will want to keep a close eye on how they perform. Google does take reviews into consideration when ranking local search results. On Yelp, if you are left a bad review you do have the ability to reach out to reviewers and get more information on there experience. Hopefully you can resolve the issue professionally and remedy the situation.