Here is a simple list of what is I have discovered is necessary to start improving your ranking at Google Maps and Yahoo Local.
As I have worked with local listings over the past year I created this small check list for achieving some measure of success. These points may be self evident or they may require additional clarification which I will be attempting to provide over the next several days. They all need testing and examination.
1)Be sure to edit the local listing and include the relevant business categories
2)Enhance the title of the Business to include the key phrase(s)
2a)Craft the categories and the description to reinforce the key phrase(s)
3)Get lots of web references (these are like links but not as rigidly defined) that reference the main key phrase and location of the business
4)Be sure that your own site has lots of references to your local address and key phrase
5)Join the Better Business Bureau/Mobile Travel Guide/Talking Phone Book etc. etc. that Google uses to provide details
6)Be sure to get some good reviews from the reviewing services the Google & Yahoo uses
Unlike optimization for organic search, optimization for local search at the major engines is in a much less developed state. It seems to have many fewer people poking, prodding and testing the hypothesis of local search and coming up with a definitive set of best practices. This is list is an attempt to create that model that we can all test. Have a go and let me know.
Almost 6 months ago I was requested by a local client to get them listed (or rather improve their listings) in Google Maps and Yahoo local.
I made a series of changes to the listing, helped them get their reviews improved, modified their business categories. On Yahoo the results showed up within a week.
On Google however the local listing was mired on page two and despite many of the same changes, didn’t go anywhere. This past Sunday, the listing has moved to the number one spot on the Google search page.
This raises several questions but the obvious one is: Does Google Maps have a Sandbox?
It would seem likely that they do. But the question that I have is: Is this just a function of their data update cycle or is it a more formal protocol that they follow.
Over the 6 month period, I had noticed that the reviews from citysearch.com that seemed to influence the standing on this listing were updated on Google. Now the aggregate star rating has been updated although Google Maps still quotes an older 3 star star review.
I have been working on Google and Yahoo local search optimization for awhile. It is an area that while not earth shattering in terms of traffic that they have generated it became clear to me that the importance to Google and Yahoo and the client was increasing and it would be a benefit to understand more about it.
I searched the internet for technical and practical knowledge on Google Maps and Yahoo Local and while there were posts from time to time at a number of sites, none seemed to provide a single place to obtain comprehensive and current information or a place where experiments in techniques could be hashed out and discussed.
If you have an interest in this topic and have some experience I hope that you will take the time to share it so that the general state of knowledge about search optimization for Google and Yahoo local can move forward.