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Understanding Google My Business & Local Search

The Google “Onebox” on general search phrases

7)Using Google adwords in the local listing

In a previous post about ranking well in Google Maps I listed 6 items that seemed to affect ranking. It seems that there may be a seventh. Although the sample size is limited, there is some evidence that having an adword campaign running in Google Maps adds authority to a local listing. The “authority” may lead to the Google “Onebox” (the phrase referring to the inclusion of a map, local information and a weblink) listing in a broader range of circumstances.

When initially available, the “onebox” would usually appear with a search of “business name + local modifier”. However recently I have seen behavior where the “onebox” is now appearing with a more general search of “business activity + local modifier”.

Blumenthals Olean NYUsing the search phrase “Web Hosting Olean NY” returns the “onebox” listing. With the search “Computer Olean NY” it returns a “onebox” as well. As you can see from the example, the authoritative listing is given page dominance on the organic results page and includes significant additional information beyond either a typical organic listing or a typical local listing.

Why is this important? Obviously achieving a #1 ranking on Google is always nice. But this listing goes well beyond that. It provides the local customer with a phone number, full address, a map AND a link to our site.

But for the first time local search phrases have showed up in our logs. Local search has not generated much web traffic previously. Certainly if Googles new “Vocal Local” (see previous post) takes off then it could provide significant phone traffic.

While a listing like this is of little use in many industries there are some in our local market that receive significant searches on “service + location” searches. “Restaurants”, “Jobs” and “Hotels” are frequently used with our local modifier and in those industries a listing like this would provide significant web and phone traffic.

Now to the more difficult question of why and how…. The why in a general sense is clear…Google has determined that our listing is “authoritative” for this local search phrase. I beleive that applying the 6 steps as previously noted has led to that. Of particular importance (in my mind at least) was the use of the phrase in the business title.

But on a number of other local entries with similar characteristics, this desirable ranking did not occur. What was different? I have succeeded in achieving the “onebox” on one other listing and the common variable was a local adwords campaign. While this 7th criteria doesn’t automatically land your listing with the “onebox”, it seems to add enough additional authority to push some listings over the top.

Clearly my sample size is small and I would love to hear from others to refine this hypothesis.