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SEO Part 3: Local Business Listings

When search engine users geo-qualify their queries, they are likely to see Google My Business listings as part of the search results. These appear in a "local pack" at or near the top of the results page. For the example in Figure 1, the "knee replacement rochester ny" search results include 1) paid search ads, 2) My Business listings in the Local Pack, and 3) organic search results. The business listings are placed above the organic results, giving them greater visibility.

Google search results page explained

Figure 1: Example Google Search Results Page

Many of our URMC locations serve a largely local audience, so it is extremely important to claim and update your Google My Business listings. Most likely, there is already a listing created for your offices or facilities. When Google becomes aware of a place of business, phone number, or address, they create a default listing. Business owners can claim ownership of their listings and update them with additional information, including photos. If you have multiple locations, you will want to claim a listing for each unique phone/address combination.

The content in your business listings is fed into the search algorithms, so it is important to select the appropriate business categories, and add photos. One of the most important ranking factors for business listings is reviews. Google My Business listings have a review feature where authenticated (logged into a Google account) users can rate businesses and provide descriptive reviews. Google also uses data sources such as Yelp reviews to help rank business listing results.

Claiming Your Google My Business Listing

Create a shared Google account that can be used to claim and manage business listings for your department or group. If your listings are tied to an individual’s account, it can be problematic if that person leaves the organization. Create a Google Account

Claim all the listings for your department or group. Listings are verified by one of two methods: 1) an automated call is placed by Google to the business phone number of record, and the system dictates a verification code, or 2) a post card with the verification code is mailed to the address or record. If you use the automated call verification, the system will call that number almost immediately. If you are unable to guarantee that the person answering the phone will be aware of the purpose of that call, then you might consider using the post card method. Claim Your Businesses

Verify your listings using the verification code from the call or post card. Follow the instructions provided by Google, provided to you after claiming your listings.

Edit your listings. Update the hours of business and add photos to the listings as well. Unfortunately, Google has removed the ability to create a custom description for your business.

As appropriate, encourage patients and/or customers to submit reviews on your My Business page.