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Anatomy of a Google search result page:
- Listings on the right side bar are paid advertisements, often called "sponsored links"
- The main body of a search result page are called the "organic" or "natural" search listings
- At the very top in a colored text box are also paid advertisements, sponsored links
- Above the organic listings are "Google Local Business Listings"
This wiki deals with only with the Local Business Listings
You will notice a map associated with each listing, this is because Google used the existing infrastructure of Google Maps to implement the free business listings. It's generally thought that Google offered this free service, and gave its location on a search result page prominence above the organic listings because of the popularity of Google's Adwords program.
Adwords is a PPC (pay per click) advertising system where keywords and keyword phrases are bid on in an auction like system. The immense popularity of Adwords priced smaller Mom n Pop stores out of the market due to the ever escalating costs of certain keywords. Google became fearful that it's search platform would be return search results of the "rich and famous" thus reflecting only what the rich and powerful wanted seen on Google search results.
How does Google determine which website should rank higher than another?
Google uses a computer program algorithm based on hundreds of factors as the vast size of the internet precludes any human capability of keeping the listings accurate or current. That algorithm is a closely guarded trade secret within Google. Search Engine Optimization Consultants learn what Google apparently likes and doesn't like from the observable behavior of search results.
Local Business Listings IS Google Maps
Google Maps algorithm is different from the algorithm that anoints one site over another. It's also slower to update. If your customers leave glowing reviews of your product or service on the link provided your site will climb in rank.
You are permitted up to 10 photos of your product or service, use as many of those slots as possible. Fill out as much information about your business as space allotted provides, being verbose is better than being succinct when it comes to Google Local Business Listings.
Many small businesses get leads and interested inquiries from a local business listing even if they don't have a website url. Still other small businesses find it unnecessary to have their company listed anywhere other than the top local business listings. If your listing falls in ranking or is bumped out of it's spot by a newcomer and you find your company losing sales because of it, you may want to outsource your rankings management to a local search engine optimization firm.