Ranking for local searches on Google requires a slightly different approach. Unfortunately, small business owners tend to get very mixed up about what that approach is supposed to be. A whole set of myths has come up about how to rank for local searches on Google as a result. Here are the top 7 myths to do with ranking for local searches on Google that you need to stay away from.
The idea that you need to have your main keyword in your domain name
Exact-match domain names were big up until three years ago. Google was simple enough back then that it would look for websites that actually had the keyword phrases that searchers searched for in website domain names. Google was designed on the belief that such websites were relevant. Seedy Internet marketers, though, took advantage of this simple rule to create millions of exact-match websites for everything from ItchyAcne.com to BestCollegeForVeterans.com. They were very poor quality sites that offered no value to visitors. When Google put these websites up on the first search results page, a few people would come in, click on an ad or two to see what happened. This would make some money for those Internet marketers.
Google has since wised up to these tricks. Ever since Google released the Penguin update, keywords and keyword phrases in domain names don't matter much.
For local search, exact match domain names matter less. The promotional activity that you invest in is the only thing that will make your website rank for local searches. For established businesses, nearly half of all search traffic usually comes from the names of the products they sell. For any company that has multiple products, focusing on the domain name on individual products becomes problematic. Focusing domain names on the name of your company makes more sense.
The idea that good user reviews matter a great deal to Google
In most cases, Google cannot read the ratings that your products get in the form of a star system or anything else. You mostly need to pay attention to content development, social marketing and other promotional activities. To the extent that Google does factor in reviews, a few negative reviews make your website look realistic.
The idea that social marketing doesn't help ranking for certain kinds of business
Certainly, customers at some kinds of business are easier to attract over social media than others. A plumbing business or a doctor, for instance, may have considerable trouble getting anyone to visit their social media presence. These businesses still do need to get on Facebook and Twitter, though. When such businesses use their social media presence to comment on matters of industry significance, it can help establish them as local industry authorities - which is always good thing for ranking on Google in tightly contested local rankings.
The idea that you need a separate listing for every town in your region
Google does give some preference to businesses that have a physical location in the city that they wish to rank for. But it isn't as strong a preference as it used to be. Some businesses get carried away with the local address idea that they obtain virtual addresses for each town that they wish to rank for in their area. With multiple listings, though, you need to invest in SEO promotion for each address. Otherwise, you end up diluting your position on Google's rankings for each additional address that you get.
The idea that it doesn't take much SEO to rank well on Google Local
If your business is in a competitive market, thinking that you don't need to do much SEO could be trouble. If you have 100 other competitors in your town and Google only displays 7 local businesses on its first page, you only have about a 7.5% chance of making it. If your competitors are better established than you are, it can be even harder to rank. For most businesses, a little quick SEO will never cut it. You need to truly invest yourself in it.
The idea that you need to move downtown to rank
Relocating to make it in Google Local rankings isn't necessary even if many businesses do try it. At one time, Google did give preference to businesses located in the very center of each city. Since then, though, Google has become more sophisticated and maps out several hotspots in every city. While relocating to a better part of town does give you some advantage in Google's local rankings, you could work hard on other kinds of promotional activity to go up in the rankings, instead.
The idea that you should set up tracking phone numbers
Many businesses like to set up a different phone numbers for every listing that they put online. They want to be able to connect every call from a potential customer to a specific listing. Unfortunately, this can be bad for listing on Google. The search engine uses phone numbers as local identifiers. If you have a different phone number appearing in each listing, you won't get as much ranking benefit out of it.