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There are over 100 different factors that determine how you rank on Google+ Local (Google Places and Google Maps).
One of the most important of those factors is making sure your Name, Address and Phone number (NAP) are consistent across hundreds of different directories and sources (find out how you are doing with this free local optimization report).
Where as building links to your website used to be the most important SEO tactic (it still is somewhat important), now it’s about building citations. You may hear, “citations are the new links,” and the reason is all about Google+ Local. Let me explain.
When Google tried to buy Yelp and failed, it built it’s own directory and named it Google+ Local. The service now powers all of Google's map listings and is included on 83% of local searches on the desktop. You read that correctly - 83% and growing with every update. More importantly, Google is typically putting these map results at the top of local searches, and they are often the first results a consumer looks at.
Couple that with the fact that it’s becoming increasingly difficult to get to the front of organic web searches without it being through a publisher or directory (see this content marketing article that explains why), and Google+ Local, directories and local publisher become the major player in the local SEO game.
Fixing up your directories and optimizing them with descriptions, photos, videos and specials is key to help convert prospects into customers. But listing your dealership on dozens of third party local directories is also crucial to how you rank on Google+ Local.
Google+ Local is relatively new. So how did they get so many business listings? What they essentially do is continuously upload large lists from companies like InfoGroup, Axiom, Localeze and more, and try to sort the good data from the garbage. The problem is, most of these lists have error rates from 20-50%!
That’s a lot of garbage.
Google then tries to guess what is the best data by cross-referencing the information across different directories and websites across the Internet. As I mentioned earlier, Name, Address and Phone number (NAP) tend to matter the most in this process.
Google really cares about making sure that information is consistent and rich across hundreds of local directories and very importantly, your own website (so put it in the footer as we recommend for our local SEO solution). If yours is not, it thinks your listing might be garbage.
And Google doesn't want to show garbage, so you won’t rank.
David Mihm is one of the foremost experts on local SEO and puts out an annual list of local SEO ranking factors based on a survey of leading experts. It’s the definitive resource local SEO experts point to. What you can see is that citation consistency and quality are factors #5, #8, #13, etc. Citations matter. Consistency, quality and quantity matter, not to mention that getting this all done creates lots of valuable links to your website. That and 50% of local searches happen outside of the search engines and in these directories and apps.
So be vigilant. Check how you are doing online in the key directories and see if your dealership is handing over garbage to Google+ Local.