Google Local Business Listings are either a fantastic opportunity or a really annoying barrier stopping a site in 4th place from getting any traffic.
For example when Google displays a map for the query mobile phones it’s annoying for the poor site in 4th place because they get a massive drop in traffic but it’s also not an opportunity really because most people are not looking for a local phone shop they want a national online retailer.
If you are lucky enough to be in an industry where local search matters then 2010 could be HUGE for you.
Google is reporting that in the US one in every 13 searches now shows a map. That’s pretty huge when you consider the proportion of searches that are for terms such as “facebook” where a map would never show. This means maps received 868 million impressions in December in the US alone.
With all this good news there has to be some bad news too and in this case it’s with the fact that to get a local business listing in a lot of cases you need the help of a human at Google to manually approve your listing even after telephone or postal verification. We are finding that this takes at least 2 months for the approval and then a further 1-2 months for the listings to start showing up on the search results.
As you can expect normal small business owners who don’t understand Googles support policy are getting pretty frustrated at the lack of responses in the forums.