Optimizing local business listings in Google search

Whenever someone outside of Germany searched for my company wywy, the business listing for the German headquarters in Munich would show up. We double-checked our Google+ business locations and while they showed the correct address, a search in the US or in the UK would still return the German address. Definitely no way to impress US or UK clients as they would think we’d just operate in Germany. So I dug a little deeper and tested until I finally found the right way to do it using structured data mark-up. To be honest, there is probably not THE one way to do it but rather a combination of the Google+ listing and the structured data mark-up. 1 week after we implemented the changes Google started showing the correct business listing in most of the cases.

Here’s a quick step-by-step guide including an example for our US listing:

Step 1: Check your local listing
Use the Google Adwords Preview Tool to get a local search result. Searching from Germany will not show you the same results as someone searching from the US. Choose the location (in my example: USA), the language (English), the search engine (google.com). Then type in your search to get the result.

Google AdWords Preview options:


This is the original result for a US search:


Step 2: Use structured data mark-up
Google has a fairly detailed explanation on how to add structured data to your website. In our case, we wanted to make Google understand that there is a local address and phone number for the US market. Although you can add any phone number, Google asks you to specify the type (customer service, sales…).

This is what our final code on our contact page looked like:

For good measure we also added some structured data to our imprint page:

Step 3: Test your structured data mark-up
Google offers a tool to validate your code. Once validated, you can integrate it into your website. Done. Finally.

Here’s what a correct / validated mark-up looks like:


And finally the correct result:

Pro tip: Even if you don’t have any offices abroad, you might want to add virtual phone numbers to make your company look international. There are many virtual phone providers out there, we use Sonetel. Just buy a virtual local phone number and forward it to any number worldwide.

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