Matt Cutts, a Google software engineer and search quality spokesman, explains how you can qualify for your local search listing in the search engine.
If your business works within a specific geographic area, the local search listings in Google Places makes it possible for you to appear in the local search results within a 50 mile radius of your business.
He points out that to qualify for local search listings, you must be a local business, and you need a physical business location within your service area that is verifiable by Google employees.
If your business is physically located outside of an area you serve, you will not qualify for inclusion in local search results, and cannot be listed. However, all is not lost. There are still opportunities for you to connect with those local search customers.
The organic search listings on the page are available to all websites that optimize and rank for that search term, so a prominent position is still possible with by applying on-page and off-page SEO techniques.
In this video, Matt tells you what it takes to qualify for your free listing.
Another option to consider for out of area businesses is advertising in Google Adwords. These are the paid ad listings at the top of the results page, and all along the right side of the page. You can be listed for many different local search terms to help customers find you. All that is necessary is a well optimized website that can obtain a good Google quality score, and placing a pay-per-click bid that is high enough for your ad to be shown above competing ads on the page.
If you have a local business and want to rank well in Google Places, you can be certain that Matt Cutts will provide accurate information that you need to be successful on the internet.