Location-based SEO strategies can be expensive, competitive, and complicated to implement. Luckily, though, there are several free tools you can use to bump up your local search rankings.
One of these tools is “Google My Business.”
The primary focus of Google My Business is to make it as simple as possible for potential customers to learn more about your local business.
Here’s how it works:
When users search for something on Google (in this example, “Allen Texas pet stores”), they will see a map and a list of the top three local listings that are nearby, before they see any other results. These top three listings will give users plenty of information right away — they can see the store’s ratings, address, opening and closing hours, and contact number. For some, that could be enough to make a decision.
Google My Business essentially helps you improve your chances of entering this “Local 3-Pack” and driving more traffic to your website, social channels, and front door. This makes it important for you to ensure that you have a Google My Business listing and, more importantly, that it’s optimized.
In today’s blog, we are going to take a quick look at how you can optimize your Google My Business listing to dominate local search rankings and boost your online visibility.
1. Set up your listing.
The first thing you need to do is claim and verify your Google My Business Listing (if you haven’t already done so). To set up your listing, visit the Google My Business page and click the “Start Now” button in the upper left corner.
Once you’ve claimed and verified your listing, fill in every relevant field — such as your business name, address and phone number (otherwise known as NAP), website, and store hours, among other things. You don’t want to leave anything to the guesswork or assumptions of your customers, do you?
2. Make sure your information is consistent.
Google looks at how consistent your business information is across different online platforms to verify the legitimacy of your listing. Seems simple enough, doesn’t it? Your address isn’t going to change on different platforms, right?
Well, it’s actually pretty easy for little variations in your information to slip. You may, for example, enter your address as “Richardson Court” on your website, but shorten it to “Richardson Ct.” on your Yelp listing — and this will put you on Google’s naughty list. So, make sure that your business information on Google My Business listing is consistent with the information on your website and social channels.
3. Choose a relevant business category.
The category you choose will help Google decide which searches to rank your local listing in. So, you must select the category that best fits your business from the list of available categories.
Important: If possible, select the more specific category available. For example, in this list of categories, “marketing agency” is a more general and, therefore, more competitive term than “internet marketing service.” This means that choosing the latter term is more likely to land you in the “Local 3-Pack”.
4. Upload high-resolution images, 360-view and videos.
Would you prefer customers to visit your business location rather than your competitors’? Of course, you would. Add some high-resolution, well-lit photos to help your listing stand out and make that happen.
Another great way to stand out is to hire a Google-approved photographer to create a 360-view virtual tour of your business.
To give users a “behind-the-scenes” look at what your business is all about and establish a strong bond with your customers, you can also add a 30-second video to your listing.
5. Avoid penalty-inducing offenses.
Any work you do to optimize your listing will be in vain if you try to play the system and incur a penalty. Google actively suspends business listings caught violating its guidelines, and if your listing is one of them, it could be pretty bad for business. So, it’s best to avoid doing anything that puts you at risk.
Read through Google’s guidelines for Google My Business listings to get a clear understanding of what you should avoid doing.
6. Encourage reviews.
Local businesses listed in the map snippet of a local search usually have star ratings next to their name. These ratings are a huge part of your local search effort, and, more importantly, they are important for your customers. As prospective buyers have turned more to self-guided research, they tend to trust businesses that are highly rated by their past customers.
One of the best ways to get your star rating up is by encouraging your happy customers to give you a review on Google. There are many ways you can do this, but the easiest and most successful approach is to simply ask them — create a link that allows customers to visit your listing and write reviews for your business.
Here’s how you can do that:
Step 1: Open Google Maps and search the name of your company in the top left corner.
Step 2: From the menu option in the top-left corner, click “Share or Embed Map.”
Step 3: Click “Copy Link.”
Step 4: Share with all your previous customers by sending the link via email or text.
Related Blog: 5 ways to handle negative business reviews
7. Don’t ignore SEO.
Google My Business is a part of your local SEO, so don’t brush aside the need to optimize your website for search. Creating better (this could mean original, more in-depth, better structured, and locally-focused) content, incorporating relevant keywords into the meta tags and copy on each page, and finding high-quality backlinks will undoubtedly have search engines giving your local business more exposure.
8. Use Google Posts
Google Posts are almost like “mini-ads” or “social media posts” that show up prominently in the Google My Business “knowledge panel” and contain important information customers want to know about your business.
Don’t miss this opportunity to stand out from the crowd.
Here are a few examples of GMB post ideas that you will get your creative juices flowing:
- Touting the upcoming sales event that you are actively promoting.
- Linking your latest blog post.
- Revealing a new product line with several high-quality images.
- Sharing a text update on a recent company advancement.
Keep in mind: Google Posts are only active for up to seven days, making it important to work out your posts in a specific and timely manner.
Local SEO, like traditional SEO, is a long process and takes a lot of work, but the payoff is worth it. If you are in business for a long haul or want to maximize your profitability by driving more qualified leads to your doorstep, you need to learn how to make the most out of your Google My Business listing.
Looking for a competitive edge for your local business in Dallas, Texas?
The Dallas digital marketing team at Click4Corp can help your local business position itself in front of new customers, and ahead of your market rivals by employing one of the most effective strategies your local business has in its marketing arsenal: Google My Business.
Give us a call at 469-441-4678 or fill out a simple online form to learn more about our listing management and local SEO services!
The Google My Business landscape has changed a lot in the past few months due to the coronavirus diseases. Read our blog on “Google My Business Updates Following The Covid-19 Outbreak” to learn more.