Can your customers find you in the list? Do they have to keep scrolling endlessly to finally find your business?
Are you even on the map?
How to Optimize Your Google My Business Listing
The first place to start in any local SEO strategy would be to claim and verify your local business’ Google My Business (GMB) listing. Getting on Google My Business will increase your chances of showing up in Google’s Local Pack, Google Maps, Local Finder, and organic search results in general. Qualified local businesses can claim their free listing on Google and include some basic information about their company. Things you should include:
- Add a long, unique description that’s formatted correctly and includes links.
- Choose the correct categories for your business.
- Upload as many photos as possible.
- Add a local phone number to your listing.
- Add your business address that’s consistent with that on your website and local directories.
- Upload a high-resolution profile image and cover photo.
- Add your opening times/days (if relevant).
- Get real reviews from customers (I’ll come onto this).
If you have yet to claim or verify your Google My Business Listing, our suggestion would be to start there. To get started, visit https://www.google.com/business.
Claiming your business isn't as easy as “set it and forget it”. Google wants to know so much information about your business that they allow searchers to “Suggest an edit”. Anyone can suggest changes to your business including your competitors.
When a searcher clicks that option they can edit your Google My Business listing almost entirely:
This is a major reason why it’s very important that you monitor your Google My Business listing. In the GMB dashboard you can make sure that no one has attempted to make any undesired changes to your listing. You will see a notification that “Changes are pending” if a searcher has made suggested edits that need your approval.
Also, you should realize that Google encourages all people who are familiar with your business to answer questions about it. This allows Google to learn more information about the company. To do this you can simply tap on the “Know this place? Answer quick questions” link.
After you get your Google My Business listing verified, continue to check your listing regularly to be on the safe side.
Google My Business Posts
Google Posts are “mini-advertisements” that show up in Google search on your Google My Business listing (in the Knowledge Graph and on Google Maps.)
With your Posts you can add images, a Call to Action (CTA), and even include a link to another page or website.
A few Post ideas you could include:
- If your business is attending or sponsoring event you can set up an event Post with that date and time and then add a link for more information.
- Create a “sale” event Post. Do you have a sale going on?
- Share your latest blog post. Add a short snippet from your blog post and link to the GMB post to your website's blog.
- Do you have a new product for sale? Display a picture of it and link to where people can make a purchase.
- Want to give holiday cheer? Show potential customers a holiday message Post letting them know your active and you care.
The possibilities with Posts are pretty awesome! Posts will stay “live” for 7 days or “darken” after the date and time of the event/Post. Google is really good about notifying you when it’s time to create a new Post by asking you to “Add a Fresh Post”.
TIP: To draw attention to your post, you will want to include an image in it. Google Maps can chop off the post image. So, you might need to test a few image sizes to get it sized just right for Maps on desktop and mobile devices.
Posts will be located in your GMB dashboard on the left-hand side under the Home option and above the Info option.
Do Google My Business Posts help with local rankings and positioning? Joy Hawkins and Steady Demand tested whether Posts had an impact on rankings, and they found that making Google My Business Posts can improve rankings.
Google My Business online reviews
Google encourages business owners to ethically request their customers or clients to give online reviews. Online reviews appear next to your business listing in Google Maps. These reviews can help your business stand out from the sea of search listings.
Online reviews are also known to impact the search listing rankings, consumer trust, and click-through rates. According to BrightLocal’s 2017 Consumer Review Survey:
- 97% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses in 2017, with 12% looking for a local business online every day
- 85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations
- Positive reviews make 73% of consumers trust a local business more
- 49% of consumers need at least a four-star rating before they choose to use a business
- Responding to reviews is more important than ever, with 30% naming this as key when judging local businesses
- 68% of consumers left a local business review when asked — with 74% having been asked for their feedback
- 79% of consumers have read a fake review in the last year
- Consumers read an average of 7 reviews before trusting a business – up from 6 last year
- 77% of consumers think that reviews older than 3 months aren’t relevant
If you follow Google’s guidelines for Google My Business reviews, you can ask your clients or customers for reviews. (However, reviews can be removed if you violate any of these policies.)
When customers leave reviews for you — good or bad — make sure you respond to them. Not only does it show that customer that you appreciate their feedback, it also shows potential customers that you care.
What happens if you get a negative review? First, don’t give into your emotions. Everybody has a bad day and most people recognize that. They also recognize that people can be ignorant or petty. If you have a disgruntled person that gave you a 1-star review and left a bad comment, most people with common sense will recognize the review for what it is. So try not to lose sleep over it.
To learn more about strategically and ethically getting reviews for your business listing, check out this article from Moz.
Getting more technical for Improving Your Dallas Local SEO Ranking
In addition to the most basic optimization of your Google My Business listing, there are several more technical strategies you need to include to improve your local business ranking in Google Maps.
As you can see optimizing your GMB listing alone will only net you 14.7% of the ranking factors attributed to improving your business' position in Google Maps and search.
NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number)
You need to ensure that you have your full NAP across your whole website (i.e. every page). Furthermore, you must use the exact same details/format when your business is mentioned on other websites (i.e. local citations). These include Yelp, Superpages, YP and many many more.
Note: This will help if your business is suffering due to duplicate GMB listings that have variations of your business name or address.
You’ll also want to use Schema.org markup on your NAP to give the search engine spiders all they need to display your company information correctly.
Here’s the code that you can adapt to your own website:
<div itemscope itemtype=”http://schema.org/LocalBusiness”>
<p itemprop=”name”>COMPANY NAME</p>
<p itemprop=”address” itemscope itemtype=”http://schema.org/PostalAddress”>
<p itemprop=”streetAddress”>ADDRESS LINE 1</p>
<p itemprop=”telephone”>PHONE NUMBER</p>
<meta itemprop=”latitude” content=”LATITUDE” />
<meta itemprop=”longitude” content=”LONGITUDE” />
All you need to do is change the text in bold to your own details — simple.
Local reviews have a direct impact on local search rankings, so you’ll want to spend some time acquiring them.
It’s worth mentioning that this doesn’t just mean Google reviews. You’ll also want to focus on getting reviews on your Yelp page (they’re used by Apple maps), along with other local directories feed information to other portals.
To begin with, you’ll want to capture any low-hanging fruit by getting in touch with your existing customer base and see if they’d be interested in leaving you a review. You could incentivize them for their time (maybe a coupon, small added service with their bundle, etc.).
Another good idea is to create a page on your website that gives detailed instructions to your customers on exactly how they can review your business. It is very effective when it comes to getting in touch with customers, especially the non-technical ones!
Local On-Page SEO Factors
On-page SEO (this represents the SEO on your own business website) for local businesses conforms to some pretty old school SEO tactics. There’s quite a large # weighting towards the on-page content in the local search listings, so it’s important that, where possible, you squeeze the most value out of your content.
Here are a few important bullet points:
- Try to add your City/Region, plus a relevant keyword, within your landing page title tag.
- Try to add your City/Region, plus a relevant keyword, within your landing page H1 tag.
- Try to add your City/Region, plus a relevant keyword, within your landing page URL.
- Try to add your City/Region, plus a relevant keyword, within your landing page content.
- Try to add your City/Region, plus a relevant keyword, within your landing page image ALT attributes.
- Embed a Google map with your business marker into your landing page like the one below: