Your local business website may be the centerpiece of your online marketing, but many customers won’t ever see it … and that’s not necessarily a problem.
Why? Because, more now than ever before, people find businesses through Google search and Google Maps. They learn enough through your Google My Business profile, without ever visiting your website, to decide whether to do business with you.
How do you make sure customers in your area find you? How do you get a listing that looks great? As expert providers of local SEO services and a certified Premier Google Partner, we have the answers!
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Think of it as your business listing that Google keeps on file, with the information that Google finds most helpful to people when they search online for local businesses.
Google, as you probably know, tries to make its tools extremely helpful to users. Over years of research, they’ve honed the experience of finding a local business, for both mobile and desktop users. Whether someone looks for a restaurant, a hardware store, a hairstylist, a plumber, a car dealership, or any other business, Google wants to show the most helpful information.
More detailed information includes what hours are busiest and a list of related businesses. Some listings may also include a Google Virtual Tour, which gives users a 3-dimensional, 360-degree tour of the building.
Here are a few statistics for you:
In other words, if you aren’t ranking on Google My Business, or if your listing is a turn-off, you are losing A LOT of customers.
The algorithm for business listings works a lot like Google’s general algorithm for ranking web pages. To whittle it down to the basics, Google attempts to show users the results that are most relevant to users and demonstrate a high level of authority and trust.
Because the listings are meant to be relevant, they usually include businesses closest to the user’s location. For common businesses like grocery stores, restaurants, and bars, it makes sense that a user wants to find one nearby. No matter how good your market is, if it’s 10 miles away, there’s not a good chance it’ll show up.
Even for other business types, such as plumbers, HVAC companies, gyms, hotels, and doctors, location is a big factor. In dense cities, the listings can be completely different just a few blocks away.
The rest of your business profile helps determine your ranking as well. First, you should claim your listing so that you can help maintain it.
You should provide Google with accurate information. You may be surprised to find that Google rewards details such as the business name being exactly the same in GMB as it is across the internet, and the phone number being displayed the same as on your website. That means that if you use the (555) 555-5555 format on your website, you shouldn’t give Google your number in the 555-555-5555 format.
Reviews are a significant factor, and not just the average score. Google pays attention to the number of reviews, how many of them showed up recently, and how much additional information they provide. Responding to reviews can help strengthen your GMB profile, showing that you are engaged online with your customers.
And of course, Google expects there to be a valid website link to a helpful website about the company.
And just like Google’s general algorithm, user behaviors play a big part in how listings change over time. If users engage more with the second listing than the first, it shows Google that the second one is potentially more helpful.
This is the easy part, and once you’re done, it should only take a few days to get verified and be able to maintain your profile.
That’s all it takes for your business to get listed.
Optimizing it, making it the best possible representation of your company as possible … that’s much more work.
including your website, your social media accounts, and your GMB profile. Double-check it. If your website says you open at 10 am on Saturdays and 11 am on Sundays, then your GMB listing should say the same thing. If your business is listed on other sites like Yelp, make sure the information is correct there too. If not, do what it takes to update it.
Whether you use common sense or SEO tools, it’s good to know what key phrases people might search for and address those in the description field. Use clear language that helps users understand the most basic function of your business and also what makes it unique.
The GMB platform allows you to list services and features of your business in a small snippet. For service-based companies — say, a dental office — this may include things like “root canals,” “braces,” and “pediatric dentistry.” For a gym, you might list “personal training,” “fitness classes,” and “basketball court.” These snippets help Google show your business to users who may be searching for something specific.
Spend the time and resources to get several high-resolution pictures of various parts of your business. If you own a restaurant, take pictures of the food. If you own a roofing company, take pictures of a finished roof on a sunny day. The average GMB listing has 11 images. You may also want a Google Virtual Tour, showing off a 3-D, 360-degree view of your business location.
If users are likely to take a certain action, such as making dining reservations, scheduling a doctor’s visit, or booking a hotel room, provide a clear CTA with the correct website link to allow users to do that from your GMB profile.
Ask your happy customers to write reviews through Google. Ideal reviews provide a written, personal impression and insight, not just a star rating. However, keep in mind that Google tries to dissuade “incentivized reviews,” so don’t go overboard. If Google detects an incentive-based review tactic, they may remove reviews, or your overall profile score may take a hit.
Develop a strategy to quickly respond to questions and reviews, especially negative reviews. Use your judgment and respond to negative reviews in a way that will satisfy the reviewer and new customers. If you feel a competitor or customer is maliciously attacking your company’s reputation with negative reviews, you can file a complaint with Google.
If you have text-messaging capability on your business phone, you can opt to let users text you straight from the GMB listing.
When it comes to your organic online presence, whether it’s Google My Business, local SEO, or more widespread SEO, your strategies and success may not always be crystal clear. You have to do the best you can to market your business across all the online channels. Search engines will determine how you rank for searches in different locations. Keep in mind your competitors are also trying to win the highest spot for any given keyword.
Maintaining your online presence is a lot of work, and it should be. Google tries to reward businesses that put in the work so that the end-user (your customer) has it easy.
1SEO Digital Agency is a team of over 100 expert digital marketers, and we provide top-rated services in SEO, PPC, website design, social media marketing, and many more. When you partner with us, we’ll take that work off your plate, and you can be sure we’ll do it right. Contact us today for a free consultation and learn how we can help market your business today.