The first step in a local SEO strategy is to claim and verify your local business' Google My Business (GMB) listing. Using Google My Business can increase your business's chances of showing up in Google's Local Pack, Local Finder, Google Maps, and organic rankings. Qualifying local businesses can claim their free listing on Google and include information about their company, like their address, phone number, business hours, website URL, and Q&A's.
To claim your Google My Business Listing, make sure you have a Google Business Account for your business. Make sure it is not a personal-use account. Once you have your business account, visit https://www.google.com/business.
Many local businesses claim their GMB listing and forget about it. Most businesses don't realize that there are a variety of other features Google gives you that you can use to optimize your Google My Business listing.
There are various information Google wants you to fill out to complete your Google My Business profile. When done, your listing will have valuable basic data that will make it easier for potential customers to find more information about your company.
According to a recent study choosing the correct GMB category is one of the most crucial ranking factors. With almost 4000 categories to choose from, it's essential to select the category closest to your business. One trick to determine g the correct category for your business is to audit your competitions GMB and see what category they selected. Once you choose your primary category, you can select several secondary categories (3-4) that apply.
Add your business name. It is the first element of what is known as NAP's Name, Address, Phone. The deal with NAP's is consistency. There are hundreds of listing on the web, and you want to make sure each one has identical NAP information. Accurate NAPs used to be the main ranking factor for GMB. In the last few years, it has become less so, but consistency is still important.
If your business is a service area business, you will want to hide the address and set a service area. Our advice for service areas is not to make them too broad and understand that your radius of influence will be your service area's triangulated center. Focus on the areas that represent your ideal target market. Businesses with a storefront listing (visible address) should only set service areas if they travel widely to conduct business. If customers come to the business, avoid service areas. If you adjust your service area, you will shift the areas that your business is relevant to rank for.
Adding an accurate business address is next. The business address you add must be 100% consistent everywhere. After all, how will your potential customers find you if your address is wrong? There are hundreds of listings sites on the internet, everything from Angie's List to Yelp. Making sure your information is constant is a business necessity.
People search Google to find out your business hours. If you think they will take the time to look up your website URL and comb through your site for your business hours, you're mistaken. Make them accurate in Google My Business, and update them as necessary.
GMB offers sections for both product and service information. One of the factors Google looks at for ranking is the completeness of the information. Best practices are taking advantage of the space.
Just like products and services, business description is a section that must be completed.
Adding pictures to your Google My Business listing is a great way to humanize your business's brand and let customers look at what you are all about. The current suggestion is to have at least eight photos in your GMB listing. It's important to remember that your photos do not have to be taken by a professional photographer; a smartphone is usually sufficient.
Customer reviews play two roles. One as a ranking factor, they count for 15-16% of your local ranking. And two, reviews are a powerful marketing tool for your business. Recent studies have shown that almost 90% of consumers look at reviews before making a service or product purchase. Unlike Yelp, Google encourages businesses to ask their customers for online reviews ethically. Online reviews appear in your local Google listing and Google Maps.
Once you get a review, it's important to comment and thank your reviewer. By thanking your reviewer, you demonstrate to Google and potential customers that you care about what the public says about your business. Research has shown that business owners that comment about reviews are seen as more trustworthy by potential customers.
Google My Business Questions and Answers are crowdsourced Q&A's. These questions are asked and answered through the Google knowledge panel. With GMB Q&A's, the business can go in and prepopulate the Q&A with frequently asked questions and answers. This means the business can essentially create an FAQ section on your Google My Business listing. If you add these commonly asked questions and answers, they will also head off potential questions customers have, so you'll be ahead of the curve instead of behind. The best practice is keeping an eye on your GMB and correctly answering any questions that are asked.
Google My Business Posts are like "social media posts" or "mini-ads" that appear in your Google My Business listing and on Google Maps. GMB Posts enable you to create offers, updates, events, and products. Currently, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Google also allows you to add COVID updates. Google posts are active for seven days. Hence it is essential to create a posting strategy and calendar to keep your GMB content fresh. Google Posts can be linked to your website and tracked using UMT tags.
One of the important things to remember about Google My business is to rank locally; you need to work on your GMB continuously. That means thanking customers for reviews, weekly postings, new pictures, and questions answered. A GMB listing is a powerful marketing tool; don't let it get stale.