A Google My Business (GMB) profile is essential for local SEO. It’s free and will enable you to appear in local search results for queries specific to your products or services. However, there are some steps you need to take to make sure your profile is accurate and your GMB page is working for you optimally.
You may already be aware, but the way GMB works is, when you specify a location in your search, Google tries to provide results that are in that physical location. Even if you don’t specify a location, Google usually can tell where you are when entering the search, and the search results will show local listings first.
Let’s look at an example. At the time I wrote this blog, I was in St. Louis, Missouri. By simply searching on “Casinos”, Google gave me the top three results in the St. Louis area (below left). However, if I specify a location by searching for “Casinos in Las Vegas”, I get different results (below right). Conversely, if I was in Vegas, and searched for “Casinos” would give me the same results as in the right figure.
So how did these casinos get in the top three? The method for showing up in these local results is based on a strategy and elements that Google looks for in your listing. If you follow the steps listed below, you may be able to improve your rank in the top of these results.
If you don’t know whether you currently have a GMB page, enter a search for your business name, or the type of business. If a page for your business shows up in the results, either claim it or log into the Google account associated with your Google My Business Page.
If you don’t yet have a GMB page, go to http://www.google.com/business/befound.html and start building one. It’s not difficult—business name, address and phone number (NAP) are the key criteria. These three elements MUST match what’s on your website or Google will punish you!
Other criteria you can add to your listing include business hours, description, services, etc. Keywords you want to rank for can be used in some of these fields to improve SEO.
You really didn’t think you could just claim your GMB listing and expect to show up without more work, did you? To improve your chances, you’ll need to implement local SEO on your site. It’s not a coincidence that the first local site in search results is also the number one organic listing.
If you emphasize local identifiers in your website, this can help you improve your local SEO rankings. For example, include the cities you serve and/or the geographical area you cover by specifying them in your web copy or blogs or included in the footer of your website.
Do a painstaking verification that your name, address and phone number (NAP) are consistent across your website. Anywhere they are specified on the site—contact page, header, footer—they MUST be the same. Also, they need to be in text, not image form. Why? Because Google scans text, not pictures!
Next, you need to look outside your site wherever your business NAP are listed. If your business is listed in directories or other websites online, you need to make sure those listings are consistent with what’s on your site and GMB.
Speaking of directories, getting your name on relevant listings and sites goes a long way toward SEO. You may already be on some directory sites, but need to verify your listing there. You can find relevant directories by searching for them along with your city or region, e.g., “Las Vegas business directories”.
Once you find directories you think are relevant to your business, start signing up. Many are free, but some charge a fee or require membership. Being on more directories will get you found more; just make sure your NAP is consistent across them all.
If you embed the Google map on your site, Google knows you’re legitimately where you say you are. The tool used for building your website dictates how you will embed the map. Some even include the capability as part of the theme, or a simple plug-in can be used. You can get more instructions by checking out the Google Maps Help site.
Great and positive reviews are important in many ways. The more you have, the better Google considers your business.
How to get good reviews is a separate topic, but for this blog, let’s just say that it’s important to have them. Make it easy for your customers to give reviews; give them access to your site to write testimonials (maybe on the receipt?); send a follow-up email to request feedback; send them a survey. All of these methods, and more, will allow you to accumulate reviews. But they must be legitimate—don’t make them up or buy them. It may fool Google for a minute, but it’ll catch up with you eventually.
If you need assistance in optimizing your GMB listing or anything else related to improving your online presence, contact us today.