Take over the world? Okay, maybe not. Taking over your city, however, is totally in reach and will bring you more business than ever before. I’m going to show you some Google local listing SEO tips to help you outrank and outshine your competition in Google Maps and local listing results.
According to Google, 80% of consumers used a search engine when looking for information about local businesses and 76% of people who search on their smartphones for something nearby visit a business within a day.
Some people may be current customers and search for you specifically by name to get contact information or directions. Potential customers are often searching for a general service and this is a great opportunity to bring new people through your door. Potential customers turn to Google when they need some type of resolution or answer in their time of need. Google calls this a micro-moment.
So, how can you make the most of your Google My Business listing to maximize visibility of your business when someone searches for the services you provide? I’m glad you asked!
Verify Your Google Business Listing
Sounds obvious, but I’m always surprised to see how many local businesses let this slip by. Often times, your business may appear on Google Maps or local search results because Google knows (almost) everything. However, it is important to claim your local listing so you have the control over the information being presented and then leverage the tips below to increase your local search rank. You can start this process by visiting gybo.com/business. You’ll typically need to verify ownership/management of your business location via a post card being sent to your listed business address so make sure you can receive mail (sorry, no P.O. boxes).
Choose Your Business Categories Wisely
Don’t just pick a category because you think a lot of people search for it. Your categories should be highly relevant to your business and service offerings. You don’t have to fill in all 5 categories for your business if only 2 or 3 fit the bill. Be specific and choose wisely.
Complete Your Business Information
Be sure to provide potential customers with all of the information you can through your Google Business Listing. Make sure you always keep this up to date!
- Correct address – don’t forget to include suite numbers and the like.
- Business hours – fill in any special hours like holidays too!
- Phone number
- Website URL
- Fantastic photos – give them a feel for what you have to offer, more on this later.
- 360° virtual tours – give your potential customers the full experience by letting them explore the inside of your business and surrounding area before they visit. You’ll need to work with a Google Trusted Photographer and additional charges will apply.
Google My Business also recently added released a new feature for all business allowing you to include posts with your business listing. This is a great way to present current and potential customers with timely information for current specials or upcoming events.
Bonus Local Listing SEO tips:
- Track website visitors coming from your local listing(s).
Consider making your website URL a UTM link so you can monitor traffic coming from your business listing in your Google Analytics reports. This will allow you to gain a deeper insight into which pages they navigate to, and you can get some actionable insights to improve the user experience for local customers.
- Smart and relevant keywords for local SEO
Adding service related keywords as part of your business name can help you rank higher in local search results (ONLY DO THIS IF IT MAKES SENSE FOR YOUR BUSINESS). For example, we chose to do this for one of our awesome clients, Blue Moon Rising in Deep Creek Lake, MD. We wanted them to get maximum exposure when someone searches for “Cabins on Deep Creek Lake”. Go ahead and do a search on Google and see who takes the cake as the first organically listed business for this search query. By making this simple update, we saw a great improvement on visibility with their local listing ranking position.
- Reviews do more than share opinions
It should be no surprise that local business reviews are extremely important. Not only do potential customers read reviews before making a decision on which place to go, they also play a role in how you rank in local searches. We’re finding that more often, people are searching for things that are the best or top-rated. People will often include a city, state or simply put “near me” to find the best closest options. For example, “best restaurant in Alexandria, VA” “top rated steak house near me” “best dentist near me“. Google’s local search algorithm will take searcher intent into consideration when returning results to their users. This is a combination of evaluating the number of reviews for the business and the aggregate rating of those reviews. Ask your happy customers to leave you an honest review. Sounds easy, right? Not always. Let’s face it. Us humans can be lazy or just too busy sometimes. Make it as easy for them as possible. Here are a few tips you could consider.
- Does your business send customers follow-up emails? Include a direct link in the email that will take them directly to where they need to be to submit a review.
- Be mindful of Google’s review policy. While offering incentives may seem like a good idea, you don’t want to take away from the credibility of the reviews submitted. It is completely acceptable to ask happy customers to share their experience on Google for other potential customers to read but be wary of offering any type of monetary incentive.
Gain Insights From Your Google My Business Dashboard
Once you’ve created or claimed your local business listing on Google, you will have access to the insights tab. From here you can keep an eye on how and where people discovered your business listing through search, the actions customers take on your listing (website clicks, phone calls, and direction requests), and the amount of phone call and photo views. If these stats improve over time, you know you’re moving in the right direction!
What About Other Local Listing Sites and Voice Search?
Google is the #1, but they’re not the only one. Make sure your local listing information is consistent across all platforms – this is extremely important for voice search. Voice search is on the rise and should not be ignored.
- As of 2014, more than half of teens (13-18) and 41% of adults use voice search daily.
- Queries are used to call someone, ask for directions, and get answers
- More than half of queries will be voice search by 2020.
- There are 30x more action queries on voice search.
- 22% of voice queries in 2016 were people looking for local information
How do you get voice search to work for your local listing SEO?
- Optimize ALL local listings
- Completeness and consistency
- Cross check your listings and see how they appear across the web and ensure there are no duplicates
- Add structured data to your website
- Markup helper (JSON)
- Testing tool
Don’t Forget About The Basics of Your Online Presence
Of course, your local listing rank isn’t everything you need to consider when trying to gain new local business. Don’t forget about the basics – make sure you check all of these boxes to maximize your online potential.
- Is your website responsive/mobile friendly?
- Does your website do a good job conveying your brand and message?
- Does your online presence make you stand out from your local competition?
- Does your site structure and navigation make sense for your target audience?
- Is it easy to find your contact and business location information?
- What does your website load quickly on desktop and mobile?
- Do you have a strong Social Media presence? Are you engaging with your current and potential customers online?
- Can your current and potential customers join an email list to receive updates and special offers from your business to keep bringing them back?
- … and so, so, so much more.