Local SEO: Optimizing Your Google My Business

When it comes to Local SEO, the number one ranking factor is proximity to the searcher. With mobile searches reaching an all-time high, it’s no wonder local results are beating out highly authoritative, national websites on a regular basis.

Furthermore, according to the 2017 Local Search Ranking Factor Study, your Google My Business (GMB) listing is the most important factor when it comes to the Local 3-Pack and ‘Finder’ rankings.

With these statistics in mind, it’s more important than ever to ensure your GMB listing is up to date and optimized.

What is ‘Google My Business’?
It’s easiest to think of Google My Business as a database full of business listings. This database is what Google uses to fill in Organic, Google+, and Map results for local search queries. On top of that, it’s free, easy to use, and beneficial to your Local SEO standings.

How to Optimize your Google My Business Listing for Local SEO

While there are numerous ways to affect local SEO, the first step to any local businesses online presence should be a proper GMB Listing. 

What makes a proper GMB listing?
Completeness is key. To achieve completeness in your listing, there are 6 vital areas to focus on.

1. Claim your GMB
Before anything, it’s necessary to verify — or create — your listing. Fortunately, it’s fairly simple to complete this first step.

  • If you search your company name & city and a listing is present in the search results, you’re on your way to verification. You should see:

Choose ‘Own this business?’, and Google will send out a postcard to verify you are the business owner. Once verified*, you can begin editing your listing.

  • On the other hand, if a search for your company’s name & city reveals no listings, you can create your listing through Google.

*Google sends out a postcard to the business address to verify ownership. This postcard typically arrives in less than 5 business days.

2. Specify your Business Category
The more specific, the better. Instead of categorizing yourself as grocer, choose organic, local grocery store. This specificity increases the chances of showing up for more relevant, long-tail queries.

3. Name, Address, and Phone Number (NAP) Consistency
Ensuring consistency with your NAP is crucial.
Your NAP needs to appear the same across the web – including on your GMB listing, on your website, and across citation websites (Yelp, Facebook, BBB, etc). 

To show how precise you need to be, see the following GMB Listing vs. Website Footer comparison.

There are three mistakes when comparing these NAPs:

  1. #200 vs Suite 200
  2. IL vs Illinois
  3. (630) 537-0557 vs 630.537.0556

Where Should You Post Your NAP?
Posting your NAP in the footer of your website (in text form) is common practice amongst most businesses. It’s beneficial to local SEO to have an area code and a zip code in the city/community you serve as well.

Google has confirmed that citation websites are a local SEO ranking factor. Once your GMB listing is complete (or while you’re waiting for your verification postcard), add your business to relevant citation websites. 

For lists on the most influential citation sites by city and by category, use the following sites.

An added bonus in the eyes of search engines is adding Structured Data Markup (schema) to the Header of your site. For more information about Schema – specifically in regards to Local Businesses – see https://schema.org/LocalBusiness.

4. Local Reviews
Receiving quality reviews from the community you serve is huge in Google’s eyes. People listen to their peers, and we’ve seen a trend from Google to emphasize posted reviews (from GMB and from Facebook).

Tips for receiving reviews:

  • Incentivize customers – Unlike Yelp, Google encourages you to ask/incentivize customers to leave reviews.
  • Create a link to review your site. If you have a satisfied customer’s e-mail address, send them a link that takes them directly to leaving a review on Google. The easier you can make it for your customers, the better.
  • Reply to your reviews. Having a conversation and showing a more human-side to your business is likely to encourage more people to visit.

The more reviews the better. A realistic goal should be to have as many, or more, reviews as your direct local competition.

5. Quality Images
When it comes to image amount, 4-5 quality images is ideal. A good make-up would be:

  • 1 storefront image
  • 1-2 images of helpful customer service/interaction
  • 1-2 images of what makes your business unique. Whether it’s your food, staff, view, etc.

To go the extra step, Google also offers a 360° view of the inside of your business. This can be added to your listing for customers to view.

6. Add Hours of Availability
Sounds simple, I know, yet so many businesses leave hours of availability off their GMB listing.

Keep in mind that just creating a GMB listing isn’t enough to get found. Google says specifically “Your position in web results is also a factor, so SEO best practices also apply to local search optimization.” 

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, you’re not alone. As someone marketing a business, you have enough responsibilities on your plate. Recognizing that need, we created Leverage Local. From brand awareness and conversions to increasing the lifetime value of a customer, Leverage Local covers every aspect of digital marketing for your business. Read more about Leverage Local here.

Have questions regarding your Google My Business listing? Comment below or contact us, we’re happy to help!

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