Getting Started With Local SEO: Google My Business

John Moran

Need Help With Your SEO?

If you run a local business or are working for a local client, you’ll want to know how to boost visibility for regional and location-specific keywords. The key is to optimize your website for local SEO. When your digital assets have been optimized to rank within your area, people will find your business when searching for something they need locally. 

The easiest way to do this is by building and optimizing your Google My Business (GMB) listing. The idea behind local SEO is that if somebody is searching for Chinese food in your area, your Chinese restaurant will come up in the search results above your competitors, attracting more physical customers.

Follow these steps below and you’ll be well on your way to winning more local customers.

Why Create a Google My Business Account?  

It used to be that your business needed to be in an area with a lot of foot traffic for customers to find you. These days, traffic is equally important – but not the physical kind. You need people to be able to find you online. In order to do this, you must have a solid presence that makes your business visible. 

It’s possible to start your account and verify it yourself very easily. But partnering with an expert local SEO agency is your best bet since these they will be able to take your business through the entire process. 

If you don’t start an account on Google My Business, then you risk losing customers. Not only ones that miss you when they do a search, but even ones that may have been past customers and have since moved onto the competition. If they are seeing your competition coming up in search, the bottom line is, they are going to be willing to try them out. And they may not come back to you afterward.

Being in control of the information about your business online is also very important. Imagine a potential customer trying to reach you based on the information they find online only to find the phone number doesn’t work or the email bounces. This is a huge distrust factor that will certainly cost you business. Setting up your account puts you firmly in control of the information that people find when they do a search.  

The thing is, Google wants to give its users the information that they are looking for. Google’s algorithms will choose the results with the highest chance of being what your potential customer is looking for. But without you setting up an account, there is no way for them to know if your business is the best fit according to the search. 

Verify Your Listing

The first thing to do is to verify that you have a standard Google account for your business that you can then change to a Google My Business account. Avoid using your personal Google email and credentials, and set up an account for just your business. 

Next up is creating a business profile. This is where you will enter information like your phone number, address and hours of operation, among other things. Your business profile can exist without a Google My Business account, but you can’t claim the profile without it, which opens it up to be edited by other people.

Once you claim it, it will show up in a Google search and you can manage it going forward. 

To verify your listing so that you show up in Google Maps and the Local Finder (and possibly in the Local Pack), you need to confirm your business address (or a representative phone number) with Google. You can do this by getting a Google verification code sent to the phone number of the business location. If you don’t have a business phone number, you can set up a Google Voice account and use it to receive the verification code.

How To Optimize a Google My Business Listing

In order to get the most out of your local Google My Business listing, you’ll want to optimize the information you include or work with an agency that specializes in local SEO. When optimizing your listing, you want to make sure that your business information is correct, and that you’re including the best information about your business.

Once your local business has a verified Google My Business listing, it’s important to make sure that the listing is optimized for search.

Let Customers Message You

People are busy and often need immediate answers. Calling is an option, but often they are hesitant because they don’t want to be put on hold or risk having to go through a menu to find a tidbit of information. 

Having a message option when they find you in Search will give them the opportunity to get information right away that your profile didn’t help them find. Much of it can be automated by using a chatbot that you program with frequently asked questions (FAQs), so you don’t have to answer messages during a busy time or even when you are at home. 

When you can’t have the chatbot take care of the query, you’ll have to respond yourself. Try to keep the response time to under 24 hours. Anything over and you will likely lose out on acquiring that customer. 

Title/Company Name

The title of your Google My Business listing is the most important thing in Google Search. It is the first thing that searchers see when they find your business’s listing in Search results. It’s also the only thing that searchers see if they click on your listing on Local Finder.

The most important thing in your title is your business’s name. Include it in your title, and include location information. Including your business’s location in your title can help Google understand how close your business is to the searcher. Having the incorrect company name on your Google My Business listing can lead to lower Google rankings and confused customers.

Use the Special Attributes Feature

There are certain traits that you or your business has that may be highlighted by Google. Things like being veteran-owned or Black-owned are attributes that people may appreciate and want to support, so it is always a good idea to use this feature to help you stand out.

Even simpler things, like having outdoor seating or a roof deck, are things you need to highlight for people. 

Company Address

Your business address should be the physical address of your business and not a virtual address, like a P.O. box or a virtual office address.

Google My Business Category

Before you begin editing your Google My Business listing, it’s important to note that Google has a list of more than 800 categories that you can choose from in order to label your business. If you don’t see your business category, you can request for it to be added.

In this section, make sure you choose a category that best describes the type of business you run. If you run a local business, you’ll want to choose the most relevant category.

Hours of Operation

Google wants to know the hours of operation for your business. This information is not only valuable to Google but is also valuable to potential customers who are looking for your business.

Hours information can include the days of the week, the time of day and any special hours you might have.

Phone Number

The phone number listed on your Google My Business profile should be the one you’re using to answer your phone calls. If you want to include multiple phone numbers, you can use the Google My Business call extension.

Type of Service (in Description)

In this section, you’ll want to include the type of service you offer to customers. This will help potential customers find your business when they search.

If you offer services that are unique, you’ll want to make sure that you include this information here.

Positive Reviews

The final step, once you have all your information updated and accurate, is to ask customers for a positive review. Reviews are the lifeblood of ranking in local search after correctly optimizing your listing.

Speak to some satisfied customers and ask if they are willing to leave a review to get you started.

Post Photos and Videos

If you have a business at which people may be spending a good amount of time (for example, a restaurant or bar), then having pictures and videos are necessary. People want to know what the space is like before they commit to dining at your establishment. Even if you don’t have a restaurant, it’s important. A nursery, for example, will do well to have photos and videos, so people can see if it reflects what they are looking for in a place they want to trust. 

Conclusion

These days, you need to have everything working in your business’s favor to be able to compete. Never leave anything up to the imagination, as people are hungry for information so they can make informed choices. Using Google My Business is exactly the way to do this.

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