Watch Your Local SEO Surge: How to Optimize Google My Business

Sam Makwana
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Want to give your organic SEO traffic and visibility a boost?

Are you aware that the Internet has emerged as the primary platform consumers use to gather local business information? Moreover, local searchers know exactly what they are looking for and by overlooking local SEO, you are missing a powerful opportunity to convert traffic into qualified leads.

About 88% of consumers who do a local search on their smartphone visit or call a store within a day.

Let us delve deep to understand the importance, challenges and tricks to increase your local SEO ranking.

The Importance of Local SEO

A niche facet of any SEO strategy, local SEO is often overlooked. However, you may end up losing a lot of business if you don’t implement local SEO strategies. Research suggests that ‘near me’ or ‘close by’ searches have increased by more than 900% in the last few years. By leveraging a location-based strategy, you can increase your company’s online visibility and ensure that you are at the top of search results at the right time and place. Adopting a holistic approach and a well-planned strategy can help any business beat its competitors. However, getting a local business to rank better in search results is often a challenge.

This is primarily because of the following reasons:

  • An increase in the usage of mobile devices and better connectivity, implying that more people use phones to locate businesses near them
  • The growing popularity of local SEO, making it a more competitive field than ever

Building a Strong Locational Footprint

Targeting the local audience is paramount to the success of a business. The proliferation of mobile search has made it more essential than ever to show up in the results for a local search. Read here for more local SEO tips and techniques that could help your local business.

While several strategies work, what is going to have the most impact?

If you notice that your business is not ranking in local results, owning and maintaining a Google Business profile needs to be your focus. This is exactly where seasoned SEO professionals start. Read on to understand what makes a Google My Business (GMB) listing a powerful tool.

What is Google My Business?

This is a free tool from Google that enables businesses to manage their online presence and get better exposure at the local level. Be it a new or established business, GMB can immensely help by offering users relevant information when they need it the most.  A cornerstone for local SEO, GMB is crucial for local optimization.

The Benefits of Google My Business

  • Google’s local search results offer specific business details such as address, business hours, category and reviews, thereby making it possible for users to make a decision right away.
  • Moreover, verified details on GMB are also utilized by Google’s Knowledge graph to create its database about entities that are relevant to its specific searches.
  • After a new listing is added, a Google Map location is also generated to further offer easy access and search-ability. The fact that a majority of the searches are fetched from Google further emphasizes the importance of GMB.

Understanding the Basics of Google My Business

  • While Google My Business is free, it is not an alternative to your business’ website. It rather complements your website and helps to establish its identity by listing it in search results.
  • The information added about your business appears in Google Search, Maps and on Google+ also.
  • If you have earlier made use of Google tools to complement your business, there is the probability that your business is already listed on Google My Business.
  • Previously, Google Places for Business and Google+ Pages Dashboard were considered the best platforms to manage business information. However, both of these have been upgraded to Google My Business.

Increase Visibility and Performance of Your GMB Listing

After you have created or claimed your Google My Business listing, you need to furnish it with all the relevant details and ensure that all information provided is accurate. The next step that is crucial for the performance of your listing is to verify it.

Why Is It Important to Verify Your Business?

  • The easiest way to verify your GMB listing is by email. This helps Google to know your business email address so that you receive all emails there.
  • By verifying your listing, you can ensure that false listings are removed and users are not misdirected.
  • Listings that have not been verified will not be displayed. You will also not be able to get access to page insights and analytical information if your listing is not verified.

The entire process of verification takes less than a week during which you will receive a verification code from Google. After verifying the code, your business will officially go live.

Publish and Optimize Your Google My Business Listing

Want to get the most out of your business listing?

The following tips will help you get the best out of it:

Ensure the Details are Complete

For any search, the most relevant results are favored. This indicates that providing detailed and accurate information will help you get a desirable outcome. When adding details to your listing, make sure that it conveys all of the information a potential customer might be looking for. This includes details such as what your business is about, its location and how the service/product can be availed.

Add Keywords

Just like traditional SEO, Google makes use of several parameters to list results. By adding important keywords and phrases, you can increase the probability of your business listing appearing on search results.

Mention Accurate Operating Hours

While it is vital to provide the right piece of information, make sure to change the same in case there is any modification. The customization options offered by Google enables businesses to change hours for events and holidays, ensuring that users are happy.

Add Photos

Photos improve the performance of a business much more than you might have probably imagined. Businesses that have photos are believed to have received 42% more requests than those without photos.

Connect with Customers by Managing Reviews

Responding to reviews helps to build a positive brand image and indicates that your business values its customers. A positive review encourages potential customers and also increases the visibility of your business. Search engines interpret a positive review as an indication that your business is performing well. You can further engage with your customers by adding a link and encouraging customers to leave feedback. A consistent stream of reviews that reflects the opinion of a wider audience about various aspects of your business can elevate the online reputation of your company. Customers are interested in knowing how reliable your business is and the kind of experience that other people have had.

Add Photos for Your Google My Business Listings

A photo of your business can make a huge difference in the way your offering is perceived by your potential audiences. Instead of the brand logo, you can consider adding an image that encompasses your brand, what your business stands for and its offerings.

Apart from a profile photo, you can also add the following to your GMB:

  • Business logo to make it easier for customers to identify your brand
  • Cover photo
  • Photos that highlight the key features of your business and encourage customers to make a purchase decision. The photos may include products offered, the interior and exterior of your store or any photo that attractively summarizes the business

Assess Your GMB Insights

Google offers valuable information about how customers interact with your business. The insights enable you to understand how customers found you, be it through a direct or discovery search, where they found you, Google Search or Maps and more. There is also a section that shows the action taken by a customer after locating your business. This includes a visit to the website, call to your business, direction request and so on.

An analysis of the above piece of information can further help you devise a powerful online strategy based on the action taken by your customers. From working towards garnering positive reviews to ensuring that correct and updated information is maintained, the right optimization strategy can help you stay ahead.

Key Takeaways:

  • Google My Business is free and easy to use.
  • If you want to give your local ranking a boost, start by claiming and optimizing your Google My Business account. Optimizing your listing, adding photos and connecting with customers through reviews can immensely help improve your SEO ranking.
  • Adopt a holistic SEO strategy for your website by building a powerful link profile, adding relevant and engaging content and making use of keyword terms.

Local SEO is all about marketing your product within a closed radius, and GMB offers a powerful way to be discovered in local search results. While local SEO is a highly competitive field, the right strategy and leveraging GMB can enable you to carve out a top spot on search engine results pages (SERPs).

Written by Sam Makwana

Sam Makwana
Sam Makwana is the vice president of marketing at Traffic Radius digital marketing agency in Melbourne, Australia. He's a passionate digital marketer with a creative and analytical mindset. His skills include adopting a holistic approach and designing solutions based on the latest marketing trends and web paradigms. He believes in adopting an integrated approach for devising effective strategies.

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