For a local business, showing up on page one of Google is a crucial part of staying in business. Appearing in Google’s 3-pack (the businesses you see in the Google map box when you do a search) can be the difference between a business booming or simply getting by.
Each and every one of Google products advance as they find ways to make search better for your average citizen trying to find what they need.
There are a handful of factors that Google uses to decide what sites to show when someone searches for a local business.
In past posts I’ve shared my thoughts on why your small business should have a system to get online reviews. There are also other very important practices, like schema markup, and citations, that will help you rank well. But today I want to discuss the foundation of the local ranking game – your Google My Business Page.
The Google My Business page, linked to Google+, has been rumored to be going away. For now though it is still a critical source of data that feeds to Google Maps and even in some of the exploratory information people have seen, elements like reviews on your Google My Business page are going to continue to be a ranking factor.
The presence of Google Maps data in mobile searches makes this element increasingly important for most local businesses. Some small businesses receive a huge percentage of their traffic on mobile devices and tablets. And it’s not uncommon to have small businesses receive more than 60% of their current website traffic on mobile devices and tablets.
This is something you need to pay attention to. Why? Well ComScore recently found that 78 percent of local-mobile searches resulted in an immediate offline purchase.
So, there is no way you are going to show up for local searches unless you claim and Optimize Your Google My Business page. THAT is a crucial first step!
So, where should you start with Google My Business?
There’s a pretty good chance you have a Google My Business page, even if you don’t remember setting it up. If you’re not certain, get started with these steps…
- If you aren’t sure if you have a Google My Business page you can go here to check it out – https://support.google.com/business/answer/2911778?hl=en
- Some business owners have unintentionally set up multiple Google My Business pages. If you’ve done so, you have a wee bit of a mess to untangle – Here’s a tool to check if you have multiple pages – http://www.michaelcottam.com/google-business-page-finder/
- What if you find out that you do have duplicate listings? You might be able to merge them by following these instructions – https://support.google.com/business/answer/4669139?hl=en
- But one of the best ways to interact with Google My Business is via Twitter, yup! Go onto Twitter and list your questions and requests here: https://twitter.com/GoogleSmallBiz
Okay, sorry if this is becoming a bit like digital housekeeping, but I’ve seen how messy this can become, and fixing it is a pretty big deal.
Now it’s time to optimize your Google My Business Page
Let’s assume you’ve found your Google My Business page all appears good to go. Now there are several points to consider:
- Are the Name, Address, and Phone Number listed exactly as they appear on your website?
- Is the category precise – i.e., Attorney vs. Estate Planning Attorney?
- Have you written a keyword-rich description?
- Is your business website listed in the profile?
- Have you added a few relevant images?
Google offers some great tips for setting up your Google My Business page. Take that advice and run with it.
Here are a few slightly more advanced options
Yes, there are other ways to optimize this important element, but before you do anything else, please make certain you have the steps above covered.
- Are you using high quality images? When you can, update images with fresh, hi-resolution images. You do want to represent your business in the best light possible, right? You can and should feature a hi-resolution logo, nice exterior and interior shots, staff and behind the scenes work. Here’s a detailed guide to adding business-specific photos directly from Google.
- And consider adding a Google Street View Tour of your business. Google is pushing this because it adds a great verification and trust element for them.
Have questions about your Google My Business Page? Or maybe you need help sorting through the complexities. If so, you might consider checking out our local Launch Package or signing up for our Online Presence Audit.
The truth: it really isn’t that difficult to rank locally, but it often makes sense to hire someone to take care of it for you. After all, I’m guessing that optimizing directory profiles might not be the best use of your time.
We created our Launch Package as a complete and ongoing “done for you” marketing service, built so you can rest assured all of the technical local ranking factors are taken care in just the right way.
We’ve also created the Total Online Presence Audit. It’s a thorough audit of your online presence with a detailed report highlighting areas of opportunity as well as prospect and competitor insights.
But here’s the thing: if you keep moving through these tips and acting on each one, pretty soon when someone jumps on a Google search they will find your business. Sure enough!