Back in 2003 – 2005, search engines had started providing people with search results specific to their vicinity, not only that but additional information as well, such as opening times of a store, listings in maps, etc.
Over the years, SEO has evolved. Now, local businesses appear in search results based on a range of Local Search signals. In this targeted online marketing strategy, the consumer gets the most relevant search results possible, down to the square mile.
Local Search Engine Optimization (SEO) involves a similar process to general SEO in that it affects your website or pages’ visibility in a search engine’s unpaid search results (SERP). Results on the SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages) are also known as “natural” or “organic” results.
Local SEO includes specific elements to rank a business for local search. Its focus is on optimizing a business’ online presence so that its web pages are displayed on SERPs when users search for its products or services.
Google My Business
Google gathers business listings from multiple online and offline sources. Their algorithm combines listings automatically based on address, phone numbers, or geocode to reduce duplication within the index. Even still, sometimes information from separate businesses will be inadvertently merged, resulting in the listings inaccurately incorporating elements from multiple different companies. Through Google My Business (GMB), business owners can create and verify their business listing and are encouraged to provide and update the necessary business information, as complete and detailed as possible.
Google My Business is an interactive social platform and directory that allows you to edit and manage the content in your profile to optimize your listing presence in search results. When fully optimized, your listing has the opportunity to show up in the Map Pack.
The Map Pack
The Google Map Pack (3-Pack) is the three highlighted Google-Maps-based search results on the first page of Google when you search for a business. The 3-pack features the highest-ranking business listings based on local ranking factors. While organic search results are from Google’s index of websites, the listings in the 3-Pack originate from the Google My Business directory. The 3-Pack displays businesses that have signed up with Google and have taken ownership of their GMB listing.
Optimizing your GMB profile is imperative for determining a substantial Local Rank. Prove your trustworthiness to Google and enter as much information as possible into your GMB profile. Because GMB listings are the first thing consumers see when they search for a business, Google rewards listings that boast a full, complete, and accurate representation of their business and will rank you within search results accordingly.
Your ranking largely depends on the consistency of updates, positive reviews, timely responsiveness, original content, and engagement. The harder you work on optimizing your GMB profile, the more you’ll stand out, and the higher you’ll rank. The goal is to be on top as one of the three featured businesses in the Map Pack. It’s simple, but takes time and consistent effort. Follow these quick tips to optimize your GMB profile, and you will be well on your way to better SEO days!
Quick tips for optimizing your GMB profile
Get Yourself Out There
Right off the bat, the simplest thing you can do to optimize your GMB profile is to ensure that your profile information is accurate and complete. Not only that, but think about other sites that your business information might be on. The majority of searches take place on Google, Yahoo, Bing, and other major search engines, but for better optimization in your local area, check out Yelp, Angie’s List, LinkedIn, Local Business Directories, and Social Media channels like Facebook and Twitter.
Search engines crawl the internet for specific data relating to the search and business in question. The information crawled is collected and organized into a database to display more accurate search results for the user. If there’s an incorrect business address on an old company Facebook page, this disrupts the algorithm as it detects inconsistencies. Inconsistencies affect rankings because Google’s goal is to be as accurate as possible for the consumer. Because of this, there is not much forgiveness for error!
- Ensure complete and accurate profile information.
- Create accounts with sites other than Google that display your business information openly for more exposure and validity.
- Ensure complete and accurate profile information on these other sites and make sure that the information matches the information on your GMB profile in the exact same format.
Photo and Post Content
If you haven’t already, once you’ve set up your profile, you will be encouraged almost immediately to upload photos and post content. This is fun at first (for some) as it brings your listing to life with pictures of the flowers your client brought you, the new chairs in the lobby, and your team’s smiling faces at work.
It is recommended by Google, however, that you upload one photo and one post per week. Now, this doesn’t seem like a lot, but it starts to add up. It’s easy to get behind so we recommend getting this content in advance. Another option is to hire a photographer to take these images for you- you need 52 high-quality images in order to post one photo per week for the year. Check out our Online Reputation Management services.
- Scrambling for content is not fun and no time-saver, take the photos in advance.
- Hire a professional
- Use those same photos for posts. As confirmed by Google Gold Member, Yan Gilbert, Google does not mind if you use your GMB photos for posts or if you delete old photos to use again.
Check out our Blog Post: GMB Content Ideas Your Customers Will Love
In our opinion, positive reviews are the most important thing that ultimately determines your local rank. Of course, a lot goes into it, but it’s easy to recognize the importance of positive ratings and social proof.
When your business gets a review, positive or negative, it’s essential to respond quickly. Google not only measures your ranking on the number and frequency of positive reviews but your responsiveness to consumers as well. Being on top of your review game can do wonders for your Local Authority and Rank.
It’s not always easy, and we understand that reviews might not be pouring in like you’d like them to be, especially if you’re just getting started in SEO. The best way you can increase your reviews quickly is to ask. After finishing up with a satisfied customer, ask them politely to leave a review on Google! Enlist the help of your employees to do the same thing.
- Respond to reviews quickly
- Ask customers to leave a review on Google.
- Email or text existing customers a link to your GMB listing.
Most advice on the internet looks the same and seems pretty basic. To optimize your GMB, you must ensure accurate and complete profile information, get and respond to reviews, post regularly, etc. It all seems redundant, but we say it because we care. When tended to regularly, your GMB account can be a free SEO jackpot. Diving into SEO can be overwhelming, but by following our “Quick Tips” mentioned in this post, you’re off to a really good start.
These tips are for the business owner who wants to get noticed on Google and recognizes the benefits of GMB management. There’s no getting around the hard work, but a little prioritizing and strategy go a long way!
However, if you are like most business owners we talk to, you don’t have the energy to keep up, the time to learn how, and you don’t want the overhead and complications of hiring an employee. GMB optimization is what we do, and we’re here to help! Let SCL360MEDIA take over your business listing and start watching your numbers rise. Click here to learn more about our Online Reputation Management Services.
Check out our other posts to gain a better understanding of GMB Optimization and Local SEO Strategy. We are here to help you succeed!