It doesn’t matter what type of company you own. If you work locally, one of the most effective ways of reaching potential customers is implementing a local SEO strategy to helps you rank higher on the Search Engine Results Pages.
Whether you own an established business or are just starting, the first step to improving your local ranking is to take advantage of the Google My Business listing.
But what is Google My Business (GMB)?
GMB is a free directory created by Google that helps businesses gain visibility according to where they are located. This is also beneficial for users as it provides relevant search results for their area.
If you haven’t yet included your store in this listing, you should do so as soon as you can. To do this, go to the GMB website and fill out the required information. It’s important to highlight that Google My Business is not available for all types of businesses. This listing is only available for companies that have a physical location that customers can go to, or those businesses that go to their customers to provide their services.
If you own a business that qualifies, you can claim your GMB listing and do the verification procedure. Once you are verified, you’ll start showing up in the local search results. These are usually shown at the top of the result pages (in what is known as the Map Pack), and has the potential to improve your local rankings.
What do you need to verify your business on Google My Business?
To verify your business in the GMB listing, you need to provide its exact legal address. This is done to ensure your business information is accurate and that only the business owner or someone explicitly authorized, has access to it. Verification will allow you to manage your listing in Search, Maps, and other Google features.
You can verify your business by mail (available to all qualifying businesses) or by phone, email, or be granted instant verification if you meet certain criteria. If your website is already verified, your Google My Business listing can very likely be verified instantly.
If you are only given the choice to do it by mail, you will be sent a postcard with a code on it. Once you receive it, you can verify your business by going to your GMB site and enter the code. Make sure your business address complies with their guidelines before requesting verification and don’t make any changes to your listing until you have finished the process.
If you follow Google’s best practices, you are more likely to move up the local searches ranking. This brings us to our next point.
What is the best practice for a business local SEO listing?
- Complete all the information requested by Google. This includes business name, address, contact information, category, business hours, photos, and description. All this information should be as accurate as possible and updated every time there is a relevant change in your company.
- Make sure your business name is accurate, up to date, and your business’s actual legal name. If your name doesn’t match with other directories such as the Yellow Pages or the Better Bureau Business, Google will flag your listing.
- Check that your contact info is consistent across the web. This is referred to as NAP (Name-Address-Phone number). If you are not sure, check all the other directories where you are listed and your own website and make sure they are all the same.
Tips on filling out your business’s information
- Your business description should be as detailed as possible and unique. Take this opportunity to add some local SEO keywords and add links to your social media profiles and website.
- Don’t forget to include photos and the company’s logo in your profile. Remember Google wants to provide users with the most information possible about what they are searching for. What’s more, adding good photos will draw attention from searchers. Include images that highlight your company and also make it more relatable by adding staff pictures. You can also include products, equipment, and more.
- Don’t add keywords to your business name, as we stated before, the name should be consistent across other directories and the web in general.
- Make sure you choose the primary category right and use sub-categories to add local SEO keywords as additional You can include up to five sub-categories, and you should try to use them all. This way you’ll make sure you appear for the right searches.
- Opening hours should be accurate. If possible, include holidays and days of the years you won’t be working.
Other ways of improving your local ranking
Include your business in other online directories. Why? You will be able to gather more reviews and expand your visibility. Use relevant directories depending on your type of business and include a mix of local and regional listings. Some of the most popular business directories include Angie’s List, Better Business Bureau, HomeAdvisor, Yellow Pages, and Yelp, to name a few.
Work on getting good reviews on Google. These make your business more reliable, and it is one of the most important ranking factors for Google. However, reviews have also a downside, and that is the inability to control what people might say about your business. If you offer a good service, you shouldn’t have to worry too much about bad reviews. If you already have loyal customers, encourage them to leave a review on your GMB listing to start boosting your ranking.
Add a Google Map to your business’ site. Embedding your Google Maps location on your website is another way to improve your ranking. This further verifies the information you provided to Google. You should use the same contact information on your website and your GMB listing.
Use a local telephone number. Again, this is further proof that your business is located where you say it is, unlike toll-free numbers which can be used for spam or fake websites. This doesn’t mean you can’t have a toll-free number for your clients benefit, but also include a phone number with an area code that matches your location for your GMB listing.
Once you have implemented what we just explained, assess whether you ranking improves or stays the same.
If you don’t see any improvement, you might need the help of a local SEO strategy service to help you boost your rankings.