local search optimization

ESSENTIAL OPTIMIZATIONS

to Help Your Local Business Get Found

An often overlooked opportunity for businesses to improve their ability to be found online – despite its simplicity to set up properly – is their Google My Business listing. From lack of awareness of these listing options being available to them to utilizing only a fragment of what’s available to them (for free) to enhance their online presence, optimizing a Google business listing can result in significant results online.

WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?

No-click searches account for roughly half of all search queries.
No-click searches are when the potential customer gets all they need in the search results page and don’t click to a website. Google’s business listings are essentially the new phone book listings, and your website is the place they can go if they need additional information. However, Google provides the opportunity to give significant enough detail to provide an experience for the searcher that doesn’t require a click to the website.

As a result, businesses are seeing less traffic to their websites, but still getting more calls and foot traffic from their online presence. How do you know if the business listing is bringing you businesses? View the stats on impressions, clicks to call, views of photos, reviews posted,

Below are tips to getting your Google business listing properly optimized.If you need help with any of these steps, feel free to reach out.

1. Claim Your Business Profile

claim google my business listing

Like this example of a plumber in Idaho Falls, ID – whose details I “redacted”, far too many local businesses aren’t aware of the benefit something as simple as their Google My Business Listing offers and leave them unclaimed. To claim your listing and begin optimizing it, you’ll need an @gmail.com email address or Google-hosted email account using your company domain name.

Not sure if your business exists or is already claimed? A great way to tell is if it shows the “Own this business?” link next to “Suggest an Edit -“. When you claim your business, you’ll be sent a post card from Google as part of the verification process. It’s important not to discard this, as it will give you a code to enter during the setup process.

2. Complete Your Profile

google my business profile

Remember 20 years ago – or last year if you still advertise in the phone book – when your yellow pages agent would verify your business name, address, phone number, (website address – since 2008), and categories? That’s essentially the basics you can set up in Google My Business. There’s more to it, though, if you want to really build a stronger presence and attract more of the no-click traffic to your business.

  • Company Name – Consistent with how you’re listed in other directories and how customers will best recognize you.

  • Address – A great deal of customers will use your listing to get directions and, with “near me” searches either typed in or delivered by default, having an accurate address helps ensure you appear to potential customers as an option.

  • Phone – With Google My Business listings properly optimized, more and more traffic is beginning to simply click to call from the listing than go to the website. Considering more search and web traffic is done via mobile, this is crucial for a business to not lose out on potential calls.

  • Website – For those who do need to click through for more details, provide your URL as part of your complete listing.  This is also critical for local SEO efforts to help with organic search results in the listings.

  • Hours – Save yourself from fielding calls about when you’re open or closed and, most importantly, provide your customers with critical information before they come to your business and see doors closed. Don’t forget to include changes to regular hours, such as holidays or times you’re regularly closed.

ADDITIONAL DETAILS

These other sections take more time to build out, yet are important to help ensure you rank and appear for searches relative to the services/products you offer.

  • Categories and Attributes – Google provides several options to choose from based on popular business-type groupings.  Attributes specifying business offerings related to delivery, payments, amenities, wi-fi, etc. help educate consumers what their options are in doing business with you.

  • Products and Services – Beyond the general category, you can provide the specific services and products you provide in this section. This way, you can become even more focused in on the specific keyword searches and relevance to the potential customer. For example, if you’re a plumber that focuses on repair and install, but not septic, you could list the specific service types and leave septic out so you’re less likely to appear in search results for someone in need of septic cleaning. Also, if you’re a chiropractor who has a specific focus, beyond adjustments, you can mention that to help attract patients looking for your unique techniques.

  • About / From the Business – Provide description for potential customers/clients to learn more about your company. This can be written with repurposed “About” content from your website. Be sure to include key information and details within the first 250 characters (of the 750 permitted). Be sure to define what sets you apart from competitors and what your customers appreciate most about working with you.

  • Questions & Answers – Owner-generated questions you know are common that you provide to help potential customers better understand what you do.

  • Photos – Take key photos of areas of your business customers would be interested in: street view, entrance, parking, front lobby, and other areas they would interact with your employees. Options for actual tours (3D images mapping our your location for potential customers to interact with) are also an option to enhance your images section.

3. Ongoing Optimization

A great benefit with leveraging Google My Business is the ongoing interactions available to help enhance user experience.

google my business posts
google reviews
  • Posts – Similar to posts in Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc., Google provides you a posting segment in your profile. As you create content for your website and third-party sites as part of your ongoing online marketing efforts, also share posts through Google in your profile. Use a mix of post types to help give those seeing your business profile some variety.

  • Reviews – Consumers are significantly influenced by the opinions about your business provided by others. Word-of-mouth, whether shared face-to-face or virtually though an online review, can encourage or discourage a potential customer for choosing you. As you thank customers for doing business with you, invite them to go to Google to leave a review.

  • Questions & Answers – Provide a section for and be responsive to consumer-generated questions.

  • More Photos – Continue adding images about once every 7 business days. Unlike images you might use in blog posts/articles (stock images or generic industry related images), these need to be representative of your brand. These can be pictures documenting your interactions with customers, of employees engaging in the community, or a company party. Quality and great descriptions matter with these images to improve experience and in alignment with Google’s image-enriched search results).

Broader Strategy

Your strategy in building out your Google My Business profile – just as with your website, social media, and other marketing efforts – should be focused on providing as much quality information about your business as possible. This profile adds to the value you have to offer to consumers through what you’ve shared in your Facebook Business page, website, and other online directories. The culminating effect you should hope for in optimizing your business through Google and other outlets is convincing consumers your business is the one to trust in meeting their needs.

These Google My Business steps are one group of many potential steps, but are significantly weighted in importance considering the effect Google has in influencing consumers through search and what can be provided to potential customers.

If you can do all this on your own, fantastic! If you need some help, feel free to reach out. We can help with the initial setup as well as discuss how to continue optimizing your business for local search results.

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