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Navigating Google for Local Businesses

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You are probably familiar with the behemoth search engine, Google. You may even know that it can be extremely beneficial to your business to rank at the top of search results when a local customer searches for products and services that you offer. What you probably don’t know is that the Google platform and all of its components are extremely complex and often overwhelming to navigate when trying to increase your local rankings. Our team of SEO experts is here to offer some tips on the basics of Google for business, how to get the most from Google My Business, and how to improve your local search results.

Google Business Basics

The Google platform itself is huge! Right from one account login, you can access email, the Google + social network, a storage drive (Google Drive), and the maps, news, and calendar features. Not to mention, it’s the biggest search engine on the internet and holds a whopping 68% of search market share. But Google goes beyond just personal use and has created important features for businesses. These are extremely important to utilize if you intend to show up in local search results.

Google My Business is:

“a free and easy-to-use tool for businesses and organizations to manage their online presence across Google, including Search and Maps. By verifying and editing your business information, you can both help customers find you and tell them the story of your business.” -Google HelpGoogle SEO expert

The biggest benefit to signing up for Google My Business is that you can manage how your business information appears across Google in Search results and Maps. When a business verifies their information with Google My Business, they are twice as likely to be considered reputable by consumers, and even more so if there are good reviews left by previous clients.

Google My Business also lets business owners see insights on how customers have searched for their business, where those customers are located, and how many people have called the business directly from the number displayed on the local search results in Maps and Google Search.

Get the Most from Google My Business

In order to benefit from the rank boost Google My Business can offer, you must first claim and optimize your business listing. It’s free and fairly straightforward to set up so there is really no reason not to do it. Plus, if your listing is optimized and properly set up, you have a much greater chance at showing up in Google’s local three-pack or the most coveted 1-box.

Drop by google.com/business and start creating your listing. There is a verification process that you’ll need to go through first in order to confirm that your business is legitimate and that you are actually the business owner. Google will send you a postcard to the business address with a PIN that you will need to enter on the verification page once it arrives.

Once you have verified your business listing, it’s time to optimize your Google My Business listing with the correct category, business hours, types of payments accepted, proper description and so on. You should also upload your logo and photos of your business and may even include pictures of products and services you offer. Complete as much information as you can when building out your listing. The more relevant information you include, the better your chances are at showing up in local search results when customers perform a Google Search.

Once your listing is complete and verified, it can show up in Google Search, Google Maps, and Google +.

What Can I do to Improve My Ranking

Google’s algorithm changes constantly but there are a few key “signals” Google uses in order to determine your rank in Search Results. Here are the most common:

  • My Business signals (proximity, categories, keyword in business title, etc.)
  • Citation signals (IYP/aggregator NAP consistency, citation volume, etc.)
  • On-page signals (presence of NAP, keywords in titles, domain authority, etc.)
  • Link signals (inbound anchor text, linking domain authority, linking domain quantity, etc.)
  • Review signals (review quantity, review velocity, review diversity, etc.)
  • Social signals (Google engagement, Facebook engagement, Twitter engagement, etc.)
  • Behavioral/mobile signals (click-through rate, mobile clicks-to-call, check-ins, etc.)
  • Personalization

The proximity of the business address to the point of search (Searcher-Business Distance) is probably the most important key to how and when you will show up. The closer your business is to the location of the searcher, the higher the probability is that your listing will show up. Other ranking factors include the quality of inbound links to your website. The more quality links you have from people sharing your website in their blogs, social media sites, and websites will give your domain more authority which Google highly values. Get more quality backlinks – gain better ranking results.

Consistency in citation information is also extremely important. Citations, or online business directories (just like Google My Business), are an important step in improving your ranking abilities. There are hundreds of citation sites, but remember quality is better than quantity. It’s a good idea to set up a citation document that includes all pertinent information like your business’s name, address, phone number, website, categories, keywords, locations served, products and services offered, and a short and long description that you can simply copy and paste when you set up your citation listings. This ensures that your listings are consistent and accurate which will help you gain authority with Google.

online review plan

Reviews are also a key component that can help your listing and website stand out against the rest. Encourage your customers to provide reviews on sites like Google & Yelp. With more than 5 reviews, a star rating image will show next to your listing in the local results and Map results, and these are highly valued by customers.

All in all, Google can be an asset to your business online but you need to know how to use it. Our experts at Brandtastic have years of experience with navigating through the Google platform and can help business owners gain better rankings by properly managing their Google My Business listing and all of the other components Google has to offer. It’s no small task which is why many companies hire our team to perform these critical tasks to improve local search performance. Contact us today to discuss how we can help you get a handle on Google.

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