(Also called Google Places, Google Local, and (erroneously) Google Maps)
Written by Scott Orth
If you’re a local business, you want local visibility and traffic, right? What better way to gain local exposure but to show up in Google local search, with a Google My Business page?
If you don’t already know, when you type in a search and you use a local identifier, such as your city or city and state, Google attempts to show you local businesses that match your search query and that are near your physical location. Google does this by listing local business pages with basic business, location, and contact info.
But showing up within these local listings requires some know-how, and a little bit of strategy. Follow the list of tips below, and you’ll be well on your way to showing up in these local Google My Business listings.
#1 – Do You Already Have a Page?
Do a search for your business, or type of business (ie. The search above was for ‘yoga studio, Portland or’). If a page for your business shows up, either claim it – or log into your Google account associated with your Google My Business Page
If you do not have a page, start by going to http://www.google.com/business/befound.html and building your local business page. The steps involved are pretty straight forward. Things like business name, hours, address, and phone number… make sure all of these match exactly what you have on your website’s contact page.
When it comes to listing your services and your business description – put your SEO hat on, because you’ll want to think about your keywords and properly optimize these sections to best match your business and the keywords people use to find it.
#2 Optimize your Website
Seems we can never get away from SEO, right? Well, here we go again. For your best chances of showing up in Google My Business listings, you’ll also want to optimize your website – especially for localization. For more tips on SEO, check out my straight-to-the-point SEO book on Amazon. No doubt, it will be the best few bucks you’ve ever spent on your business.
Notice in the listing here, the first local ranked site also happens to be the #1 organic listing (following the local listings). Of course, this was a local search; but we see this often; where most of the top ranked organic sites are also the top ranked Google My Business ranked pages.
Put emphasis on optimizing your website, paying close attention to adding local identifiers in your footer and other legitimate areas of the site.
#3 – Take a NAP
Not THAT kind of nap! N.A.P stands for Name, Address, Phone. NAP Consistency is important for Local Search Engine Optimization, and it will be important for ranking on Google My Business pages as well.
Start on your website. Make sure your business name, address, and phone number are consistent across your website. Look in your footer, header, contact page, and other areas where this information might be, and make sure it’s always written the same. It’s also important to make sure its TEXT and not IMAGE. Far too often I see people forget that Google is a text-scanner. It’s looking for text. If your website designer stuck your address and phone number in an image (happens all the time) it won’t be seen by Google. Make sure this information can be found in text form on your website.
Now Look off-site. Google your business name and variations of the name to find websites, directories, and other places your website information shows up. Anywhere you find your business listed, make sure the N.A.P is correct and consistent with what is on your website.
The off-site search tends to be a great practice for another reason as well. You’re sure to find directories and business profiles that you didn’t sign up for. This leads us to the next step…
#4 – Business Directories and Listings
One of the ways Google determines you are a real business, and worthy of showing up in Google My Business listings, is by seeing how frequently your business is mentioned elsewhere.
As mentioned in Step 3, search for your business – but also your competitors. See where your listings show up as well as where your competitors show up. You may also do some general searches for things like <insert your city> business listings or business directories. Example, ‘portland business directories’.
Once you’ve compiled a list of directories and business profile sites, begin signing up for each (some will be free. Some will require payment). The more directories you can be in, the better. Finally, refer back to NAP, making sure that every directory you sign up for includes consistent business name, address, and phone number.
#5 – Google Map on Your Website
By embedding a Google Map on your contact page, you further show Google that you are a legitimate business at the stated address.
How you embed the map depends on the structure or Content Management System your website is built in. For instance, if your site is built in WordPress, you’ll likely use a simple plugin for this option. Or the theme of your site may already have the function built in.
If your site allows it, you can also simply find your address in Google Maps, and then from the Google Maps Settings icon, choose ‘Share or Embed Map’. Take the code Google Map gives you and place it on your contact page to embed the map.
#6 – Get Plenty of Reviews
Reviews on you’re Google My Business page are sort of like links to your website. The more of these you have, the more popular your business seems to Google.
If you have 3 good reviews, how could you ever hope to compete with the business that has 250 reviews? But not everyone voluntarily gives reviews. What should you do then? Go after them!
Google does not want reviews to be bought. Obviously that makes for some pretty unreliable reviews. But that doesn’t mean you can’t ask for them. Getting a review depends on your business. If you’re an Air Conditioning repairman, you could ask for a Google review on-the-spot immediately following your in-home service call. One of my clients has all of his service techs carry an ipad, which they get signature releases on, take payment from, and get Google reviews from after an appointment.
If that method seems too direct; make sure you get an email address as part of a service call. Then follow up with a brief survey and request for a Google Review (with link to your Google My Business Page).
If you are a store or a restaurant, where customers come visit you, use in-store signage or table cards/tents and ask for reviews. Offer a QR code that can be scanned and take them right to your page.
The easier you make it for them to get to the Google My Business page, the more likely they are to leave a review.
Now remember, it is a strong combination of ALL of the above steps. You will certainly find Google My Business pages that have only 2-3 reviews, yet they rank #1. Or you’ll see a page that ranks highly on Google My Business, yet they don’t even have a website to point to.
In these cases, they’ve likely gone real heavy on other elements. A business that had no website at all, may still rank well because their business is listed in 1,200 different directories and profiles. You may do really well in one area, and not so well in another, but still rank highly.
Your goal will be to look at all of the steps and perfect each one for your best chances to succeed.
If you’ve followed each of these steps and you still don’t show up, or are lower on the list, refer back to steps 2, 4, and 6. Like with traditional SEO, there is no end to what you can do to improve ranking. If you’ve followed the basic steps and you still don’t rank, then you need to keep pursing website optimization tactics, keep getting listed with more and more directories, and do all that you can do to build reviews on your Google My Business page. The more you have, the better you’ll do.
Don’t forget that competitive intelligence can be a game changer. Use tools like www.semrush.com to scan your competitor’s website and get valuable information about who links to them, what keywords they rank for, and more.
Competitor scans can tell you which directories they’re listed with, where they rank on lists of keywords, and additional information that you can then use to create your own plan for success.
Scott Orth is the Owner of Thrive Business Marketing and an independent contract Consultant focused on the stability and growth of businesses through online marketing efforts. His expertise in online customer acquisition and customer experience strategies has directly created over $100 Million in revenue for his clients in the past 5 years.