In this blog post, the GLO team discuss helpful tips to optimise Google My Business listings and illustrate local SEO tips that help you show in the top of Google Maps and help your business rank higher in search engines.

As we move into the next week of lockdown many small business owners find themselves planning ahead to make sure they stay afloat during this period and come out stronger on the other side of the pandemic crisis. With more time on your hands, this is the perfect time to work smart to retain existing customers and prioritize the tasks that will see you thrive despite the downturn that the economists are expecting.

So what exactly could you be doing right now to help your business during, and beyond lockdown?

The obvious answer is (well to us anyway) – make sure you can be found online. 

We’ve prepared 10 tips to improve your local SEO and optimise your Google My Business (GMB) listing. This will make your digital marketing more effective and help your business come back stronger after the coronavirus lockdown.

Google Maps is taking up more of the Google SERP (search engine results pages), especially for local searches. Being the most prominent free feature in search, it has never been more important to optimise your Google My Business location.

Google My Business is the universal marketing platform for Google Maps. Being universal, everyone has the same weapons in their arsenal in order to dominate local searches but not every business is reading our local SEO tips.

A lot of people assume that once you add information and photos to your listing then you are done, which is the opposite of the truth. Google has an algorithm that they use to determine which businesses stay on top of search results, and they always favour the business listings that are constantly updating their GMB.

10 Local SEO Tips to Optimise your Google My Business

  • Sign up and Claim Your GMB Listing! – You may think you’ve got a Google Map listing but until you’ve completed verification, you won’t be able to edit the business information that appears on Google Maps and therefore, you won’t be able to optimise your listing. In order to claim your Google My Business, you’ll need a Google Account, you can set one up here. Once you have set up your GMB listing, you’ll need to verify it. Google will send a post card to your business address with a verification code, once you enter this, your listing will be verified and you can start optimising your GMB listing.

  • Adding correct business hours and special hours – Make sure customers know when you’re open for business and avoid negative experiences, such as a customer travelling to your business just to find out it is closed. Many bricks and mortar stores had to close their doors in order to help flatten the curve. Google My Business automatically updated the information for many businesses and marked them as temporarily closed, informing the admins about the change with a simple email. If your business is still able to operate, make sure you didn’t miss that email and that your opening times are up to date on your Google My Business page.

  • Choosing the right category for your business – A local gas engineer approached us asking why his business wasn’t showing up in Google Maps. We advised him to make sure he added all the relevant categories to his business (you can choose up to 10, with 1 of them being the primary category). He was amazed that such a quick edit would mean that he could start appearing in the local ‘Map Pack’ (normally 3 listings in the maps section in SERP). He was so impressed with the results that he is now one of our clients.

  • Add Photographs – This helps give a good first impression to new customers finding you through search, sending a clear and positive message. It’s also a good idea to add an exterior photo so that people can recognise your business if they visit. Google reported that businesses with photos receive 42% more requests for driving directions and 35% more click-throughs to their websites. This turns into more customers for you, which turns into more profit for you. Yep, just from adding photos. In order to keep your competitive edge, once you add your base photos, you should be adding new photos every 7 days (latest products, service projects, employees or events).

  • Ask for reviews – Gaining Google Reviews is hands down one of the main ranking factors to consider when using GMB, period! Our director of marketing says, “My fathers plumbing business has consistently shown up in the map pack for the last 10 years for a competitive search term, ‘plumber Ipswich’, mainly because he has more positive reviews than his competition”. You might feel awkward asking but asking for Google reviews from your customers is the most effective way to compete in Google Maps. Not only does this increase your rankings but it will also increase your conversion rate, as customers are more likely to choose your business above your competitors. Another quick tip, ask your customers to use keywords in their review that you’re looking to be found for, for example, “I’d recommend GLO’s digital marketing services, especially SEO & Web Design”. Google will find this information within the 0.40 seconds it takes to show Google Map listings.

  • Respond to your reviews ASAP – One of the best ways to recover from a negative review is a well thought out, constructive response, showing customers, your business not only thinks their opinions are important, but you’re always interested in improving customer experience. People are also a lot more likely to remove their negative review if you respond to it, even if you can’t correct the problem. Responding to positive reviews is important too! As we mentioned, Google favours businesses that are constantly updating their GMB, so try and be as responsive as possible. We set ourselves a rule to respond to a google review within the hour.

  • Use the Posts feature – The posts feature lets you create a single post to add to your Google My Business listing, with an image, an attachment and a button to interact with. This feature is a great way to not only increase your ranking within Google Maps, but also increase the amount of search you take up. Posts typically last one week so make sure to update regularly. Posting at least every 7 days is a good idea. Google is obviously focusing on expanding the capabilities of GMB, as they are constantly adding new features, more recently, different types of posts, such as; Add Offer, Add Update, Add Event and Add Product. Google has even added a section in posts for COVID-19, “Let customers know about any changes to your business due to COVID-19”.

  • Consistent Citations – Ensuring consistency within local citations is very important when trying to rank in the Google Maps section. The term NAP might mean something completely different to you, but to us it means; Name, Address and Phone Number. Ensuring all the business information you post online is consistent with your GMB is essential to building authority within Google Maps. Don’t confuse Google. If you’ve got a Yell account or Facebook profile with 100 reviews from your clients, ensure these profiles have the same NAP as your GMB listing, as well as all other information. This lets Google build confidence that they are presenting the correct information in search and from trusted businesses. Find the most popular directories to use as local citations at the end of this blog post.

  • Add Services & Products – This is a relatively new GMB feature which allows you to list the services you provide and include keywords that can help your business get found for the services you offer. Being a new feature, it’s more than likely that your competitors haven’t supplied this information, allowing you to keep one step ahead. GMB only allows you to supply 750 characters in your general business description. This feature allows you to add multiple services per category and you can input up to 300 characters per service! The second feature is products which allow us to upload a picture, price, title and description. Adding your main products helps you to put more links in the Google ecosystem and allows more potential customers to find your products. Combined with the aforementioned updates to Products and Services, GMB really is turning into an online shop window for your business. Searchers have an immense amount of information at their fingertips on GMB, significantly reducing the need to visit your website. I expect to see a crossover with Google Shopping very soon.

  • Use the Q & A Feature – Google My Business provides an option of asking questions about any business. The problem here is that anyone can answer those questions. Many times their answers won’t give the full picture to your customers. To overcome this, you can add some questions and answers from both sides. These should be the questions that you think your customers will be most interested in knowing. You can even chuck in a few of those targeted keywords you’re looking to rank for, for example, “digital marketing agency“.

Whether you like it or not, GMB features are becoming more prominent in search. It’s what you do to optimise your business listing within GMB that will separate you from your competition.

Setting up things in place that offset the negative effects of unexpected situations, such as the pandemic we are dealing with now, makes businesses stronger and more ready to remain profitable no matter what. As the pandemic has shown us, tending to your online presence and visibility is important to all businesses. As discussed, Google Maps and GMB features are taking up more and more of SERP and it’s never been more important to optimise your Google My Business and implement GLO’s local search tips. Use the time wisely and apply our 10 Local SEO tips to generate more leads online now and beyond the lockdown period.

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Building Authority using Local Citations

Another one of our helpful local SEO tips is to use local citations to build your ranking in local searches. To build a good online presence you need to make sure that you have accurate details added to all relevant business directories. This has a direct impact on your ranking, reputation, and consequently, revenue. Typically, the following will be required:

  • Company name

  • Phone number

  • Address

  • Website

  • Photos

Be Accurate & Consistent

To help search engines, such as Google or Bing to verify that your website exists, you must make sure that your listings and citations are accurate, this will help validate your business. Be consistent. Add exactly the same business information to every listing – including your own website! If you add different information to every listing, this will impact your local search rankings, and frankly, its unprofessional.

Where are the best citation sources.

A bit of Google research will help you come up with a list, but the obvious choices to get you started are as follows:

Ones you may be less familiar with, but are still relevant:

Free Moz Tools. Try the best free tools for link building and analysis, keyword research, webpage performance, local SEO tips, and more! https://moz.com/free-seo-tools

Try these free SEO tools to improve your local search rankings

GLO - Generate Leads Online, Search Engine Optimisation SEO Ipswich, SEO Suffolk, SEOBility SEO Checker
GLO - Generate Leads Online, Search Engine Optimisation SEO Ipswich, SEO Suffolk, Google PageSpeed Insights Tool
GLO - Generate Leads Online, Search Engine Optimisation SEO Ipswich, SEO Suffolk, SEO Sitechecker PRO
GLO - Generate Leads Online, Search Engine Optimisation SEO Ipswich, SEO Suffolk, MOZ Local SEO Free Tools

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