Despite the global nature of Google’s content and search results, local search remains a proven source of small business enquiries. People often search and find businesses they want to work with within 15-25 miles of their location. If a company meets with its customers directly it’s termed a local business and there are a range of techniques and skills to increase its visibility on the Internet.
Local SEO marketing looks at searches that include a location (i.e. web designers in Indianapolis) or specific searches that can deliver relevant results within proximity. It applies to physical businesses that have face-to-face contact with customers, from small single-site locations to national brands and chains.
Local searches trigger search engines to display two types of results on the search engine results page: local organic results and the ‘Local Pack’. The local organic results include web pages related to the search query with local relevance. These often include directories such as Yelp, Yellow Pages, Facebook and so on. The Local Pack displays businesses that have signed up with Google and taken ownership of their ‘Google My Business’ (GMB) listing.
GMB is a free tool that allows businesses to create and manage their Google listing. These listings must represent a physical location that a customer can visit. A Google My Business listing appears when customers search for businesses either on Google Maps or in Google SERPs. The accuracy of these listings is a local ranking factor.
Opening a Google My Business account
To open a Google My Business (GMB) account, you must have a physical location to be included, and there are three main indexing ranking factors:
Relevance: The main Google Local search algorithm is designed to match searchers with answers to searches and deliver recommendation results. Your business must have an up-to-date and accurate listing of brand, products and services.
Distance: To establish local search distance results, you must include your address and contact information and be consistent across ALL listings: website, social media, GMB and any other directory listing.
Prominence: In digital marketing terms, Authority and Trust. The main Google search index uses the acronym E-A-T: Expertise, Authority & Trust.
Your local listing must establish your own EAT profile – and the addition of Google My Business reviews and star ratings may determine your local search ranking. And it is worth setting up as customers are 70 per cent more like to visit businesses with a GMB listing.
Studies show that businesses with complete listings on Google are twice as likely to earn trust from customers. Credibility gained from Google is enough to sway people to be 38 per cent more likely to visit your store, and 29 per cent more likely to buy something.
Google My Business and Local SEO
The main problem with Google and SEO is simply the number of websites, blogs, videos, articles, forums and so on all competing for the same page one search space.
Google’s business model is already geared to push “natural” listings (those that appear on merit) further down page one. These are replaced with PAID listings (Google Ads) and what is termed “no-click” listings. These deliver search responses and answers to questions without the need to click through to a website.
That means generic SEO with technical SEO, metadata, semantic content, links and so on, is very difficult in terms of listing and visibility.
That is where Google My Business and local search can provide a shortcut to the Google search ranking system – especially for small-to-medium sized businesses. Whether you are looking for foot traffic or web traffic, having a GMB account means your business will show on Google Search and Google Maps.
Google My Business SEO Checklist:
- Set up your GMB account using your business email domain
- Claim your business or set it up from new
- Verify your location(s) (postcard, phone or email)
- List business hours
- Provide accurate business information/descriptions
- Manage reviews (add review responses where necessary)
- Answer questions*
- Add high-quality photos, logo and cover photo
- Download the GMB app as this will open up more functionality
*Frequent Asked Questions are a must-have addition to your website content and the answers provided will support your Local listing SEO.
For many sectors, you can post updates, offers, events, images and news, keeping your customers updated at all times – a useful feature during the pandemic.
Make sure you have complete business information listed. There is no need to stress about keyword focus – make sure information is complete and consistent.
Who you are:
- Web Site
- Business Description
- Opening Date/Times (Holiday Opening)
Where you are located: Address (NAP: Name, Address, Phone Number)
Reviews: If you have not already done so, encourage and gain client reviews for your Google My Business listing.
- Reviews will also build authority and trust
- 5-Star reviews will attract more GMB listing click-throughs
- Lower value or Poor reviews should be answered, professionally and in a non-confrontational manner.
Images: Optimise image size and add high-quality images. According to Google, businesses with photos receive 42 per cent more requests for directions, and 35% more clicks through to their websites.
Add special features and attributes
Special features are available for accounts, depending on the category you’ve chosen.
Here’s a rundown of category-specific features available:
- Hotels can display class ratings and list amenities offered
- Restaurants and bars can upload menus, showcase popular dishes, and add a link for online orders and reservations
- Service-oriented businesses can display a service menu and add a booking button
- Small and medium-sized companies can add product catalogs
If you think your business is eligible for one of these features, but you don’t see them, you may have chosen the wrong category. You can choose up to 10 categories for your business.
You can also add factual attributes to your profile to share more info your customers may care about. If you run a shop or restaurant, you may want to share that it’s wheelchair accessible, offers free Wi-Fi, or outdoor seating. You can even share if your company is woman-led.
If you require assistance setting up your Google My Business listing, check out the marketing agencies in our Supplier Network.