What is “Local SEO” and Google My Business?
“Local SEO” is the term used to describe the optimization of a website for localized searches and associated search terms. Google data shows that at least 1 of every 5 web searches has local intent, and this number only increases when the search is performed on a mobile device. So, for businesses hoping to find a local audience, it is important to optimize company websites for local audiences, aiming to reach all users, regardless of whether they are visiting from a desktop computer, a mobile device or a tablet.
Google My Business is a free Local SEO tool designed to help local businesses, brands, artists, and organizations manage and enhance their public presence and identity across Google, keeping their business information up-to-date and making it easier for prospective clients to find and contact their businesses using Google search and other Google services.
Businesses that sign up for Google My Business and verify their account will show up across Google, in Search, Maps, and Google+. As long as you keep your business info updated, then when someone searches for your business, they will see the info that they need to reach you, including driving directions, hours of operation, and your phone number, which can actually be clicked from their mobile phone so that they can call you right from the listing.
Why Should I Use Google My Business?
Google My Business provides a simple way to spread your business exposure throughout Google, thereby increasing traffic to your business – both online and in person. By signing up for a Google My Business account and verifying your info for display on Google+, Maps, and Search, you are literally putting your business “on the map”.
Signing up for Google My Business provides you with a “featured” listing on the right side of Google’s results list, giving you more exposure when someone searches for your business.
Thanks to Google’s focus on mobile access, your Google My Business info is easily accessed across all devices, from desktop computers to mobile phones to tablets, making it simple for a wider audience to access your business info and get in touch with you.
Google+ has hundreds of over 300 millions users, including many prospective customers for your business, and with fewer businesses currently listed on Google+ than on Facebook and other social media sites, by joining Google My Business, you have exposure to a wide audience that many of your competitors don’t. Developing a solid Google My Business presence can help boost your search rankings, and also increase the authority and influence of both your company and your brand.
Best of all, Google My Business is free to use, so you can give it a try without incurring any additional costs.
How to Sign Up for Google My Business
You must have a Google+ account to register for Google My Business. For those users who have previously registered for Google Places for Business or Google+ Pages Dashboard, those accounts have been automatically upgraded to Google My Business. If you have never created a page for your business, you must first set up your local page, then enter your business information, which you must then verify before you can start using Google My Business.
For businesses that have multiple users on Google My Business, there are three different types of listing administrators, with varying access levels: owners, managers, and communications managers. While you can only have one owner per listing, you can have up to 50 managers and/or communications managers.
Sign Up Procedure
If your business is already on Google, you can claim ownership of it. If it isn’t, you can add your business to Google.
To confirm what you need to do, you should first search for your business on Google. If your business appears with a link that says “Are You the Business Owner”, then you can claim ownership of your business by clicking that link and following the process.
If you don’t see the “Are You the Business Owner” link, then go to https://www.google.com/business/ and click “Get on Google” to start the sign up process:
- Sign into your Google account, or register if you don’t already have one.
- Google Maps will open.
- Search for your business. If it appears in the results, click on it. If you don’t see it, click “Add your business”.
- Fill out your business information, and click “Continue”.
- Review and agree to the Terms of Service, and click “Continue” to add the Google+ page for your business.
- You will be asked to select a verification method. Click the corresponding button and follow the prompts to order your verification code.
- Once you receive your verification code, return to Google My Business and enter the information.
If you don’t verify your business listing and information, then your business listing will not appear on Google My Business.
Google My Business Features & Add-Ons
Below are some of the features and add-ons that can enhance the Google My Business user experience. Note that you must verify your business information to use all of the Google My Business features, including having your business listing appear on Google+, Maps, and Search.
The Insights feature provides statistics on how users interact with your verified information on Google. Insights is fully customizable, so you can pick which stats to view and compare, including the number of views that your profile, photo and posts get, how your audience interacts with your posts (including the +1 clicks, shares, and comments), and also a breakdown of your audience by metrics such as country, age, gender, etc. Assessing the Insights data will allow you to better understand your audience and their behavior, enabling you to make decisions and customize your website content towards the needs of your niche audience.
If you are looking for more in-depth statistics than the Insights feature provides, Google Analytics is a free tracking tool that analyzes your website traffic and audience. Google Analytics offers you stats on new visits, pageviews, and unique visitors on your website, and you can now view your stats directly from your Google My Business dashboard.
AdWordsExpress is an add-on to Google My Business that allows businesses to attract more customers by advertising on Google, Google Maps, and other relevant sites, with ads that are eligible to appear on all desktops, mobile phones, and tablets. When “neighbors” in your local area search for businesses like yours, your ad may appear in search results, accompanied by your business address, phone number, and a distinctive icon that helps your ad stand out more. Creating an ad is a quick and easy process, and you only pay if the ad actually works, and a visitor clicks through to your site.
Google My Business Hints & Tips
Keep Your Information Up to Date and Accurate
While Google My Business is easy to set up and use, it does take diligence to make the most out of your business listing. Be sure to optimize your business information, inputting your correct location, phone number, and hours of operation, selecting the appropriate business categories, and making updates to your info whenever things change. As applicable, you can also display your business amenities, and enable a booking and ordering feature that allows your customers to book or order from your company without even leaving your Google listing.
Encourage Reviews and Feedback from Customers
When searching for a business of a certain category or industry, users are more likely to click through to a Google business listing that reflects the business’ relationship with their customers. Encourage your customers to offer ratings and reviews of your business, endorse your content and re-share your Google+ posts, and be sure to actively respond to your customers (only verified businesses can use this feature) – offering a professional response to all reviews, whether good or bad. You can also display your Google reviews on your website, to share them with your customers and other visitors to your site.
Post Photos with Keywords to your Listing
Posting images (with relevant keywords) on your business listing increases your visibility, and stats show that businesses with photos receive more requests for driving direction on Google Maps, and more click-throughs to their websites. Google My Business strongly recommends that you include a number of different images on your listing, as detailed on their website. Review these guidelines and best practices before uploading your photos.