A Complete Guide to Google Local SEO: 2020
Do you know how to get your business to show up on google first?
If you don’t know the technique of ranking your business for Google Map and Google local listing, this guide on Google My Business (GMB) will be a great resource to you.
GMB is a highly effective platform that helps millions of local business owners to promote their businesses for free and to attract new customers. You can rank your business at the top Google search by following few simple steps.
While it’s a matter of staying out of competition, getting promoted through Google My Business is one of the best options. However, there might be many competitors around you who are already using Google services including GMB. Hence, you need to learn the most effective techniques and strategies to be on the top. I’m going to put everything on how you can rank your business on the top of Google Search.
Here are the most helpful steps that can help you boosting your business for Google local searches and getting ranked on the top for relevant queries. For your convenience in learning and applying local SEO, I’ve divided some steps into smaller sub-steps.
- List your business on Google My Business GMB)
- Know the Google ranking factors for local businesses
- Post regularly on GMB
- Keep updating on regular basis
- Respond to review and questions
- List your business on local directories and yellow pages
- Optimize your website for better SEO
- Monitor the inside information
- Follow further suggessions
Since this guide is for both beginners and advanced users, I’ve listed all the steps. Advanced user can skip the first step and directly proceed for the second.
List or Claim your Business on Google Map
There are two possibilities – either your business is not listed on Google Map yet or it’s already on the map. If the first case applies, you require to list your business and to verify the same. For the second case, you need to claim your business and verify ownership.
I’ll tell you what to do for the two different cases.
How to list your business for Google Map and local searches?
Here are six simple steps to list your business on Google and to verify ownership.
Step 1: Visit Google My Business. The page that opens will look like the image in the bellow screenshot.
Step 2: Click any of the ‘start now’ button that I’ve marked in red rectangle in the above screenshot. You will be asked to login to your Google account. After login, the next page will open. It will look like this:
Step 3: Enter your business name at the appropriate place and click on ‘next’. In subsequent pages, you will ask to enter information about your business, such as – address, categories and sub-categories, description, phone number, website URL, opening hours etc. Ensure that you have provided correct and adequate information.
Step 4: Click on the map and place your business precisely at correct location. Zoom in the map so that the location can be precise. Save the setting.
Step 5: Submit the information to Google by finally clicking on the ‘Submit’ button. With these few easy steps, your business is provisionally listed on Google Map. Anyone may find your business on Google for a relevant query. However, the entries will be permanently visible once you’ll able to verify your business.
Step 6: Note that you can’t manage your business on Google unless you verify ownership. Google will send verification pin to your business address through a registered post card. It normally takes two to three weeks for the postcard to be delivered at your business location. When you’ll receive the postcard, scratch it to find the pin. Login to your GMB account and click on ‘Verify Now’ tab. Enter the secret code and submit.
Now that your business is verified by Google. It’s time to take actions so that you can rank your business for the top position on Google Search.
How to claim your business on Google Map?
There may be some chances that your business is already on Google. This happens for two reasons. One, due to the popularity or existence in a prime landmark location, someone has already added your business on Google Map. Google allows everyone to add locations and places to the map. Second, Google automatically adds places on the map that have adequate online presence. For example, if a trusted website have some information about your business, using that information, Google may automatically add it to the map.
If your business is already on Google, you can claim the ownership and manage it. You can claim ownership of your business in four simple steps as given bellow.
Step 1: Type your business name with city in Google search box and press enter. Your business with Google map will appear on the top of the screen in mobile search and top right panel in desktop search.
Step 2: Click on the text – ‘Won this business?’ The text is marked in red rectangle in the bellow screenshot. I’ve also provided instruction on where to click.
Step 3: In the next page, click on the button – ‘Manage now.’ I’ve marked the button with red rectangle in the bellow screenshot.
Step 4: The next page will open where you’ll get multiple options to verify ownership of the business.
Select any one option as per your convenience. If you select either phone number or email option, you can verify ownership immediately by receiving secret code. Note that email id must be associated with your websites domain name so that you can verify through email.
If you select address option, Google will send a postcard with secret pin to your business address. You can verify ownership of your business, once you receive the postcard. It normally take two to three week for the postcard to be delivered at your business address.
Once you complete the verification process, you can manage your business and take steps to rank your business at the top position for Google local searches.
Know How Does Google Rank Local Businesses
In order to rank your business higher on Google maps, you require to know how google ranks local business results. You should also act in accordance to the criteria.
Google’s local search results are based on three primary criteria – (a) relevance, (b) proximity and (c) prominence. All these factors work together to return the best match for a certain search query on Google Search. All these criteria have equal values.
Let me explain each aspect separately.
Your business may appear at the top position for a local or location based search if the information you’ve provided matches best to the search query. In other words, ranking depends upon how the descriptions and details provided by a business matches to the actual need of the search user. Google’s algorithm ranks a business on the basis of how much a business in the list is relevant to the user’s query.
Distance is another criteria. As the term ‘local search’ indicates, ranking also depends upon how far or near the location of the Google user is from your business. In other words, your business has higher chances of appearance in Google Map and Search result for the customers who are nearer to your location.
The criteria ‘prominence’ in relation to Google local search has minimum four factors –
- How much information Google can collect about your business from the web via directories, links, posts etc
- How much well known your business is in your city or locality
- How much review are there for your business on Google map
- How much strong your online presence is through a website
If your business is listed in good numbers of local and national directories (like the yellow pages) and have linked with ample websites (through articles, reviews, comparison, mention etc.), you have better chances to at top position in Google local search results.
A prominent public place like a big college or park, a business being used as a landmark by people etc. have much higher chances to be ranked top by Google for all relevant search queries.
The greater the amount of positive reviews and your overall rating scores on Google map, the better is the chances that your business can be found on the top for a relevant search query.
If you’ve a business website and you’re practicing good Search Engine Optimization (SEO), you have more chances to be ranked better.
Post Regularly to Improve Rank
Never be excited with that your business is got listed and verified with Google. It’ll serve you a little. Remember, your objective is to be ranked number one for local searches, even for broader area search results. You need to post more and more and in regular basis. What you need to post for your Google Local Listing?
Photos and Videos
In order to inform your potential customer accurately about your business, Google suggest you to post:
- Exterior Images/Video: Minimum three images or videos or both those are clearly able to describe your exterior views. Keeping in the view that passerby through the street or road where your business is located can easily recognize it, Google highly recommend to provide photos/videos of your exterior views.
- Interior Images/videos: Google recommend that you should have minimum three images/video of the interior view of your business
- At-Work Images/Video: In order to add credibility to your business and work culture, add minimum three images/video those are able to describe how you and your employees work within an establishment.
- Team Images/Video: It’ll add further credibility to your business.
- Additional Images/video: The much you post, the better will be the result.
Offers and Events
Don’t forget to post any offer that you are giving at your offline or online store or any event you’re celebrating. Post it in advance and make it loud so that your potential and existing customers can have prior knowledge of it.
Products or Services
Add products or services to you listing as much as possible. It’ll help your potential customers in finding you while searching for the same or similar products/services you sell. Besides, it’ll help your business appear more frequently in Google local searches and you’ll get better chances for high ranking.
Update on Regular Basis
Update your business information regularly and whenever it required. Such activities will let Google to know that your business is alive and help your customers find new information that might be useful for them. Never update your business listing for Google, but update for the real human beings those are looking for your business type through Google Search.
Respond to Reviews, Questions and Messages
Encourage your customers to leave feedback about your products and services by asking them to write reviews. Respond to all reviews received as soon as possible. Let your customers know that you care for them. Google will also rank you higher for more positive reviews and for your respond to each review and question. Act quickly and smartly.
Since it’s practically not possible to satisfy 100% customers, you might have negative reviews even after your best service efforts. Don’t worry. These are the way of life. But your responsibility is to respond positively to all reviews – positive or negative.
List Your Business on Local Directories
Google put clear guideline for local businesses that those have higher online presence can be ranked better. In this regard, local directories and yellow pages can help you. Most of the website in this categories let you add your business to their directories for free of cost. Although they have also paid premium plans, you don’t need to subscribe any. Free classified is adequate if you want better rank for your business in Google local search.
Here quantity quantity is really important. Higher the number of your online presence, better will be your rank. So add your business to as much as possible directories. Beside directories and yellow pages, you can also add your business on other website where you can get a chance. But be careful. Never do something that can be considered as spam. Google hate spammer very much.
Optimize Your Website for Better SEO
If you’ve a website, you can get better advantages in ranking your brick and mortar business on Google map. However, you need to do search engine optimization (SEO) for your website. SEO not only help you rank your website for search result, it will also serve you in ranking your business on Google Map. In other words, SEO can bring you double benefit.
Additional Note: If you don’t have a website, you can also get it from GMB. It’s free as well as pre-designed. You don’t need to do anything. Just click on website option in the menu bar of your GMB account. You can see a option to edit and publish your website. This one-page website automatically inherits all the information and media you provide for your Google business listing. You can also do SEO for this website.
Monitor the Insight Information
Google will periodically provide you with report about the performance of your business listing. The report will consist the following information.
- How many people viewed your business on Google? How they found your business
- For which search term or keyword, your business appeared on Google Map and in search results and how many times
- How many people interacted with your business, such as, called you, visited your website, asked direction or messaged you
- The area where customers requested direction to you business
- The number of times your business photos are viewed, compared to photo views of similar business etc.
Such information is highly useful for you. You can understand the actual progress of your attempt in ranking your business higher on Google so that can improve your listing for better rank.
Local business marketing with Google is really priceless. Even if you have multiple business locations distributed in many cities, you can also avail local marketing advantages from Google. It doesn’t matter whether your business is small or big, you just should have a physical locations where your customers can visit you. Not only small local businesses, even big national and international corporate businesses also take the advantages of Google local promotion by placing their locations across different places on Google listing and Google Map.
I hope, now you can start your journey towards big marketing success for your brick and mortar businesses. My suggestion for you to be honest enough while you’re describing your business and putting keywords for it. If you provide any misinformation, you may gain short term benefit; but for the long term you’ll be a looser. People are smart and Google is very much smarter.
If you have any query, please feel free to ask me in the comment box. Let’s work together to build a better world for small businesses.
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