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A Complete Guide to Google Local SEO: 2020

locan business SEO

Last Updated on by Hema Mehta

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 of Google search results by following a 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. So 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 boost 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.

  1. List your business on Google My Business GMB)
  2. Know the Google ranking factors for local businesses
  3. Post regularly on GMB
  4. Keep updating on regular basis
  5. Respond to review and questions
  6. List your business on local directories and yellow pages
  7. Optimize your website for better SEO
  8. Monitor the inside information
  9. Follow further suggestions

Since this guide is for both beginners and advanced users, I’ve listed all the steps. Advanced users can skip the first step and directly proceed for the second.

be a local lead hero, do Google local SEO

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 by verifying 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 below screenshot.

Screenshot: Google My Business starting page

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 log in to your Google account. After login, the next page will open. It will look like this:

Add business name to your Google My Business profile

Step 3: Enter your business name at the appropriate place and click on the ‘next’ button. 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.

Add physical address details of your business to Google My Business profile

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 gets provisionally listed on the 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 a verification pin to your business address through a registered postcard. It generally takes two to three weeks for the postcard to arrive at your business location. When you receive the postcard, scratch it to find the pin. Login to your GMB account and click on the ‘Verify Now’ tab. Enter the secret code and submit.

Now that your business is verified by Google. It’s time to take action 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. It happens for two reasons. One, due to the popularity or existence in a prime landmark location, someone has already added your business on the Google Map. Google allows everyone to add locations and places to the map. Second, Google automatically adds places on the map that have an adequate online presence. For example, if a trusted website has some information about your business, Google may automatically list it on 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 below.

Step 1: Type your business name with the 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 below screenshot. I’ve also provided instructions on where to click.

How to claim your business on Google

Step 3: On the next page, click on the button – ‘Manage now.’ I’ve marked the button with a red rectangle in the below screenshot.

Manage your business on Google

Step 4: The next page will open where you’ll get multiple options to verify ownership of the business.

Verify your business to manage on Google

Select any one option as per your convenience. If you select either a phone number or an email option, you can verify ownership immediately by receiving a secret code. Note that email id must be associated with your website’s domain name so that you can verify it through email.

If you select the address option, Google will send a postcard with a secret pin to your business address. You can verify ownership of your business, once you receive the postcard. It generally takes two to three weeks for the postcard to arrive at your business address.

Once you complete the verification process, you can manage your business and take steps to rank it at the top position for Google local searches.

Know How Does Google Rank Local Businesses

To rank your business higher on Google maps, you require to know how Google ranks local business results. You should also act following 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 of these criteria have equal values.

Let me explain each aspect separately.

Relevance

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 match the actual need of the search user. Google’s algorithm ranks a business based on how much it is relevant to the user’s query.

Proximity

Distance is another criterion. As the term ‘local search’ indicates, the 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 results for the customers who are nearer to your location.

Prominence

The criterion ‘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 many reviews are there for your business on Google map
  • How much strong your online presence is through a website

Online Prominence

If your business is listed in good numbers of local and national directories (like the yellow pages), and has linked with ample websites (through articles, reviews, comparison, mention, etc.), you have better chances to get a top position in Google local search results.

Offline Prominence

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.

Google Review

The greater the number of positive reviews and your overall rating scores on Google Maps, the better are the chances that your business can be found on the top for a relevant search query.

Website

If you have a business website, and you are practicing good Search Engine Optimization (SEO), you have more chances to be ranked better.

Post Regularly to Improve Rank

Never be excited 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 do you need to post for your Google Local Listing?

Photos and Videos

In order to inform your potential customer accurately about your business, Google suggests 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 recommends providing photos/videos of your exterior views.
  • Interior Images/videos: Google recommends that you should have a minimum of 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 a minimum of 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. Do 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 your 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 is required. Such activities will let Google 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 do the update for the real human beings who 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 your response 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 a higher online presence can be ranked better. In this regard, local directories and yellow pages can help you. Most of the websites in these 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 to any. Free classified is adequate if you want a better rank for your business in Google local search.

Here quantity is really important. The higher the number of your online presence, the better will be your rank. So add your business to as much as possible directories. Besides directories and yellow pages, you can also add your business on another website where you can get a chance. But be careful. Never do something that can be spam. Google hate spammer very much.

Optimize Your Website for Better SEO

If you have 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 the search result, but it will also serve you in ranking your business on Google Map. In other words, SEO can bring you a 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 the website option in the menu bar of your GMB account. You can see an 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 reports about the performance of your business listing. The report will consist of the following information.

  • How many people viewed your business on Google? How did they find 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 your 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 you can improve your listing for a better rank.

Insight report of business listing for Google Map and search
(Insight of your business listing: Google My Business)

Further Suggestions

Local business marketing with Google is priceless. Even if you have multiple business locations distributed in many cities, you can also avail of local marketing advantages from Google. It doesn’t matter whether your business is small or big; you should have a physical location where your customers can visit you. Not only small local businesses, even big national and international corporates can also take advantage of Google local promotion by placing their locations across different places on Google listing and the Google Map.

I hope you, now, can start your journey towards big marketing success for your brick and mortar businesses. I love to suggest to 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 benefits; but for the long term, you’ll be a looser. People are smart, and Google is very much smarter!

If you have any queries, please feel free to ask me in the comment box. Let’s work together to build a better world for small businesses.

If you like this post, please don’t forget to share it.

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21 Responses

  1. Aman Singh says:

    It’s a impressive guide on GMB and local SEO. Thanks for the step by step guide that include everything that I was looking for.

  2. Nazmeen says:

    Thanks for this helpful DIY guide in simple language. Everyone can easily learn and implement the same.

  3. Ayesha Khan says:

    A crystal clear article on local SEO. You have discussed almost all aspects of promoting businesses through free Google tools like GMB. Thanks for sharing.

  4. ปั้มไลค์ says:

    Like!! Great article on local SEO. Really thank you! Really Cool.

  5. Nisha Agarwal says:

    Thanks for the useful guide on GMB. It’s a good reading and useful.
    Can you help more with writing on Google Search Console?

  6. Websst says:

    Thank you very much for the new ideas.
    Regards Dan

  7. Sanjay Shikand says:

    Hi Hema,
    Thanks for an useful post. One can see the post as a complete guide on Google local SEO. It’s also simple to follow and execute.

  8. Prabin Chakrabarty says:

    It’s indeed a useful post for entrepreneurs those are searching for better and effective marketing opportunities. Although there are many businesses those are on Google Maps, they still are not aware enough how they can explore the platform. Your post is a eye opening resource for the needy entrepreneurs having physical business local. Thanks for writing and sharing.

  9. Manjeet Barua says:

    It’s an useful post on local SEO. I’m sure, very few business are aware if the fact that Google can help them reaching their target market for free. Really, paid marketing isn’t everything.

  10. Sanjay Patel says:

    Wow! It’s wonderful with lots of clues and insight. I was not aware about the strength and importance of local SEO. I practically used the strategies suggested by you. Now, my business appears on the top of my competitors both on Google Maps and Google Search for relevant queries. Thanks ??

    • Prabash Sahoo says:

      Hi Sanjay,
      Thanks for experimenting our suggestion and mentioning the same. Please keep reading our blogs for more helpful guidelines.

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  13. IMPERATIVE INFO SOLUTIONS says:

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  14. Ladewig says:

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  15. Kartik Rao says:

    Hi Hema,
    It’s really a great guide. It could solve my questions regarding local SEO. I’m following all the steps you suggested. Within two weeks I could notice improvement in Google ranking. My business was appearing in the second or even third page for relevant queries. Now its #9. I’m hopeful that within a month, it will top the list.
    A lot of thanks.

  16. Johnny says:

    Thanks for the terrific guide.

  17. Willa says:

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  18. Dalea Gaundo says:

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