Securing a spot in the top-three of the Google Map Pack is the goal of any local business. More and more customers are turning to search engines to conduct pre-shopping research. They want to make sure they are making the right decision and online reviews associated with business listings will give them the positive reinforcement they are looking for.
Because the real estate in the Map Pack is so valuable, the competition is very stiff. Businesses need to constantly be on their game to ensure their web presence is optimized for local search. There are a number of local SEO services businesses should be taking advantage of to increase visibility and click-throughs to their site. We highlight a number of those below:
Claim and Optimize Your Google My Business Page
If you want your business to rank on Google, it’s important that you have claimed your listing on Google My Business. To do so, you will need to follow these steps:
- Go to business.google.com
- Login to your Google Account (Gmail, G+, etc.)
- Search for your business by name and address
- Claim and verify your business
Once you’ve submitted a claim, you will need to go through Google’s verification process to make sure you have the authority to manage the page. This can be done a couple of ways, but the most common method is through the mail. Google will send you a postcard with a PIN. Once you receive it, log back into your Google My Business page and enter the code.
Now that you can edit your Google My Business listing, it’s time to make sure it’s optimized for local search. Below are some tips that will make your listing more attractive to both searchers and search engines alike.
- Update Description: There have been some recent changes to how Google handles descriptions on its business pages. Businesses can no longer edit the description within Google My Business, but it can be edited from Google+. You should keep an eye out for further updates as Google indicated there are more changes on the way that will improve how you can describe your business.
- Upload Photos: It’s important that you use this listing to help tell a visual story about your business. Listings with photos are more attractive and garner more click throughs.
- Collect Online Reviews: Online reviews are a key component of Google’s local search algorithm. Google takes into account the recency, frequency, and quality of reviews you have coming in.
Consistent Name, Address, and Phone Number
According to Moz, consistency of your business’ name, address, and phone number – both on your site and in other listings – is critical to where you rank in local search. You should include this contact information on every page on your website, and make sure to use the same format across the board. This will ensure you don’t confuse customers or the search engines.
Additionally, you will want to use Schema.org Markup on your site to make sure that search engines have all of the information they need about your business. With a Schema.org markup, you can include important data like your URL, business type, address, phone number, online reviews, information related to events, and much more on your site.
Employ a Link-Building Strategy
To put it in simple terms, search engines look at links back to your site like votes to determine your popularity. But not all links carry the same weight. Businesses should employ a link-building strategy that engages prominent websites or blogs in their industry. Doing so can have a positive impact on local search ranking.
The highest quality links are links back that come organically. These links are earned through the quality of content you create. They aren’t easy to get but will pay major dividends. That’s why it’s important to create content that drives value to your audience because at the end of the day it could result in someone linking back to your site.
Another way to get links back to your site is by building relationships with bloggers, your vendors, and partners and find ways to leverage those relationships into guest blogging opportunities. Oftentimes, these individuals will be happy to let you contribute – especially if you have a proven track record of creating good content. As part of the post, you can include a link back to your site.
While it’s difficult to know exactly what makes up Google’s local search algorithm. One thing that is certain is that Google will constantly be updating it and trying to provide the best experience for its users. Because of this, you can’t rest on your laurels for very long or you’ll run the risk of falling down the rankings. Once that happens, it’s an even more difficult climb to the top.
Getting your happiest customers to leave a review might seem difficult, but it’s easier than you might think. In our new ebook, Cracking the Code: Why Online Reviews Matter to Your Business, we will show you how online reviews can improve local SEO, increase trust and loyalty with your customers, and ultimately boost your bottom line.
Key takeaways include:
- Which online review sites you should focus on and why
- How online reviews will improve your business operations & employee performance
- Why having a real-time view into your customer experience is important
- How your business can quickly collect positive reviews on the sites that matter most