Having a high-quality user experience once people reach your website is key, but before they reach your site, you need to think about how to present your business in search results. Maybe all they want is your hours, address, or phone number. If you’re right down the street, you want them to find you on Google Maps before they walk right past to a competitor they found more easily. Google My Business is a free tool by Google for businesses to manage how your information is listed in search, including location on Google maps, contact info, and reviews.
If you’ve never done it, here are some steps to help get you set up. If you’ve done it before, it’s worth taking a fresh look, because updates are brought in to improve listings and offer more detail.
1. Set up your Google Business Listing here
Not all heroes wear capes! Even if you don’t have a physical location, you want people to find you if you’re a local business. If there isn’t an office people can visit, list your business as a “service area business”
2. Choose a relevant category
The list of options Google provides will help you to fall in with the right crowd. Go for the most specific option possible.
3. Load great photos
You want to show people a glimpse of what you sell, what the physical location looks like, etc. You want to have the most professional looking images possible. Nowadays, you can actually hire a Google Approved Photographer to come in and make a 360 degree virtual tour of your business, which Google says will currently generate twice as much interest as those without.
4. Make sure your information is consistent
Google’s algorithm verifies the legitimacy of a listing by comparing the information to other websites. It’s easy for little differences to slip in. Try to have the address say “Ave” or “Avenue” the same way everywhere. Make sure everything is the same on all your social media profiles, business listings on networks, etc. Get it listed in as many local directories as possible.
5. Use a local phone number
It helps to signal Google that you’re not faking it. Make sure the phone number is also listed on the landing page, contact page and listings for your site so it’s easier to verify.
6. Avoid penalties that will lower your rank
Google suspends business listings and they won’t tell you why. There’s a minor but difficult suspension which you will see a “suspended” label on your account for. A serious suspension will get you kicked off completely and a search for your business in Google Maps will say “removed”. A lot of the minor suspension culprits come down to poorly entered, questionable information. A serious one will break actual policies. Avoid minor issues with a few quick tips: Avoid URL redirects, don’t add extra details to your business name field (ex. Lee’s Grocery – Collingwood, vs. Lee’s Grocery), multiple listings for the same location, using an address of another business because that’s where you often meet customers (example a café, community centre, park).
7. Encourage reviews
Usually there are star ratings next to the name of the business on Google Maps. Ask your happy customers to give you a review. Include it on promotional materials you hand out. Make sure they know how much it means to you.
8. Maintain your hours for holidays and differences in locations
A long weekend can be a huge opportunity for your business to cash in when others are closed. Make sure that if you’re paying overtime, you’re raking in all the extra traffic with accurate business hours. Likewise, don’t disappoint with an unexpected closure that makes would-be customers discover alternatives when they might have planned to just come there at a different time.
9. Usual SEO boosters
Make sure your site has other SEO built in. Incorporate relevant keywords into meta tags and copy on each page in a natural way. Add schema markup to your site. Create content with a local focus. Look for local linking opportunities.