Have you been hearing a lot of stuff about ranking for local search engine results and claiming your business on Google My Business listings recently?
Well, there is a very good reason why you’re reading about it everywhere. As you know, your customers have mostly transited to the internet – that is where you’re going to find all the buyers. There’s very less traction going on with the offline stores – even though Jeff Bezos and Jack Ma thinking otherwise (foresight?).
Google has shared insight into this year’s searches made. People now search without words like “near me” or “in New York” – meaning, they had to update their search algorithms to show results by understanding the search intent perfectly.
There are so many stats that we can bombard you with, underlining the shift of our browsing and buying behavior. Google calls these micro-moments.
Our search behaviors have changed to wanting things in the now. Like right now.
You search where you can find a pair of sneakers and you buy them then and there – in the moment. You search for pizza when you’re hungry, and you place an order. You need a new dress to go to an event this evening, and you buy it – thanks to prime service.
So we’ve been spoilt to search for something we need in the heat of the moment and we actually make the transaction.
Now why is this important and how is it relevant to optimising for local search engine results?
It’s all to make you realize, your customers – just like you and me – have had a shift in their buying behavior.
So the next time they’re searching for your business and your competitor is ranking in the local search results, you’ll be losing business. That’s where Google My Business comes in. It is by no means the only thing you need to do to rank for local search results, but it makes a major part of it.
What is Google My Business
Google My Business is an FREE service rolled out by Google, where you can showcase your business. You can mention which days you’re open, what are your working hours, how does your office/restaurant/workplace look like.
All of this to appeal to a potential customer, who has searched for a product or service that you sell. They’ll be able to get all that information, plus directions to your workplace with ease. And if you allow for it, text you!
Aren’t you wowed? For free!
You are able to market your business without spending a dime! But it comes with its own complexities.
As Google My Business is a free service, your competitors are also using it – which means that you’re all again on the same level compared to standings without Google My Business.
You need to make an extra effort to edge over those competitors.
How many results does Google show in its local listings? It depends, but you can rest assured it is not more than 3, that’s three, in the search snippets. Here’s how the search page looks like when I search for “pizza”.
You see, there’s a map for directions to different pizzerias in the city. Of course, you can click on the More places button to see more places serving pizza.
But and this is a BIG but, how many people do you think are going to go past the first three results.
If your potential customer likes the offerings in the first three local search results, they’ll not move past them and come to your page in the lower ranking pages. Which brings us to the next and the hero section of this article, the big question – how to optimise Google My Business for better local search results?
How to optimise Google My Business for local SEO
So, the million dollar question – how do you start optimising for local SEO?
Here are a few steps we think will help you stand out and edge over your competition. But before we start, have you claimed your business listing? If not, claim your business on Google My Business by visiting http://google.com/business. Right, so we start with optimisation –
- Consistent Business Profile Information (NAP) – Keep Name, Address and Phone number of your business same over Google My Business, your website and any other listing page you’ve registered for.
- Photos – Add photos of your products and services to let a searcher better understand your offerings. What this will do is, get you an edge in ranking over a lot of people who’ve claimed their business on Google listing but have largely ignored it.The Internet is a place where you can’t call out to someone and pitch them your product/service. You need to make information easily available so your potential customer decides to try you out.
- Customer Reviews and Check-Ins – Ask your customers to submit a review for your business online. It doesn’t matter if you ask them in person, or via email or any other medium. What matters is if they leave a review, it will help build social proof AND let Google know your business is more engaging and relevant to people.You can even ask them to check-in online if you’ve got a hospitality or entertainment service to offer (e.g., hotels, restaurants, cinemas etc.).
The more reviews and check-ins for your business, the better.
Be wary of harassment and negative reviews. You don’t need to tolerate harassment, but you can tackle negative reviews smartly. You can ask what made the experience negative for your customer and address the problem.
This creates an impression that you’re passionate about your customers and their satisfaction. People want to visit businesses who care about their needs.
- Build Citation with Local Listings – Not only do you need reviews from your customers, you want to be on most listing websites which offer reviews of businesses and services. When you’re being discussed on listing websites with proper authority, Google takes it as a signal that you’re relevant.Make sure the listing websites you register for are the major ones and not a low-quality website – those will not make any difference to your local search results.
- Indoor StreetView Tour – Google offers to capture your business/store/restaurant/hotel view and show it in Google StreetView. If you’ve got a business which will benefit from being showcased, go for StreetView. Your customers will be able to see what they’re going to get before even stepping into your premises.
- Tackle Duplicate NAP Content – When you’re publishing your business details on Google My Business, you may need to edit or update contact details or address later on. This will create a scenario where you’ll need to tackle duplicate or irrelevant NAP content on all the listing websites, your business website, and Google My Business.
- Your City on Your Website – If you want to rank for local search results, you can put your city’s name in the <title>, <body> and structured data markup of your website.Too technical? Actually not.
Say you’re a pizzeria based in New York. You can set your page titles to “Best pizza in New York.” Add “New York” on the page copy and on structured data markup.
- Posts – Google My Business now allows you to add posts which will appear in search and map results along with your business details. These posts can be related to events, products, services or offers you want to run.If you’ve run a promotional offer on your products, post it through Google My Business. When your customers search for your business or the products you offer, they’ll see your post on the top of search results page.
What better time to be in front of them, when they are searching to buy? Micro-moments!
Of course, there will be scenarios which can’t be optimised for – distance and prominence.
Google shows results based on how far a searcher is from your business address. And you only come up in the top three ranks if it thinks you’re relevant and prominent – that you have a popular presence in your city.
Micro Moment Stats
The following are all stats taken from Google’s Micro Moments: Your Guide to Winning the Shift to Mobile –
- 68% of smartphone users check their phone within 15 minutes of waking up in the morning.
- 87% of them have their smartphone at their side, day and night.
- 91% of them turn to their phones for ideas in the middle of a task.
- There’s 18% decrease in time spent per visit to a website.
- 65% of smartphone users say when searching for something on their phone, they look for the most relevant information regardless of the company providing the information.
- 1 in 3 smartphone users has purchased from a company or brand other than the one they intended to because of information provided in the moment they need it.
- You can increase unaided brand awareness by 46%, simply by showing up in mobile search ad results.
- 51% of smartphone users have discovered a new company or product while searching on their smartphones.
Putting it all together
Your customers are online most of the time, and they’re searching for your products/services. You can nudge them to conversion with a little push. Remember, our behavior has changed to searching online when we actually want to buy or can be persuaded to buy.
Keep micro-moments in mind when you’re making business decisions for your website and capitalize on the free service Google has to offer.
Google My Business is a major way you can show up in the local search results.
If you’re being shown in the top three results, you’re being endorsed by Google itself – that is the sort of impact it will have on your business.
Start now by visiting Google My Business website and claiming your business.