Local SEO 101: Optimizing Google My Business

If you’re a small business with a brick and mortar store, your SEO strategy will look slightly different from national brands. Since 46% of all Google searches are local, focusing on local SEO can be your best bet for driving leads. Why is local SEO so important? According to @ThinkWithGoogle, 76% of people who search for local businesses on mobile visit a related business that same day.

What is Local SEO?

Local SEO focuses on optimizing your online presence to engage more customers from relevant local searches. This strategy puts your business in front of people who are more likely ready to buy your product or service. While general SEO targets a few types of keywords — informational, navigational and transactional — local SEO tends to drive more conversion-ready traffic. 

 

Google, with an estimated 90% market share in the US, also captures the bulk of local SEO value. Most people are using Google to search for local businesses with local-specific keywords, which presents two SERP options for ranking: the Local Pack and the organic results.

The Google Local Pack is the boxed area that you see when a local search is made. The Local Pack displays the top business listings that are most relevant to the search query. In local packs, users get enough information right away – they can view ratings, distance, price estimates, and more without having to navigate further. 

 

According to one study, 33% of clicks go to the local pack results, with 40% going to the regular organic results. It’s important to implement a strategy that allows you to rank in both, which is where local SEO comes in.

 

Where to Start: Google My Business

Optimizing your Google My Business (GMB) page is vital to ranking for local queries, and yet 56% of local retailers haven’t even claimed their Google My Business listing. If you’re part of that population, don’t worry--it’s simple to do:

How to Claim Your GMB Page through Google Maps

  1. On your computer, open Google Maps.
  2. In the search bar, enter the business name.
  3. Click the business name and choose the correct one.
  4. Click Claim this business, then Manage now.
  5. Select a verification option, and follow the on-screen steps.

Another way to claim your listing is to go through Google’s My Business platform and navigate to “Manage Now” in the upper right corner. There, you’ll fill in the relevant fields that Google offers to find and verify your business.

 

 

Claiming your GMB page is a good first step, but there are many ways to optimize this asset for local SEO rankings under the Info tab:

  • Consistency and correct information: Make sure your business name, address, and phone number are consistent with your website and other listings of your business. Your business hours should also be correct, so users searching for immediate products or services can see your availability.
  • Choose a relevant and specific business category: The category you choose will help Google decide which searches your local listing belongs in. Google allows for additional categories, so if you offer multiple services or products, list them here and include your targeted keywords if available.
  • Upload quality images and videos: Including images of your storefront, products, interior, and more can help your listing to stand out and give potential customers a glimpse of what to expect. This includes adding a logo image, cover image, and album images.
  • Add service areas: Including specific areas you serve will help target customers searching in or for those particular regions. You can add up to 20 service areas.
  • Create a local-friendly username: Google allows business owners to create a unique profile short name. Your brand name + service area is an optimal use of this feature.
  • Encourage reviews: Google wants to provide the most useful information to its users, and users want to find the nearby business that seems the best. In both cases, it benefits your business to have a high star rating. Ask your satisfied customers to take a few minutes to give you a review.
  • Manage & respond to customer reviews: Once the reviews start rolling in, make sure you respond to them in a timely matter--good or bad! This shows that your business engages with and cares about its customers, and that you pay attention to issues or requests.
  • Add products and/or services with keyword research in mind: Your products and services list should reflect your business offerings, but should also reflect your local keyword research to target the highest-volume phrases and queries.
  • Add a strong description and labels: Here are two other areas where you can incorporate your keyword research into your GMB page to optimize for rankings. Your description should give a clear idea of your products and services as well as any unique service propositions you might offer, and labels allow additional opportunities for keyword boosting.

 

After optimizing your business information, it’s important to keep your listing updated by creating a strong content strategy for posts. Posting original content on a regular, frequent basis is a great way to keep your customers engaged, broadcast offers or promotions, showcase website content, and drive clicks to your site and calls to your business. 

Keep an eye on your GMB performance using the Insights tab to see where you can make adjustments to your page or posting strategy. Google offers businesses a different way to understand how customers interact with business listings, including:

  • How customers find your listing
  • Where customers find you
  • Customer actions
  • Direction requests
  • Phone calls
  • Clicks to your site

Google My Business complements your existing website by giving your business a public identity and presence with a listing on Google, so make sure it’s an important part of your overall local SEO strategy.

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