How to Rank in Google Maps: Local SEO and Google My Business
If you’re a local business looking to attract more customers through your website, then you need to rank for local search terms in Google. This can be difficult, especially if you don’t know where to start. In this blog post, we will discuss how to use technical SEO and Google My Business (GMB) listings in tandem in order to rank higher in Google for service-related keywords.
Why is Google My Business important for technical SEO?
Google My Business is a free online platform offered by Google that allow your business to create and manage a business listing that appears across Google Search and Google Maps. The platform also allows your business to add photos, hours of operation, and other important information. In addition, GMB offers a variety of tools that you can use to help grow your business, including the ability to create and send promotional coupons to customers, track website visits, and see how your listing is performing in Google Search and Google Maps.
If you’re a local business, it’s important to create/claim your Google My Business listing and make sure that all of your information is up-to-date. This will help you rank higher in search results for local queries.
How to create your Google My Business Listing
This is for a business where no Google My Business listing exists yet. If you suspect that a listing might already exist, then skip down to the “How to claim your GMB Listing” section to determine whether or not you should claim an existing listing instead.
First, sign into Google Maps. Then there are 3 ways to add your business:
- Enter your address in the search bar, then on the left, in the Business Profile, click “Add your business”.
- Right-click anywhere on the map, then click “Add your business”.
- Click Menu in the top left, then click “Add your business”.
How to claim your Google My Business Listing
Google My Business listings are sometimes auto-generated. Here’s how you claim a GMB listing that already exists.
First, sign into Google Maps. Then enter your business name in the search bar, choose the correct business name, click “Claim”, then select a verification option.
On-screen steps will walk you through the rest of the verification process.
Basic technical SEO setup for Google My Business
While it may seem like setting up your Google My Business account is merely just a matter of adding info, it’s imperative to keep technical SEO in mind. Not only does the business information you enter impact your GMB listing, it also impacts how well your website performs in Google Search and Google Maps.
The name of the game here is uniformity, uniformity, uniformity—keep business information as uniform as possible across your GMB listing, your website, and other social media platforms. The easier you make it for Google’s Site Crawlers to connect the SEO dots across your various listings, the better your GMB listing and website will perform.
Your company name should be identical to how it’s listed on your website and every other platform. And we mean identical. One listing can’t use “Inc.” and another use “Inc”. Even the absence of a single period can negatively affect your technical SEO.
Your address should be identical to how it’s listed on your website and every other platform. Just like your Company Name, every appearance of your address should be exactly the same. If your business is located on Main Street, then decide which you prefer—”Street” or “St” or St.”—and stick with it.
Choose your business’ Primary Category (industry), as well as Additional Business Categories. Because you must choose from a preset list of Categories, it’s important to choose the Category most specific to your business.
For instance, if you’re an Electrician company that also happens to sell electrical supplies, you would select Electrician as your Primary Category, then Electric Supply Store as an Additional Category.
Your Primary Category should always reflect the single most important keyword that your website is optimized for. This helps Google connect SEO dots between your website and Google My Business listing.
List all of your service areas using the Google My Business map to be sure you’ve covered the entire radius. Because you’re a local business striving for local clients, it’s absolutely crucial that your service area doesn’t show any holes on the GMB map.
While your top local keywords might only reflect serving two or three towns, the clustering of all towns in your service area within GMB validates the location-specific keywords on your site, creating a necessary SEO synergy.
List your Business Hours, and add any Special Hours (if applicable). Like Company Name and Company Address, be sure that your official hours are identical across website and listings.
Also, be sure to keep your hours up-to-date, as you can display holiday hours, or hours resulting from external circumstances like a temporary closing. Google is continually moving toward more and more local-oriented searches, and outdated Business Hours can negatively affect your local technical SEO.
Primary Phone Number
List your primary phone number for customer inquiries. Be sure that it’s identical across your website and listings.
List your website URL. Be sure that it’s identical across your website and listings. Typically, you’ll want this to link directly to your homepage.
List a website URL designated for appointments (if applicable). If you have an appointment scheduler, calendar embed, or contact form on your website, send Appointment Link traffic to that page.
Depending on your business, you can integrate an Appointment scheduler right into your Google My Business listing, and if it’s feasible for you to incorporate this function into your daily operations, make it happen.
List any products your business sells (if applicable). If you currently have an Ecommerce site, ensure that the product information you enter into Google My Business is identical to that which you have on your website.
Beyond informing potential customers of the products you sell, this helps to unify your product information across your site, your GMB listing, and your Google Merchant account (if you have one)—yet another vital technical SEO strategy.
Choose all of the Services you provide from Google My Business’ preset list (this is determined by your Primary Business Category). Be sure to look over the complete list you’ve been provided, as certain Business Categories may have a long list.
Add an overview description of your business—when it started, what qualifies it above its competitors, and a high-level listing of the services you provide. This is basically a condensed version of the About Us page on your website.
Logo & Cover Photo
Upload a high-quality business logo that matches that on your site and other listings. The cover photo you use should either display an outside shot of your business or an action shot from daily operations.
While the content of either photo isn’t necessarily a major SEO consideration, having a logo and cover photo is. A Google My Business listing lacking either image is considering incomplete.
How to continually optimize Google My Business with technical SEO
Ongoing technical SEO work for your Google My Business listing is all about recency and frequency. Don’t think of GMB as a standalone platform without any analogue—it’s really just one more form of social media. And, as is best practice for social media platforms, you need to be consistently active on your GMB listing, because Google not only views proximity as local, it also views activity the same.
Any chance you get, take photos of your daily operations. They don’t have to be perfectly framed, lit, and photoshopped—they just need to be a relatively interesting shot.
Ideally, you’ll be posting photos at least once a week, even if it’s only a handful. The more frequent you are, the more recent you are.
Three Post Types
Much like other social media platforms, you can post news, offers, and events. Even if you think there’s not much to share on a regular basis—believe us, there’s always something relevant to talk about with your business.
Offers – Any promos or discounts can get mentioned here. Even if you don’t actually offer promos or discounts, something like a free estimate or even a seasonal service is good enough.
What’s new – This is pretty much a blank canvas. Want to highlight a particular service you offer? Do it. Want to post a pic with a caption? Do it. Want to copy and paste each website blog post into GMB? Do it.
Events – Any special days at your business—St. Paddy’s Day Irish Car Bomb Fiesta or a week-long sales event—post about it. Also, just because you’re a business that doesn’t hold traditional events doesn’t mean you can’t promote particular charity events your business is involved with.
GMB Single-Page Website
While this particular option will look like an ugly website from 2004, it’s actually a very important technical SEO play. It’s yet another opportunity to unify all of your important business info across channels—Company Name, Company Address, etc.
Be sure to list all Services you provide in one of the copy sections (don’t be afraid to copy and paste fro your website).
You can also add a CTA to your GMB website that will point traffic to whichever conversion page you choose.
Remember the Services you chose from GMB’ preset list? Well, you can add your own descriptions for what those Services entail when your business provides them. A few sentences will suffice, and this serves as yet another component of technical SEO completeness.
Watch your Google My Business and website SEO rise
While some of the above tasks might seem redundant and/or monotonous, you’ll be surprised how quickly these efforts will show a significant affect on your GMB activity and your website SEO rankings.
If you feel like there’s a particular part of your service area that you don’t rank well for in terms of local SEO, try posting more content on your GMB listing that calls out that location in the copy and post titles.
Otherwise, remember to stay on top of ongoing technical SEO efforts for your GMB listing. This is definitely a case where hard work pays off.
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