Search Engine Optimization (SEO) can be pricey, competitive and difficult. However, there are plenty of free ways to boost and optimize your rankings. One way you can improve your search ranking is by using Google My Business, a free tool accessible by Google – for you to manage the information that is shown in your business’ Google Listing. With Google My Business, you can direct your location on Google maps, the Google knowledge Graph and even manage your reputation through online reviews. A Google My Business listing is a must for your local business since it helps customers find you when they search for keywords on the maps. When someone searches for a keyword on google, they will view a map and a list compiling the top three local listings that are nearby. Your goal is to show up there!

Here’s How:

1. Set Up Your Google My Business Listing (if you haven’t already).

If you haven’t already set up or claimed your Google My Business Listing, now is the time! Visit Google’s My Business page and click the upper left corner where it says “Start Now”. Google wants to collect as much information as possible about your business. Ensure that you complete the profile accurately with information that matches your business.

2. Choose a Category
The next thing you want to do is to choose a specific category that is as relevant to your business as possible. The category you choose will tell Google what searches/keywords your business should show up for. Although you can’t create your own category you want to be as specific as possible. Ex. If you’re an insurance firm specializing in auto insurance you want to choose “Auto Insurance” rather than “Insurance”, which is more competitive.

3. Upload Quality Images
Google tends to rank your business higher if your listing has high resolution, quality images of your facility. These photos make you stand out among competitors and also help customers get a glimpse of what to expect when buying from you. Creating a 360-view virtual tour of your business can help generate more interest from prospects looking for products/services similar to what you offer.
You want to make sure to include photos in as many categories as possible. If applicable, your listing should include:

– Interior of your facility
– Exterior of your building/ front door/ parking lot
– Hours of operation
– Team members /staff
– Offices, waiting rooms etc.
– Brand Videos

You may want to consider hiring a professional photographer to get quality, high resolution photos.

4. Double Check That Your Information is Consistent Everywhere
Google’s algorithm recognizes when your information isn’t consistent across all your websites and channels. Choose a standard style of writing your address and phone number and make sure both match what you have on your website. Lastly, adding your website to as many applicable local listing directories as possible can also help boost your ranking.

5. Use a Local Phone Number
Besides making sure that your phone number is consistent on all of your listings, you want to double check that the number is displayed somewhere on your website’s home page or on the landing page that you’re driving traffic to from your listing. Another way to demonstrate to Google that you are a local business is by using a phone number with a local area code. This is a small trick that can help improve how Google ranks you.

6. Prevent Google Penalties
Google’s modern algorithm recognizes any attempts of “cheating the system”. Don’t do this. Google can suspend your business listing for a range of offenses so make sure that you’re precautious and stay within Google’s guidelines. You can read them here.

7. Encourage Customers to Review Your Business
A common confusion that we see among our clients is over Google Maps rankings and why their businesses aren’t showing up while their competitors are.
In addition to the previously mentioned items, Google value customer reviews very highly when it comes to their rankings. You’ll notice that the top local businesses that show up in a local search typically have high numbers of star ratings. Google wants to make sure that consumers get the most useful information when making decisions, thus they consider real life data very valuable.
We always stress the importance of encouraging your customers to review your business. This can be done in a few different ways including: simply asking for it, sharing links on social media, running promotional review campaigns or handing out a print leave behind after a customer has visited you.

Once you’ve followed these simple steps, remember to continuously keep your listing up to date with valuable business information, hours of operation and more. You also want to make sure that you keep up with website updates and that you keep optimizing its content for search. Basic SEO efforts can help boost how Google views the authority of your site and thus also improve your listing. If you have questions regarding your listing, need help optimizing your site, or have any other interest in a new marketing project – contact us at Hook & Blade for a free consultation. Let’s create something cool together!