Getting the basics right is essential when it comes to local SEO, and at the cornerstone of local SEO success is a great, fully optimised Google My Business listing. I take a look at why you should set it up, how to do it, and have some top tips to help your listing stand out from the crowd.
Why should you set up Google My Business?
Google My Business is essential if you want to appear in maps and in the local pack listings which are returned for local queries. With a large chunk of SERP real estate taken up by these – especially on mobile – having a great GMB listing represents a significant opportunity for local businesses.
In fact, Moz’s 2017 study of local pack ranking factors put My Business signals in the top spot.
Additionally, Google My Business allows customers to leave Google reviews, and with reviews amongst the most important local SEO ranking factors, this is essential for any business.
Simply put, a decent Google My Business listing is essential for local SEO!
Setting it up
Setting up Google My Business is free, and really easy too. First of all, it’s worth checking that your business isn’t already listed. If you do find a listing, simply go through the process of claiming it.
You’ll need to create a Google My Business listing if there’s not one active.
Visit Google My Business, and click ‘Start Now’:
Work through Google’s instructions, ensuring the business information you enter is as accurate and detailed as possible, as well as consistent with the name, address and phone number (NAP) found on your website, and across other online citations.
It might sound easy, but making simple mistakes here will affect your ability to rank locally – check out the negative local ranking factors from Moz’s study and you’ll see things like incorrect business category and mismatched phone numbers and address details.
Make sure you upload plenty of good quality photographs too, to give customers a visual representation of your business.
Once you’ve completed all the required fields, Google will send a postcode to the listed business address with a verification code on. Verify the listing once you receive this and you’re good to go!
What else can you do with your Google My Business listing?
If you fill out the basic business info and add a few pictures, you’ll be doing what most other local businesses do. How can you use Google My Business to gain that extra edge on local competitors?
Use Google Posts
Google Posts are available for all small businesses and should be used to promote special events, showcase products or highlight special offers. They’re low-effort to set up, but are still fairly underutilised, making them a great way to set yourself apart from other local businesses. This great guide by my colleague Charlotte outlines all you need to know about Google Posts.
Encourage and respond to reviews
Reviews on authoritative review sites are obviously great to have. But if you’re after boosting your local rankings with the help of your Google My Business profile, it’s Google reviews you’ll want to chase. Google themselves have said that “more reviews and positive ratings will improve a business’s local ranking”.
So remind customers to leave you a review, and make it easy for them to do so – for example by containing a review page URL in any email marketing, or by having a clear link to leave a review on your site.
To start building trust, you should be responding to all reviews, too – whether positive or negative.
After you’ve set up your Google My Business profile, you’ll get a handy monthly insights email from Google breaking down the performance of your local listing.
This’ll display key stats like how many people view your listing, click through to the site, call you, or ask for directions. It’s a really handy tool to see the results of your optimisation efforts, and you’ll get a quick idea of the strength of your Google My Business listing.
View this anytime by signing in to your Google profile and navigating to Insights in the left menu bar.
Google My Business – the start of your local SEO success
There’s a long list of SEO essentials when it comes to getting your local business ranking, like producing good quality, locally optimised content and earning links back to your site.
But a great place for anyone to start is by creating and/or optimising their Google My Business listing and starting to cultivate reviews. Do this and you’ll be laying a great foundation for your local SEO!