It’s 2020, and in today’s world, if you have a business, you should also have a website, a Google listing, and a few directories pointing back to you. Online presence is paramount to your business’ success. Whether you are a large company or a self-owned business with exactly one employee, there is no reason not to get a listing on Google.
Why You Should Set Up A Google Listing?
Decades ago, every local business made sure they were in the Yellowpages. In fact, there were even a few tactics to change how/where you were displayed in the Yellowpages by changing the name of your business. Nowadays the internet has made phone books obsolete. Google sees millions and millions of searches a day, and over the last decade, they have made their local pack (a list of Google listings) more prominent. Many businesses actually get calls or requests for directions directly from Google. Consumers don’t even need to go to a business’ website to do business. Plus, phone apps like Google Maps, exclusively use listings when displaying answers to searches. Even with an amazing website, if you do not have a Google listing you are likely missing business.
How Do I Verify My Google My Business Account?
To set up your business on Google, you will need to go to Google My Business. Next, you can sign in with whatever email you prefer and search for your business. Google actually lists many businesses that never set up an account, because it pulls data from local directories. That being said, data is often incorrect. So you will want to claim the business, verify your ownership, and edit the information to make sure it is correct. When you set up a Google My Business you will need to verify that you are the business owner. There are three ways Google will verify ownership.
- Email: One way that Google might request that you verify ownership is by sending a code to the business’ email address.
- Phone: Similarly a code could be texted to you at your business’ phone number or Google could call your business phone and a bot will recite the code.
- Postcard: One of Google’s more common verification methods is to send a postcard to your address. This confirms the address that you entered is correct and prevents fraudulent listings from being created at inaccurate addresses.
Whichever way Google requests you verify your location and ownership of your business, getting this done promptly is necessary to manage your listing and respond to reviews.
How To Improve Where Your Google Listing Appears In Search
Once your listing is verified, you will likely want it to rank high. Google provides many tools to optimize your listing.
- Attributes: After setting your location and your hours, you should look into adding attributes to your business. Does your business have wheelchair accessibility? Does your business offer takeout/delivery? Filling out attributes can help people learn about your business.
- Remote Locations: If your business travels and works on-site, you should add town names and appropriate zip codes. This can increase the ranking of your business for searches made in those towns.
- Services/Products: You can also create a list of services and products you provide with descriptions. These act as keywords that can improve your ranking for specific searches.
- Business-Specific Features: Depending on the type of business you are there are a variety of features that may or may not apply. Restaurants can set up reservation links, links for menus, and takeout/delivery links. Consulting services can add appointment links. Each of these features can greatly improve your conversions.
What Are Google My Business Best Practices?
When thinking about SEO or optimization in general, it is always a good goal to practice what Google recommends and avoid anything that could cause a penalty or blacklisting. Google’s local pack is based primarily on geography (hence local). But there are other ranking factors. The strength of your website’s SEO strategy, how many good reviews you have, and even posting on the Google My Business platform can all improve your ranking.
- Website SEO: Having a strong website can lead to better results on Google My Business. Some businesses make the mistake of putting all of their effort into their new listing, instead of working on their website. Google uses a lot of data to rank businesses. This includes on-site and off-site SEO.
- Getting Good Reviews: Getting good reviews and responding to reviews can greatly improve your business ranking. You can create a short link for your Google profile that you can send to clients via email or social media, and you can even create a QR code that customers can scan. Just remember that when responding to any reviews, always try to come out professional.
- Google My Business Posts: Google allows you to write updates for your business. This includes exclusive offers/sales, general updates, and a few more industry-specific posts. Posts expire after a 1 week period, so it is important to keep posting. Additionally, posts have a built-in call to action that can help drive people to your website or to call you.
What Black Hat SEO Tactics Should I Avoid?
Just like with website SEO, when you optimize your Google listing you should avoid black hat techniques. As mentioned earlier a lot of businesses used to try and cheat the Yellowpages books by naming their business “AAA Plumbing”. Similar cheating tactics are used online, and although they may give you a short term boost, the long term effect is listings and websites that do not rank at all.
- Fraud Listings: One very common black hat technique is to build a bunch of fake listings. A locksmith might create a fake office in every town so his one business shows up in every local search. Or a company might ask each of its employees to list their home address as the business address. The issue is, Google will notice if the same website and phone numbers are used, and even if someone uses different numbers and URLs, people can report you if they go to that address and the business isn’t there.
- Buying Fake Reviews: Another common bad practice is purchasing fake reviews. Whether you buy fake reviews from bots, or you pay your clients/customers to write reviews with gift cards and specials, it is not helpful for your brand. It is ok to send a follow-up email and ask for a review. But paying for reviews in any capacity can cause them to be removed. Yelp sometimes even removes reviews that were written using the WiFi in your business to prevent strongarming customers into reviewing you.
Get Google My Business Support
Our agency is all about improving your digital presence with tailored strategies. From setting up your listing to managing and maintaining it, we would be happy to help you get the most out of Google. In an increasingly digital age, it is more and more important to improve our digital presence. For more information on how our agency can help you, please contact us for a free consultation.