5 Tips to Get Your Business to Rank in the Top 3 of Google Maps [Video]

5 Tips to Get Your Business to Rank in the Top 3 of Google Maps [Video]

Need to have your business found by more people in the search engines? Here's 5 Tips to Get Your Business to Rank in the Top 3 of Google Maps | www.bigthinkingonline.com

Every Time Somebody Types in a Local Search

With a business identifier, for example, “dentist St Albans”, Google will list the businesses that it deems to be most relevant.  If your business’s client base is pulled from the local community then recent changes to the Google search results, namely reducing the number of businesses listed in the results from 7 to 3 could affect the number of customers who are able to find your business.

 

st_albans_dentist_google_local_search

 

The good news is that if you are listed in the results 3 pack, you will get more calls and more inbound leads for your business. If your business isn’t in that all important top 3, this post and video will give you the advice and tips you need in order to improve the relevance of your Google maps listing yourself.

 

 

#1 Verify Your Business Listing.

The first thing that you need to do is check that your Google+ business page is verified. If your first though is ,“I don’t even know if I have one,”  don’t panic, because you probably do. Several years ago Google created 83 million business pages based upon data that was already on the internet and other business directories, many businesses never even realised the page was there and the features remain unused – until now!

 

To find your page, go to Google and type in “Google my business”.  Click through to the Google My Business page, then click the Get Onto Google button. You will be prompted to enter your Google email address and password to log in. If you don’t have one you can sign up for a password.  In the search bar where it says “find your business” type the name of your business and it should bring up your business listing.

 

Google will tell you whether the listing is claimed or not, and it will also say whether it’s claimed with the email address you are using. If it is, great!  You can log in and edit the page. If the email address doesn’t match then you need to claim your business.

 

To claim your business you will need to verify that you are the owner, which you can either do by having a verification pin sent through to your mobile (immediate), or by postcard (which can take 2 weeks). Once you have that pin, enter it into the verification page and your listing will be claimed.

 

#2 Choose the Correct Category

Once you’ve got the business page verified the next thing you need to do is to check that your business is registered in the correct category. There is no point in your business being listed as a Painter and Decorator if you are a Lawyer!

 

You can see what category your business is listed as by searching for your business in Google. In the search results, on the right hand side underneath your name you will see the primary business category that you are registered under.

 

finding your category on Google+

 

In the Google My Business Centre, check what category is selected and check that it is relevant. If the category that is selected against your business is not correct, then you need to edit the category by searching for a category that better suits your business needs. When you have found the correct category simply hit save.

 

Google always recommend that you select your business category on the premise of “my business is…“,  rather than “My business does..”

 

With that in mind don’t go and select all of the services that you offer as this would be against Google terms of service which could result in a penalty against your listing.

 

Example, If you a private dentist, then you would select Dentist and potentially Cosmetic Dentist, but  not teeth whitening, crowns and implants as these are services that you offer and do not reflect who you are.

 

#3 Name, Address, Phone Citation (NAP)

The next thing that you do is it is check that the name, address and phone number of your business is registered correctly. In local search this is what’s known as a NAP citation and this citation is what Google uses to recognise whether your business is trusted and relevant in the local area.

 

NAP_Citation

 

If your business has been open for 18 years, the likelihood is that it has been mentioned and recognised online by other members of the local community and will also be included in other website and local business directories. Google uses those citations to help identify how trustworthy your business is.

 

That is why it is vitally important to make sure that your Name, Address and phone number are correct.

 

Once you have verified that your NAP is correct with Google you need to check that it is exactly the same as it is listed on your website.

 

For example, if you’re business is 1A Church Road in Google and your website records your address as 1 Church Road, that is an inconsistent citation and Google will consider that in a negative light. This will have an impact on your position in the local listings .

 

#4 Citations listed in Business Directories

Once you have checked that your NAP citation is consistent on Google+ and on your website you need to consider how many citations are online and if they are all consistent.

 

local business directories

 

As I mentioned above, if your business has been around for a long time it is likely that it can be found on a variety of business directories both local and others that are specific to your niche.

 

If your business has moved address, perhaps through expansion or because you have merged with another business then there may be a harmful amount of inconsistent citations across the internet.

 

Some examples of business directories are Yell, Thomsonlocal, Freeindex and Yelp. There are literally hundreds of other local business directories and you need to see which directories have a listing or a NAP citation for your business, then check that NAP citation is consistent with the citation that is listed on both your Google + page and your website.

 

A number of consistent NAP citations in authoritative business directories is a good signal to Google that you are a trusted provider in your area.

 

# 5 Positive Reviews

Reviews are significantly important in terms of local search. Google’s mission is to provide an excellent service experience for its users. 

 

improtance of Google reviews in local search

 

Google’s users are the ones that go into Google and search for what they need. Google then pulls up the most relevant businesses that match that search criteria and then considers the user generated content around those businesses – typically the reviews.

 

If you conduct local searches such as “Dentist in St Albans”, “chiropractor in Edinburgh” or simply a “injury lawyer near me”, you will see that in the listings there will be businesses that have reviews.

 

For your business to stand out in the new 3 pack you need to make sure that your business has reviews. We’re not just talking about 1 review, you need ensure that your business has more 5 star reviews than any of your competitors in and around the local area.

 

The more 5 star reviews you have the better. It reflects on the services that you are providing to your customers when potential clients look upon your business.

 

Reviews are so important in the local search infrastructure that you should consider putting in place a review collection strategy where you ask every single person that visits your business to go to Google and leave feedback about you and the experience of they had. By doing this, each customer is effectively sharing their good opinion of you with everyone they know and also potential clients who might see your business for the first time and need persuading that you are the best in your area.

 

Another benefit of having a large selection of positive reviews from past clients is that if you are unfortunate enough to receive a negative review from a client then it will have less impact amongst all the positives. By proactively asking clients for reviews you are protecting your online reputation.

 

If you follow the advice in this post, you verify your page, you check your business is registered in the correct category, that your name address and phone number citation are consistent both on Google + and your website, that your business is listed in all the major business directories both locally and niche specific, and finally that you ask every patient to leave feedback for you in order to build up your 5 star rating, then you’ll stand a far better chance of ranking in that all important top 3.

 

If you have any questions or comments please leave them in the comments box below and I will happily respond.

When 7 becomes 3 – Google Shrinks the Local Business Map

When 7 becomes 3 – Google Shrinks the Local Business Map

If you run a locally based business, Google's latest update could affect your search traffic. Find out more here. www.bigthinkingonline.com

As of Friday, Google made a significant change to its search results.

Now instead of having 7 businesses represented in search results with local intent, there are only 3.

google local seo

 

What’s different?

Well first and foremost the map has moved from the top right of the Google search results to the left hand side. This would be in keeping with the view that users get on a mobile device and as reported last week, in the UK mobile usage of the internet is greater than desktop usage. So to keep congruency for the user, regardless of the device they are using, makes sense.

 

Another difference on the desktop version is the fact that your business phone number is now no longer displayed. Instead the options are to click directly to the users web site or get directions.

 

Oh and of course, the big one. What was 7 business listings on last week is now just 3.

 

Using the same search criteria on a mobile device you can see that the website and directions buttons have been replaced by a phone icon, which is a click to call feature. 

 

google local mobile view

 

How Will the Change Impact Businesses?

It will only impact businesses that were in the 7 pack prior to the change. After all if your business wasn’t there before the change then it will have no impact. If you were in positions 4-7 on the map then you can expect fewer calls and inbound leads via Google.

 

If you are on the new listing in positions 1-3 then I would suggest that the change will have a positive impact for you.

 

Put simply, your business is only going to be competing with 2 others in the area meaning the chance of you getting a phone call from the map has increased roughly 2.5 times from 14% to 33%.

 

How can you increase your chances of getting more calls?

 

To increase the chances that your listing will be picked over the other two then you need to optimise your listing to stand out from the other two. Ways in which you can do this include:

  • Introduce business photos:
  • Add Videos
  • Add updates to your listing.
  • Get and respond to Reviews

 

If your business is not in the new local listing of 3 then the following is a good place to start.

  1. Check that you have a Google My Business account.
  2. Verify the account.
  3. Update all details including; business name, address, postcode, hours of business, main business category.

 

Chances are this alone will not get you into the top 3 positions but will provide the foundation for a local search engine optimisation strategy.

 

Final Thoughts

The cynic in me is saying that this is all about Google digging deeper into the pocket of advertisers. As there are a lot of businesses that were in the old 7 pack that will no longer be on the first page of Google for their service and locality at all. Meaning that if they do want visibility and to continue getting the inbound leads and calls they were getting then one of the options is to pay for that privilege through Google Adwords.

 

In a blog post on Search Engine Land, Barry Schwarz shares a quote from a Google spokesperson with regards to these changes that says:

“We are constantly exploring the best way to bring a better search experience to our users. This update provides people with more relevant information, including photos, reviews and prices, for searches that have multiple results for a given location.”

 

Is this a trial by Google? How long will it last? Will it benefit Consumers? Will it benefit businesses? Only time will tell….

Click here to turn your website into a client generating powerhouse

Google Make Big Changes in the Local Space.

Google Make Big Changes in the Local Space.

There was an important Update to Google Recently, If you run a local Business this could affect you! Google Makes Big Changes To The Local Space | www.bigthinkingonline.com

The Past Few Months

Have seen Google make some big changes in the local SEO space. Most of these changes stem back to the fact that Google has finally accepted that Google+ will never be Facebook and all their attempts to effectively ‘force’ people to use Google+ including tying YouTube to the platform are starting to be uncoupled.

 

And while that will not impact most users or business owners the fact that Google has also announced that they are going to “unverify” inactive Google+ Local pages could have an impact on local listings.

 

What does this mean for business owners?

Back in 2012 Google made the decision to combine what was Google+ Local pages and Google Places together and automatically provide 80 million businesses with Google+ Local pages. While that might seem a little confusing the crux is that whether you know it or not you probably have a Google+ Local page.

 

If you have never verified that page or Google perceives the page owner to be unresponsive then the page might be shut down.

 

According to a message that has been in the local search forums:

In the past few months, you may have seen some changes in the look of Google+ pages that have been associated with Google My Business (GMB) accounts. These changes, including how we treat business pages without owners, are part of Google’s ongoing effort to simplify people’s experience with our tools. We are constantly working to provide only valuable and rich content to our users.

 

On July 28th, Google will begin shutting down those GMB–associated Google+ pages that have not been associated with user accounts and are also not verified. You may find that some of your Business View tours also sit on such pages, but note that after their removal of unverified Google+ pages, the Business View tours will still remain available on Google Maps and Google Search.

 

How does this affect your business?

First off it depends whether you have verified your Google+ pages.

 

If you haven’t verified your Google+ local page then here is some advice for you to follow from the Google Maps team:

Encourage your business customers to verify their listings if they wish to retain their Google My Business page.

 

If a business owner decides later that they would like to have a Google My Business page, please advise them to create a new page and verify their listing. The Business View virtual tour can be then transferred to the new verified listing.

 

Please log a case to our support teams to request that images for your business customer be forwarded to the new GMB page. Please point your business customer to their images in Google Maps.

 

If you have verified your Google+ page then you will have nothing to worry about. In fact I would hesitate to suggest that if your page is verified and optimised then you will be getting an advantage over your competition as more and more competing pages will be removed from the Goole+ listing. Leaving customers and clients in need of your services a greater chance of finding your business first.

 

If you have any questions or thoughts on this topic put them in the comments box below.

Google Plus Local Takes Over From Google Places

Google Plus Local Takes Over From Google Places

What is Google Plus Local

google-plus-localGoogle is the most often used search engine on the planet, so it is important that your business listing is easily searchable. In fact, one in five searches on Google includes a location aspect – for example, “landscaping Manchester”.

Google + Local, formerly known as Google Places for Business, is a directory listing of your business that displays photos, videos, reviews and essential facts about your business (Such as address, phone number, and hours), as well as real time updates and any offers that your customer can take advantage of.

A Google+ Local page connects several Google products to your business, including Google search, Google Maps and Google+. If you want to benefit from customers who are on the go and searching with a mobile phone, Google+ Local is a service you need to adopt and update on a regular basis. You can go to: Google Places to claim your listing.

How would Google Places For Business Benefit me?

Each of the Google products that Google+ Local incorporates will have different benefits for your business, but the most fundamental advantage of having a Google+ Local business listing is that your business has the ability to get found by more and more people in the local area through Google search.

Increase in organic search rankings

By managing your listing correctly you can influence what people searching for your business find in the organic search results, including your business name, contact information, payment types and the associated categories for your business. In other words it has a direct effect on your search engine optimisation.

A listing on Google Maps

When people are searching for a service in a certain area, one of the benefits of Google+ Local is that your business will appear in Google maps for the relevant search. Again, you can influence what information you share with potential clients: address, directions, phone number, or hours of operation.

Google Places for Business

To get more information about a business, you either click the market on the map that provides further information about the business  or click on the link on the left hand side.

Google Ratings

Have you ever conducted a search on Google and noticed that some of the search results come back with gold stars?

These stars are part of the ratings system that Google offers businesses.  The ratings are made up of reviews and ratings that your customers have left about your business. Needless to say that the higher the number of positive ratings, the better it looks for your business and the increased likelihood that your business will receive more calls.

Be sure to check out what people are saying about your business because one negative review can have a huge impact. Take the time to respond to both positive and negative reviews. Thank people for their praise and make a real concerted effort to understand why people were disgruntled with your service. Do everything you can to rectify that issue and make the customer happy.

Being proactive about this will generate good will, build advocacy for your business, encourage those who shout the loudest about your business to shout even louder and attract people who have never experienced your business before to pay closer attention.

How can I enhance my Google Plus Local Listing?

There are many ways for you to enhance your Google+ Local page making sure that your listing stands out over and above the competition.

Show photos.

You can upload your own photos that give the potential client a visual interaction as to what you do. This can be particularly beneficial for restaurants or fashion boutiques where you can highlight your products. If you are a local health spa or a Dental surgery you may want to highlight your facilities to support your business.

Add videos to the mix

If you really want to get the client to experience what it is like to work with you then you can upload videos. The videos could be “infomercial” in style, they could be helpful “how to’s”, or a walk-through of your business facilities and an introduction to the friendly staff.

Adding video is a great way to bring your business to life.

Post real time updates.

Now that Google Places for business  is incorporated in to Google Plus local it is important to keep your online activity up to date. Post updates to let potential clients and existing loyal customers know what you are doing and more importantly how they can benefit from it. If you are promoting a sale, a special event, or anything else that you want customers to know right now then you can communicate directly. Ultimately remember that Google+ is a social media network so it is about being social and not salesy. SEO and social media now go hand in hand so make sure you play your part and humanise your brand.

Provide offers.

Providing an incentive for people to come and visit your store is always a good thing. Google allows you to give that extra incentive to your clients by adding coupons or special offers.

Google+ Local is a great opportunity for you to highlight your business to your local community. The features are intuitive and with the addition of images, video and customer interaction it can really bring your business to life and make it a must visit destination.

To learn more about getting started with Google+ Local  click here!