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.

Are You Maximising Your Email Marketing? 8 Top Tips!

Are You Maximising Your Email Marketing? 8 Top Tips!

Are You Maximising Your Email Marketing?

email marketing tips

 

Email updates and newsletters aren’t a new idea, but they’re still very effective when used correctly. The great thing about email is that it’s fairly unobtrusive; people will click in and read if they are interested or the message could stay in their inbox and act as a reminder of who you are for when it’s more relevant.

But how do you ensure that your emails are being read rather than ignored, and not just read but actioned?

Make sure people can opt out!

When email marketing for small business purposes it’s crucial to only market to people who have opted into your messages. When people opt in to receive your emails let them know what they’re subscribing to, how often they’ll get updates and always give them the option to opt out! See the guidelines from the Information Commissioners Office

Keep emails relevant and brief.

People don’t usually want to spend all day reading emails, so keep your updates short and to the point. If you want to include more information then link it back to your blog. This way the readers can choose the level of information they get, and you know that those who click through are likely to be more interested in what you are offering. Also make sure that your email is interesting to look at, so even if you’re only using text rather than images keep the paragraphs short and well spaced to make it look short and easy to read.

Provide value.

Don’t just send emails for the sake of it. Make sure that if you are trying your best to get someone’s attention that it is worth them giving you their time. If people recognise that the mails you send them will be interesting and add value to their day then they’ll be glad to open them, on the other hand if your mail is useless spam then you’ll have so many unsubscribers that you’ll soon have no-one left to email! Try including industry news, special offers, links to useful resources, blog updates, competitions or surveys.

Make it personal.

Even if you are mailing multiple subscribers at once try to keep the tone conversational as if you’re only speaking to one person. If possible use their name; many mailing packages can do this automatically.

Be Exclusive.

email marketing tips

If you want people to sign up to your emails then make them feel special! Offer them things that they can’t get elsewhere to entice them into signing up, and then keep the offers coming to keep them interested. It doesn’t have to be anything expensive, just something unique that you can offer this customer and nobody else can. For example, a 20% discount to the first 10 people to respond, or a free service voucher to anyone who refers a friend. Be creative!

Use a catchy title.

The title is usually the only thing you can guarantee someone will read, so take the most of that advantage and  make your subject lines as catchy and interesting as possible. Mix up your titles as well; if you only ever put a special offer in the title then people will get used to thinking that you always have special offers and will be less inclined to open them. Try using questions, facts, statistics, jokes or extracts from your blog, really anything that might provoke curiosity and get the reader to open the email. Just make sure the title is relevant and in keeping with the rest of the email!

Never overdo it.

Never ever bombard people with mail after mail. No one wants to receive dozens of mails from the same company. The right frequency might be different for each company, but it would be hard for anyone to justify more than once per day. Some businesses might find the right balance is once a week, or only every month. Stay tuned to your feedback and stats to see how many people are reading your updates and adjust accordingly.

Always include a call to Action!

If you want people to do something, you have to ask them. Make your calls to action easy to understand and easy to do: Phone this number, click this link, complete this questionnaire. Each marketing email that you send should have a measurable call to action.

As a final note, make sure that your emails are spell checked, you have included all your contact details, and any links that you include work. You could also include yourself on the campaign just to ensure that you see everything the way your customers see it.

What are your top tips for email marketing?

How to Use Twitter For Business – 8 Tweeting Marvelous Tips!

How to Use Twitter For Business – 8 Tweeting Marvelous Tips!

How to use Twitter for Business – 8 Tweeting Marvelous Tips!

how to use twitter for businessThere are hundreds of thousands of articles all over the internet on how to use Twitter for business. In addition, Twitter is ever evolving, as is its user base, so it is almost impossible to write a guide on how to use Twitter for business that will be current next week, let alone 6 months time! So I’m not hoping to list every possible way to use Twitter for Business, just some of the points that I think are most relevant to bear in mind.

Don’t spend too much time on Twitter!

This can be easier said than done if you are following a lot of interesting people and want to read what they have tweeted, so it’s important not to get distracted. If you find this applies to you then set yourself a time limit. Check out Is Small Business Social Media a Waste of Time?

Make lists.

If you follow more than a couple of hundred people your Home page on Twitter will fill up very quickly, meaning it’s easy to miss Tweets from the people you’re most interested in. By grouping people you follow into lists you can skim through tweets much more easily, for example you could have a list for Business contacts, another for News articles, one for Interesting people, and maybe one for Celebrity Gossip!

Automate your Tweets

While it’s never a good idea to automate every single Tweet and response, it’s really good to take advantage  of some level of automation. There are numerous different free sites as well as paid sites that you could use (Buffer, Timely, Tweriod and Hootsuite are just some examples) so really it just comes down to personal preference. You can set up multiple Tweets to be sent at intervals throughout the day meaning you  can get on with other tasks.

Understand the difference between a Reply and a Mention

This is a subtle but important difference and it comes down to where in your tweet you place someone else’s Twitter Handle. If you place it at the beginning of your Tweet, for example “@Big_Thinking I loved your article!” then that is a reply and will only appear on your profile page, the person you’ve replied to and the feeds of people who follow you both.

By placing the Twitter Handle elsewhere in the Tweet, you make it a Mention and it will be visible to everyone who follows you, whether they follow the other person or not, for example, “I really enjoyed the article by @Big_Thinking”. Click here to TWEET THIS!

If you’re just sending out a simple response to someone, a reply is usually fine, but if it’s an answer that would benefit a larger group of people then by turning it into a mention more people will be able to see it.

Let People DM you by Following them back.

Direct Messages on Twitter are not usually the preferred form of Tweeting. However, there are circumstances where only a DM will do, for example if someone wants to give you a personal phone number, ask a confidential question, or for whatever reason finds discretion important. Direct Messages are only possible if you follow the other user, so make sure that you follow any customers, important contacts or business partners so that they all have a means of getting in touch with you off the record.

Respond to Questions and Criticism

Twitter is public, so if someone has asked you a question or has criticised you publicly don’t assume you can ignore it and no-one will notice. You never know exactly who else is looking out for certain questions, keywords or phrases and it may be that a question asked by one person has an answer that’s looked for by many. Likewise with Criticism, make sure you set the record straight as you never know how many potential clients may be waiting to see what you have to say.

#Hashtag when Appropriate

Using the hashtag symbol # before a relevant keyword or phrase in a Tweet categorizes the Tweet to help it be found more easily in Twitter Search. If you Tweet with a hashtag on a public account, anyone who does a search for that hashtag may find your Tweet. It’s a good way to get your tweets noticed by more than just your existing Followers but don’t spam with hashtags or over-tag a single Tweet. Best practices recommend using no more than 2 hashtags per Tweet. It should go without saying to only use hashtags on Tweets relevant to the topic.

Twitter is the best authority on how to use Twitter for business

 How to use Twitter for Business is not an exact science. As I said at the start of this article there are already countless articles, books and blogs on the subject, and there are many people who have made a full time job out of the subject. Don’t forget though that no-one knows Twitter better than Twitter itself,  so where better to look for help on Twitter than Twitter Help!

If any of you have any other favourite tips on how to use Twitter for business to add into these then please get involved and leave a comment!