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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.