Recently Google has removed their ads from the sidebar of Google search results in an effort to focus on search results for mobile devices. This is a BIG change that will impact your local search SEO strategy immediately. We are living in a mobile world now more than ever. Since last year, Google has been transparent about the idea that search happens more on mobile devices than a desktop computer and the search gap is more frequent for local searches. We also know that Google determines local ranking based on relevance, distance and prominence.

For these reason, it’s important that your local business is eligible to show up in the local 3-pack result within Google. Since the “Pigeon Algorithm Update,” Google continues to drive home the importance of optimizing your business info online to help you improve your search results. In this article we will show you 5 key action items that you should implement into your Internet marketing strategy today to increase your local search ranking result.

Google 3 Pack Local Search SEO Result Image

Google three pack local search result example

5 Local Search SEO Enhancements For Business Owners

Verify your business

For some this might seem like a strategy for Internet Marketing 101, but we are often surprised how often our new clients have yet to sign up for their FREE Google My Business listing. For longtime business owners, there is a chance you have a local Google listing already created based on customer reviews, uploaded photos or other data published online about your business. If your business is new, you may need to create a brand new listing, if Google is unfamiliar with your business. Do not be discouraged if Google hasn’t recognized your business yet. Google uses a variety of different outside resources, online business listings, customer reviews and many other indicators to prove that you are a real business worthy of a favorable search result ranking. There are people out there who try and manipulate the system by creating fake listing, so Google is working hard to publish and rank real businesses.

To verify your business, you can do a brand search in Google or go over to Google Maps and search for your business that way. Click on the result that is your business and then click on the “Own This Business” text link under the hours of operation. It’s a small text link, so look closely!

Verify Your Google My Business Listing Image

Verify your FREE Google My Business listing example

To create your Google business listing, visit the Google My Business homepage and sign in with a Gmail account. We have a great Google My Business tutorial here to guide you through the process.

Completed Profiles Are A Must

Completing each field within your Google My Business profile is important not only for customers who are interested in your business, but also for Google ranking your website in their local search results. This process shouldn’t take you more than 15 minutes to complete and is vital to your local search SEO strategy.

Here are the steps to complete your Google My Business profile:

  1. Start by entering your business name exactly how you would like it to appear for your customers.
  2. Then enter your NAP (name, address and phone number) to be consistent with your other online business listings.
  3. Next select the category that best represents the type of business you are for potential customers. You can add more than one category if you like.
  4. After that, you will need to add your hours of operation including special hours for holidays.
  5. Finally, you will want to craft an enticing “introduction” for you business. Keep this relatively short, in the neighborhood of 100 words. Make it clear for potential customers. Note that keyword stuffing here will not help in any way; rather it will hurt your search result. Just concentrate on telling customers who you are, what you do and why you are awesome!
  6. Then select “done editing.”

For businesses that need to upload profile information for multiple locations, you can use this Bulk Upload Spreadsheet to save you time from completing these steps, one by one for each location.

Add Photos, Lots of Photos and More Photos

The Internet is moving towards a visual based search environment every day. Google allows you to upload different types of photos that are related to your business. You can show photos of your work, team member photos, interior/exterior photos of your office and additional photos that don’t fall into those categories. Every photo uploaded, is a chance to showcase your services to your potential customers in a visual (and more desired) way. The old saying is “A picture is worth a thousand words.” So use this opportunity to tell your company’s story with appealing photos.

Google My Business Photo Example Image

Adding images to a Google My Business example

What Time Do You Close Today?

We touched on this a bit in the second action item for local searches, but I want to drive home the importance of “accurate” hours of operations. There are a handful of things that will irritate a potential customer and inaccurate business hours are high up on the list. Imagine showing up to a place of business after checking there hours online and finding out that the business is close. This often can result in a potential customer having a negative perception of your company, followed by a bad review to release the frustrations of a failed trip to your location.

Double check your hours of operation on your Google My Business listing and make sure it’s consistent on your website as well as other online business listings you have online. Also, add your holidays hours if they are different than regular hours. Tell us if you are closed for the holiday or if you have extended hours during that time. This way your customers can plan accordingly. A little effort (and I mean little) will go a LONG way!

Hours of operation example image

Adding hours of operation to Google My Business example

Let’s Try This Place. They Have Great Reviews!

The old adage is “your best sales person for your business are previous customers.” Most of us look to reviews to gauge how good a business is and if it’s worth our time to check out. For most searchers, we usually start with a Google Search result and then we read the reviews of the first few results. Reviews are also another way that Google can determine if a business is real and how customers receive them. Remember, Google’s aim is to return the best results to searchers, so a high review rating is a strong indicator to show your business higher in the search results.

Managing reviews is critical, especially for business in retail and hospitality. These businesses traditionally receive a lot of ratings both good and bad. If your business receives a bad review, get out in front of it, to show customers that you care enough to make things right, as well as show other potential customers that this incident was simply a mistake or oversight. We all make mistakes and most people will understand and perhaps maybe more inclined to use your business, if they can see how much you care about providing a valuable service.

Google Reviews Example Image

Google reviews help your local ranking example

Local SEO Strategy Recap

So to recap, these local marketing action items above will increase your rankings in a Google local search result, if you follow through with this simple local search SEO strategy. Remember, your local ranking is determined by the relevance of your business to a search, the distance from your business to a potential customer and the prominence of your business. Make sure to create or verify your local Google My Business listing and then you can move on to other local marketing action items. If you have any questions about how to improve your local rankings, contact us for more information. Also, feel free to connect with us online to share your local marketing experiences.

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