Effective Strategies To Improve Your Google My Business Ranking
by Mike Khorev
One of the biggest changes in the local search environment is when Google started including Google Maps results for local-related keywords. Nowadays, when more and more people are using “near me” queries on their mobile devices, ranking on the top spots of Google Maps is a valuable source of traffic—and revenue— for any businesses targeting the local audience.
Google Maps results are based on Google My Business listings. So, one of the main considerations in improving your Google Maps ranking is by optimizing your Google My Business listing. Here are the steps provides by SEO consultant Mike.
1. Including Optimized and Complete information
Google My Business is essentially a place where you can list information about your business, and these pieces of information will be used by Google to determine your business’s relevance, credibility, and ultimately, ranking.
So, the first thing to optimize on your Google My Business listing is your business’s information, especially these areas:
- Your NAP—your business’s name, address and phone number. These are the most important pieces of information about your business on the internet.
- Your site’s URL. Google will crawl your site to determine its relevance in tandem with your GMB listing.
- Description. There’s an ongoing debate whether optimizing your description for keywords will actually benefit your ranking. However, there’s no harm in doing so as long as you include these keywords naturally. Focus on attracting and engaging your human audience.
- Category. Choose the primary category that best represents what your business does. You can also choose other relevant sub-categories, this is a good opportunity not only for ranking purposes, but to attract a wider audience
- Attributes. Use attributes to highlight unique features about your business. For example, whether your restaurant offer outdoor seating or vegetarian menu.
Pay extra attention to your NAP. Make sure it is up-to-date and accurate, and if you have any mention of your NAP on the internet (local citations, more on this below), make sure to maintain consistency.
Here are some extra tips you can use to optimize this aspect:
- Make sure your listed address matches the proper Google Maps’ coordinates, same for zip-codes.Again, aim for consistency.
- It’s better to list a local phone number instead of a national or regional number.
- Don’t over-optimize category, attributes, and description. Again, make sure they are natural and comprehensive for human readers.
- Use this guide to help you in choosing your categories.
- Remember to be as specific as possible when choosing categories and attributes.
2. Soliciting Reviews and Handling Negative Ones
The quantity of positive reviews is a very important ranking signal for local SEO. However, there’s also the obvious benefit of boosting your conversions and revenue: more and more people read reviews before making purchases, especially when considering local brick and mortar businesses.
Studies suggested that up to 8ryh6% of consumers nowadays read reviews before deciding on any purchases. So, if you don’t have enough positive reviews, it will simply hurt your conversion rates significantly. Yet, how can we get more positive reviews? There are at least three main approaches:
- Just ask. Sometimes, all it takes is simply to ask your customers to leave a review. The key here is not only to ask politely (and as engaging as possible), but also to find the right timing. For example, send an email asking for a review for customers who just repurchase your product (indicating they are indeed happy with your brand), or if you track online engagement, send an email for those who frequently visited your product listing page and blog.
- Incentives. Pretty self-explanatory, you can offer incentives to existing customers in exchange of their reviews (and social media mentions). You can combine this with the first approach to optimize your chances.
- Responding to existing reviews. If you frequently respond to existing reviews (yes, even the bad ones), your audience are more likely to leave their own reviews. They will have the perception that their issues will be responded quickly, and similarly, their positive feedback will be appreciated.
As you can see, managing negative reviews is also a significant aspect of soliciting more positive reviews. You might want to check out this guide on online reputation management to get started. However, here are some quick tips on this aspect:
- Differentiate between valid negative reviews coming from real customers and fake reviews with malicious intent. If you have sufficient proofs, you can ask Google Maps (or other review sites) to take down fake reviews. You might also want to pursue legal actions depending on the severity of the case.
- Respond quickly and politely, and don’t offer promises you can’t deliver.
- Remember that for valid bad reviews, there is usually an underlying issue(s). If you don’t fix these issues in the first place, you’ll keep getting the same negative feedbacks over and over again.
3. Engaging Your Customers Through Google Posts
Google Posts was introduced in late 2017 as a feature of Google My Business. As a side note, only verified Google My Business listing will get this feature, so if you can’t access Google Posts via your GMB dashboard, chances are you haven’t verified your listing.
With Google Posts, you can post content about your business, such as:
- Announcing new products or services with engaging images
- Event invitation, both for online and offline events
- Using gifs and other engaging media to attract your audience
- Announcing various business-related news.
You can include CTA buttons (“Buy”, “Learn More”, etc.) with your posts. But remember that if you use a CTA button, only around 70 characters will be displayed on mobile devices, compared to 300 characters without.
Engagement is an important ranking factor for Google Maps ranking, so take advantage of Google Posts to attract more audience. Besides, there’s also the benefit of attracting more prospects and improving conversion rates.
4. Using and Optimizing Images
According to Google themselves, business listings that include photos get up to 40% more conversion rates from requests of directions to phone calls to actual visits. Again, the more people engaged your listing, the higher it will rank.
When optimizing for photos, here are some key areas to consider:
- You can use all kinds of images and photos, but Google can review your photos for quality and appropriation. Generally, Google prefers photos that can represent the reality of your business, so avoid using too much filter and editing.
- The image format should be in PNG or JPG with a size between 10KB and 5MB
- The minimum resolution should be 720px x720px.
- Take photos within (or nearby) your business location, Google will crawl your photo location metadata and this can affect your ranking.
- You can also upload videos up to 30 seconds long. Use this opportunity to highlight unique qualities of your business.
5. Building Local Citations
Local citations refer to any mention of your business’s NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number) information on the internet. Citation is a very important ranking signal, and there are generally two main ways to get citations: build relationships with authoritative press, sites, blogs, and social media profiles. The second approach is to list your business in various online directories:
- Google My Business is technically an online directory, and the most important factor in implementing local SEO.
- Start with major online directories like Facebook Places, Yelp, and so on depending on your niche. Check out this list to help you out in this aspect.
- You can then continue with smaller online directories depending on your location and industry type. Use this list for top local directory by category, and this list for citations based on city.
The key in building local citations is to maintain consistency, especially for your NAP information. If, for example, you just changed your business address, you will need to update all of these listings. Inconsistent information not only can mislead your audience, but can significantly hurt your Google Maps ranking in the long run.
To optimize your Google My Business listing, the most important factors are accurate and up-to-date information, quantity of local citations, number of positive reviews, and consistency of information.
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