Are you aware that 78 % Of Local-Mobile Searches Result In Offline Purchases? In other words, the majority of people who search for local goods and services on a mobile device end up buying within 24 hours!
What is the implication?
If you run a local business like a restaurant, salon, bar, hotel, boutique, hardware shop etc you need to be found online. Being visible online means that you can get business from these local people searching on Google.
Many of these people are looking for a specific product or service with no particular business in mind and that’s where you need to come in and get the sale.
When you consider that more and more people are turning to Google to search for goods and services you will realise that this is a massive opportunity for growth in sales in your business.
Without a strategic Local SEO plan, your business will not be able to take advantage of the local online demand for your products or services. Local Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is a branch of SEO that specifically deals with making your local business visible in search engines.
What are local Search Queries?
The following are examples of local search queries
• restaurants near me
• massage parlours near me
• plumbers in [city name]
• dry cleaners in [city name]
These searches tell Google that the search is to be limited within a certain geographical area. Bear in mind that Google has access to your location when you browse the internet (unless you decline access).
If you run a coffee shop then you want your business to show up when someone physically close to your shop searches for the term ‘coffee shops near me’.
If you are behind technology and you are not found then your competitor who will have appeared in the results will have a higher chance of getting the business. You don’t want that now, do you?
Having established that being found by local customers searching online is critical, we now need to look at how you can position yourself in front of their eyes at the critical moment.
The tool you use for this is called Google My Business. The best part is that it’s completely FREE!
What is Google My Business?
It’s a free online listing on Google’s search engine which allows business owners like you to manage their local online presence. This listing shows information like your business’ phone number, address, reviews, and a map showing your physical location.
This information is then displayed in the results when a matching search query by a person in the vicinity triggers it. The person can even get directions to your business straight from the search results.
Google My Business is the starting point of Local SEO.
Below is an example of a Google My Business listing appearing in search results.
These restaurants appear because they have been listed on Google My Business and they are close to me. If I want to dine I will most likely choose one of these three.
Google My Business has the option to add a call extension since most people search on mobile devices. This call extension makes it easy for users to call your business by simply pressing a button.
Customers can also review your business and rate you right on your listing and everyone who searches for your business will see this information. This means that if you have plenty of positive reviews it will help you get more customers.
How to Create a Google My Business Listing
1. Go to https://www.google.com/business/ and click on start now on the top right corner.
2. Enter your Gmail credentials and over the next few steps enter your business name and address
3. A map will then appear with a pin that you can drag to your exact location
4. Next, you enter the category of your business and the contact number. You will also get an option to get a free one-page website from Google. We will talk about the free website just now.
5. After that, you click on ‘Verify this business’. Google will send a physical postcard via post to the address you will have stated. The card contains a code that you will need to enter to verify your listing.
This is Google’s way of knowing that you are indeed located at that physical address. The card can take between 2-6 weeks to arrive. During this time your business will not be visible online but you can make changes and customisations.
6. Click ‘Continue’ to optimise your dashboard and get a free website
Optimising Your Google My Business Listing via the Dashboard
As stated above, Google can give you a free website based on your information in Google My Business.
This free website is great for SEO. If your business does not have a website then this can be a good alternative. If you already have a website you can still claim this free website and enhance your SEO.
You will need to enter more information pertaining to your business to optimise your free website.
Fill in your working hours, description and upload a profile photo.
If you have a main website you can also put the link on this free site. If you use WhatsApp to talk to customers then you can enter a link that takes customers directly to your inbox if they are browsing on mobile.
Creating such a link is easy. You just write wa.me/ then you write number in international code without the +. For example, my number is +263 774 746 242 and I would write it as wa.me/263774746242 and clicking on it will take you to my inbox.
Optimising The Free Website from Google.
To start optimising your Google My Business website you will need to click on the website button on the left. Your website will be created and you will be able to edit the contents on the website.
Add your services and make sure you describe them in depth. When describing your business and services make sure you use keywords that customers will use when they search.
For example, don’t just optimize for “air conditioning repair.” Optimize for “air conditioning repair Harare.” This will mean that your listing will be more likely to come up in results when either keyword is typed in by a searcher.
You can even upload a photo gallery with pics related to your business.
There is also an ‘About Us’ where you need to describe your business in-depth and tell customers about your qualities that set you apart from the competition. After putting this information you will need to click on ‘Publish’ on the top right corner and your free website will be live.
You can also write posts on the website. These posts can be announcements of deals or simply giving information to customers. I recommend that you post an update at least once a week.
Local SEO Benefits of using Google My Business
1. Potential customers access your business information easily
This is because the information is shown right in Google results and they do not even have to visit your website. This will make it easy for them to contact you and you will be more likely to get their business.
2. It’s a source of feedback from consumers
You can get important feedback from customers through comments, reviews and even questions on your listing. When you respond to the feedback you can also initiate dialogue with your customers. This dialogue can culminate in a sale. The questions that customers ask on your listing and your responses will be publicly visible and this means that future customers can easily get answers to your FAQs
3. Learn the keywords that are associated with your business
Connecting your Google listing with Google Analytics shows you what keywords customers are using to trigger your business to show up in SERPs. This information is useful for planning purposes. You can then use these keywords
more on your listing and target them so that you can rank higher.
For example, if most people are finding your business via the keyword ‘Hardware shop in Lagos’ you can then create posts that include that keyword. Even on your main website, you can also use that keyword to target more traffic. Knowing the important keywords in your industry is priceless.
4. View visitor behaviour
Google Analytics will also show you what visitors are doing on your listing. For example, it will show you how many called your business from the listing and how many proceeded to visit your website.
5. You become aware of your customer’s physical locations
Google My Business will show you where your visitors are physically coming from. So for example, if a visitor gets directions from a certain location you will be to see that. This helps with location marketing tactics, for example, if you are running Google adverts you can increase your budget and cover the areas where you will be getting a lot of queries from.
6. Helps you rank in local Google results
You can be found on Google when a user searches for the products/services you sell whilst in your vicinity. This increases the likelihood of you getting business. When used effectively, Google My Business can help you improve your digital
marketing strategy by showing you trends in your and industry. If you have your website you can have two appearances in search results; your website and your Google My Business listing. This increases the likelihood of clickthroughs.
How to Optimise Your Google My Business Listing
As you can see, getting listed on Google My Business is quite easy which means your competitors can easily do it as well. For you to gain a competitive advantage you need to go over and above the basics. These tips will help make your listing more effective.
- Make sure all details are consistent online
Google penalises inconsistent information because they want to make sure they are providing accurate information.
You need to make sure that your business your name, address, and phone number (NAP) are consistent across all the listings above including review sites, maps, and social media. If you have a main website make sure that you use the same information on your listing.
Don’t, for example, have your business name as Tip Top Butchery on one listing and as Tip Top Meat Suppliers on another.
Another way to boost your local SEO is to have NAP appearing on all the pages on your main website. This is why when I make websites for my clients I insert NAP info in the footer appearing on all pages.
–Write local customised content
Is there a local show you are attending or any local events that you can write about on your Listing? Write about these to show Google that you are indeed located in that geographical area and you know what’s going on. Google will more likely rank you higher than your competitor who does not write customised content.
In addition to this, you need to write at least one post per week to show Google that you have relevant posts.
List on local Directory websites and industry related websites.
If there are local directory websites or industry related listing websites you must also list your business on them. Be careful to use the same consistent details. Being listed on many websites with the same info is a great reassurance to Google that you are indeed located in that place. One directory website you can list on is www.mycity.co.zw
Use the right category
When you edit your listing make sure you choose the correct category so that you appear in relevant results. For example, don’t put “Cosmetology” if you run a “Nail Salon.”
Use photos and videos
Take photos of your location, your products, your staff, even your customers (with permission, of course).
Photos help lend credibility to your business and serve as a local ranking signal. The photos can also attract customers, for example, if you run a restaurant mouth-watering photos of food can attract potential customers.
Ask for and respond to reviews
Reviews are massively important in Local SEO. They act as endorsements from customers and they help give potential customers a ‘second opinion’. The importance of reviews is also shown by the fact that according to this report, 90% of people read reviews before buying.
If you have happy customers ask them to leave a review on your listing. Create a link for your customers to click so that they don’t get lost trying to find the page where they can leave their reviews.
It’s critical that you always respond to reviews whether good or bad. Responding to reviews will show that you care about getting feedback from your customers. Bad reviews give you a chance to improve your services and correct your wrongs. Responding timeously to reviews is also important.
Create social media pages with the same NAP
This is critical. Having a Facebook page for your business with the same NAP will boost your local SEO. Also, bear in mind that some people use Facebook as a search engine. Its also a good idea to set up business profiles on LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram even if you don’t intend to be active on them. Ensure though, that you have a pinned message that shows customers where they can get faster responses.
Having a Google My Business listing will do wonders for your local business. It’s a free facility that you need to take advantage of today. I helped one client, a law firm, register on Google My Business and in the first month they appeared in 456 search appearances and had a handful of phone calls coming through from the listing.
Remember to go above the basics and ensure that you have optimised your listing for the best results. A well optimised Google maps listing can massively boost your sales.
Have you used a Google My Business listing to contact a business before? If you have a local business do you think you can benefit from listing on maps? Leave your comments below.
If you need help listing on Google you can contact me using the form below and I will assist you.