For businesses offering products and services to those in their local community, Google Business Profile is an invaluable tool for getting your brand seen by the right people. Yet more than half of companies with a Google Map presence have not claimed their free profile. If that’s you, it’s time to take advantage of this excellent way to boost your company’s visibility and win big on locally-focused SERPs.
Here we’ll take a look at exactly why you need a specific local SEO strategy for your small-to-mid-sized business and how having a Google Business Profile is central to that.
The Importance of Local SEO
Consumers are increasingly relying on search engines to find businesses in their local area. Over the past two years, the number of people using “near me” or “buy now” in their online searches increased by a staggering 500%. And with more than three-quarters of these individuals going on to visit a physical location within 24 hours of searching for it on their phone, the importance of local SEO can no longer be ignored.
Local SEO shares many similarities with the traditional organic SEO that you’re already likely familiar with. For instance, they are both about boosting your web presence in an increasingly overcrowded market and certain vital tactical differences are required for attracting a local audience as opposed to a global one. Tapping into these for effective local SEO enables smaller businesses to get seen in a landscape that larger enterprises previously dominated.
One of the strongest features of local SEO, when done right, is that it generates high-converting leads for brick-and-mortar businesses. You are connecting with an audience of already on the verge of making a purchase who just need to find out where to do it. That’s why if you’re not showing up (and placing well) on local searches, you’re missing a huge opportunity to better your bottom line.
Beyond reaching these nearby customers, having a solid local profile for your company is fundamental to building a stronger domain authority. With queries for online businesses so commonplace these days, consumers no longer trust companies without a clear and thorough online presence. In fact, nearly half of consumers abandon a brand if they couldn’t find them or specific details about their business quickly and easily online.
Google Business Profile
Previously known as Google My Business, Google Business Profile (GBP) is a free Google feature that supports brands in managing their online presence. Every time someone searches with local intent, Google provides a list of businesses with details such as their address, hours, category, and reviews. Not only are companies who have a GBP more likely to rank higher in Google search results, but they will also have a Google Maps presence. And with 86% of people using this handy app to search out the location of a local business, you won’t want yours to be missing here.
Now, if your business has been around for a while, chances are it will already have a GBP – you’ll just need to claim it. You can do this by running a Google search for your company and clicking the link asking if you own the business. Once verified (or set up if there’s no existing GBP), you’ll be able to get to work on optimizing your listing. This is vital as 24.4% of all clicks go to the first result of local business searches.
How Google Determines Local Ranking
When you conduct a local business search, the three businesses displayed at the top of the SERP, just below the map are known as the local SEO 3-pack. The company’s name is displayed alongside details such as the type of business it is, its address, phone number, star rating and review information. While previously five to seven listings appeared here, users will nowl have to click the “more places” tab for further suggestions, and the research suggests they are unlikely to do this.
That’s why it’s crucial to do all you can to get one of those prized top spots, which will be much easier at a local level. Now, as we know Google keeps pretty tight reins on information concerning its algorithm.
However, it does make platform users aware that local SEO is determined by three vital factors: the relevance of your business to the search query, the distance of your business in comparison to the location being searched for and how prominent your business is within your industry.
Relevance – Complete and detailed information included in the GBP helps the search engine better understand your business and match it to the right searches.
Distance – Some users will include an exact location, such as a city, town, or state in their search query. If not, Google does its best to list results based on where it thinks the person is based.
Prominence – Alongside more well-known brands, businesses are evaluated for this factor based on information Google has about them, including review count and score.
Making Effective Use of Your Google Business Profile
As Google uses information taken directly from your GBP to decide on your SERP ranking, it goes without saying that you will want to make such information very accessible to the search engine. That’s why optimizing your profile is so essential. At the very least, you will need to:
Ensure Your Profile Is Complete
Alongside business name, category, and physical location, you should include your hours of operation, contact information, and a link to your website here. People don’t want to have to go searching for this information. If it’s not accessible to users when they are actively looking for it, you will lose them to a competitor who has provided this information.
Include detailed and accurate information in your business description of your products and/ or services. Just as with standard SEO, make effective use of keywords as these act as clear signals for search. Include photos of your business too. Listings with pictures receive 35% more click-throughs to their site than those without.
Manage and Respond to Reviews
Reviews are vital for driving traffic to your site and your brick-and-mortar business. 84% of consumers trust online reviews just as much as personal recommendations, so positive reviews will positively affect your conversions. It’s beneficial to encourage customers to leave reviews by, for instance, providing a handy link.
Positive reviews will also boost your visibility as your star rating appears just below your business name on your Google local SEO 3-pack listing alongside details on the number of reviews. This improves your credibility as a brand, and users will be more likely to visit your site to check out what you have to offer.
Don’t Forget Local Posts
Connect with both existing and potential customers via Google Search and Google Maps with local posts. Here you can share announcements such as available offers, new stock lines, business achievements, and event invitations. This makes your brand more personable and trustworthy in the eyes of the audience.
While some posts will be evergreen and shouldn’t be deleted as they can continue to attract traffic to your site, those that are time-sensitive such as promotions with special offers etc, should. Providing people with inaccurate information about your business will not do you any favors and could even serve to drive previously satisfied customers away.
If you need support with setting up or optimizing your Google Business Profile, Firon Marketing can help. Our comprehensive SEO packages support organic growth and can help direct the right kind of traffic to your site and your physical business too to scale your performance like never before.