September 1, 2014

10 Things You Should Have Done to Make Your Google Business Listing Great

Make Your Google Business Listing GreatWith over 80% of people using search engines to find local information, it is impossible to imagine a brick and mortar business that couldn’t benefit immensely from local search. On the other hand, having no local search presence could potentially end a local business.

According to comScore/TMP, Google grew their local search market share from 15% in June 2008 to 26% in June 2009.

What is your share of that traffic and potential leads ?

If you read and apply these 10 tips your Google Maps traffic will have no where to go but up.

1. Business information on the web must be consistent accurate, accurate and up-to-date

Without consistency of your business information across the Web, your Google business listing will never fulfill its potential. Simply put, that is because Google relies on information it finds on the Internet to improve the relevancy of their results. Customer reviews and mentions of your business information on the web play a big role in how Google ranks listings — it is important that Google associates them with your business. Inconsistencies in how your local business is presented online can make this impossible, which in turn can significantly reduce your local search visibility.

Right after you claim and verify your business in Google local business center, make sure that your business info is correct with Google’s trusted data providers like InfoUSA, Acxiom, Localize, or Yellow Pages. Check those first, because they supply data to a very large number of business directories.

Risk factors that can trigger inconsistencies are change of address, phone number or business name.  At the end of the day you want to get rid of all inconsistencies.

2. Claiming and Verifying Your Listing.

It’s clear that most listings in existence have not yet been claimed, which means that you get an upper hand just by claiming and verifying your listing.

Since Google is placing a lot of trust on information they get from the business owner via GLBC ( Google Local Business Center ), don’t forget to be as accurate as possible when filling in your business information.

3. Consolidate your presence on Google Maps

Some local businesses will have more than one Google local listing even though they have only one physical location. This usually happens without the fault of their own and most of the time even without their knowledge as result of the listing creation and verification processes.

At the same time, it’s against Google’s guidelines to have more than one listing if you have one physical location because you are not representing your business as it appears in the offline world. To avoid any problems that might arise from this, you have to consolidate your local listings. Essentially, this is done by claiming all your listings, moving all enhanced content in the listing you wish to keep and then deleting the rest.

4. Categorize like a champ

I can’t emphasize enough how important is proper categorization in Google Maps. It can make a difference between a poor listing and a great one. Google will suggest categories as you type and you will have to use one of those predefined categories to classify your business.

Choose a more general category that accurately describes what your business does as the mandatory one. You can choose more predefined categories if it makes sense for you. But reserve a few fields for custom categories because Google doesn’t always come up with the most specific categories

To make your categorizing more effective try to:

  • Keep categorizing consistently across the web.
  • When choosing custom categories think about how would a user that wants a specific type of service you offer search for it.
  • Be specific when necessary
  • Keep categories from overlapping

5. Description

Description field should be used to emphasize what is unique about your business and to inspire trust. All that in less then 200 characters. Having something remarkable about the business in the description is a must. Maybe you have the oldest company in your town, or a patent for something.

6. Pictures and Videos

Images and videos are ideal tools for making listings compelling and bringing their conversion rates up. Google allows 10 images and 5 videos to be added to your listing. Some types of images that would help your listing in many ways are:

  • Your Logo
  • Brands Carried
  • Pictures of your establishment
  • Logos of associations you belong to (like the Better Business Bureau)
  • Your Video Commercials or Interviews, etc…

7. Details (Hours of operation, payment options, additional details)

  • If you offer financing for your service why not say so?
  • If you’re open late, you should let people know
  • Use additional details fields to be ultra specific about what makes your business unique

8.Coupons

Coupons have always been a great way to promote products and services, however in Google Maps they are possibly the only reliable way to track business generated by your Google listing that couldn’t be tracked otherwise ( by call tracking, or web analytics software).

9. Spread the word

Even Google recommends this one. Your local business information should be found on many:

  • IYP sites
  • Niche directory sites
  • Local Business directories
  • Any trusted site possible

Google claims that they rely on mentions of your business information on the web to improve the quality of search results. That means the more mentions of your business on the web Google associates with your listing more certain they are that your business is real, in operation, and important. Google rewards this with greater local search visibility.

10. Get Reviewed

Reviews and Web citations (mentions of your business) are extremely important for similar reasons.
Encourage reviews and make it easy for people to review you. Make it a part of your routine to ask for reviews from happy customers and point them in the right direction.

You can also ask for reviews in your email signature, business cards, on the bills you send out, etc…

* * * * *

About the Author:Vedran Tomic blogs about internet marketing, search engine optimization, and local search in particular at SEO Rabbit.  He is an in-house SEO at Basement Systems.

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Vedran Tomic


Vedran Tomic Vedran Tomic is the Founder of Local Ants, LLC, an local Internet marketing agency focused on helping businesses acquire more customers for less using the web.

32 Reactions

  1. I recently wrote a similar article (in a different style) at Small Biz Bee:

    http://smallbizbee.com/index/2009/12/03/bric-a-brac-branding/

  2. Good points. Also include keywords in your 200 character description. I did a similar post with video and PDF download on the basics of Google’s local business listings here: http://zephyrmarketing.net/2009/12/17/intro-to-googles-local-business-listings/

  3. @Evan

    Thanks for the first comment :)

    @miconian
    That was a nice post.

    @Greg,
    I wouldn’t worry about keywords in the description too much.

  4. Do you know if the Google business listing is international, or is only for the North American market?

  5. This is a rare occasion. I actually knew about all the points mentioned and have been working on them (though obviously I could be doing more).

  6. nice,lots of stuff I have missed, thanks

  7. Great post- Also important to note how crucial it is to monitor your web presence after optimising the above steps…

    Well done,

    Chris

  8. @Martin Lindeskog

    Yes, Google Local Business Listings are available in around 40 countries.

  9. Excellent post Vedran
    Just a question for you as a follow up.
    What are your thoughts on Google now becoming the number one directory which you must be in.

    A while ago in Australia, it used to be Yellow Pages was the place you had to be and now it seems as though the cost of being there has meant many small business onwers have moved away.

  10. Hello,

    The folks at Killer Start Ups recently rated a company that helps businesses with the management of their local listings. Other than the anti-yellow page twist to their 3rd party perspective, one has to remember that the convergence of the mobile and local search industries will have a huge affect on local business in the upcoming year. It certainly is more than Google.

    Here is the info at KillerStartUps:
    http://www.killerstartups.com/Search/smartfindslocallisting-com-be-found-online

    This will be fascinating area of the web!

  11. Vedran Tomic: Thanks for the information. I wonder how strong Google local listings are outside the North American market.

  12. @Andee Sellman

    I think Google is on their way to completely dominate the local search market. To show that they mean business, Google is in talks to buy Yelp for 500 million. That way they will get 2% of the market Yelp controls and a start in the “review business”.

    Any small business should make Google the start of their internet marketing endeavors.

  13. @Martin Lindeskog

    Judging by how big is Google as a brand in Europe I would say that they have a nice chunk of the local search market.

    I am not sure for the other continents.

  14. Hi Vedran, Welcome! Great post to get started with here at Small Business Trends. It’s obviously become quite popular – 108 tweets already! Very good.

    Your point #4 is one that I know many small biz people do not figure out on their own. I’m glad you brought it up.

    - Anita

  15. Hi Anita,

    Thanks for the kind words.

    As far as categorizing goes, many people do it in a hurry and don’t pay attention.

    Then, Google uses categorization info from third party data providers which have miscategorization problems and we have a very unpleasant issue – a badly categorized business listing which can’t be fixed via Google Local Business Listing account because “Google doesn’t have the control over third party sites”

  16. Nice one Vedran!

    Keep ‘em coming.

    Appreciated

    leon

  17. It seems to help to use a real brick and mortar address and not a PO Box, or UPS virtual business address, etc, for Local Search Results on Google.

  18. Vedo this was a very GOOD post…A lot of great information!
    Thank you

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  20. This is a great article. Thank you so much for all the information. I have just one question: our name has a tilde, we are not sure if including it when doing business listings will affect how search engines find us. Any comments? Should we list our business name withouth the tilde?

    Thanks in advance for your help!

  21. @The Cafe,

    Thanks for your comment!
    I wouldn’t worry about the tilde.

  22. Google is always making a way in which they can expand their services for the comfort of it’s users. They are now leading in providing relevant information to users.
    But Google doesn’t stop there because they’re still up for more.
    Google is now creating the Google maps to widen it’s services. This Google maps will help users to locate a certain business establishment in a map. On the other hand, they are allowing businesses to be listed for free. So, this is a free advertising opportunity for the businesses while widening it’s services.

  23. A lot of valuable stuff on this list. I shall include some of them in my own checklist. A question to all my fellow SEO professionals: if you’re not getting your targeted number of reviews, are you willing to have an incentive program where you reward customers for leaving a review?

  24. I was thinking to start local listing and citation for my sites. I find your post very much informative. I wanted to ask one thing. I have only 1 physical address [as everyone has single office location] but have more than one websites. What do you suggest? IS there any way to submit all my websites with single physical location? or any alternative for the same?

  25. Claiming, controlling and monitoring your web presence, particularly on Google, is essential if you are going to rank and be respected and trusted in your niche.

    Graham Apolony
    Big Note Marketing

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