Get free exposure for your Local Business with Google Local Listings via Google Business Profile
Have you ever done a search for a mechanic or plumber in your area? You will then notice all the local businesses showing up with a map of their business location and hours. These are local listings and play a major role in connecting the modern consumer to a business that’s offering a service they are looking for. Some businesses get their customers almost exclusively through local listings and wouldn’t be able to stay in business without it. Thus, it is very important to stay on top of this and make sure your business is capitalizing on it.
Before I purchase from a business, I tend to check out their reviews on Google before I decide to purchase products or services from them. Just like myself, I’m sure you check out their competitors and do some research on your options.
There’s no question that googles local listings are one of the most effective tools for local small businesses’ success. The best part is its FREE exposure (there are also paid local ads but I will just be covering organic traffic in this article). How do you get the most out of this free exposure? Have you ever wondered to yourself, “how does mechanic A appear above mechanic B”? “What algorithms does google use to rank them”? Or “Why is my competitor that is less reputable showing up at the top, while I am not showing up at all”
The short answer is, your competitor either has a better SEO (search engine optimization) strategy and/or your competitor has a strong Google Ads strategy in place, while you do not.
Time to fix that. Let’s dive in!
Registering for Google Business Profile
Before you get started, the first thing you need to do is register for Google Business Profile and verify that your business exists. Once registered, google will send a card to your business address and you just need to enter a code that’s provided on the card. There will be a link provided where you will enter it. Now that you have been verified, it’s time to complete your My Business profile. You must make sure this profile is 100% complete and provide as much relevant information about your business as you can.
Filling Out Business Info
Quick tip: When choosing your business name, make sure it’s relevant to what people will be searching for (ie if you run a body shop and the business name is car guys, make sure you put car guys body shop). Try to do this without making it look spammy or doing keyword stuffing. So “Bobs wedding photography business events passport photo services” isn’t going to fly and you will be penalized.
As for your description, make sure you write it with the customer that is searching for you in mind. So if you are a mechanic that specializes in wheel repair, it’s very important to include the words “wheel repair” in the description. Once you uploaded pictures, entered business hours, and filled out a detailed description, it’s now time to choose up to three categories. Again, categories that are relevant to your business only. If you can’t choose three, stick to one or two if you have to.
A major factor that helps your local listing is the reviews section. The number of reviews, the review ratings, and reviews left by local guides all help with improving your local ranking. Now you might be thinking “AMAZING! I can leave a bunch of negative reviews for my competitors and get all my friends and family members to give me 5-star ratings”! DON’T DO IT. Google is smart enough to catch people doing this. Fake reviews can also be reported. If this happens, Google will investigate and ask for some information on a particular review. If it’s deemed fake, they will remove it. As for getting genuine reviews, make your business shine and always encourage your customers to leave a review on google. Consider even offering an incentive because these reviews are VERY valuable. They are so valuable that it’s usually the deciding factor when someone does business with you.
The next important step is too follow-up with the reviews. The benefits of this are two-fold. One, it will look good from a customer service perspective. Two, what you include in your response will help you rank higher on Google, so when you respond make sure too include keywords that tell Google what your business does. For example, if Dave Johnson leaves a review for a photographer that did wedding photos, you will want to respond with “Thanks John, I enjoyed being your photographer and your wedding photos turned out great” or something similar to this.
When you upload your images, always make sure the file name is optimized for SEO to rank in google images. Whether it’s on your own website, Google Business Profile, or online directories, you must make sure relevant keywords are included in the image file name. Now, don’t just pick generic keywords that you want to rank for. If you build decks and you are uploading a photo of a deck you built in Vancouver, name the file “deck-with-gazebo-in-vancuver.jpeg” or something similar.
Are you proud of the basement reno you did for a happy client? Make use of the posts section and be sure to let everyone know. This is an opportunity to give people browsing the web inspiration and showcase your amazing talent! Make sure you optimize your image and provide a link in the description that links back to your contact info (not your homepage), so future clients can contact you seamlessly.
As you register your business with google, you will also want to set up your business in other directories as well. Yelp, Yellowpages, 411 etc. Remember, you are not doing this so you can be found on these directories(some that nobody even uses), but this will also help your google ranking. Make sure the description is not the exact same description you used in Google Business Profile, but slightly different in each directory because google hates duplicate content. More directory listings tell Google that you are a real business and you will also get a free backlink to your website.
When ranking in Google Local Listings/Google Business Profile your website itself plays a major role in ranking your business. Understandably, there is always some confusion when the topic of the article is about google maps/local ads but then I go on to talking about ranking your website. Remember, when google ranks your site in the search engine or local ads, they look at your overall authority ranking. How they determine your authority involves many factors(this is for another article) but your Google Business Profile and website work together with each other to let Google know how relevant your business is when someone is searching for your product or service.
If you are interested in us setting up your Google Business Profile for free or would like a free expanded guide (video + ebook) for how you can set up and optimize your Google Business Profile, contact us and we would be happy to help you out!