For local businesses looking to acquire customers online, using Google Maps and SEO is one of the best channels that are available. While similar fundamentals of search engine optimization applies to ranking in the local search results and on Google Maps, there are key differences that you need to be aware of. Here are some of the best practices to get the most out of your campaign.
Best Practice #1: Maximize All the Features of Google My Business (GMB)
There have been many updates made to Google My Business (GMB) that you want to take advantage of. But first, you want start by completing your profile as comprehensively as you can. You want to make sure your NAP (name, address, phone) are correct when you claim your listing. Then you want to continue to fill out your business description with target keywords that describe what you offer. Other things you’ll want to do include choosing the right business category, adding videos, adding photos, and answering customer questions on the Q&A section.
Some of the new features include the GMB posts which allow you to make small posts on the bottom of your business profile. Then there’s the booking feature which allows customer to schedule an appointment with you. Another related features is the messaging feature which allows customers to message you via text message. There will be many more features in the future, so you want to keep your eyes peeled and take full advantage of all the tools that are offered to you.
Best Practice #2: Build Citations and Links
Citations are basically any mention of your NAP on the web. You want to come up with a consistent NAP and make sure you use the same one whenever you submit your business information online. If you want to figure out where to start getting citations, you can simply enter the NAP of your competitors in Google and look for which websites they’re listed on. You’ll find that many of them will also be accepting listings.
However, you shouldn’t limit yourself to general business directories. You want to get an advantage over the competition by looking for industry specific directories and resources. For example, sites like OpenTable and Zagat will be very specific to the restaurant industry as opposed to simply being listed in Yellow Pages and WhitePages. Here’s a helpful list of local listing services you can use to get started.
Another thing you can’t ignore in your local search engine optimization campaign is building links. Local SEO has become increasingly competitive and you will need to build incoming links as you would for a normal SEO campaign. This can be done by submitting content to related sites and blogs. A local PR campaign may also result in a lot of valuable links from authoritative local sites.
What can you expect as results? Take a look at how SunCity Advising utilizes Google Maps to rank for local SEO:
Best Practice #3: Get Serious about Building Reviews
Getting reviews for your business is important for two reasons. First, people search Google and Google Maps to find businesses in their area. They evaluate which business to go with based on their review ratings and number of reviews. Second, reviews are a very strong ranking factor for local SEO. You will not be in the running for the top positions if you don’t actively build reviews for your business.
The most important reviews you can receive is Google reviews. They are responsible for helping improve your site’s ranking in the search results. At the same time, you should not ignore reviews from sites like Facebook, FourSquare and Yelp. These reviews will also show up in your Google business profile, giving customers a better representation of what your customers think.
In order to generate reviews, you need to build a review acquisition strategy. Make sure you ask for reviews from your customers if they’re satisfied with your business. Most platforms do not want you to generate reviews in return for compensation, so make sure you avoid fishy tactics. Instead, try to encourage reviews when you have the opportunity to do so.
Best Practice #4: Optimize Your Site Properly and Publish Quality Content
The fundamentals onpage optimization applies to local SEO as well. Make sure your title, header tags, and image alt tags are properly optimized for the keywords you are targeting. You also want to craft an attractive meta description because it’s a big part of what determines whether the user will click to your website or not. Here’s a quick guide to crafting winning meta descriptions if you need some help.
Another thing that’s important is publishing quality content. Many local websites never publish a page of content other than their most important pages. You want to create quality content for the keywords you’re targeting (one per keyword) and also for distribution. This will help your pages rank higher and acquire links from other websites. It also adds value to your web visitors which often translates to them becoming customers.
Best Practice #5: Make Sure Your Website is Mobile Optimized
You can now find many free and premium responsive template and themes available for site owners to use. Responsive designs basically optimize your website for the device the user is using to access your site. This results in higher conversion rates, a better viewing experience, and increased general accessibility.
However, it is not enough. Optimizing mobile devices has to go beyond using a responsive web design. You need to do things like design an easy-to-use navigation menu, making the call to action buttons easily clickable, having click to call functions, using readable font, and properly formatting your content. Many templates and themes do not do enough to cater to mobile device users.
One of the most important things about optimizing for mobile is reducing loading times. Loading times is a ranking factor in the search engines, so you have to put some serious effort into reducing it. There are many different technical solutions you can use to reduce loading times. A good way to diagnose the problems on your site and find the proper solutions is to use Google’s Lighthouse tool.
Need Help with Your Local SEO Campaign?
Getting the most out of Google Maps and SEO is far from easy. There is a lot technical information and strategies you need to learn to build a winning campaign. SunCity Advising is a digital marketing agency that’s been helping small businesses win with their digital marketing for over 10 years. Learn about how we can help you with your local SEO campaign.
Call us today at (858) 859-0123 or visit our site to reach out to us by email.