If you are a local business and you are not on Google My Business, also known as Google Local Business, you are losing customers to your competitors. Google Local Business lists your business, your location, and contact details prominently in the search results when people make location-specific searches for services that you are offering.
To understand what you are missing, search for “duct cleaning Ottawa” on Google.com. Right on top, there is a map showing the location of the three top ranking duct cleaning companies. Below the map, you will find their addresses, contact details, locations, website links, ratings, directions, and working hours. Imagine the advantage that these three companies enjoy if someone looking for this service uses Google. The same thing happens when people search on Google Maps.
Google My Business makes you stand out and provides the necessary information to allow potential customers to easily locate and get in touch with you. It also provides directions helping people to find your office or outlet easily. You can post pictures to showcase the best aspects of your business. It also allows customers to review and rate your business. A high rating is a huge advantage.
Local business listings appear above or beside search results. It is possible to get your business to rank in the local business section and at the same time have your website listed in the organic search results below. To get your business listed, search for it on Google maps and claim it. If it is not on maps, simply create your profile from scratch.
Google will send a postcard containing a short code or make an automated call to one of the phone numbers provided for the business with a code. This is to verify that you are really connected to the business. You have to then enter that code in your profile to complete the verification. Although you can edit the profile immediately, it will not go live until verification is complete.
HOW TO MAKE THE MOST OUT OF YOUR BUSINESS PROFILE
The key to a good local business listing is accuracy and completeness. Make sure that all information such as address and contact numbers are correct. Add images, details of your business, working days, and hours of operation. Add an introduction and make a few posts. Update the information promptly if it changes.
Your business page has a Timeline feature that you can use to add updates. Regular updates are important because Google uses update frequency as an indicator of the quality of your profile. If you don't update your profile regularly, your competitors may outrank you in local site listings. A frequently updated profile along with a few other elements can have a significant impact on your ranking.
USING COMMUNITIES TO MASSIVELY EXPAND YOUR REACH
A little known feature of Google My Business is the ability to form communities and gather followers. You can search for other businesses in your area from your profile and add them to your circles. Adding another business to your circle is similar to following them on a social media platform. Hopefully, some of these businesses will follow you back and your posts will appear on their Timelines and this will expand your reach.
Google Local Business also has countless communities that you can join. Some of these communities are very large and have millions of members. You can search for communities relevant to your business and join them. Some communities are unmoderated and you can join automatically.
Others are moderated by the owner, but they are usually quick to approve any membership requests. Once you are a member, you can post to these communities and reach millions of people who may be interested in what you are offering.
A word of caution: A community is not the place to post direct sales pitches. Instead, post content that people will find interesting or useful and possibly share with others. You can use images to grab attention and use humor to encourage sharing. There are other benefits of this type of networking. You can use these relationships to expand your promotions to their sites and get opportunities to guest post or generate backlinks. You can also establish yourself as an expert in your particular field.
COLLECTING REVIEWS AND RATINGS TO RANK HIGHER
Reviews and ratings are very important for local businesses. While people don’t blindly believe in online ratings, they prefer not to deal with businesses having a very low rating. Bad reviews and ratings can thus work against you. However, a good review besides helping you get customers will also improve your ranking in the Local listings on Google.
Anyone with a Google account can leave a review. Encourage customers, clients, and even friends and family to leave positive reviews on Google. The best way to build reviews is to encourage customers to write a review after every transaction that has resulted in a good customer experience. You can do this when you communicate with customers, on the thank you page after a contact form is submitted, with sales confirmation emails, or in your newsletters.
ENSURE THAT YOUR WEBSITE IS MOBILE FRIENDLY
Being mobile friendly is extremely important for local businesses. Although your local listing rank may not be affected if your website is not mobile friendly, it will adversely affect your rank on Google's mobile search engine. People often look for information on the move before deciding to call or visit your outlet.
Without a mobile friendly site, you will be doing a disservice to these users. If your site doesn’t work properly or is slow on mobile devices, potential customers will leave and you will lose business to competitors. To understand the superior usability of a mobile friendly site, try visiting www.aprilaire213.com from your desktop, tablet, and smartphone. Notice how the site changes to accommodate the device that is being used to access the site. This results in an optimized, easier, and more pleasant experience for your potential customer.
Although Local Business listings and communities are not as large as some of the popular social networks, they are significant because they give you the opportunity to attain the top spot in Google search results without much difficulty. Due to the smaller competition, it is far easier to rank on Local Business listings than ranking in organic search results. If you run a business targeted at your local community, it’s imperative that you complete your local business listing and profile on Google before you get left behind by your competitors.