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SEO can feel like a nebulous term and strategy for businesses looking to expand their online presence. And yet, it’s one of the most important tools a business can invest in for local marketing. Think of it this way: if you sell lawn mower maintenance in Cleveland and there are three other competitors nearby who sell the same service, what is an advantage you could have over the competition? Consumers like to take the path of least resistance. If they Google, “lawn mower fixer Cleveland,” it’s advantageous for your company if you’re the first search result to come up.
Google My Business
One of the best ways to boost your local SEO is to claim, verify, and optimize your ‘Google My Business’ listing. In recent months, GMB has added a host of new features that makes it a must-have tool in a business’s online SEO toolbox. Think of GMB like this: if you have a new gelato shop, consumers likely won’t know about it until it’s in their Google Maps, a local finder, and Google’s Local Pack. By claiming your shop online, you help to optimize your SEO locally. This can help even if you want to optimize your SEO on a global level, because it’s been reported that 46 percent of searches are intended locally. That means that even if you sell something that can be offered virtually, from anywhere, approximately 46 percent of searches are still intending to find that service offered nearby.
This can also be done if you don’t own a brick and mortar store. Create a “headquarters” for your online business’s office so you can take advantage of the local SEO boost. Google shared that there’s been a 500 percent increase in the number of “near me” searches that contain “can I buy” and “to buy” keywords in the past couple of years. That could include a gelato shop, or a service you offer (like UI/UX design) beyond your current city that still may stand out to someone who wants to shop local .
GMB listings also help you stay in control of the information about your business online. Otherwise, customers may look to sites such as Yelp or other review or rate sites, where there can be false information, outdated menus or links, and sometimes, bad reviews!
Google My Business Key Features
Once your GMB listing is live, Google users can review your business and suggest edits (updates will sometimes be sent to you or your administrator, but not always, which is why checking your listing frequently is critical to make sure no detrimental or inaccurate changes have been made).
There’s also a functionality for you to ‘post’ on Google My Business that will also show up in the knowledge panel when people search for your business. Think of this as a place to post updates about your business (such as an upcoming event, new hours of operation, a sitewide sale, or a new product launch) with a call to action. To draw more visual attention, consider adding photos to these posts (depending on the size of the images and what Google allows). The “knowledge panel” refers to the square with information about your business that appears when a user searches for your business name in Google. This is where they can maneuver to press ‘call,’ find your website, look at your reviews, find your address, and more. Posts underneath add more dimension to this information, and according to research from Google, creates more trust with a consumer.
Google My Business SEO Reports
Another feature of GMB that many business owners enjoy is the monthly reports that are generated. It will provide the total number of searches on Google for your business, broken down by direct search (someone typed your exact business name), discovery (when they found your business by searching for a category or type of product), or branded (they searched for a brand connected to or similar to yours).
These categories alone point to the tremendous exposure boost that GMB offers. This means that if someone is more generally looking for what you offer without knowing that your business exists, they can find you because of GMB. Or, they could be searching for your competition or a brand similar to yours and find you. This can also be achieved through SEO keyword optimization indexed on your website, but is another great advantage that can lead to more eyeballs and therefore, more leads.
GMB also offers the following insights on its monthly reports:
Maps views (how many times your business showed up in Google Maps)
Search views (how many times you appeared in Google search)
Phone call actions (how many times someone pressed ‘call’ from Google)
Local post views
Driving directions (how many times someone generated driving directions from their current location to your business)
Post searches by days of the week (which can help you determine which social media posts performed best if you post different types of content by day of the week)
Total actions (all of these actions combined and more)
Many online businesses find this information quite valuable for comparing their performance month to month depending on new SEO strategies they’ve implemented or to measure progress made if they outsource an online marketing team or service to do it for them. These key insights and analytics can provide clarity on changes that need to be made on ads or marketing campaigns moving forward.
To get started, simply go to “Google My Business” then sign up, verify your business, and answer questions from there. It’s the easiest way to boost your local SEO and provide accurate information to customers. For more help with online marketing, SEO, and harnessing Google My Business, visit my business’s website, Elite Results Marketing.