According to data from Google, 76 percent of people who search for something in their area with a smartphone visit a business within 24 hours.
To take advantage of those searches, your website needs to rank at or near the top of the local results in Google. For local SEO, Google My Business is one of the most important components.
What is Google My Business?
Google My Business (GMB) is your company’s profile with Google. It contains various pieces of information about your business including its address, phone number, and hours of operation.
Your GMB profile also includes customer reviews and any responses you make to those comments. Google uses this information as a source for the details it shows in the local search results.
Why GMB is Important for Local SEO
Local SEO works a bit differently from organic SEO for the general search results in Google. You need to optimize your website in such a way that Google can see that it provides helpful information to people in a particular location.
By filling out all the details in your Google My Business account, you’re telling Google what it needs to know. Google doesn’t have to find that information by crawling the web because you enter specific pieces of information that are relevant to web searchers.
How to Get Your Website Ranked in the Google 3-Pack
Google can usually tell from the keywords someone searches for whether they’re looking for general information or a local business. For example, someone searching for “best pizza” could be looking for a recipe or what toppings are most popular. Someone searching for “best pizza near me” likely wants to order pizza from a local shop.
When Google displays local results for these types of searches, it highlights the top 3, showing more details than it does for the rest of the top results. These are known as the Google 3-Pack and are prime real estate in the local results.
The goal of local SEO is to get your site ranked in the top 3 for your most valuable keywords. Even without all the extra details, the top 3 positions in the SERPs (search engine results page) get the majority of clicks. With all the extra detail Google shows in the 3-Pack, the difference is even more pronounced.
Critical Ranking Factors for Local SEO
There are three important factors in getting ranked at the top of the local results in Google:
Relevance is about how good a fit your business is for what the searcher is looking for.
Your website should include keywords related to the products or services you offer and valuable content about your market. The easier it is for Google to figure out what your business does, the better it can match you to the right searches.
Prominence is about the activity in your Google My Business profile and on your website. This includes reviews, events, content, and other things that show your profile and website are active.
It also includes backlinks pointing to your website from other sites. The more sites that link to your website, the more valuable your site must be from Google’s perspective.
Proximity is the fundamental ranking factor for local SEO. Google only shows results that are close to the searcher when it determines a search is local.
For example, if someone searches for “dentist near me” in Seattle, Google isn’t going to show results for Portland. Most local searches happen on smartphones, which have location services built in, so it’s easy for Google to see where that person is searching from.
How to Optimize Your Google My Business Profile
There are several things you can add to your Google My Business profile to optimize it for local results. The first step is to claim your listing. You need to claim it and confirm yourself as the owner of the business before you can fill out all the other details.
Once you’ve claimed your listing, go through the following steps to optimize it:
- Choose the most relevant business category
- Fill out your profile’s name, address, and phone number (known as your NAP)
- Check your operating hours
- Post high-quality, eye-catching photos of your business
- Use structured data from Schema.org on your website and GMB listing
- Keep your listing up to date with any changes
Make sure your NAP is consistent on any other directories or pages it’s listed on. If there are any inconsistencies, it throws doubt on which is correct and can hurt your local search ranking.
Useful Tools Included in Google My Business
Google My Business includes several useful tools for managing your company’s online presence. The fundamental information about your business is one — having your location, operating hours, and other information easily available to customers is important.
GMB also lets you add photos to your listing. High-quality photos have been shown to increase click-through rates in the search results and drive more people to use Google Maps to get directions.
Customer reviews are another valuable tool in GMB. Positive reviews are important because they provide “social proof” for other searchers. When they see positive reviews about your business, it reassures them that you’re a good choice.
But you can also make negative reviews work in your favor. If you respond to the review with a sincere reply, people will see that you’re listening to feedback. If a review is inappropriate, you can report it for removal through Google My Business as well.
For Local SEO, Google My Business is Critical
If you’re putting together a strategy for local SEO, Google My Business needs to be one component of it. VujaDay Creative Digital Agency can help you get it set up properly as well as assist with all your SEO needs.