How important is Google My Business for local SEO?
Even broad queries with large volumes are now showing local results and this is something small business owners can capitalise upon.
We’ve been asking SEO experts for their advice on setting up and optimising GMB listings..
These experts are:
GMB is incredibly important, but it’s going to lose prominence now that they’re removing all location information from the GMB listings.
There’ll now simply be a social interface (on a social network that no one is using). But – the GMB dashboard still feeds the info to Maps and the Knowledge Box for a business, so it’s still of vital importance to claim your location and fill out your info.
If you are searching on a mobile device you will see that organic results are now shown below the fold (you have to scroll down to see them) and there are now only the top three Google local results being shown – so due to the on-page real estate Google local can take up, there’s huge traffic opportunities for being listed for competitive searches.
GMB is incredibly important for local SEO. Without it you won’t be appearing on any local map listings in the SERPs which Google displays for the vast majority of local queries.
Critical. It’s the centerpiece and fundamental to any local campaign! You simply don’t exist if you don’t create a Google my business page for your local business.
It’s absolutely important that the number listed is a local number, and that it matches the number displayed on the landing page it links to.
It’s super important to use the actual business name and choose the correct categories as well. Beyond that, my suspicion is that nothing else will matter after the change.
I wrote a guide on this last year which should be a good starting point, but to pick out some of the key points – I would strongly suggest:
When it comes to choosing your categories be specific. You have a much better chance to rank for “Fresh grocery store” or “Organic butchers” than for generic terms like “Shop” or “Groceries”.
You should also add photos of the business, or its customers and the people who work there. As well as opening hours and any other useful information such as parking locations.
It starts with getting NAP (name, address, phone) right and then creating citations (listings) on every other site like Yelp, Bing, Yahoo etc. Category is also important so the consumer can find you. Most recently Google announced their ranking methods at a surface level.
Adding more information about your business always helps with click through rate. My advice has always been to get the website right and then copy all the information into GMB like description, hours, menu, photos etc.
Having the same NAP information on your website is absolutely critical, especially marked up with schema.org so your website speaks the same language as Googlebot.
Advanced tactics? Stick to the basics… have awesome content, a kickass link profile, and consistent citations…
To really improve your local rankings you will want to build citations for your local listings, these can be on local business listing website (LBLs), other websites or even your own website i.e. in a store finder section.
Another big ranking factor is to encourage customers to leave positive reviews on your GMB listing. Your star rating is also displayed on the map to searches so a high rating can also improve your click through rate from the SERPs.
When this feature was first introduced it was very easily scammed; adding a large number of positive or negative reviews would have a huge impact on your ranking, and you could see small business on the outskirts of London ranking for terms for “Hairdresser London”. Fortunately this has now been fixed.
To further improve your local visibility you will want to build pages about the services you offer in certain locations and theme those pages appropriately generally along the lines of [service] in [location].
If you notice some of these pages are having a hard time getting good rankings you’ll need to start building links into them. Often links from other local sites can have a bigger impact on the ranking than more generic or high authority sites, as Google will weight their locality higher than most other factors (when it comes to local rankings).
First, Prominence – reviews and exposure. Google wants to translate offline popularity online. Getting positive reviews is critical these days so it’s a must that business owners work with their best clients to get positive reviews that mention their products and service.
Second, Duplicates – since there is no master record, publishers are constantly compiling and recompiling data which creates duplicates. Many of these duplicates have the wrong Name, Address or Phone. This can really harm your ranking! Suppressing these duplicates is a MUST because Googlebot is a machine and it can’t infer which listing is right.
Finally, I call this approach the CAN principle.