Going Local: Google My Business

by | Jul 29, 2013 | SEO

Reviews on Google are becoming a bigger factor in search engine optimization each year. As it should, it shows you can be trusted and how amazing your company is at making your clients happy!

A recent survey found that 68% of consumers say review sentiment influences the trust they feel in a business.

It is estimated that reviews (quantity, velocity, diversity, etc.) contribute 15.44% of the search engine results.

Back in the OG days of web search, it used to be that only on-page factors contributed to where you were ranking. Then Google came along and introduced site links with individual page rank acting as the deciding factor for rankings. Like everything, it has since evolved to include hundreds of other factors such as localization of content, link relevance and social metrics, to name a few of the trendiest as of late.

It is hard to deny the fact that local search will continue to play a bigger and bigger part of how people look for businesses like yours online. Google My Business is an excellent tool for local search engine optimization; in fact, we believe every business needs a presence on this platform!

Not quite sure what Google My Business is all about? Here’s an example of the type of listings that are displayed for a local search results thanks to this service:

Example of a local search engine listing.

As you can see above, the search engine results page (aka SERPs) for the local search term “Toronto Dentists” is populated with Google My Business related listings. Google My Business listings are often replacing traditional results for searches where the user intent is to find a local service provider.

If you don’t have a Google My Business account for your business, good news, they’re very easy to setup. All you have to do is go here then check your mail in a few weeks for a verification code.

If you have multiple locations, you will need a separate Google My Business listing for each.

So What’s The Point?

All of this innovation requires business owners to adapt. Traditional organic results are being displayed less and less on Google’s search results. For many local searches, ads and Google My Business results of local businesses get placed above the traditional organic results for things like blog posts, events, and even your home page. On mobile, this is a more significant issue as the user has to scroll past Google My Business results first.

Studies show that Google is displaying only 13% of what used to be traditionally organic content.

It appears that Google is trying to display more Google-owned content rather than content you own and have complete control over on your servers.

If you are a local service provider and want to rank in the Google search results, then you need to be set up in Google My Business. Take a second and do a quick test search of your own for a term like “Dentists in Toronto,” as we demonstrated earlier in this post.

Fundamentals to Ranking: Consistent Citations

Be consistent with the formatting of your contact information! Check out how Google creates business listings here. Consistency means that your phone number should display the same on your website as your Google My Business page. Google has been forcing the format on Google My Business to +1 416-365-7500, so we recommend you use that format on your website.

Google employs incredibly complex and sophisticated web crawlers that look for all mentions of your site across the web. Whenever you enter your contact information such as a(n): press release, forum, listing, or directory, be consistent with the formatting. That holds for Street versus St. or Avenue versus Ave or Inc. versus Incorporated. You should set up accounts on the leading directories as often they are used to syndicate information to other outlets. The big ones are Yellow Pages, Yelp, BBB, your local BIA and any industry-specific directories that apply to your business.

Get Recommended To Join The Pack

Getting recommendations on your Google My Business page is the best way to guarantee your spot in the local pack. You should aim for five recommendations, as it is the bare minimum to show any impact. Of course, if your local competitors have more than five results, you should try to get more than them as a minimum! Be careful, though; not all recommendations are made equal. The best reviews you can get come from customers who are already active on the web, leaving their reviews and feedback for other businesses in which they interact. Please have your clients mention your keywords in the review (you can phrase it to them as the service they used of your business).

Once you get enough Google recommendations to outpace your competitors, you should start spreading your recommendations across the Internet. Remember the worldwide citations? Getting recommendations on Yelp can bolster down authority for your Google My Business page.

Evan White

Evan White

Director, Digital Marketing

Evan is a tech geek that has helped public companies, Fortune 500 enterprises, and SMB clients implement technical solutions to their marketing challenges.

He has a wide range of knowledge of website design and development, search engine optimization, and digital marketing. You'll often find him obsessing about the SEO of a page or the speed of a website. Read more of his blog posts here.

His bookmarks include links to tech blogs, The Economist and Formula 1 news. When not geeking out, you'll find Evan travelling or playing beach volleyball.