Just how important is local SEO? With local searches now leading 50% of mobile visitors to a store within a day, and 88% of consumers now trusting online reviews as much as personal recommendations*, an effective Local SEO strategy is essential for any business.
One of the most important, but often overlooked parts of a company’s local SEO strategy is a properly optimised Google My Business listing. These free listings allow your business to appear in local search results for queries related to your services and products, and are a cornerstone of a successful local SEO strategy.
Why Google My Business is so important for local SEO
Without a Google My Business (GMB) listing, a business won’t appear on Google’s local map listings that are displayed for the majority of product or service specific local searches.
While Google is removing location information from GMB listings, recent updates have continued to increase the visibility of GMB listings on mobile devices. This has effectively pushed all other organic mobile search results below the page fold, and out of sight for many prospective customers.
How to optimise your Google My Business listing
If you can’t find your business in Google’s local listings, it may be time to take some simple steps to ensure your GMB listing is correctly set-up. Here are a few local listing tips from Google and local SEO experts:
– Claim your business listing – You’d be surprised how many people don’t!
– Use your actual business name. Google may suspend GMB listings with extra keywords inserted into the business name field.
– Make sure to list your local phone number and ensure that it matches the number on the page it’s linked to.
– Ensure that your business details are up-to-date. This includes your current address, and things like opening hours and accepted methods of payment.
– Get your business’s name, address and phone information marked up with Schema to ensure it’s correctly read by Google’s bots. This will make sure that the knowledge panel often seen alongside your business in the search results will display the correct information about your business.
– Verify your business. While it can seem a hassle, verifying your business gives your GMB listing the highest chance of appearing on all Google platforms like Maps and Search.
– Write a detailed description of your business. Include as much relevant information as possible, such as menus, products and the services your business offers.
– Engage with your customers and encourage them to write business reviews and make social check-ins. Business reviews are essential because not only are they trusted by consumers, they’re also an important local SEO ranking factor.
– Be specific with the categories you choose to list your business under. It’s much easier to rank for “outdoor clothing store” or “vegetarian restaurant”, than for generic terms like “Shop” or “Clothing”.
– Post eye-catching hi-res pictures of your business that show customers a selection of your goods and services.
How to avoid having your Google My Business suspended
Google’s My Business Listings are an important part of any business’s local SEO strategy, so to avoid having a red “suspended banner” appear at the top of your page stick to the following guidelines:
– As mentioned earlier, avoid inserting extra keywords into the business name field. While it may seem tempting to insert some SEO specific terms, it can result in your profile being suspended.
– Avoid putting a forwarding URL into the website field. This may result in Google un-verifying your listing.
– If your company doesn’t have a physical address, or you’ve used a virtual mailbox or business premise, they are ineligible to be included in Google’s local results and maps.
– Make sure that multiple verified listings don’t exist for your business. This may result in Google suspending all the duplicate listings (un-verifying the real listing and completely removing the duplicates).
Simply by ensuring that your company is correctly listed in Google My Business, engaging with your customers and avoiding a few potential pitfalls, you can start immediately improving your business’s local SEO performance.
Alex is an experienced SEO & Analytics Specialist with a background in English literature, marketing and digital media. As part of Search Republic’s search engine optimisation and analytics team, he specialises in high-value content creation, link building, and on-page and off-page optimisation.