But recently I’ve been asked a lot by local business owners about how to improve their Google My Business rankings in 2019. Once you have optimized your Google My Business listing, it comes down to five things which I am about to explain.
#1 – Business Listings
Getting ranked high within Google My Business comes down to Google verifying that your business is real. It does this by determining how often your business name, address and phone number (NAP) is cited or listed on the internet. It’s the exact same as how backlinks act for search engine optimization. The more you have, usually the better your search rankings will be.
The easiest way to get cited or listed is to submit your business to local and national business directories. Our Google My Business package includes listing your business in the top 50 directories you are not listed in.
#2 – Consistent NAP
The way your business NAP (name, address and phone number) is listed in these directories, on your websites contact page and within the Google My Business listing must be consistent and up to date. Here’s how to ensure your business NAP is consistent across the web. Google website crawlers will get confused should you have a different NAP listed on various business directories.
To make sure your NAP is consistent, do a search for your business. Click to see what every listing of it looks like. If the information is incorrect on a website, contact them and have it changed. This is something a few of our clients have had to do as they’ve changed addresses or phone numbers. Using the best local SEO software out there, we can track our clients business listings to see their NAP.
Here’s a look at one of our clients with a very solid NAP score.
Here is a potential lead that has a very poor NAP score.
#3 – NAP On Website
You will also need to list your business name address and phone number on your website. I’ve read other SEO companies say it’s good to have it in the footer or header of your website so it shows on every page. If you can do this, then go head as it’s good for the user experience. I’ve found that it’s fine to have the name, address and phone number listed on the contact page. Bonus points if you do so using the Schema markup.
Here’s an example of our NAP on the contact page.
Got all this so far? Great! There is one more thing that should be on your contact page.
#4 – Embedded Google Map
If you go to our contact page, you’ll see an embedded Google map. It’s good practice to have your businesses Google My Business listing embedded on your contact page. This way Google can be certain you are located at the address you have listed by confirming that with your Places listing.
Embedding is easy. Simply search your business name while in Google Maps. Once you have found it click on three lines beside your business name in the search bar on the top left. Then you can click on “Share or Embed Map”.
Once that is selected, click the embed map option at the top of the pop up box. Then copy the iframe code and paste it into your contact page.
The last and most important factor to improving the ranking of your Google My Business listing is coming up next.
Think about it. If Google sees a page with 20 or more reviews, won’t it want to show that page in the mapped listings over a page that doesn’t have any reviews?
This falls in line with Google’s approach to search. Providing the searcher with the most relevant search result and business.
Reviews must have overall positive sentiments. They are important local SEO ranking factors to influence your local rankings. Additionally, the below infographic shows some important factors to consider:
Once you have changed what is above and still notice your rankings are low, then you might need to have your business cited more. You can do this two ways.
Find out where those competitors who rank higher than you are cited. Do a search for their business and if they come up in a directory, find out if your business is listed there. If it’s not, add it.
Much like SEO, Google uses business citations as a means to provide their searchers with the most relevant businesses within the Google Places rankings. Follow the instructions I have laid out in this post and watch your rankings improve. If you need help with your rankings, visit our Google My Business packages page for different packages and services aimed at improving your rankings.
As business owners, we are all at least somewhat familiar with Google My Business (GMB) and what it has to offer. Some of us are only beginning to build our GMB profiles, while others have been using GMB actively for years. But what if I told you there is a new paid feature that will allow eligible businesses to upgrade their GMB listing even further? Let’s take a look at the details of the new Google Guaranteed feature below.
What is the upgraded profile and the Google Guaranteed Badge?
This feature was initially rolled out in the US, but has recently come to Canada for testing and further rollout. Eligible businesses will first need to pass a screening process (similar to what Google currently has in place for Local Services Ads) in order to get the Google Guaranteed Badge to appear on their profile. According to Google, the badge will help your business stand out to potential customers as a legitimate, professional, and trusted local business.
Basically, the Google Guaranteed badge lets customers know that your business has been vetted and approved by Google – more details about their screening process are below. Having this badge on your GMB profile helps to build your reputation and gives your clients some peace of mind knowing that they are dealing with a vetted business.
The key factor about the Google Guaranteed badge is that it protects your customers from poor and unsatisfactory service. For customers who hire a service via an ad with the Google Guaranteed Badge, they are eligible to claim up to a maximum of $2,000 as a reimbursement from Google for a bad experience. This is a lifetime maximum per customer, and it is paid out directly by Google.
Google Guaranteed GMB listings won’t be replacing their Local Services Ads feature any time soon, but it acts as a transition or supplement into the Local Services Ads program. It looks like Google is looking to increase their advertiser base and get businesses on board who aren’t currently using Google Ads or Local Services Ads.
How much does it cost and what is included?
Upgrading your GMB profile and receiving the Google Guaranteed Badge will cost you $50 USD per month, which comes out to $600 USD annually. It runs on a subscription based program, so if you decide to cancel, your Google Guaranteed Badge will be removed.
The subscription covers add-ons such as recorded phone calls and dedicated support. Enabling this upgrade will create a Local Services Ads account, so the interface will be very similar once you make the change to your GMB profile. The badge itself appears as a green checkmark with ‘GOOGLE GUARANTEED’ written under the name of your business.
When looking at the price, add-ons are definitely important – but what is more important is your perceived value of having the Google Guaranteed Badge on your GMB profile. How much of an edge will your business have if your business is one of the first to be listed as guaranteed? How will this affect your potential customers’ likelihood to choose your business over one of your competitors?
Which businesses can currently access this feature?
Since this service only became available in Canada in summer 2020, it is still fairly new and limited to a small number of business categories. So far, this new feature is only available to “eligible businesses” in certain sectors. The first business categories eligible for this upgrade include HVAC, plumbers, electricians, roofing, pest control, cleaning services, tree and landscaping services, and water damage restoration. It looks like the service will continue to grow and include more business categories in the near future, although that exact timeline is unclear.
How to apply for a Google Guaranteed GMB listing:
If you own an eligible business, you should be able to upgrade to the Google Guaranteed feature within your GMB dashboard. If you don’t see anything there, it is likely not yet available for your business.
Once you do apply, Google will begin the screening process for your business. This process appears to be the same as the one used for Local Services Ads. For most businesses, Google will perform license, insurance, and background checks to validate the legitimacy of your business. Here is a little more information about the screening process.
You may be thinking that businesses who have already completed the screening process for Local Services Ads would be logically some of the first to have access to the Google Guaranteed Badge. But it actually looks like that this feature is intended for businesses who aren’t already using the Local Services Ads feature. These two features definitely go hand in hand, so it may make sense for a lot of business to try out both.
Have you been able to upgrade your GMB listing to include the Google Guaranteed Badge? Want to talk more about how to use the GMB features available to you? Contact us today.
The “Request A Quote” button is enabled if you have GMB messaging setup. I recalled setting up messaging in the GMB app sometime ago but totally forgot about it. Good thing I was reminded so I can write this post and notify all of you about Google My Business messaging!
With that said, here is how the process works and how you can setup GMB messaging.
The GMB Messaging Process
Being rather intrigued I went ahead and sent a request to see how I would get notified. A few years Google started allowing people to post and questions on your GMB page. Great idea but when it first rolled out, you weren’t notified. You had to monitor this instead of being sent an email tied to the GMB page. Stupid right? Well they’ve rectified this thankfully.
Part of me was concerned I wouldn’t get this quote request. That was all put to rest when I get a SMS message with the details. The number wasn’t local so I responded to the text and asked for more information.
Here’s how the process works.
After sending a text back to myself, I was notified in my Google maps app with the conversation.
To me this works fine since I have the Google maps app. But I have no idea how I would have gotten notified of a response if I didn’t have the app my phone. You’d think a Gmail notification would have been sent but there wasn’t.
Overall, there are a lot of issues with this. The first one being what if the business phone number on your GMB page isn’t a cell phone? I guess you would get a phone call with text transcribed. But how would you respond to the SMS to start the process of contacting the person back.
After this step is completed you’ll want to setup an auto respond message. You can do this by clicking on the three dots on the right of this screen and selecting “Messaging settings” on the bottom of the screen.
The next step is to select “Edit your welcome message” and then enter your message of up to 120 characters.
From there you will need to turn on notifications from the GMB app so you can be notified when someone messages you. How likely is someone to send you a message? I think the odds might be pretty low as I believe new websites still have tons on value. If you have a website you are proud of and conveys your brand messaging, then you want people to visit it and learn more about your business and what sets you apart.
I also still believe people want to see your website too. They want to know why they should choose you, what kind of reviews you have and how they can trust you before reaching out.
There is the odd chance someone visits your website then a day or two later Googles your name and messages you direct from your GMB page. But I doubt anyone will Google your business without visiting your website and bit the “Request A Quote” button without visiting your website to learn more. After all, that would be like going back to the YellowPages phone book days where people started at the letter “A” and call around for quotes.
Regardless of what I think, you should set this up and see what happens.
Running an SEO audit is a standard procedure for any website, and it’s a great way to get better insight on your website as a whole, the individual pages, and your overall traffic. But you can only get these insights and performance enhancements if your audit is done properly. While there are many articles out there on how to perform the “best” local SEO audit, trying to include all of the suggestions leads to disorganized and hard-to-interpret audit results. These kind of results aren’t what you need to improve your website ranking and performance.
Your best option when running a local SEO audit is to keep is simple. Stick to the basics first, and get fancy later. It’s the basics that will give you meaningful action items and actual tangible ways to improve your website. Below I’ve listed out the 10 sections that I suggest always including in a local SEO audit (give or take a few, depending on the business):
This should be about a half page of any commentary that is not an action item. Write any comments that you have, and include a section of “quick wins” (eg. a list of 5 small changes that can be made to have a relatively large impact).
List out the top 5-10 review sites that will matter to the business (this may vary depending on location, business size, business focus, etc.). Be sure to also include suggestions on where and how to get more reviews in a prioritized order.
Google My Business
In this section, give any and all recommendations on the business’ Google My Business page(s). You should include things such as suggestions for features that you think should be used, and identify duplicate Google My Business pages. Our article on how to rank a Google My Business page is a good start as well.
This is where you should include any comments on the citation audit (this audit will most likely be separate from the main write-up). Getting business listings/citations is important for ranking in the Google My Business results. You’ll want to make sure the business information is correct in all citations.
It’s a good idea to do some research into specific link opportunities that you can include in your audit. These opportunities will be different for each business, so try to keep them realistic in your audit!
This is where you should write any suggestions on technical aspects of the website such as internal linking, title tags, overall structure, page speed, and other aspects. This section goes hand in hand with the next three sections below.
The homepage is where a lot of things happen, so that’s why it should get its own section of the audit. There are usually plenty of ways to tweak a homepage, and all of those suggestions should be included here.
All Other Pages
If you have recommendations on any other existing pages besides the homepage, write them in this section. These could be pages such as “Services”, “About”, or “Contact Us”. Also take a look at items such as whether or not the website has blog posts that may work better as pages.
There are always more pages that can be added! This section is where you should recommend any specific ideas you have for new pages.
Including these sections in your local SEO audit will give you a solid audit with actionable items to make your website better. While there are plenty of other sections to add, I always recommend sticking with the basics in order to see results.
I’m happy to help you run your local SEO audit and get your website the views it deserves. Learn more about my local SEO consulting fees.
As more and more of your potential customers view your business on Google, fewer and fewer of them actually click on your website. How can this be?
A Moz study from 2017 shows that 34% of Google searches result in absolutely no clicks, and this means that customers are viewing your business info directly on Google rather than on your website or social media page. This is why it’s important to improve your branded search results.
When they can do all of this, many of them will not visit your website. So what does this mean for you?
This means that Google needs to become your new home page, and this includes extending your brand to your search results. When your potential customers Google your business, what do they see? Does this result reflect your company’s brand in every way that it could?
Your branded search result is the page where Google sums up everything it knows about your business, and this is where your potential customers will get their information. Since word of mouth is such a huge driver for business, Google takes part in this by providing customer reviews attached to your branded search results alongside your company info. Let’s talk about how to improve this branded search result and leverage all of the elements that Google offers.
Leverage Google Brand Search Results
You may be wondering how much control you actually have. After all, Google owns the search result and not you. In reality, you have much more control than you think, and with a little bit of planning in addition to your already successful business, you can create a great narrative about your business right on Google’s page.
Start with consistency. No matter what variation of search your potential customer types or where they look on the screen, your brand should be clearly and consistently visible. If your branded search result appears different depending on which variation of your business name is searched or where it appears (in the knowledge panel, the local content, ads, etc.), this looks unprofessional and untidy. Google deep down needs consistent information about your business. That means your business name, address and phone number better be consistent to your website and all over the web.
Below are the desktop components that you have the ability to control and make consistent:
Your Website Organic Results
Knowledge Panel Images
Sites that also show in the Reviews from the Web
Organic Review sites
The Wild Card – Future Knowledge Panel Features
While I am focusing on desktop searches here, it is important to focus the same attention on mobile as well. Failing to do so will cause you to miss out on many potential customers who search your business using their cell phone!
I realized it’s actually helpful so that COMPETITORS don’t poach current or potential clients when someone searches for your brand. Also, Google gives you a low cost per click for branded keywords. We’ve implemented for a few clients recently and the average costs run from $.50 – $1.50 per click.
It’s well worth it to have a branded adgroup. This alone won’t fully protect your brand from competitors, but it is a great start to build a consistent branded search result.
Your Website Organic Results
This is one of the areas of the page where you get to control both the social proof and the messaging. You will see these results high on the page (possibly first if there are no ads) and it is definitely the first thing your potential customers will see about your brand. Alongside well thought out titles and meta-tags, you will want your customer’s social proof to show on your most critical product and service pages. Google has full control over the pages they show below your homepage but they will decide what’s important for the searcher.
It should also be noted that Google will almost always recreate your homepage title to your brand name for branded searches. The above example is what Google recreates the homepage title to and the below screenshot is what Google shows for a keyword search of “pediatric dentist Langley”.
I mention this so you don’t get bogged down with deciding about putting your brand name at the end of your homepage title when it’s optimized for keywords.
Knowledge Panel Images
After viewing your branded search result, the viewer will most likely move to the Google My Business section to learn more about your business. Your Google My Business profile image is key as it gives a first impression of your business. Try using a good quality, closely cropped image that is compelling and appealing. Local customers do not want to see your logo, they want to see you and your products! Besides your profile picture, every other picture should be equally compelling. You never know if a customer will go through your entire gallery, or Google may choose a different photo to highlight.
Just under your photos you will find your Google review summary. When it comes to Google reviews, don’t give up! Keeping a sustained effort that gains 1-2 reviews a month can build a strong online foundation for your business, and it can bring you a step above competitors.
Never underestimate the power of a Google review, and especially the snippets that the Google algorithm picks out to reflect your business. And don’t sweat the negative reviews, they will eventually be pushed to the bottom of the page if you keep up your efforts.
Did you know that posting your business hours could increases your requests for driving directions by 13% and the clicks to your website by 42%? Add as much as your business information as you can, this includes adding a link to your service pages or your menu. Google recently also added the ability for professionals to upload an appointment link (one more place for your client to click through to your website).
There are three things that will help you make use of the new Google post feature: a great photo, a a short but compelling introduction to your business, and a call to action. While Google allows posts to be 300 characters long, only the first 100 characters will show in the knowledge panel so you need to make them count. Since this is still a relatively new feature users are still getting used to it, but hopefully the feedback is positive as it provides another way to showcase your business on Google.
Sites that also show in the Reviews from the Web
If you haven’t enabled Google Posts, “Reviews from the web” will show up right below your address info. This section has the space for up to three review sites, and it is very important that you get three review sites to show up there. Right away, add your own site and Facebook to your plan as Google will show both of these sites. You can include your own website by creating a consumer facing feedback program and posting the content in rich snippets right on your website. Don’t bother trying to get Yelp or TripAdvisor to show up here, Google will not add either site to this section. Some sites you could try are YellowPages and Facebook. You should view your review strategy over a 3-4 year timeline, so there is no rush to get reviews right away. Choose a few review sites to work on and go from there.
Organic Review sites
Once the user is done with the knowledge panel, their eyes will wander back to the organic search results for your business. This means that if well known sites such as Yelp or BBB show up, they will attract the user’s attention. With the exception of Yelp, BBB, and Tripadvisor, these sites also inform the “Reviews from the web” section in your knowledge panel, so if they did not see the info there, hopefully this is their chance to view it.
The Wild Card – Future Knowledge Panel Features
It’s always a good idea to keep an eye out for the next features that Google will be releasing on the knowledge panel because this helps you stay on top of your branded search results. Google is constantly changing and because of this you should continuously check your search results to see how the changes affect them. New features are being added and changed so fast that this article will probably be slightly outdated by the time I finish it – but it’s a good place to start if the concept of branded search results is new for you.
That was a lot of info, but it is all key to improving your branded search results and getting more potential customers looking at your business. Try some of these tricks out for yourself and see the results.