Tag Archives: Local SEO

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How To Optimize and Take Advantage of Your Google My Business Listing

Google My Business itself is not a public-facing, searchable directory (such as Yelp), BUT your listing on Google My Business is what many other public-facing, searchable directories pull from.

This includes Google Maps, which has become its own hybrid form of a review site/business directory/navigation service.

Your Google My Business listing can also impact your rankings in search results on both Google Maps and regular Google searches.

If that’s not enough to convince you, here are some compelling stats that highlight its importance.

Businesses with a Complete and Accurate GMB Listing:

  • Are 2.7x more likely to be considered reputable
  • Get 7x more clicks

Complete and Accurate GMB Listings:

  • Are 70% more likely to attract location visits
  • Are 50% more likely to lead to a purchase

Here’s how you can optimize and take full advantage of your GMB listing

BASIC LEVEL

1. Set up your Google Business listing

The first step is to set up (or claim) your Google My Business Listing. Go to Google My Business page and click “Start Now” in the upper left corner.

Did you know that anyone can list your business on Google? That’s a little scary, but fear not—you as the owner can claim your listing which grants you the access to edit and update your information, to post timely information, and to manage reviews. The claiming process requires a few steps, but it is a must.

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2. Complete your listing

Fill in every relevant field that Google offers. You want to make sure the profile is as complete as possible and that every piece of information is accurate.

The impact of inaccurate or inconsistent listings is not one you can afford. A complete Google My Business listing includes:

Business name: The legal / official name of your business.

Address: Full address of your business.

Phone number: A number with a local area code is recommended. That’s one extra signal to Google that you are actually local. Make sure the number you use for your Google My Business listing is also displayed on your website.

Category: Choose a relevant category. This will help Google decide which searches your local listing belongs in.

Website: Your website URL.

Hours of Operation: The hours your business is open. For days when you have unusual hours, like holidays or special events, you can set special hours.

Description: What you offer, what sets you apart, your history, or anything else that’s helpful for customers to know. Allowable limit is 750 characters. Keep in mind that only the first 250 characters show up in the Knowledge Panel, so prioritize your information. Finally, no links or HTML.

Photos: Showcase your products and services to people who are looking for what you offer. Consider hiring a Google approved photographer to create a 360-view virtual tour of your business for customers. According to Google, listings that have a virtual tour and photos generate twice as much interest as those without.

Depending on your industry, there may be additional fields such as menus for restaurants.

A complete listing makes it as easy as possible for potential customers to find and contact your business. In addition, the more complete your listing is, the more favor you will receive from Google when ranking you in results.

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3. Make sure your information matches everywhere else

One thing Google’s algorithm looks at to verify the legitimacy of a listing is a consistency in how it’s listed across different websites. While that seems simple enough – your address is the same each time you enter it somewhere – it’s easy for little differences to slip in. Maybe you wrote out the Road part of the street name one time, and shortened it to Rd another time, for instance.

Pick a standard way to write out your address, a consistent phone number to use, and make sure all your listings match both each other and the information you provide on your website. And work on getting your website listed in as many relevant directories as possible.

4. Avoid penalty-inducing offenses

Any work you do to optimize your website or local listing will be for naught if you incur a penalty. Google suspends business listings for a range of offenses. Getting suspended is stressful, confusing, and bad for business, so it’s best to avoid doing anything that puts you at risk of it.

Read through Google’s guidelines for Google My Business listings so you have a full understanding of what not to do. Some of the main things to avoid are:

  • Using a URL that redirects to your website’s URL, rather than the actual URL itself.
  • Trying to awkwardly add keywords into your business name field.
  • Having multiple local listings for the same business location.
  • Using any address for your business that isn’t a physical storefront or office space where you meet with customers.

Use common sense and don’t try to play the system or get extra listings and you’ll probably stay on the right side of Google.

5. Encourage reviews

You’ll notice that the local businesses listed in the map snippet of a local search usually have star ratings next to their name. Google wants to provide the most useful information to its users, and users want to find the nearby business that seems the best. In both cases, it benefits your business to have a high star rating.

reviews-gmb

Ask your happy customers to take a few minutes to give you a review on Google. Include an encouragement on promotional materials you hand out or put up in your store. A gentle nudge or a reminder of how much it means for your business can make your loyal customers that much more likely to take the time to say a few kind words about you.

Utilize our proprietary Dashboard Review Widget as well as our Survey Module to get positive reviews for your business listing on Google and Yelp.

6. Make sure your website and content is optimized for search

All the usual SEO advice that helps strengthen the authority of your website in the eyes of Google matters here too. So don’t focus on optimizing just your local listing. Optimize your website as well.

Make sure that you:

  • Incorporate relevant keywords into the meta tags and copy on each page, where you can do so naturally.
  • Add schema markup to your website.
  • Create content with a local focus i.e. locally relevant landing pages.
  • Look for local linking opportunities.

A strong website that’s optimized for both your customers and search engines will be that much more likely to make it into the list of the top three in a local Google search.

ADVANCED LEVEL

7. Post to Google My Business

Just like with other social media platforms, you can now post directly to Google My Business. Your posts show up on the “Posts” tab of your listing, but might also become visible on your Google Maps or Google Search result, depending on relevance.

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Through Google posts you can make announcements, create events, highlight products, and run promotions. The information in these posts is that which customers need in order to stay engaged with you, which is ultimately what leads them to choose you over competitors. In addition, each post type has a call to action button, making the experience from discovery to engagement seamless.

If you’re not already convinced the impact Google Posts can have on your audience, check out this quote from Google:

“Seventy percent of people look at multiple businesses before making a final choice. With Posts, you can share timely, relevant updates right on Google Search and Maps to help your business stand out to potential customers. And by including custom calls-to-actions directly on your business listing, you can choose how to connect with your customers.”

8. Utilize Questions & Answers

Questions & Answers is a great feature for Google local search. It’s very cool! Just like it sounds, Q&A allows people to ask questions about your business and you can answer those questions.


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The Google My Business Q&A feature is the perfect opportunity to hear directly from “the people” and you can respond to them. Win-win.

One thing you should do is be proactive and create a Frequently Asked Questions list to preempt people’s GMB Q&As. Check with your sales reps and your customer service staff to identify the questions people most often ask, then put those Q&A questions on your GMB listing.

TIP: Google has said that upvoting questions can make them more visible. If someone has a particularly important question, go ahead and upvote it.

9. Google My Maps Syndication with Driving Directions

Google My Maps Syndication is an advanced level strategy to gain local With Google My Maps Syndications, you can get:

  • Map mentions from top ranking GEO locations
  • Locally optimized Tier 2 links and embeds
  • Driving directions to your location from serviceable areas
  • Improved local search rankings

Here’s how an optimized Google My Map with driving directions (embedded on the website) looks like:


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10. Respond to Customer Reviews. Even Negative Ones

The reviews on your GMB page can be a deciding factor in whether or not a buyer engages with your brand. Just check out some of these statistics about Local Consumer Reviews:

  • 85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations
  • Positive reviews make 73% of consumers trust a local business more
  • 68% of consumers left a local business review when asked
  • 30% of consumers say they’ve judged a business based on its responses to reviewsWhen making a purchase decision, people look to others for their opinions. We all do it. And we do it often. We want to learn from the experiences of those who have purchased before us. Always respond to your reviews. Positive reviews give a good impression of your business and should be easy to respond to.

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But what do you do about the inevitable 1-star rating and the scathing negative review?

Many businesses shy away from them, hoping they’ll go unnoticed. But you need to respond to those reviews. The people leaving them deserve it, and the people reading them need it.

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Conclusion

There are many ways customers can find your business, but there is no denying that Google My Business is an incredibly powerful gateway to your website.

It positions your important business information in front of the eyes of potential customers who are looking for your product, service, or experience.

It helps with your local SEO, offers a chance to engage with your customers via reviews or posts, and provides useful insights on your customers’ purchasing paths.

For more SEO tips and the latest updates in digital marketing, contact us to learn more!

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Are Older Local Reviews Still Relevant?

It’s more than an obvious fact that consumers are most likely going to rely on newer reviews than the older ones. Also, in comparison with older people, younger individuals greatly depend on reviews for a number of things.

What’s so surprising in this, you would ask? A new study has not only proved these facts but has also come up with some insightful metrics indicating the year after year changes.

A Local Consumer Review Survey published by BrightLocal last month, revealed that reviews are critical to the decision making process of consumers choosing goods and services from local businesses.

The below screenshot indicates a strong correlation between the trends and the age of the consumer.consumer-survey

It’s nothing of a surprise that consumers aged 18-34 grew up in the online era. While those older than them grew up taking recommendations from friends and neighbors.

However, it all comes to the same point, people still consider reviews. The only difference over the years is that they are now digitized and available online for everyone to see other than just your friends or neighbors.

Key Findings of The Study

  • 91% of 18-34 year old people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations
  • 40% of consumers only take into account reviews written within the past 2 weeks – up from 18% last year
  • More consumers require multiple reviews to trust reviews
  • 80% of 18-34 year old people have written online reviews – compared to just 41% of consumers over 55
  • Older consumers are more likely to be skeptical about online reviews

In case you are looking for stats and in depth details, read the Full Report and for takeaway points, follow our Actionable Strategy based on the findings of the report.

  • Keep your reviews fresh if you are planning to target younger customers.
  • Reviews that are older than 90 days become less valid, those that are less than 2 weeks old are best and those within a couple of days are ideal.
  • Bad reviews create a negative impact on customers, you must put in all your marketing strategies to action to turn them into good reviews.
  • The more the reviews, more will customers believe in their authenticity. Make sure your product/service has LOTS of reviews or at least more than 10 reviews.
  • Having No reviews is almost as bad as having bad reviews.

So be open to reviews and deliver what your customers are looking for! If you’re looking for genuine reviews, we highly recommend you to check out our proprietary “Review Widget” which helps you get positive reviews on Google and Yelp. Not only that, it automatically filters out negative reviews being displayed on your website thus enabling better customer experience.

 

For more SEO tips and the latest updates in digital marketing, contact us to learn more!

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Notable Changes in 2018 in The SEO World

We have witnessed some big changes in the SEO world in 2018. From big algorithm updates to mobile first indexing & changes in Google search console, there is a lot to catch up on.

Search ranking and algorithm updates

Speed update. Google pre-announced that they will be launching the Speed update anytime soon in January but launched it five months later in June. At first, many website owners and SEO professionals were flipping out, thinking that it will adversely affect their site ranking, but Google confirmed that this update will only affect the slowest sites. Google said it “only affect a small percentage of queries.”

Medic update. Clearly the biggest search ranking algorithm update in 2018. Google launched the Medic update around August 1 & confirmed it after the SEO community took notice and approached them to get more information. At first Google shrug it off saying that it just another “broad core algorithm update” that they do multiple times a year, but this update was different as it specifically impacted health and YMYL categories.

Other algorithm updates. Along with the Medic update, Google also launched March core Update and April core update.

Mobile-first indexing

Google started hinting that they will be going mobile first very soon….in 2016. Yeah, they were planning to go mobile first since 2016 and fully shifted to mobile first indexing in 2018. 1 NOTABLE CHANGES IN SEO WORLD IN 2018.

For those who are unaware of it, Google finally decided to index the internet from the view of a smartphone instead of desktop. They started sending notifications via Google Search Console to inform the site owners about this shift. Today, Google claims that almost 50% of the websites have been shifted to mobile first indexing. Here’s a Google guide on how you can prepare for mobile first indexing.

SEO changes

Structured data. Google is putting a lot of emphasis on structured data & schema. From speakable markup for voice search related queries, a brand new indexing API for job posting schema to image search changes, various updates to recipe markup, new job posting guidelines, Q&A schema, live stream support, datasets schema, how to, QA, FAQs schema and so much more.

Other changes. Google not only introduced new schemas & API but also dropped support for the old ones like news meta tag, the standout tag and editors pick in Google news. This move was seen as an attempt to appear unbiased because all of the internet giants are facing allegation of partial treatment from a lot of publishers & users.

Google’s effort around the dynamic rendering & lazy loading content and photos is an effort you’ve seen a lot around with JavaScript SEO in 2018 & will continue through 2019.

Personalization. As we mentioned earlier, the two internet giants Facebook and Google were accused of misusing personal data in 2018. However, Google said that they do not use personalization that much and it is limited to showing relevant local results. “BUT” the duck duck go founder says otherwise. He explained in a long Quora post that how Google misuses your personal data and how privacy becomes a myth when you use any of the Google products or services.

Google Search Console and other tools

Google launched a brand new search console in 2018. Just like most of their updates, they first launched the beta version of it and then removed the beta tag and fully launched it for everyone. They also provided a way to import your old search console reports and data to the new one.

Google also started showing Search Console snapshots directly in the search results for site owners. They also changed the limits and quotas on crawling and indexing within search console, removed the ability to use the public URL submission tool & provided convenience to the site owners by automatically verifying them with their Google Analytics account.

Google also tested new form of domain properties for cross site reporting, added a number of reports for event listing, AMP, links, mobile usability and more. They also launched several tools in 2018, and one of the best from the lot was URL inspection tool.

This wonderful tool gives a snap shot of how Google sees your page. Pretty awesome, isn’t it? They also heard the demand of the SEO community and finally allowed us to view 16 months of historical data. Not only that but they also expanded the API to provide us with 25,000 rows of data.

Google local

Google Posts. Google spent a lot of time polishing Google Posts. They tested many UI around Google Posts on both desktop and mobile searches and also updated the My Business Console to enable Google Posts on the web or through the mobile app.

However, all these efforts from Google didn’t yield the type of results they were expecting since many local SEO experts said that the Google posts traffic and engagement level is on the decline.

Google My Business. Google not only updated the GMB API several times in the past year but also updated the GMB mobile app to allow business owners to manage their listing on the go. They added more insights data, analytics, branded searches, more query data and also launched an agency dashboard as well.

Mobile search and voice assistants

The increasing popularity of voice assistants has made many SEOs take keen interest in voice SEO. Although Google Home is considered the smartest one out there, but the competition is neck & neck since all the tech giants like Apple, Microsoft & Amazon have their own home assistants. But we can give credit to Google home for being the first home assistant that comes equipped with a display.

Google UI changes

Google rolled out a new design for desktop searches, discover feed & more results button for mobile and did many changes to UI.

They also increased and then decreased their snippet length, expanded the autocomplete predictions and started showing cameos of famous people in search results.

AMP. Coming to AMP, Google released a developer preview of showing the publisher URLs in search and not the Google AMP cache URL. They also launched AMP stories in search & a bunch of other AMP features.

Other big Google news

In other news, Google is finally closing down Google Plus after 7 years due to many security incidents.

Continuing from the last year, our client’s rankings haven’t had any major impact after rollout of these algorithm updates and continue to rise as we shift to 2019.

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Google Has Release Its Own SEO Tool : WEB.DEV

Yes, you read that right. Google has indeed released a new SEO & site metrics tool that helps site owners to get an overall picture of their SEO efforts & overall site performance. However, it’s in beta mode and as a result is kind of buggy, but overall, it’s a useful tool.

Since Google already has all the data in the world, it was not a surprising move that they launched this tool. However, some SEO “experts” are arguing that whether Google should be deciding the definition of SEO or not. Smh.

We would say that it is a very useful tool that is developed by “GOOGLE” itself. So it’s a no-brainer that you should try your hands on it. Here’s how it works.

Once you enter the URL of your page, it will rate the website for the following metrics.

• Performance
• Progressive Web App
• Accessibility
• Best Practices
• SEO

Here’s how the reports look like:

Web-dev-seo
The new SEO score gives you information about the page crawlability, but the overall SEO score is based on just 10 VERY BASIC On-Page elements, which makes it easy to score 100%. But, in reality, SEO is much more complicated than that.

Many would argue that when GOOGLE itself says that my site is doing good on the SEO part, why would I need your expertise? The simple difference is the level of detail that an agency works on. Google is just telling you about basic things and not about the competitive stuff, where the real game begins.

So any site can score 100% on SEO web.dev and still rank on the 10th page of the Google. Because ranking for specific keywords and “money” phrases is the main purpose of SEO.

 

For more information on how to utilize Google’s Web.Dev SEO Tool
Connect with us to learn more!
google-home-services-now-google-local-services

Google Home Services is Now Google Local Services

Google Home Services has been rebranded as Google Local Services and expanded to 17 states. Google has re-branded it for a reason — they are now including businesses that do not come under the “home services” like auto repairs & dentists. They are actively expanding it to other states and adding new categories.

People have witnessed a boost of up to 70% after joining the Google Local Service program. Google has launched a dedicated app using which you can accept bookings, respond to customer questions & track conversions. It also allows you to track calls and manage ad budget.

Google-Local-Services

As of now, the Google Local Services is available in the following 17 cities:

1. Phoenix
2. Los Angeles
3. Riverside
4. Sacramento
5. San Diego
6. San Francisco
7. San Jose
8. Miami
9. Atlanta
10. Chicago
11. Boston
12. Detroit
13. New York
14. Philadelphia
15. Dallas
16. Seattle
17. Washington, D.C.

To see if a business is eligible to join, go here. And to get the app, go here. Go here for Local Services Help.

How Google Local Search Works – Google Will Now Show Search Results Based on the Google Users Location Instead of the Domain Name

Google’s paramount goal is to provide the users with most relevant search results. Today 1 in 5 searches on Google is related to location, so providing locally relevant search results is of utmost priority. Google is changing how Google local search works. Till now the country of service was indicated by the country code top-level domain name (ccTLD). For example “google.co.uk” for the United Kingdom. But from now on, Google will determine the country of service based on your location. If you’re in the UK, even manually typing “google.com” and searching something will not fetch you results from the USA, instead, it will show results based on your current location, i.e. the UK.

Google-Homepage

However, Google has cleared that they have just changed the way they labeled Google search results and maps, and not the way it works.

In case your country of service doesn’t change as per the location, you can update it by going into the Settings > Search Settings in the footer and then navigate to Region Settings.

Google-Region-Setttings

From the Google Search Blog:

So if you live in Australia, you’ll automatically receive the country service for Australia, but when you travel to New Zealand, your results will switch automatically to the country service for New Zealand. Upon return to Australia, you will seamlessly revert back to the Australian country service.

Google is hopeful that this update will ensure that the users will get the most relevant search results, and will ultimately improve the overall search experience.

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You Can Now Add Videos To Local Listings In Google Maps

You can now add videos to local listings in the Google Maps using any Android device. Google is rolling it out slowly, so you might or might not see it right away. This feature is not only good for the business owners but the users as well. Because pictures tell an altogether different story while video remains close to reality. “Close” because of all those filters available for the videos.

Meanwhile, if you are a local guide and willing to earn some extra points, while helping the folks out here, start uploading videos of the business and local places. It is available only for local guides and Android users but can be seen and searched by anyone. You can take a 10-second video from the Google Maps app or can upload a 30-second video.

You can add videos to local listings in Google Maps:

  • From a place’s page
  • From “your contributions”
  • Via Google photos and Gallery app

How to upload a video to your local listing on Google Maps:

  • Search and select a place on Google Maps
  • Scroll down and tap “Add a photo”
  • Tap “Folder” and select a video. Only the first 30 seconds of a video can be added.

Visit the Google Help Center to learn more about sharing videos.

Q-&-A

Google’s Q&A for Local Search Could Be The Next Big Thing

Google started rolling out Questions and Answers (Q&A) feature for local search in the
beginning of August. As with all the testing, it was initially available, exclusively for
Android users via the Google Maps App, but eventually, they made it available to
everyone searching from a mobile device using either Safari or Chrome browsers.

Google’s Q&A could be a very useful tool for local businesses to help save time and trouble by providing simple answers to common questions.

The main motto behind introducing the Q&A into local search is to get the most
updated and relevant data about businesses and places. Q&A is always been one of the
best sources to get fresh content. Amazon has already tested it and employing it the
way it should be.

Here’s what Google Questions & Answers looks like on a mobile device.

Google-Q-&-A-Mobile-Device

However, the fear of spamming is real! The competitors, or even just a single angry employee
can ruin the entire Q&A section. Also, if a business has the authority to edit it, then it’s going to
be as genuine and real as the “testimonials and reviews” that they put on their own website.

Here’s what Google says:

“To make sure “Questions & answers” contains the most accurate and useful local info
possible, business owners can add frequently asked questions and answers as well. In
addition, when you (a customer) ask a question about a place, we notify the business
owner and other in-the-know users to see if they have knowledgeable answers to
contribute. When your question is answered, we notify you too.”

Let’s see how Google is going to tackle these issues. Meanwhile, you might want to start writing
content for the Q&A section. Reason being, Google has just launched it and is hungry for
content (data), they will hardly filter it out and will most likely accept just about anything you
post. You can actually benefit from the desperation of Google and ignorance of your
competitors.

Remember, the early bird gets the worm!

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Google’s New Local Search Filters

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Google’s New Local Search Filters Are Shaking Things Up! In a Good Way.

Google’s paramount goal is to provide its users with the best possible search experience and they leave no stone unturned to ensure that. In early 2017, Google introduced local search filters that allowed the users to sort results based on price, ratings and hours of operation. Taking this one step further, they are now automatically applying those filters.

It is user convenient for obvious reasons. They get the best possible relevant results for their search queries, on the go, THAT TOO without applying any filters.

However, it’s a big blow to business owners who have failed to maintain a good online
reputation. When Google automatically filters local businesses for those with 4-star ratings and higher, it places a lot of businesses at risk of losing online visibility. It’s quite common for users to search terms like “Best Plumber”, “Best Thai Restaurant” and “Best Roofing Contractor” when they are looking for a local business. Such businesses, if they do not have more than a 4-star rating, will find it extremely difficult to keep a measurable presence on local search.

Nonetheless, it’s a golden opportunity for the less popular businesses. By inviting reviews & keeping the information consistent and updated, one can share the spotlight with those who are already at the top.

The New Google Search Filters

The best of everything: Users can now filter the results automatically, by just adding “best” to the keyword. If you search “best plumber”, Google will show only 4-Star+ rated plumbers. This filter will drastically influence the way businesses are ranked. Check out below how the results differ.

the-best-of-everything-search-filter

Open now: A closed Truck Repair store is of no use to a user who wants to get his truck repaired ASAP. So when a user types “truck repair store open now”, Google will show only those stores that are currently open and can offer help on an immediate basis. Check out below.

Hours-of-Operation-Search-Filter

Enjoy Fine dining: Want to go to an upscale restaurant for your first date? Just type “fancy
restaurant” & Google will show you the most expensive restaurants nearby. Or if you just want to fill your tummy without burning a hole in your pocket, type “cheap restaurants” or “budget restaurants” and you will get the list.

restaurants-search-filter

If you see the bigger picture here, you will realize that Google is heading towards providing a more advanced search experience where users will get results based on their actual intent. Local searches have grown to 46% of all searches on Google and will continue to rise. So, Google is doing everything it can to enhance the local search experience for its users.

What’s our take on this

Businesses that fail to manage their reputation and update their listings with the most accurate, detailed and consistent information now run the risk of not ranking in searches when they would have in the past.

To help you get more reviews for your business, we highly recommend our review widget. It’s a small piece of code which is placed on your website and helps you get positive reviews on Google, Yelp, and Facebook. In addition, it helps to filter out negative reviews too thus ensuring a positive experience to website users. Need more details? Please connect with our sales rep.