It never ceases to amaze me, when a local merchant tells me their business is spending hundreds of dollars each month on Google Adwords; while doing absolutely nothing to improve their organic local search ranking for free.
In this post, I'll show you how Google's algorithm determines a business's position in local search results. But before we even go there; I need you to do something RIGHT NOW (if you haven't already)......
Claim Your "Google My Business" listing!!!!
What is a "Google My Business" listing, you ask?
Basically it's a FREE page/profile for your business on Google's search engine that makes it much easier for potential customers to find you online. It literally takes less than 60 seconds to claim (see video below).
You wouldn't believe how many business owners I've spoken to, who employ full-time Digital Marketing Managers, that haven't even bothered to take this simple step.
Now that we've gotten claiming your page out of the way, let's look at the three factors Google uses to decide a business's local search ranking.
Relevance refers to how well a local listing matches what someone is searching for.
For instance, if you’re a Relationship Consultant who offers marriage counseling, you'll want to make sure the term "Marriage Counselor" is one of your categories on Google. Such terms are often searched by potential clients in your area, and are therefore RELEVANT.
Distance refers to how far each potential search result is from the location term (zip-code, town, neighborhood, or city) used in a search. If a user doesn't specify a location in their search, Google will calculate DISTANCE based on what’s known about their location.
So if you're a Divorce Attorney, before you go spending $47.07 per click for the keyword "attorney" or $42.51 for "lawyer", take a few seconds to specify your office's location on Google. It won't cost you a dime!!!!!!
Google is more likely to trust and display listings and their information if those listings are verified by the owner of the business. Often, business listings on Google have been populated from an outside data source, and while they may include address and contact information, Google can’t be sure that information is right unless business owners take action to verify it. Since Google prides itself on offering users accurate information, verifying (claiming) your business is imperative.
Prominence refers to how well-known a business is. Some places are more prominent in the offline world, and search results try to reflect this in local ranking. For example, famous museums, landmark hotels, or well-known store brands that are familiar to many people are also likely to be PROMINENT in local search results.
Prominence is also based on information that Google has about a business from across the web (like links, articles, and directories). Google review count and rating are factored into local search ranking as well. So more reviews and 5-star ratings from customers will improve your ranking.
Take these three quick steps to improve your business's prominence on Google search
1. Respond to customer reviews:
Google Support explicitly tells businesses that,
“Responding to reviews shows that you value your customers and the feedback they leave … High quality, positive reviews … will improve your business’s visibility and increase the likelihood that a potential customer will visit your location.”
2. Post Images:
More from Google Support:
“Adding photos to your listings shows people your goods and services, and can help you tell the story of your business. Accurate and appealing pictures may also show potential customers that your business offers what they’re searching for.”
3. Upload Videos:
Adding videos to your Google My Business page is a great way to stand-out amongst your competitors. You can do this by simply linking your Youtube channel to your My Business page. Take it a step further by shooting a 360 Virtual Tour; which has been shown to improve customer acquisition by 130%.
As illustrated in the aforementioned examples; the initial set-up and ongoing management of your local search prevalence and customer/client reviews, is integral to the success of your business online.
No need to fret. If you have any questions about these topics or your business's social media marketing, Local Angel is here to help.