Google My Business profiles is an area that is changed the most for people and businesses on the web. The reason being: it’s open sourced to the community. And therein lies a double edged sword that harkens to the potential, yet dangers, of the wild wild west of early SEO and sabotage.
If your business has a physical location, then setting up a Google My Business Profile is essential. But once you set one up, there’s a lot more to it than completing all the checklists it prompts you to. In this post we will review elements of optimization, content strategy, and the dangers of foul play online to your business.
When you sign up it’s pretty simple. You fill out your business profile info, making sure to get all contact information, hours of operation, and website links correct. Part of what Google checks for in rankings in knowing that all this information is uniform across all local listings. So if you have older listings such as on Yelp, make sure those are updated as well.
In order to get onto Google Maps you have to verify your listing. There are two ways, the first being verification with a phone code that’s tied to the location, and the second (Google’s preferred) is a postcard. Yes, this may be the digital age but in the end snail mail will verify if you actually have a location at the address listed. That postcard usually is received within 5 business days so make sure to et your employees know to keep an eye out for it and not assume it’s spam! I have had listings delayed for weeks due to the envelope being thrown out.
Then make sure your Business Category is set. You can add several but keep it all relevant. You will be penalized if it’s unrelated. Lastly, you can add a Business Description, which is a fairly new feature that Google has re-added. In it you have 750 characters to talk about your business, but you cannot include any links or HTML. Note that only 250 characters will be shown above the fold before its cut off to “read more.” This is where your SEO comes in. To avoid keyword stuffing, consult an SEO expert or let them fill out your business bio.
And that is all the surface level to-dos that a business owner can do to attain the bare minimum standard of ranking within Google local. But, do you ever want to do the bare minimum for your business?
This is where local SEO strategy comes in.
Maintaining a local listing is not just about putting keywords into the bio or posts, but keeping an eye on the industry niche as a whole and being aware of false or erroneous changes to the page.
We start with developing a content strategy that suites your business needs and that of the competitive level of your professional niche. Optimizing posts and photos help keep a page fresh, relevant, and the number of impressions help dictate ranking. From these posts we are able to take local SEO queries and see how that data correlates with your existing website traffic. From these queries we can determine the shift in search behavior for a niche within a region/city, and use it to re-touch the page and main site strategy.
Hiring someone for local SEO shares similar duties as those who run Social Media Pages professionally. You have to moderate. You have to be aware. Because at any given time someone can post a bad review or make a false claim and the business’s reputation is on the line. Specifically for Google Business listings this is in two area: Suggested Edits and Questions.
Google Local is meant to be open source. It is built off the insight and contribution of hundreds of thousands reviewing, visiting, sharing, rating, etc… And Google takes this input very seriously. So seriously that it can override what the business has set up. When visiting a listing, there is a “Suggest an edit” button, and here anyone can submit a change for your website, phone numbers, business status, and even category. Sometimes this is done in error, other times competitors do it as industry sabotage. I have seen categories for businesses completely changed, unaware to the owner. Same goes for Hours of Operation, when they are clearly open. In the “Answer Questions” section, Google will prompt the visitor with a series of questions to help gauge the business for more specific needs (ex: Does this place serve beer?). These can be answered erroneously or falsely and affect the business listing as well.
These are just some of the duties that a Local Keywords SEO professional should be familiar with. It is a job that shares duties of moderating, reputation management, content strategy, and search engine optimization. If you are handling your business page on your own, make regular checks to ensure nothing is changed on your page without your knowledge.
Next time we will cover some of the specific insights from Google My Business profiles and the types of post/photo strategies you can do to keep a competitive edge on Google Maps.
-Josh, resident SEO Expert.
Do you have questions regarding SEO? Fill out our contact form to get set up with our SEO Expert to see how Zeeqk can best help your business online and dismiss any misinformation about SEO you may have learned.