Everything You Need to Know About Google My Business and Local Search Engine Optimization

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Janet Mobley

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) should be a top priority for any business looking to reach clients and customers online. Local competition is fierce, so good SEO practices can be the differentiating factor between your business and your competitors. Tackling local search engine optimization can be daunting, but FatCat is here to help! Here are five key strategies to ensure that your business appears online when it’s supposed to.

Utilize Google Maps

Google Maps is a vital tool for your business. It helps clients find your physical locations and provides directions, reviews and links to your website. Not to mention, it boosts your SEO. The Yellow Pages has most likely already submitted your business to Google Maps, but you’ll want to check that it’s accurate and complete. Don’t worry, it’s easy! Just follow these simple steps.

To create your Google My Business listing:

  1. Sign into your Google Account. If you don’t have one, you can create one for free. (It’s the same as creating a Gmail account).
  2. Go to https://www.google.com/business/ and enter the business name you want to add.
  3. Enter the information about your business. You will need to provide a phone number and verify your business before you can continue to the next step.

To edit your Google My Business listing:

  1. Sign into your Google Account. If you don’t have one, you can create one for free.
  2. Go to https://www.google.com/business/ and search and select your business name.
  3. Click “info” from the menu on the left to edit information such as address, hours, phone number, website and more. The more information you provide, the better the chances that customers will find your business online.

Identify Your Business in Online Directories

After you’ve gotten yourself properly identified on Google, you’ll want to do the same on Yelp, Merchant Circle and any other online directory that is applicable to your business. If your business’s information is already included on these lists, double check that it’s accurate! You’ll want to ensure that your headline, customer reviews, hours, location, etc. are all updated to reflect your company’s most recent accomplishments.

Customize Title and Meta Description Tags

The first thing a customer will see when they find your listing in an online search is your title and meta description. Technically speaking, these are HTML elements that you edit to reflect the content of your webpage. The title is the headline a customer clicks to get to your website and the description is the text underneath it that describes the company’s purpose. It’s important because it’s a customer’s first impression of your business. Here are some best practices to ensure that you’re using the space to its full advantage:

  • Make sure that your text doesn’t get cut off. You can do so by using SEOmofo or the Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress to preview your tags.
  • Include the city or state name in the headline.
  • Place the most important keywords at the front of the text or title. That way it won’t get cut off and Google will be able to better identify your company’s purpose.

Pay Attention to Online Reviews

Online reviews can make or break your business, so encourage customers to provide reviews to show off the positive experience they had! There are plenty of tactics to collect customer reviews and plenty of places to showcase them. And, responding to your reviews may even help you generate leads in the future.

Don’t Forget About Schema Markup

Lastly, consider using structured data markup, or schema markup, to provide search engines with more information about your business. It does require a bit of coding, but it’s a great way to make your local business stand out and potentially rank higher than your competition. Why? By using this markup, you’re informing Google’s site crawlers about the products you sell, the services you offer and so on. Google prefers that you use this feature and rewards websites that do.

Once these steps are completed, your business should be surfacing when relative terms are searched. But even with all of these strategies in place, you’re not guaranteed to be the first listing. SEO is ever-changing and you must nurture it constantly. If you’re looking to outsource your SEO efforts altogether, we’d be happy to take over. Schedule a free, 30-minute consultation to learn about our proven SEO services.

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