Google represents about 64% of all search happening in the U.S. today. This means it’s imperative for your business to show up when potential customers go looking. There are paid ads to get your business at the top of the page for your main keywords and traditional SEO to help drive traffic to your website, but a major piece to winning on Google is mastering local search. The Google 3-Pack (a map followed by the top three hits) appears in the top spot in 9% of searches with local intent. This means if you’re looking to grow your location-based business, a focus on local search is essential. This guide will outline best practices and how a full-service digital agency supported with technology may be able to help optimize your local search results on Google.
Incorrect info on Google My Business may be sending your prospective customers to your competitors
If you have a wrong number, an out-of-date address, inaccurate store hours or poor reviews awaiting response, you could be pushing customers to go to your competitors. The first step to properly managing your Google My Business (GMB) account is to ensure that location data is entered and accurate. This means completing 100% of the available fields and providing as much local information as possible. For multi-location businesses, it’s important to use a local website, local phone number and local address for each location.
The best place to hide a dead body is on Page 2 of Google’s search results
It’s incredibly important to rank highly for your main keywords. There are a few different factors that determine your rank on Google; however, for this guide we will focus on what you should be doing specifically in terms of Google My Business.
- The single most important thing you can do is to ensure that your location data is correct and accurate for each and every location. There are many ways to accomplish this, from using data management systems to allowing your locations to manage their own data. The right digital agency can help manage location data, from API integrations to dashboard access to handling updates to location data.
- Once your location data is correct, you’ll need to syndicate this location data to all the places online that matter. One option is enlisting an agency to send your correct location data to sites like Apple, Facebook, Foursquare and Yellow Pages. Not only will you have correct data on these sites so you can capture all prospects, but Google loves to see the same data on different sites and this will boost your organic ranking.
- The next step is to uncover any duplicate listings that exist on Google that could be hurting your ranking. Google’s algorithm hates seeing duplicate listings, so finding and removing (not suppressing) duplicates is the best option. Working with an agency partner with an “Active Management” approach to uncovering duplicates and removing them can be a big help. Utilizing APIs to uncover and remove duplicates, and having a dedicated account team to manually sift through search engine results pages (SERPs) will ensure that duplicates are a thing of the past for your business.
- Finally, make sure that your store page and locator pages are properly optimized. Google thinks of your website as the best place to understand what your business does. Plus they are able to see your name, address and phone number to double check against what you’ve entered into the GMB interface. For multi-location brands, having a store locator that Google can quickly reference is a great way to show where you do business, which should help you rank better.
Having access to data is great, but understanding data and using it for actionable insights is even better
The GMB dashboard is full of insightful data, from how and where your listing was found to customer actions and photo views. Understanding this data can help inform cross-channel marketing decisions. For example, understanding the ratio of driving direction requests to phone calls can influence whether you want to spend additional marketing dollars on Waze Ads for in-car travelers. Understanding how your customers are finding you can help dictate where your marketing dollars are spent.
The right partner can make all the difference
For smaller businesses, managing a single location through the GMB portal is not a daunting task. However, for multi-location brands with hundreds if not thousands of locations, having a partner who can help you with data standardization, integrations into systems, customizing access among users and analyzing data can be hugely helpful in leveraging search to drive business results. When picking a local search partner keep in mind a few things:
- Will this vendor help clean up listings and ensure correct location data is showing on all relevant sites?
- Does this vendor truly fix location data or do they just paste data on top of old/wrong data?
- Does this vendor suppress duplicates or truly find them and fix them?
- Can this vendor do more than local search and help integrate a local search strategy into a full marketing plan? This can include store pages and locators, review monitoring, reputation management, paid search, display, marketing science, social and local content generation.
- Does this vendor offer active management, going beyond automation and making manual adjustments as needed?
You can use this vendor evaluation form to run your own analysis and see how DAC stacks up against other potential partners: