2019 EDITION FREE EBOOK

Free eGuide: 5 Steps to Get Started with Local Search

Download our free eGuide to learn how you can drive more online and offline traffic to your business by improving your local search ranking.

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What Is Google My Business?

Even if you're exclusively brick-and-mortar, chances are your customers are finding you online. In our digital era, consumers conduct research online before deciding on where they'll go to eat, shop, stay, or seek services.

That means a digital presence is paramount. If customers can't find you online, they're not going to come to you offline and your business is missing out on business. 

So where do you start? 

As a small or local business, a Google My Business profile is the beating heart of your online reputation. Creating a GMB profile that performs well is not unlike creating a website or content that performs well: It all goes back to search engine optimization (SEO). SEO are the strategies used to rank higher on the search engines results page. 

The local SEO game is similar. The goal is to rank higher than your competition.

But the rules are a little different: you don't win with keywords. Rather, your success with local search is intrinsically connected to the quality of your Google My Business profile.

Below, we dive into (almost) everything you need to know about Google My Business and local search.

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How to Use Google My Business

Creating Your Account

To create an account, you'll first need to have an email you want to associate with your Google My Business profile. Ideally, this is your work email, but note that it doesn't have to be a Gmail address. Then, navigate to Google My Business
 
  • Sign in. Hit the Sign In button in the top right corner and select the email you'd like to use. 
  • Business name. Enter the name of your business.
  • Business address. Enter the physical address of your business. You have the option to hide your address and indicate whether you deliver. 
  • Business category. This is important. You want to choose the category that most accurately describes your business because this is how customers will find you. 
  • Business information. Include your phone number and website. 

Getting Verified

Once you've created a profile, you'll need to verify that you are in fact a real business. Your options for verification include mail, email, and phone. There is also a bulk verification option that's helpful for multi-location businesses.

 
  • Mail. If you select "postcard by mail," the postcard will arrive within a few days and contain a 5-digit code. Log into your GMB profile, select the business you'd like to verify and enter the code.
  • Email. The "verify by email" option is available to some businesses. Your code will be delivered to the email associated with your GMB account.
  • Phone. The "verify by phone" option is available to some businesses. If you're eligible, you will receive a text with your code.
  • Bulk. This is an option for businesses that operate more than 10 locations. Choose one of your locations, click "get verified" and then click "chain." You will be guided through a verification form that Google will take up to a week to review and approve.

How Small Businesses Can Use Google My Business to Win Local Search

How often have you made a Google search along the lines of "car repair near me" or "best restaurants in [your city]"? Probably once a week. For some of us, once a day. 

After making a query like that you'll probably see a Google maps image with a few pin drops and then three business listings relevant to your search. This "snack pack" is where you want your business to appear when people are looking for a local product or service. Getting it to appear there is a matter of creating and optimizing your Google My Business Profile.

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Local vs. Traditional SEO

Yes, You Can Compete with Big Businesses

Enormous enterprises are going to have a hard time competing with small, local businesses when it comes to local search. Notice that when you type in "best restaurants near me," McDonald's doesn't come up (unless you're querying in Marfa, Texas, where the nearest town is 500 miles away and there's nowhere else to eat). 

When it comes to traditional SEO, big business might have you beat. What's the difference? Traditional SEO relates to the ten search results you see on each page of the Search Engine Results Page (SERPs). It's usually difficult to rank well on these pages (depending on the keywords you're targetting) because it requires manpower, strategy, and consistent effort over a long period of time. 

Many of the tactics that apply to traditional SEO apply to local SEO, but it's significantly less difficult to rank and get found by customers. 

 
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Google My Business & Your Online Presence

Your Digital Face to the World

One of the best benefits of having a Google My Business account is that it's a hub for potential customers to come and get an understanding of your business. They're able to see photos, menus, hours, Q&As, and links to your socials and website.

They're also able to see reviews, which are critical to your online success. For one thing, most prospects will look to other customers' experiences before deciding on a product or service. For another, Google loves it when you have a lot of regular reviews. By having "fresh" or recent reviews, little frequency signals are sent to Google, letting it know that your business is active and relevant.   

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Google My Business & Online Directories

Get Listed to Get Ranked

In addition to creating content regularly and updating your profile frequently, it's important that you are listed on as many online business directories as possible. You probably already understand the importance of being listed on a site like Yelp, but there are dozens of other, lesser known (and sometimes even obscure) directories that Google looks to for data about your business. 

Here's how you win Google's game: have identical information about your business across all of these directories. That means your company's Name, Address, and Phone Number should be uniform, wherever it appears.

The holy triad known as NAP is easy to understand but not always easy to implement. Who has time to log into 70+ accounts and update information? Not small business owners--you already have enough on your plate. Save yourself hundreds of hours of time by utilizing an automated distribution service instead. 

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