Local SEO Steps to Improving Your Businesses Online Visibility


There are a few basic local SEO steps that businesses can take to improving their overall online visibility.

These two local SEO steps involve:

  1. Google My Business – for local search and maps
  2. Optimise your Website – Optimising your website for organic search results

 

Google My Business – Local SEO Steps

If your business does not have a Google My Business listing, then you will need to create and verify your listing in order to take advantage of the product. If you do have a business listing, but this is not verified, you will need to verify your listing to access the page.

Start Here: www.google.co.uk/business/

 

Top Tip:
When creating or claiming your business page, use the same Google Account that you use for your Google Analytics & Google Search Console. If you are running Google Ads then ideally this also should running on the same account. By using one single account, you allow for all the data from different products to be used by each other.

 

Local SEO Steps - Claim your Google My Business Listing - Online Ownership

 

Optimising your Google My Business Page

To access your new Google My Business Page, log into your account dashboard: https://business.google.com/locations

Click on the business to access the listing and you will be presented with an overview of your current business listings activity, updates and performance. You can navigate via the main left hand menu or individual blocks within the dashboard.

 

Local SEO Steps - Google My Business Page Account Dashboard - Online Ownership

 

1. Business Category

Select the Info section >> Categories are below the name >> Select the pencil icon to edit.

It is impossible for Google to be able to list every conceivable type of business and service, so the key here is to pick the most relevant category to your business. You can also select sub categories that may better describe the services you offer.

 

Business Category in Google My Business - Local SEO Steps - Online Ownership

 

Search for your service and area and see what categories other relevant businesses and competitors have listed for their business.

To see all the categories used by a similar business, you can use this work around:

  • Find their page in Google Maps
  • Rick click and select view source
  • Then select Ctrl-F and search for their category being displayed.

 

[\”Web Designer\”,\”Advertising\”,\”Business Service\”,\”Design Services\”,\”Services Companies\”]

Don’t panic if Google does not have your specific category available, pick the ones that are most relevant and over time Google’s algorithms machine learn what exactly you offer. They do this based on the information you add to the listing, together with your connected website.

 

2. Business Address

Your address is central to Google understanding where you are located, this should be your exact address and it should be used in this format across all your online sources (Website, Social Profiles, Business Citations).

If you are in a large building, using Line 2 to add your office number or suite number, this is not a ranking factor but it makes for a better customer experience.

Make sure the PIN marker is as close as possible to your actual location. Switching to satellite view can often help you position the PIN marker closer to the business front door. Again this is not typically a ranking factor, but it is used to display the street view display and if it is not correctly positioned it could end up displaying an alleyway or car park and customers using it for direction will end up being taken to the PIN marker, again not a great experience.

Service Area Businesses
If you serve customers at their address (plumber, window cleaner) then you should hide your address and select service areas that you serve, this is referred to a Service Area Business (SAB).

 

Points to Note:

If you are positioned almost in the centre of a county (state) and you serve that county then select the county, however if you on the border of one county and possible a second one, then it would be advisable to select both areas, as this will incorporate those adjoining areas. You can also select specific areas, lets say you are based in south London, you can select specific areas within London that you serve.

When selecting areas, bigger is not better. In a normal scenario anything over 50 miles tends to dilute the signals, because of the way Google displays listings in the search results based on IP address or the users mobile phone location, they will not be displaying your business to someone 100 miles away if there are 20 plumbers closer to the user.

Equally if you are a business that can serve anyone in the country (Web Designer, Marketer, Copywriter etc) you should not be selecting the entire country as a service area radius, for the same reason above, you will simply not be recommended to a user searching for a web designer in Glasgow, if you are located in Northamptonshire. In this instance (if you don’t serve customers at your address as it might be a home address) then I would select the town and county in which you serve and use your website to target other areas in organic search.

Be sure to check Google My Business Guidelines before trying to use, mail forwarding addresses or virtual offices.

 

3. Hours

Make sure to list your businesses opening hours, again make sure that your regular business hours are listed on your other online resources (Website, Social Profiles, Business Citations)
If your business operates by appointment only, then you should contact business support, only they can add this label.

An option is provided for special hours over and above your normal hours like late night shopping on the run up to Christmas or a public holiday that happens to land on mid week. Special hours can be set below primary business hours. If you do not set these hours, Google displays “Hours may be affected” if it is a bank holiday – which is not good, especially when you are open.

 

4. Website, Appointments, Booking

Make sure you are displaying the correct link to your website. If your website is currently being developed and not currently live then do not add your link until it is ready.

If you have a dedicated booking url for appointments, and restaurants can also add their menu url.

The insights provided on your business listing are not always accurate (server errors, updates etc) so I recommend using a UTM tracking code on your websites link. This allows you to accurately track your visits and where the users went on your website in Google Analytics.

Tracking will help you to make better decisions as to what your users engage with and converts customers.

 

5. Services Menu & Food Menu

**Note: If you have Product Inventory available in your left hand nav – the services menu will be migrating out of the Info section to a permanent position in navigation.

Originally rolled out for restaurant menus, Google My Business also offers other businesses service menus to list the services that your business provides.
 

Service Menu in Google My Business Page - Local SEO Steps - Online Ownership

 

In mobile these appear within the navigation menu which users can view and in desktop they can be triggered as an answer box, by searching “menu business name”. Who would search menu for a businesses services (virtually no one) but I guess Google developers have not quite finished polishing up the product yet.

This quirk aside, by using this option you are providing Google with further more detailed information about your business (remember machine learning).

More importantly users can view what services you actually provide.

If you have a set price for a service you can add this in, or leave it blank.

 

6. Business Description

Your business description appears within the knowledge panel, when it comes to adding your businesses description make sure you describe the business and the services you offer, and why you are great at what you do.

Don’t be tempted to:

  • Stuff in Keywords
  • Add Links
  • Shout at customers with CAPS.

 

This is your chance to shine and show case your business.

 

7. Short Name

The short name feature allows you to create a branded short name to share on site or to customers looking for business.

https://g.page/OnlineOwnership

On the back of this, it also crates a short name link for reviews that you can incorporate into your customer interactions and emails.

https://g.page/OnlineOwnership/review

I recommend claiming yours as soon as possible, especially if your business name is quite common.

 

8. Attributes

If your business is brand new, you may not have any options available to add any attributes. Make a regular check (or notifications) to see if any new attributes are available.

Attributes helps Google to provide more accurate results to searches.

 

Google Posts

Google Posts deserves it own article, but I would encourage all business to start making the most of Google Posts to engage with and influence customer conversions.

Google Posts also appear within the knowledge panel and in mobile display. It surprises me how much time small business spend posting in social media, when they have an opportunity to engage with customers direct in the search results and also adding semantic understanding to Google’s algorithms about your business.
 

Google Posts - Local SEO Steps - Online Ownership

 

Types of posts available:

  • Announcement (Whats New)
  • Event – Date and Time
  • Offer – Vouchers Available
  • Product – Pricing Available

 

A Google Post lasts for 7 days in search results, whilst an even will remain in search up until the end time and date specified.

Some simple rules to get the best out of Google Posts:

  • Use High quality images (800 x 600), you can also use video
  • Create a great title (headline) and include your target keyword in title. Include enough information for a user to make a decision and perform an action (click to learn more, call you, sign up, book)

 

Business Photos

Photos are not ranking factors, but crucially they are converting factors. You only have to look at your insights to see how many users view images, you have probably done this yourself before making a final decision.

Add great photos to your business listing, it helps to convert customers and creates a connection with users.

I would recommend that all businesses regularly monitor your customer added photos. These can often be very poor images and / or completely incorrect images. This is because when a user takes an image on their phone the Google Maps app prompts them to add the image to the business and it may have selected the incorrect business to add them to.

This goes back to making sure your PIN marker is correctly placed in the first instance.

If an incorrect image is added, you can report it from the image in the Maps display.

You can also add video in the photo section.

 

Product Inventory

Product Inventory has its own section within the GMB dashboard navigation, however the steps to adding are the same as services / menu layout.

This allows small businesses to be able to add products manually to their business listing and is visible in mobile search. This allows the small businesses that do not have the ability to integrate product feeds via Google merchant and or use Pointy, that automatically integrates and updates product inventory via api.

Create a Category, then products within the category.

Image, Product Name, Price and Product Description

 

Product Inventory in Google My Business Page - Local SEO Steps - Online Ownership

 

Top Tip:

If you don’t have product inventory available because of your category, you can use the Google Post for Product and its displays as a product within mobile knowledge panel.

 

Questions & Answers

Question and Answers do not appear within your listings dashboard because they were implemented via Google Maps platform and are often missed by businesses. One way to keep informed of any questions or answers posted to your business is to have the Google Maps app enabled on your phone and you can answer this immediately.

Don’t want to use the Maps app, then make sure that you have enabled notifications for this in account settings – this will be an email notification.

Users do misunderstand the nature of this feature and often think this is some form of chat feature asking for immediate information. I recommend that you pre-populate this feature with FAQs that you encounter on a daily basis in the business.

 

Reviews

Ranking signals based on reviews have been reduced over the past few years because this is just to easy to game, so quality over quantity is the messaging here.

Listings with review stars showing stand out on the page and in heat map studies, users tend to view listing with reviews before other listings.

Build in asking for reviews within your customer journey and monitor your reviews for any problems in customer services. Business also tend to panic over a less then 5 star review, however customers expect to see a range of reviews for a business, what they are looking to see is how the business reacted to the review, what will happen if I happen to have a bad experience, will the business take me seriously.

You can also send the short name direct link to send to customers when asking for them to leave a review.

Enable notifications when a customer leaves a review, if you happen to get a negative review, take a deep breath and reply in a professional manner. You can also report inappropriate reviews.

 

Optimising Your Website – Local SEO Steps

The aim of optimising your website is to provide clear information to Google’s algorithms about where you are located, the services you offer in order for them to assign your website a position within the search results for a particular search query. If the thought of optimising your website fills you with horror, then go back to your developer to get the following steps implemented on site.

**Note: If you do not have a website, don’t panic. Your Google my Business page has a website option for you and they work quite well.

 

1. Your Location

You have spent time on optimising your Google My Business page, you now need to connect the dots between your Website and your Business Listing.

I recommend adding your address to the websites footer.

This serves to reinforce your location across the site, its also handy for customers to see exactly where you are located, so provide a link option for them.

 

Address in Website Footer - Local SEO Steps - Online Ownership
 

If you have multiple locations, then I would have your Head Office address listed and a link to your location page, where users can find all your locations.

Embed your map on your contact us page, good for users to see exactly where you are located, and remember we are joining the dots for Googlebot.

Embed a map:

  1. Open Google Maps
  2. Go to your business in maps
  3. In the top left, click Menu
  4. Click Share or embed map
  5. Click Embed map
  6. To the left of the text box, pick the size you want by clicking the Down arrow
  7. Copy the text in the box. Paste it into the HTML of your website.

 

2. Local Business Structured Data

Now that you have your businesses address on site, we can reinforce this data to Google via local business structured data.

 

<script type="application/ld+json">
   {
  	"@context": "http://schema.org",
  	"@type": "LocalBusiness",
    "image": "Image URL",
    "priceRange" : "Price Range",
  	"address": {
    "@type": "PostalAddress",
    "streetAddress": "First Line Address",
    "addressLocality": "Town",
    "addressRegion": "State ",
    "postalCode":"Post Code"
    
  	},
  	"description": "Brief Description of Business",
  	"name": "Name of Business",
    "openingHours": "Mo-Fr 09:00-17:00",
  	"telephone": "0800 000 000",
  	"email": "info@yourdomain",
    "url": "https://www.yourdomain.co.uk",
    "hasMap": "Short link direct from your GMB listing",
    "sameAs" : [
    "Social media channel", 
   “Social media channel”


   ]
     }
   }
</script>

 

3. Websites Home Page

City or Town and County in your home pages <title>

An example of this would be:

 

<title>Business Name – Emergency Plumbers in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire</title>

<title>Business Name – Expert Eye Care in Kettering, Northamptonshire</title>

 

By including your Core Business Service and Location in your page title, you are letting both users and search engines know what you provide and the location in which you provide it.

Your page should also include this within your H1, H2 tags on page.

 

<h1>Welcome to ABC Emergency Plumbers in Wellingborough</h1>

<h2>Plumbing Services across Northamptonshire</h2>

 

4. Business Citations and Links

A business citation is basically a business profile on a website other then your own website. A citation will consist of the Name, Address and Contact details of the business and more often then not a link to your website. Depending on the site or business directory, they may also offer a business description, images, products, social media profiles.

Business citations can also appear on supplier websites, trade organisations and chamber of commerce websites. It is worth noting that you only really want to be creating these in relevant and authoritative sites, these will provide the better online signals to Googlebot.

The single most important thing to keep in mind when submitting your business details to a business directory, is to keep your details accurate: Name, Address and Phone Number (NAP)
There are a few main aggregators in the UK:

  • Scoot
  • Thomson Local
  • 118
  • The Best Of
  • Free Index
  • Cylex

 

Some of these aggregators do have paid options which I would not use, rather spend any additional budget on Google Ads or perhaps paid social, but I have encountered a “premium” listing that provides any meaningful leads or customers.

After submitting your business to the main aggregators you can then look for more local and niche relevant sources. You can do this by searching online with “Northampton business directory” or “plumbers business directory”.

Another great source of local relevant links is with partnerships with businesses in the area, whether these be suppliers for your business, or other businesses, all you have to do is ask. There are also local charities, sponsorship’s and don’t forget the local press.

 

5. Content on Site

There is no point having a user land on a product and service page, not finding the information they need and leaving. Your service and products pages should contain all the necessary information required for the user to make an informed purchasing decision.

One tip to get you looking at your site content in the right way, is by asking yourself, “if a customer came into the business and all you could say to that customer is what is presented on your page” would you make the sale?

An easy way to provide additional specific information is to provide FAQs on relevant pages. You can easily build on these by creating a speadsheet with pages for each service, then every time a customer calls or ask a Question add it to the spreadsheet together with the answer. These can be updated on a monthly basis or as they appear.

A blog or news section on your site is a natural platform for you to engage with potential customers but also a way to target specific search queries. By understanding what your customers are looking for you can provide this information to their specific query.

So how do you know what users are searching for, how do you tap into this?

You can expand on your FAQs that you are building with either more in depth articles or video content. You can use Google Search Console to see users are searching for, based on content already provided on site. Filter queries with how, what, when, where.

There are quite a few content resources available online, but you can start thinking about your business content from:

  • Create resource lists
  • Break that news story within your industry
  • Case studies, interview clients that use your product / service
  • Visual content
  • Presentations
  • Tech specs
  • Sales info

 

Grow your business by understanding what your customers need.

 

More Local SEO Tips

 
Need a hand with your local SEO, Online Ownership provides a local SEO service designed around your business.

 

 

 

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