If local clients are your bread and butter, making sure you’re at the top of local search results is vital.
If you can snag a spot next to the Google map, your customers are only a few clicks away from calling or visiting your business.
But how do you get there?
What’s the trick?
Why are your competitors up at the top, but you’re not?
Unfortunately, there isn’t an easy hack, but we can give you some clear steps to help you climb your way up.
Distance, Relevance and Prominence
When customers search for a product or service, Google will display businesses based on a combination of factors using distance, relevance and prominence. If a service is further away than another but offers what the client needs, that service will rank higher.
So what does each term mean?
Distance: Google will provide the best search results closest to the customer’s requested location.
If the customer doesn’t provide a location, Google will provide search results based on what’s known about the customer’s location.
Relevance: Google will provide results based on how well they match the search term.
Most of us understand this; it’s the reason we use search engines. Still, for a business owner, this is where keywords become important — the terms or phrases that best identify your business, location and services. You will need keywords in your online business information and directories, and they will help your relevance in customer searches and increase your chance of exposure.
Prominence: This refers to how well-known a particular business is and how popular or important they are offline; famous brands or landmarks are examples.
Prominence is also where your online reviews, business directory listings and backlinks come into play. A high number of positive reviews will help you achieve better local search rankings, especially if clients include your local search terms (or keywords) in their reviews.
Reviews provide social proof and a way for Google to gauge a business’s value and popularity and therefore rank them higher. A cafe may offer several types of drinks and beverages, but if their reviews are low or negative, they may not receive high rankings. I say “may not”, because if they’re the only cafe in the village that’s miles from anywhere, then distance will come into play.
Note: Backlinks are links from around the web back to your site, usually from high authority sites, known as high Domain Authority (DA) sites. These could include local authority sites, industry leaders or large media outlets. Social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter do not count.
Use keywords in your Google My Business profile
If you can’t find your business or appear 52nd in the listings, you can start editing your Google My Business profile — Google’s own business directory.
Provided you’ve claimed or registered your business, the first step to ensure you appear in local search rankings is getting your business verified. If you are having trouble, follow our steps here. This will solidify your business location information with Google, and you are more likely to appear in local searches.
Ensure your Google My Business profile is complete
The best way to maximise your chances of appearing in local search results is by completing all possible sections of your profile while ensuring the information is accurate and location-specific.
Fill in as many fields as you can, because each field is another opportunity to appear in search results; even Google’s AI can use your images to provide data to potential customers with image recognition technology, e.g. recognising coffees, cakes, kitchen renovation, etc.
The Google Gods are simple at heart, your data either matches the client’s search request, or it doesn’t, and Google displays your business in search results, or it doesn’t.
If you provide clear, accurate information, Google can send bucket loads of clients your way and display your business higher in search rankings.
Fill in as much as your profile as possible with location-specific, and service and product-specific information.
Ensure your information is up to date and check your profile regularly.
Note: You can edit the information for 10 businesses, or more, at once by completing a spreadsheet for bulk upload to Google My Business.
Some things to think about...
What’s your main product or service? Think about this carefully when choosing a category or describing your business in your bio.
What would you type into the Google search engine if you were looking for your service? This can help you pick your keywords. Include these in your Google My Business profile.
What questions do your customers want to be answered? You can include simple FAQs about your business on your Google My Business profile.
Make sure to add the following information to your Google My Business profile:
- Accurate business hours — including special hours for holidays and events
- After hours service or emergency call outs
- Add photos
- Wheelchair access
- Special menu items
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