Does your local business have a complete, updated and accurate Google My Business Listing? Optimizing this single page can have a dramatic impact on Google Maps and local search rankings.
Jason Kamara, Senior SEO Specialist at PerfectMIND, will take you through setup, troubleshooting and some advanced optimization tips to get your site the traffic it deserves.
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If you could enter in the chat box below if you can hear me, okay. Perfect, I'm getting a lot of okays, so everybody can hear my alright. Hi my name is Noah, just a little introduction. I'm marketing coordinator here at Perfect Mind and today we have joining us Jason Kamara our senior SEO specialist. A little bit about him, as I said he is our SEO specialist here at Perfect Mind and he has been optimizing websites for over a decade now. He has worked on SEO and conversion rate optimization campaigns for local, national and even international businesses, e-commerce companies and more. He is passionate about search engine marketing, technology, and consumer behavior and so today he's going to bring to us a topic about how to create a free Google My Business listing that gets results. With that I would like to pass it over to Jason, and I'm looking forward to this presentation. Take it away, Jason!
Great, thanks a lot Noah. Thanks everyone for joining me today, and sorry to do it again, but can I do a quick sound-check and make sure that everyone can hear me well? Can you just type in a "y" or "yes." Okay, great, and I see that people are still filtering in here. So, while people are still joining us, I'm just kind of curious, whereabouts are you guys joining me from today? You know local SEO webinar, is everyone from the US, Coral Springs, Florida, cool…Virginia, Orange County… Do we have any Canadians? Wow, a lot of Florida, okay! Oh, Saskatoon, awesome, my hometown! Okay, we've got some Canadians in here as well, awesome! So, again thanks for taking time out of your busy schedules to join us here for this webinar. I'll try to make sure that it's action-packed. I know Google My Business isn't the sexiest, coolest topic, but it's something that's really just essential if you have a local business. So, I hope that I can kind of drop some interesting knowledge for you that you can apply today to improve your rankings and to basically convert more prospects into members, so that's what we're here for, right?
So, before I do that, why should you care? Okay, it's out of order here. You know, what is Google My Business? Well, really it's an online directory. So, it's similar to YELP but it can be a lot more valuable and it's really a great way to expand your online visibility. You can really think of it as a second website, right? You can include your hours of operation, you can show photos, you can put your reviews, links to social media profiles…there's really a lot you can do there, and importantly it carries a lot of weight in the local ranking algorithm. So, here's a search here for San Diego cross-fit gyms. So, I'm out of shape, I probably should get in shape so I'm looking for a cross-fit gym in San Diego, so this is a pretty typical result set here. At the top you can see the yellow which are Adwords, those are paid results, so someone clicks on those and you pay every time someone clicks on them. Just below that we have this one blue listing which is a localized, organic result, okay? So, it doesn't come from Google Maps. Below that is what we're looking at today and that is known as the Map Pack, or the Seven Pack, or the Local Pack and those results from Google Maps… Now, you may be thinking "Adwords is the most prominent," right, because it's the first thing you see on the page.
But, actually research continues to show that a lot of people kind of skim over the ads, and often their eyes jump directly to the Map Pack. This is particularly true for local search, so we really want to make sure that we have a prominent presence in that pack. So, another search here, this one's for Green Bay Dance School, so sorry if there are any Green Bay Packers' fans, no one chimed in about being from Green Bay, sorry about that there's always next year, but this result set is a little bit different. So, here you can see there's one ad at the top, and at the side here there's no organic result, but look at this Map Pack. It's a lot more prominent and this could be because Green Bay is smaller than San Diego, every market's different, but if you look here wouldn't you like to be in there at the top of the Map Pack under so much real estate? Now, let's take a look at a brand search. So, maybe I've heard of this pilates studio in Vancouver called Form Body Lab, so I type in Form Body Lab in Google and look what I'm presented with. Instead of just getting a boring link to the website, I get this nice site link box. So people can see reviews or can conveniently they can jump right to pages on my site. So, maybe they want to see rates, and they can jump right to the rates page or they can jump right to the schedule page. So, it's a really convenient way to gain traffic.
On the right side here we have this local knowledge panel, and again if someone wants to find directions quickly or read reviews, see the hours, it's displaying a lot of valuable information right there before the person even goes to your website, and this is only possible with a Google My Business listing, with a local listing. Okay, so here's another search. This one's in Orlando, so for Orlando yoga, look at all of these goodies here. So with a high quality verified local listing we get all of these reviews showing which really stands out, we get a phone number so someone can very quickly call and this is especially good on mobile. We get a nice photo, you know a storefront photo and someone actually has business view as well, so you can see inside what it looks like. We can get directions quickly, we can see some reviews, we can see reviews from around the web; all of this just with that search, so it's great free advertising. And you know probably the most important thing, one of the main reasons why you guys tuned into today, because this has a strong weighting in ranking. So, if you want to rank in that Map Pack, you know want that A, B, C, result, you really need a strong My Business page.
Unfortunately, no one knows how Google's algorithm works. Okay, we know certain things but no one knows it. It's like the Coke recipe, but we do know that there are more than a 100 different ranking factors and the algorithm is updated frequently. So, the best estimate that we have is this yearly, local search ranking factor survey that's put out and if you want to know more you can go here to moz.com/localsearchrankingfactors, and you can read more about it. It's pretty geeky, it's pretty in-depth, but it's quite informative and you can see here that my business signals account for about 15% of all the ranking factors, so that's pretty heavy weighting. So, they're believed to account for much more than social signals for example, like sharing on Facebook or Twitter, even stronger than reviews. So this tells you that you really ought to get one.
So, let's take a little bit of a look under the hood. So, just curious again how many people listening here are familiar with Google My Business or have a listing right now, could you type in "yes" or "y" in the chat box? Oh cool! Actually quite a few, so for those of you that already have a listing we'll also be talking about troubleshooting, ranking issues, basic troubleshooting as well as some advanced optimization techniques, so hopefully this will be good for everyone whether you have a listing or not.
If you're not familiar with this new dashboard, Google My Business came out last year and it's a successor to previous versions of Google Places which was really horrendous to deal with, and then it was followed up with Google Plus Local which was better, but it still had a lot of problems. So, this version is a lot easier to work with and it also looks a lot nicer. So, this is a basic dashboard, and once you have a listing setup you can come in and you can quickly post just like Facebook. You can see some insights here, and you can see who has viewed your listing. This is not your website. This is your listing…clicks, and followers as well, then if you like you can join Adwords Express for paid clicks. You can see your reviews and I encourage you to monitor your reviews. You can also respond to them here and then if you want you can connect your Google Analytics account and keep an eye on your website stats.
So, let's take our first look here at setting up a new listing. So, there are lots of different ways to accomplish this, so what we're going to do is go to google.com/business, and if you go there and click on the blue, "get on google button…" So, the first thing you'll be prompted to do is choose a business type. Now here we need to really be careful that you don't choose the wrong one, because I've seen this done many times. So, right now you have 3 options; storefront business, service area and brand. Now, I imagine many of you joining will be owning and running member base businesses like gyms, yoga studios, dance classes, martial arts schools…so that would be a storefront business. So, this is anywhere where members, customers come to your physical location as opposed to a brand page like Nike. This is not going to show up in Google Maps, and a service area business this is if you are actively serving customers in their locations like pizza delivery, taxi service…maybe you're a personal trainer and you only work with your clients off site, so that would be a service area business, but today we're looking at storefront.
So, after you choose that then Google wants you to search for your business. You want to make sure that you don't already have a listing somewhere, so what you can do is type in your name, business name, you can type in the address, you can type in the phone number or a combination of them to see if there's anything out there. Now, you might be surprised if you think, "Well, I've never created a listing," and all of a sudden you find one. Google may have created one for you but, you still need to investigate that. So, there are generally three different scenarios. The first one is that your business is listed correctly and you need to verify it. Okay, so maybe someone created one in the past, maybe you created it and forgot about it, so you need to go in there and you need to make sure the information is accurate and you need to verify it. The second one is that your business is listed and it's already verified. Well, this sounds good but what you want to make sure is that you actually are the verified owner and if someone else owns this listing and you have no idea how to access it, you'll have to request permission to access. The third one is the one we're going to look at today and that's your business is not listed and you need to create a new one.
So, once you enter your basic contact information, your listing is automatically created. So, this is quite different from the past where you had to verify before your listing was created. So what you want to do is go ahead and you can watch the tour if you'd like, or you can choose "get started." You can go ahead even before you verified your page, you can enter your contact information, you can upload images, you can add a bunch of information but those changes won't take effect until the page is verified, but overall the process has definitely improved. So when you do choose to get started and you want to enter your contact information the contact information is critical. I can't overstate the important of this.
So what you want to do is make sure that your name, address and phone number are entered exactly as they should be, so this contact information should be the same everywhere online. That means it should be the exact same name that's on your website, exactly the same that's on Facebook, exactly the same that's on Yelp… The suite number should be in the right order, the road should be spelled the same, it should be identical…and this is rarely case, so please if you're setting up a new listing or even if you have one already go and check your website, check Facebook, check a few others and see is this exactly the same especially the road. There are often problems there. Once you enter your contact information then you're going to add a category. Now, this is one area that a lot of people think, "Oh, I'll just go and choose my category," this has a big impact on ratings. Okay, it's believed to be one of the most important ranking factors and that's choosing the correct category. So, in this example I'm going to take you through one of our newer clients, he runs a Brazilian Ju Jitsu school in Mississippi so some of these I'm going to be using from his listing. So what we did is we chose martial arts school because that's the broadest, most accurate category and that's what he wants to rank for. Next we chose Ju Jitsu school because that's more precise but there's going to be far fewer people searching for Ju Jitsu than searching for martial arts, so that's why we chose it as second. And you can see martial arts schools is the primary category and this is the one that shows up on your public page, and you can also choose some additional categories. So, we found self-defense school and physical fitness program.
Now, Google lets you enter up to 10 categories but you definitely don't need to. I would enter a minimum of 3, so please choose these very, very carefully. Then hours…oh I love this, I don't know how many times in a week I'm looking for a local business and I type in the name just to look for the hours because I'm pretty lazy. I don't like to get on the phone and call. I pretty much avoid it like the plague and so when I see the hours, that's just great. It means I can sleep in, or I can go tomorrow or procrastinate…whatever it is, but I love having that there. It's so useful. So, please don't skip out on this feature and make sure you add your business hours. It really helps out your prospects. The introduction…this is one area where things get overlooked pretty frequently. So, most introductions that I see…it's like one sentence. You know, "We are a fitness center in Toronto." That's not too compelling, so what you can do in this is this is a rich text introduction now. You can see it looks a little bit like Wordpress or something like that. You can have bolded text, italics, you can put in hyperlinks, bullets, take advantage of this big time, right? Like put in a limited time offer, put in something persuasive… Make sure you get your target keywords in there once. Put in links to your subpages. There's so much you can do with this, so take advantage. Don't just throw up a one line description. You can also go in and add some photos, so fill this sucker up. Don't just throw in your logo. You guys are lucky because the nature of many of your industries is that you have great photos, like you have tons of great photos of your members, of your staff, of your facility, of contests…just tons of that, so get them up there. Don't just put in one or two, get them up there so your prospects can see. I also do believe Google does take this into account. The more information you have and the more media you have, the better overall that you're going to do. So, you can see here with our listing for True Warriors Nova Academy, in this blue bar here your profile is 100% complete. So, we finished everything and it's looking pretty sweet…the correct category and all of the information is in there, so all we need to do now is verify. So, you click "verify now," and you'll probably see something similar to this. So, what this does is it gives me mail verification options…
So, snail mail, it usually takes about a week, and if you're lucky you'll also get a phone verification option. Now, usually you don't have this if you do it's great because the times that I've used it, it's basically instantaneous, so you don't have to wait a week. They call you, you get your pin, you enter your pin and boom you're on. But for most of us it will be snail mail and once you get your pin, you enter your pin in My Business Listing and then away you go. Your listing is usually up in a few days. So, I apologize if I'm speaking quickly here. This slide deck will be available as well as the recording of this webinar, so you'll be able to go it more slowly. It's just that there's a lot of content to cover and I'm just trying to go through it quickly. I know that everyone's time is very valuable. So, there's a setup checklist here and it'll also be on our blog as well. So, this is just going over what I talked about.
So, the second part of the webinar is troubleshooting. So you already have a listing, it's a 100% complete, it's verified but you're not ranking. So, you type in your target keywords and you're not showing up in the top 7, and you dig down and you're not showing up anywhere. So, why could that be? You know, troubleshooting My Business can be really tricky for any of you that have to do it, and in fact there are local SEO consultants that specialize in this and that's all they do every, single day. They troubleshoot My Business listings, just because there's so much detective work involved and in my opinion it's the most challenging part of local SEO easily because things change so frequently. So, after having scared you let's jump right in here. What I usually start with is NAP consistency. So what NAP is, is name, address and phone number. As I said before it's critical that your contact information is exactly the same throughout the web and even offline as well. Google has some scary ways of checking your contact information. They use Google Earth, they'll call you during your office hours, they use Street View…they really want to know what your contact information is and it makes sense.
So, this is a strong trust symbol. If you think about it this way, if there are 10 different addresses for your business online, how much is Google going to trust the address on your My Business listing? It's a very important ranking factor overall. What you want to do is if you do move, if your business moves, or your phone number changes, you want to make sure that you're updating that contact information EVERYWHERE not just your website. Your My Business listing is very important. Facebook like I said, Yelp, and just do a search, try to find any directories that you've registered in and make sure to update that information as well. For the good of your prospects, right? You don't want people that are interested in joining your music school showing up at the wrong address. This also goes for your domain name. So, if your website URL changes, you also need to update that in a bunch of different listings. So, often we talk about NAP consistency but there's also NAPW, which is name, address, phone number and website consistency.
Here's an example. Believe me it does not take long to find examples of this. So, I was just randomly searching for jazz schools in Berkley, California, and I came across this one. So, if you look at the right side here. So, I grabbed this from the website, so it's California Jazz Conservatory and this is the address they have. So, it's California Jazz Conservatory 2887 Addison Street, but look at their Google My Business listing. So, this is a verified local listing, so someone actually has created this and verified it. So, the contact information is the same but the name is different…the Jazz School, totally different. So, that's one example of inconsistent NAP, so you definitely want to get in there and fix that. One of the second things that I often find for people that aren't ranking is that there's a duplicate listing or some other additional, erroneous listing that's sprung up from nowhere.
So, if you have these listings they can be competing with each other. So, in general you should only have one local listing associated with your physical location. There are some exceptions, so for real estate agents, physicians, other practitioners you know where you have like 3 dentists working at the same practice. It's fine for them to have separate listings for each as well as having one for the office, but there are only certain industries where this is applicable, so you would really have to check. So, these can be confusing for your prospects. Just the other day I was calling the US and trying to find out what the exact address was of a gym, because there were 2 that were showing up online; one was 145 and the other was 169, well which one was it? And it wasn't showing up on Google Earth, so it's just introducing needless confusion. So what you want to do is go in and take a look to see if you can find any other listings for your business. When you find them, kill them, okay? Just mercilessly get rid of them, if you find one that's inaccurate and you have control over it, nuke it! If you find one that's inaccurate but you don't have access to it, then what you would have to do is claim the listing, verify it and then delete it. It's kind of annoying, it's a little bit of extra work but it's very useful. Here's an example…so what we did is we confirmed with one of our clients Herb Johnson. These are pages that he manages, he has two different locations but this middle one here 5145 in Indianapolis, he has no idea where this came from. Now he is the owner and manager of this listing, but it's totally incorrect; the address is wrong, the phone number's wrong, so we shouldn't have this. So after confirming with him we can just go ahead and delete this.
So, one of the last issues is maybe you or one of your staff has created a wrong type of page. So, instead of creating a storefront business or a local business, someone created a brand page or some other type of nonlocal page. Well, if this has happened it can really have a detrimental impact on your rankings. And unfortunately it's not that easy to determine what type of page you've created. There's nowhere that tells you, "Oh, this is a storefront business." So what you have to do is do a little bit of detective work. So, there's no foolproof method that I've seen, but here are some signals. Okay, so if the page is verified, then it should say verified local business on it. There should be a badge for it. I'm just going to jump ahead and show you one. Take a look here, this, that's a verified local badge. If it's not verified it's a little bit harder, so you can check to see if there's that big ugly map for cover artwork that usually only shows for local businesses. If you see a tagline on the about tab it's not a local page. There should also be a map on the about tab, and reviews use to be an indicator but now brand pages are also allowed to have reviews, so don't use this as an indicator of whether or not it's a local business.
Alright, let's jump into the good stuff; advanced optimization tips. So, if you really want to get a leg up on the competition it's just not enough to rank at the top. So, you may be thinking, "Ah, I have that A listing, I'm killin' it," well there may be a B and C listing that are just much more attractive, much more enticing. So, you really want to make sure that people are clicking on your listing and that people are converting because that's our real goal here. Traffic is useless if it's not converting. Business view, so this is kind of a cool feature. Now what you can do is you can have an authorized photographer come in and take these beautiful panoramic photos inside your business.
So, all you do is you search in your area to find a trusted photographer or agency, he or she will come down to your facility in your range of time, they'll take photos, those end up on your Google My Business listing and for member based businesses in particular they're really great, so just imagine that you have a gym. And you have all these new machines and you really want to showcase them, so what you can do is you can have your whole facility shown there and prospects can go through and they can really get a behind the scenes look in your gym, and doing this can not only give you a competitive advantage but if you think about it, it can really increase the number of drop-ins, right? Because you're already familiar with the business, you're like, "Oh cool it has those machines over there, I like this, I like that," so it's kind of a great addition to have and there's a one-time cost associated with that. Like I was talking before the introduction; don't throw in one boring sentence. So, here's one from THA Martial Arts and Kickboxing we're not affiliated with them in any way that I know of, look at their introduction. So, it's a good length here, it's persuasive and it includes links. So, these are hyperlinks to pages on the site, and these are also keyword driven. So, this is good for SEO and it's also good for conversions. So they took advantage and that's a really nice introduction.
Reviews, okay, you may have the odd negative review. It happens. What you should be doing is monitoring and addressing these, so if you see a negative review don't just let it fly. Try to be tactful in how you respond, and try to be as quick as you can. So, this is an after school program here, Kids are Kids, and I forget where it is…somewhere in the US, but they have a couple of bad reviews here, but they responded in a good way to both of these. You know with grace and dignity and this can really help! So, this will be up on the slide deck if you do want to read this to get an example. Share updates, so unlike Facebook you don't need to post every day, I realize it's too time consuming but share every once in a while, and Google actually is far superior to Facebook in my opinion in the type of updates you can share. So, if you look at one of our clients here, Ryer Martial Arts Academy they do a great job on Google Plus, and here are just a couple status updates that they share right. So, they're using image as well and they are even being interactive. So here, "Did you go, yes/no," so this is an event. And on the other side here they actually photographed someone's writing and they're using hashtags with proper keywords. So, Google does take notice of this. By posting you may not all of a sudden pop up at top ranking but this definitely helps and it's also good for increasing conversions…it looks like a real community.
The last one, the last optimization tip is to really optimize those photos and videos. So, when you're uploading all of your beautiful photos don't upload them directly from your camera with those long useless names. Don't upload those, you should rename them first. Rename them with something keyword targeted so you can put fitness center, Queens, JimmyWeightlifting.jpg, something like that, but try to rename all of those before you upload them. I really believe along with many other local SEOs that does factor into rankings in some ways. The same thing with videos, you can rename your video if you're uploading to Youtube. In the videos tab here at the bottom, you can either upload your video directly or you can link it to your Youtube account. Either way… If you're linking to your Youtube account try to have a nice description. Have a good description on Youtube, a good title, make sure it's tagged properly and you can even use things like your Geo-coordinates in Youtube which I think can help.
And you'll notice here there's no big ugly map, so you have a nice logo and they have a landscape image. So, get rid of that big ugly map, and actually that's my challenge of the day. So, we're pretty much done with the presentation portion here, but can I take a poll here? How many people listening that have a Google My Business listing, how many of you have that big ugly map there right now? Can you type in, "Me, me, me!" Ha ha, I see a no nice work. So, that's my challenge for today. Get rid of that map and find a nice landscape picture of your staff, of your members, of your facility and put it up there. It just needs to be there. So, that's about it. That's all I have for you today.
Q & A begins