Every local business wants to show up at the top of Google’s search results. There are many fundamentals that haven’t changed (despite Google’s constant refining of their algorithm), but over the past year, they’ve made a massive set of changes to Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business) that make it more important than ever.
Search engine optimization (SEO) used to be primarily about how you built your website and what code and content you put on it. Today, what happens outside of your website is just as important as what’s inside it.
Helping your local business be more visible in Google search results starts with a few basic steps:
- Build a quality website using sound SEO strategies, then
- Add it to Google Search Console
- Add it to Google Analytics
- Claim your Google Business Profile
- Build a solid social media presence
- Claim your accounts on the most relevant, popular platforms
- Update each profile with the most important information
- Link back to your website
After that, consistently posting quality content to your website and social media accounts would help keep your site relevant and timely in the virtual eyes of Google’s algorithm. There are, of course, many other strategies and lots of people and companies who claim to game or outright cheat the system (with varying results), but this is where you start.
Playing Nice with Google
Over the last couple of years, Google has prioritized local listings in mobile search results. In other words, if someone is searching for something from their phone or tablet, local results will come up first. Most importantly, Google Business Profile results are frequently the first ones you will see. You will often see the top Business Profile result right next to other search results on desktop as well.
Google has also greatly expanded the amount of detailed information you can include on a Business Profile over that same time period. While you should have that same information on your website and encourage Google to crawl it (i.e. Google reads and catalogs the content), you can’t force them to do so or put the results at the top of every relevant search. That’s why you must take advantage of what Google is giving you through a Business Profile, all of which is fully indexed (searchable) and prioritized in search results.
Updating Google Business Profile Information
Your Google Business listing allows you to add considerably more detail than most social media platforms. Add as much as you can in every area. More is more in this case. Once your information is added, you don’t have to touch it until something significant changes for your business or you have great new pictures to add.
It’s Not Social Media, But It’s Patterned After It
Your Business Profile is not a social media profile, but you can post updates to compliment the in-depth information about your business. It’s closest to MySpace or Facebook before the News Feed became the central feature (for those of us old enough to remember). So while you might crosspost something from social media on your Business Profile, you would do so only for an update that would make sense for someone to see in search results.
For example, you WOULD post:
- A sale or special offer with a wide time frame
- A new product or service announcement
- A change to your business hours, location or other information that might otherwise remain the same most of the time
- Updated photos of your interior, exterior or products
On the other hand, you WOULD NOT post things that make more sense for social media:
- Same day or very limited time offers
- Social media contests and giveaways
- Memes and other “just for fun” content
- Throwback Thursday or Fall Back Friday photos
Reviews, Q&As & Messages
One way your Google Business Profile does mirror social media is how you will also have reviews, questions and messages to read and respond to appropriately. Thoughtful responses with the goal of providing excellent customer service is the rule here as well. These user-driven features will be shown prominently and require your diligent attention.
Keeping Up With Google
Google will continue to refine and evolve their search algorithm and what Google Business Profiles have to offer. Google frequently adds and removes features and will even shut down entire tools to focus on something else.
This is the fundamental challenge of social media marketing in general: everything is changing all the time. Ridge Road Media is here to help you keep up with this ever-shifting landscape so you can focus on your business. Contact us today.