How many customers could be finding you through Google?
Let’s do the math:
How many people live in your area of service? (NYC – a LOT; Bliss, Idaho, pop. 311 – not so many)
How many are interested in what you have to offer? (if you sell pizza, probably over 90%; if you offer snake charming services, probably a lot less)
Google controls ⅔ of the US search market, and almost 90% of mobile search. So if your customers have smartphones (and it’s getting harder to find people who don’t), the number of customers who could be finding your local business through Google is increasing.
Are you ready?
Unfortunately, many businesses are not. Not because they don’t have enough tables, chairs or staff, but because they’re making local SEO mistakes that prevent them from showing up in Google searches. Hope that’s not you? Let’s check:
Your NAP (name, address and phone) is not clear on your site.
It needs to be in at least one place on your site. It should really be in the footer on all the pages. And if you have it marked up in address microformats code, that’s even better.
Your NAP isn’t consistent across the web.
I once worked with a hotel who that two different entrances, and so they had two different addresses, each listed in different places across the web. And then there was a third address that also showed up in some places, even though it was wrong. They were sending Google on a wild goose chase: which is the right address? Google had manufactured several Google Local pages for them, and they weren’t showing up well for any of them.
You don’t have a Google+ Local page.
This is your local business’s primary interface with Google. Here you get to tell them all about your business – directly. Google+ Local pages can appear in the regular search results, in Maps and in Google+.
Make sure you have a page and that you give as much information as possible. Prices, hours, a virtual tour… don’t hold back!
If you need some help getting starting making your page, check out this great, visual, easy-to-follow guide to using Google My Business or check out our own guide.
You chose the wrong categories for your Google+ Local Page.
Local SEO experts rate proper category associations as one of the most important local SEO ranking factors. The primary category is critical. Choose the wrong one, and you have no chance of ranking for the niche you’re aiming for. After you choose the primary category, you can choose up to 9 other sub-categories within the dashboard. Think ahead and check out possible categories with Mike Blumenthal’s category tool. Do some keyword research to see search volume for different topics, and which high volume keywords match up with categories. Check out the competition. And then, once you’ve put in the thought and analysis, choose your category.
You over-optimized your Google+ Local page.
If your business isn’t called “Best Italian Restaurant in Detroit, Michigan,” don’t give that as the name on your Google Plus page. Even calling it “Delizioso Italian Food in Detroit, Michigan” is a problem. Google will call your business to verify that you’re legit before putting up your page. If your employees use a different business name than you wrote when they answer, “Hello, you’ve reached . May I help you?” your legit factor plummets. Google will view you as trying to pull one over on them – and they will return the favor, leaving your Local page way at the bottom of the heap.
You don’t put effort into getting reviews – or you put in the wrong effort.
Reviews are important for local SEO, both reviews on your Google business page itself, and reviews on trusted sites like Yelp. Encourage your customers to give reviews, and give them multiple options of sites. Whatever you do, DON’T use payment or negative means to get good reviews or prevent bad ones. Google forbids buying or incentivizing reviews. And if you try and coerce people, the backlash and negative publicity is likely to be severe, as it was in the case of this hotel.
Your customers are out there, waiting to find you. Make sure you can be found.