Google My Business Setup and Optimisation

Google My Business Setup and Optimisation

Google My Business is a hugely beneficial marketing tool for local and small businesses who need to be found online. It can prevent companies getting lost in the tens of thousands of related search results when internet users near them research into something similar.

We’ve published before about why small and local businesses need a presence on Google My Business, but here we guide you through your Google My Business setup and optimisation process: to benefit your local SEO and help grow your local business online.

Remind me: what is Google My Business?

Google My Business is a business marketing tool aimed at local business owners to help build them up a web presence on what is increasingly a busy and crowded marketplace online through the Google search engine. Google My Business presents address, website and contact details for a local business in a prominent feature when a related term is searched on Google. GMB also powers Google Maps, so it’s essential to get this right.

What benefits are there to Google My Business?

Google hosts over 3.5 billion searches on a daily basis; so for small local businesses, it can feel difficult to be seen amongst all the competition. Google My Business listings improve local SEO by targeting those searching from or for the geographical area relevant to the local business and presenting plenty of information on the company in an easy to read and prominent position on the front page of listings.

What is the cost?

Google My Business is completely free to set up! While some businesses do choose to go on and invest money in various advertising options with Google, this is a separate expenditure and is completely optional. Providing your Google My Business listing is completed sufficiently, further advertising is by no means a necessity.

Setting up Google My Business: Step-by-Step

To set up your free Google My Business listing, first go to www.google.com/business.

You will be taken through a range of steps in order to setup your account and input all relevant information. This includes:

  • Business name
  • Business category
  • Geographic location (for face to face service or an office presence)
  • Where customers can be served
  • Premises address
  • Contact details.

Once this detail has all been added, you can publish this listing and the data will be processed by Google.

A Google My Business profile must then be verified to be publicly listed – and this proves that the business owner is genuine. Claiming the profile through verifying it allows the listing to display a Google Maps location and to share posts.

There are currently two ways to verify a profile; but for many, only one method is available. Verifying by postcard, whereby Google sends a physical postcard with a bespoke code on it to the business’ address for them to then input into the site’s dashboard in the back-end; is the most common method of business verification. The address listed on Google must match exactly where it is to be received. Verification by postcard can take up to 14 days, and if it hasn’t arrived by this point, a new one can be requested.

Some businesses are given the option to verify their profile by phone. If this method is applicable, it will be displayed as you click through to the verification process. This allows for an automated phone call with a confirmation code to be read through it to be made directly to the business phone number listed. This can take place immediately.

There have been trials of verification through a smartphone app and via email, but neither of these methods have yet been rolled out to all of those applying.

Without verification, your Google My Business account will remain inactive and options are very limited. In order to optimise its presence, verification should always be sought.

Once verification has been completed, photos should be added to the business listing. Even if there are not physical premises to photograph and feature, something related should always be added. Google’s own statistics show that businesses with photos receive on average 35% more click-throughs to their website than those without; and photos have a beneficial impact on local SEO.

Once My Listing is live… what next?

Once your profile has a successful listing on search results, it doesn’t mean the job is done and work can halt. Instead, there’s lots of ways to optimise the profile to keep local SEO consistently high and ensure that the listing is shown to as many people as possible. These include:

  • Adding and updating relevant keywords to the listing
    • Keywords are always required for decent SEO, but when included in a Google My Business listing, will further increase the chances of it being displayed to those searching for something relevant
  • Uploading a logo, cover photo and photo/video content
    • Regularly updating and adding content demonstrates a consistent and regular commitment to delivering up-to-date information, which Google recognises and rewards with favourable algorithm prioritisation
  • Encouraging regular reviews
    • Reviews are displayed alongside business information, and the higher the average score, the better. Sending out a link to review the business to existing customers alongside the management and response to existing reviews shows that the business is authentic in its customer care standards
  • Publish offers, events, products and services
    • Google users are used to convenience and so like to be presented with as much information as possible with as little effort as possible. Ensuring a Google My Business listing has as much up-to-date data on it allows interested users to access all the info they need in one place
  • Make use of customer insights
    • Google provides user insights to all Google My Business clients. These allow for those using the service to better understand their audience and their browsing habits, as well as to identify how and why they interact with the business. This presents opportunity for continuous improvement and optimisation.

A Google My Business presence should remain as up-to-date and relevant as possible in order to demonstrate the activity of the company to both Google itself and its users. The impact this will have on local SEO, and therefore custom, is hugely beneficial – so if you haven’t started already, why not?

If you’re a local business looking for further support with your GMB listing and local marketing, don’t hesitate to get in touch with the Woya Digital team.

How SEO Works: Simplified

How SEO Works: Simplified

The three letters SEO are known all too well by those working in digital marketing, but often remains the domain of technical specialists and so misunderstood by others.

The acronym SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation, which is indeed a technical practice, but there are vast benefits to it being understood by everyone in a business – especially where business owners are looking to pay for (or already pay for) SEO services.

While there’s really no need for everyone to comprehend the technicalities behind SEO, the basics can be helpful and so here we drill down to the foundations of SEO practice and take it step-by-step to help explain how SEO works, in an easy-to-understand way.

What is SEO?

SEO is the process of optimising content on a website so that the machine-learning algorithms behind search engines are able to identify their relevance and presence, placing them as high up on SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) as possible.

When we talk about SEO, we are primarily referring to the optimisation practices required to best boost a website’s exposure on Google. This is because Google holds (by far) the majority market share in most countries and territories when it comes to visitors, and so it drives more traffic than its competitors.

That said, there are areas worldwide where Google is not the most popular search engine – but, broadly speaking, working on SEO for Google will not inhibit the performance on other search engines and so activities can be enacted no matter the specific focus.

When A User Searches

For the maximum efficiency, digital marketing departments should link their SEO actions to every point of the search process. First, a user performs a search by typing their query into a search engine – usually a keyword or phrase, but occasionally a full question. Immediately, they are then presented with results deemed appropriate by the algorithm; and that are hopefully helpful to answer the query made.

In order to judge the order in which the results are ranked on the SERPs, there are two main factors considered by the search engine’s AI:

  1. Relevance – the search engine must be able to scan through the content on the page and judge it to be appropriate to the user’s search term. Where the keyword or phrase has more than one meaning, it should be the appropriate one for the intended query; which can be a challenge for machine learning.
  2. Authority – the search engine must be able to judge that the webpage (and overall site) that it is directing to must be trustworthy and safe for the user to visit.

How to Demonstrate Relevance and Authority

A business’ web content must demonstrate its relevancy and authority in order to rank on search engine results for user searches made appropriately to the theme or topic.

In order to demonstrate relevance, a website’s content must clearly demonstrate its overarching theme, topics and niche. Search engine’s programming determines this through its content including words, keyword usage, meta tags, videos, imagery and comments.

This allows the machine learning to build up a picture of what the site is about and who it would be relevant for.

This makes it critical for websites’ content to remain relevant to its key theme or topic, to be presented in a way that is appropriate for the audience and to be useful enough that it can be easily shared. Those producing web content for the site must ensure that relevant keywords, phrases and language is used throughout all published content and copy – and in technical areas such as tags and names.

In order for a website to demonstrate authority, it must appear genuine and trustworthy. This is most commonly demonstrated through safety and security authentication as well as links from other sites (and links to other sites) appropriate to the theme.

If other domains online deem the site relevant and honourable enough to link to, a search engine will take that to be a positive reference and endorsement of authenticity, appropriateness and trustworthiness.

The Two Main Types of SEO

There are two primary types of SEO:

  1. On-page SEO ­– SEO activity that it is carried out on a webpage and is created and curated by the business.
  2. Off-page SEO – SEO activity that is carried out on other websites linking back to it.

On-page SEO is usually the first port of call for those looking to improve their exposure on search engines.

This includes, but is by no means limited to:

    • The basic coding of a page should be well tagged with keywords and phrases used
    • Site architecture should be easy-to-navigate with a comprehensive site map in place
    • Content should be published that is relevant, engaging and shareable
    • Links between internal sources should be clearly marked and functioning correctly
    • Images must be appropriate to the site’s theme
    • All content should load quickly and be well accessible.

Once a site’s basic SEO functions have been optimised, a business can turn its focus to off-page SEO. Generally speaking, this includes, but is not limited to:

    • Links put in place to the site from others (preferably from high-authority sites)
    • PR and social media campaigns launched to generate interest and discussion of the brand
    • Facilitation of reviews on third-party websites mentioning or linking back to the site.

Both on-page and off-page SEO combine to help best demonstrate to search engine algorithms the appropriateness of ranking a site well when certain queries are made by users.

While on-page SEO should be managed first, the impact of off-page should not be underestimated and will contribute toward the overall efforts made, particularly when it comes to demonstrating the authenticity and authority of the site to the search engine algorithms.

Check out our SEO packages for smaller businesses

Judging SEO Success

There are several measures by which businesses can judge the success of their SEO efforts – but it must be noted that all SEO activities should be enacted on a ongoing basis and not as a one-off piece of work.

How to monitor the continual progress of SEO work is often misjudged by those who don’t understand how it all works – it can be more complex than expected!

Domain Authority

Every website has a DA (Domain Authority). A DA is a score given to a site numbered between 1-100 that ranks how likely it is to show up highly on SERPs, typically with 1 as the lowest and 100 as the highest.

Exactly what is considered a high score varies between industry but generally speaking, anything above 25 can be thought of as good. Positive and fruitful SEO efforts will elevate a website’s DA score and so this improving over time can indicate progress made.

It is worth noting, however, that DA (and indeed, further search ranking) is impacted heavily by the age of a domain – as search engines are unable to build up a picture of authenticity or reliability on an immature website. This may disadvantage new businesses in the short term but the DA score will soon build and rankings improve.

Search Rankings

Perhaps the most notable example of SEO success is the SERP ranking presented when you type in a relevant query. However, this used as a measure of success in the simplest term does not work as accurately as many would assume – because there’s a lot more at play when it comes to displaying search results than most think!

While search engine rankings are what is being targeted with SEO work, it is not often that any two people typing in a matching query will be met with the same rankings. This is because the search engine takes into account the person’s search history, location and personal settings when presenting results – and so a quick check often won’t highlight the most accurate ranking.

There are specialist tools that can be used to judge the ranking of a website. It is always recommended that businesses use specialists in this space rather than trying to search for their own sites in order to avoid influencing traffic levels inaccurately.

What’s more, specific specialist services will be able to advise on areas for improvement as well as a more direct picture of action vs influence when it comes to DA improvement and SERP exposure.

Combining this with other factors such as paid-for advertisement placements, backlinking strategies and PR campaigns can help hugely improve SERP performance as well as positive public perception and brand image.

While SEO efforts are often best left to specialists in the field as well as technical web experts, there is benefit to everyone in a business understanding how and why it works. This allows for everyone to do their bit and play their part to contribute toward a wider positive public perception of the brand; both online and off.

Local Citations to put your Business on the (Google) Map

Local Citations to put your Business on the (Google) Map

Businesses (especially smaller ones) have to do whatever they can to get their name heard, and with the internet providing everyone the opportunity to carve out their own little space online, it can often be difficult to stand out from the crowd.

When targeting customers or potential customers in a specific geographic area, local citations can be key to a business ranking highly on Google maps. A small focus on SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) can boost your profile on Google and help you feature higher than your competitors.

What is a Local Citation

A ‘local citation’ isn’t a Google term, but instead refers to a really basic form of marketing on the internet. It is simply an instance of your business’ NAP (that is: business Name, Address and Phone number) appearing online – be that on your website or on others. This may be in business directories, press articles, advertiser sites or reviews of your firm.

How does a Local Citation benefit a Local Business

Aside from it being a small ad boost, every time someone sees your information; a local citation helps reiterate to Google (and therefore Google Maps) that you are a leader in your area and that you are a genuine business. Google’s algorithms are well developed to identify spam and disingenuous entries and so good, organic reach through local citations is an easy way for it to understand proper local businesses.

What are the Elements of a Local Citation

The three main elements of a local citation are your NAP: business Name, Address and Phone number. The key is to keep them entirely consistent throughout all citations online – any differentiator will break the link between the citation and it relating directly to your business. It may be worth considering therefore if you have a ‘Ltd’ in your name or a space/unusual capitalisation/sub-brands, that you instead revert to one shorter name for your public-facing communications to avoid any confusion.

Other elements that may be included in citations (but aren’t imperative) include e-mail addresses and links to social media profiles. Where you can, keep the names of such profiles consistent and ensure you refer to yourself in the same way across all of your marketing.

Why Local Citations Matter

Local citations are the best way for Google’s automated algorithms to understand who you are and where you are; and that you’re genuine! The internet is full of bots and false entries, and citations are genuine reviews to show you’re not one of them. Citations alone are responsible for about 10% of Google’s decision in who to rank where on Maps, and with 76% of visitors accessing local results and then visiting one of the businesses featured within 24hrs, it’s a no-brainer that it’s an area of your online presence worth investing in!

Search marketing, SEO or search engine optimisation helps websites to rank well in Google and other search engines. At Woya Digital we are specialists in small business growth through digital marketing, including Local SEO services. We make SEO services affordable for small businesses through our pay monthly marketing packages, with no upfront investment. Find out more about how we can support your business growth!

What is Local SEO?

What is Local SEO?

Local SEO is simply the most effective way to promote your business online where you are based. It provides promotion exactly at the right time; when a local customer is looking to buy your product or services.

Also known as local search marketing, to be successful we maximise various strategies to get ranked online locally. These methods include listing on business directories. Yelp, Foursquare, Bing Places, Google My Business Listing, online reviews, along with other less known platforms. Consistency in these directories is the key to our success…

Local SEO is an extremely targeted marketing strategy that enables companies to position themselves on search engines and other business directories. This massively increases visibility and generates awareness within a niche market and locality.

Are you looking to increase your local sales? Then maximise your potential via customers performing local searches. Every day that customers are searching your locality and finding your competitors is lost business that you are giving away. Leveraging Local SEO will increase the chances of being found in your town.

How Can Local SEO Help Attract New Customers?

Local searches have substantially increased in recent years, especially on mobile phones. According to recent statistics, 96% of desktop users conduct local searches. Almost 40% of all searches on Google are now focused locally.

Here’s why locality based small and medium sized businesses should opt to include Local SEO in their marketing strategy:

Local Search Marketing – Google Maps

In the UK, your business and website need to appear in Google Maps. All you need for this is to have a physical location in the town where you are looking to be found. This will make a difference to your local positioning and it’s free. https://www.google.com/business/

If you are listed, make sure your details are correct. Address discrepancies count against you, so check as the information is often pulled from other sources.

Local SEO Chichester

Produces Improved Results

The ideal time to connect with a customer is when they are in need of your product or service. With Local SEO, businesses can position themselves exactly when needed. When a need is searched, the businesses appear at the top of the search list.

Conversion Rates Are Higher

As you see in the above image. Google Places or Maps listings display the name, address and phone number of the business. In contrast to other traditional advertising, local search has a high (and measurable) rate of conversion. This means, if your business is positioned correctly, you are best placed to convert interest into customers.

Mobile Internet Usage is Still Growing

Increasing numbers of potential customers are searching via Google on mobile phones to buy products or services on the go. Even from their sofa! In 2015 Google announced that more searches are made on mobiles than PC’s. Make sure your website is mobile friendly and be visible in your locality.

Gives Improved Return on Investment

Unlike traditional advertising, with Local SEO there is little wasted exposure. You only reach a potential customer when they need you. Enticing a customer when they are interested in you is a cost efficient and effective option, offering greater ROI.

Enhanced Credibility

Most online directories allow users to rate and review local business and services. Having a good reputation online can really help you in attracting customers, so keep checking so you can respond to comments.

Local SEO vs. Organic SEO

Both Organic and Local SEO helps bolster your organic ranking on search engines. This helps you reach as many potential customers as possible. However, if you are contemplating between choosing between local and organic SEO, you should take your niche audience and nature of business into consideration.

With Local SEO, your business gets ranked for a specific location. This is ideal for a local business as you can target customers within a particular geographical area. Through this, you will always reach the right customers who might be looking for your service. For example, if you are a plumber in Chichester, ranking top in Google search in London could be a waste of time for everyone.

The Importance of Local SEO

The importance of Local SEO has increased in recent years with the expansion of Google Places, Google Maps, Apple Maps and the mobile web. This has encouraged many companies to make it an important part of their inbound marketing strategy. The targeted results, improved ROI and the high lead to sales conversion ratio indicate that it is an essential element of any company marketing strategy.

Make sure that the directory listings for your business locations are perfect, accurate and consistent. Remember that the main search engines and maps use multiple sources for their data. Including Yelp, Foursquare, Bing Places, Google Business Listing, online reviews, Yell, TomTom among many more.

Work with a partner who understands the importance of Local SEO in the UK. This will provide a real boost to your presence and help you be found online. Woya Digital offer excellent packages paid monthly for SEO without commitment.

Woya Digital can assist companies of all sizes, anywhere, promote themselves through the internet. Our fixed price offering is straightforward and yields results! We are fantastic at social media management, website design and SEO, all paid monthly, with no upfront investment.