I get this question often from people running their own start-up to established businesses with an annual marketing budget. It’s also become increasingly important as now Google is devoting the top organic search results to the Google Local listings.
After I mention that the steps are relatively easily, many presume that a few days after spending a few hours of work that they should show up for all sorts of Google searches related to their business. FALSE! While the steps are easy, it’s the follow through that matters most. The follow through can be tedious and time consuming, but well worth the effort.
Set up your Google Local Business Page
Check and see if you already have a listing
Go to Google and search for your business, by its full business name. If your business is trademarked under your name, search for a few variations of your name (First,Last then Last,First then incorporate any titles or distinctions you have). You want to do a thorough search because having multiple listings in Google is not good.
Claim or setup and verify your listing
After you’ve done this search, if you’ve found a listing, follow the steps in Google for claiming and verifying the listing. NOTE, make sure the business address, telephone number and email actually reach you – Google will either call you or mail you the verification number and emails periodically come with free goodies.
If your search came up empty, congratulations! you have a blank slate. Follow Google’s instructions for setting up a listing and fill in as much information as possible. Also important is selecting the proper “category” for your business. Try to select 3 categories that auto-populate and then you can create 2 that are custom to you. Next step is verifying, be sure you give Google accurate contact information as you will get a call or letter with your Pin # needed to verify the listing.
Set up listings on review and directory sites
The typical places: Yelp, Insider Pages, City Search
The not so common: industry related directories
There are two distinctions in this step – there are the REVIEW sites and the DIRECTORY sites.
Review sites are basically any sites where someone can go online and review a business or service. Think Yelp, Insider Pages, City Search, Judy’s Book, and Google Local itself.
Directory sites are places that list businesses, think Yellowbook and the Spanish Paginas Amarillas (for Google Local Optimization in Miami) where business are listed, but not necessarily reviews.
You want to setup your business on all the review sites and directory sites as you can, including directory and review sites that are specific to your business. For instance, if you are a wedding planner, you want to get a listing on www.theknot.com . You can find your competitors that have top Google Local listings and check out their Google Local page to see where their reviews and citations (see last step) to get ideas about where Google Local is pulling information from.
Get reviews onto your Google + Local Profile and other review sites
This is a long process, so it’s best to start it early.
Reach out to recent customers, any customer that was pleased with your services, etc and give them detailed instructions on how to leave a review on ONE or TWO review sites. Be clear on where you want them to post or how.
Common review sites: Yelp, Insider Pages, City Search, Google + Local
The not so common: Industry related directories, Yellow Pages, Emily’s List
4.Get your website setup right – for Google Local
Once you’ve reached out to your client base to acquire their reviews, you’ll want to get started fixing up your website so that Google Local has an easier time finding it and how it relates to the local market, so your site can start ranking for the local area.
a. Homepage that is not a blog set-up
b. Phone number and location on every page, best if in top right corner
c. A contact page with Google map
d. Keywords; good keywords in site text and meta data
Upkeep and R&D
Google is like a needy friend, family member or significant other, it neeeeds your attention. And unlike that friend or family member, it’s not in your face about it – calling you every day or blowing up your Facebook page, it’s the silent stewing type. You need to go, login to your page, add photos, videos, maybe advertise a special and read the emails it sends you, there may be a freebie that you want to use.
The same goes for your website, you want to add new and interesting things at least once a month. Not going hog-wild with updates and changes though, or it won’t be able to index your good, relevant text.
As for R&D, you always want to be closest with your enemies, and that goes for internet marketing as well. You should know your greatest competition (not who you want to compete with, but who you actually compete with). Find them on Google Local, read through the CITATIONS (they’re at the bottom of the listing). Find out if they have different citations from you and aim to get them or similar ones. For example, if the citation says “best prices for golf apparel in Miami come from Jose’s golf” and this link is coming from someone’s personal blog, find out if they review other golf apparel companies, and try to interest them in your particular benefit.