Your local business relies heavily on the Map Pack to bring in new customers and you just can’t budge beyond that number 2 position.
You’ve already verified and filled out your GMB profile with the basics. I don’t need to remind you to…
- Include NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number)
- Add photos
- Encourage Reviews
- Include Operation hours
- Utilize Business Categories
So what more can you do to move from the number two spot to number one? Are there any other SEO tactics you can leverage to move into the top spot for Orange County?
Fortunately, there are! The best part is that none of them are super technical and some only take minutes to implement.
Double Down on Reviews
Increasing the quantity and quality of your reviews has the potential to move the needle the most for your business. The problem is that you can’t incentivize your customers to leave reviews. Google doesn’t like it.
So if you can’t bribe customers for reviews, what can you do to generate more of them?
According to a study done by Modern Comment, the second biggest reason why people don’t write reviews is because they forget to do it!
Consider asking for more reviews in person at your business location. People respond very well to personal interactions.
In addition, ask your customers again online. You can also do this by posting your Google My Business review link on your website to make it easy for your customers to find. Don’t know how to do that? Let us show you.
Go to google.com/maps
Now, search for the name of your store. Let’s say we own a Panera Bread restaurant in Orange County.
Type it in and click on the one that is yours
Now click on the “share” button
Now copy that link and send it to your customers.
They can write a review here.
Now that you have that link, post it on your website and in any customer surveys you might be utilizing. Consider sending out an email campaign to increase your reviews. Just be careful that you are abiding by Google’s guidelines and don’t offer incentives for your customers to do so.
In addition, I would try to space out your email campaigns. If you generate a lot of reviews in a short period of time, this can raise questions in Google’s eyes.
Another untapped strategy is to ask partners and vendors to review your business. The only people you can’t ask to review your business are employees and former employees. (And this is actually for your protection as former dissatisfied employees could tank your reviews).
Finally, few businesses respond to reviews. Responding to reviews, positive and negative, immediately, shows how much you value your customers and how you really care about their experience. In fact, studies show that 78% of customers expect to see management respond to reviews.
Positive reviews only require a quick thank you.
Negative reviews require a little more thought and effort. Ultimately, you can’t please everyone and most people reading reviews will understand that. Therefore, most people reading reviews look to how you resolve issues. Simply responding and owning up to any mistakes you made will leave a good impression with people reading your reviews.
Below is a very good example from an Orange County law office that responds by offering their contact information to resolve the issue.
Notice that they also mention that there is no record of this person in their system which indicates to everyone else reading these reviews that this is likely a fake review. Google recommends against apologizing for mistakes you are not responsible for and there is a way to report fake reviews.
How to report fake reviews from your Google By Business Account
Go into your Google My Business Account and go to Reviews > More > Flag as Inappropriate
Finally, did you know that sometimes Google will include your Facebook reviews? While there isn’t any set way to submit Facebook reviews to Google, the best way you can encourage Google to do so is by making sure that all of your NAPs align and your information on both profiles match.
Write Google Posts
Google now allows you to write short posts directly into GMB. They look like this:
These posts show up in the bottom of your Google local listing and make your business look more active and professional. A very small percentage of businesses are currently utilizing this, so it gives you a great advantage if your business actually does this.
However, the question is, do these posts actually do anything? Are they just embellishing your GMB listing or are they actually generating quality clicks to your website?
According to a study from Moz, they actually do generate a decent percentage of views.
But does anyone actually click on these posts? On average, the study found that posts that were viewed were clicked on 100% of the time!
Imagine all your competitors that aren’t leveraging Google posts. They are missing all of those clicks!
So how should you leverage Google posts? What kind of content should you create?
Google posts are similar to social media posts (and you can also share them to your social channels!). You should be announcing fresh news and events happening at your store, if you have one for example.
You might want to announce:
- Changing Hours
- New Products
- Special Promotions
- New Products
Google also includes various click to action buttons, or CTA’s:
Your posts should be short (100-300 words) with the most important part showing in the first hundred as that is all that Google will show.
As Google My Business posts are meant to be fresh news information, they only last for 7 days. You can still click in to see previous posts, but it won’t show up in your GMB listing the way that a live post will.
Here’s an example of what a live Google Post, posted in the last seven days will look like in your local listing:
Whereas this is an example of a local listing that has old Google posts, but nothing that was published in the last seven days.
You can still click to see their previous Google Posts, though as there aren’t any live, customers are unlikely to interact with these posts.
Therefore, as a business, you can really create an advantage by making sure you utilize Google My Business Posts. You should set a reminder to post a new one, at minimum, every 7 days. We recommend to post one daily if you can. Now, if you want to automate the process, consider scheduling them in a tool like Local Viking. Since the posts are only allowed to be 100-300 words (exactly 1500 characters), it’s not too difficult.
Adding Videos (not just photos!)
Even if you have lots of high quality photos of the inside and outside of your business or a lot of branded images of your brand, video drives a 157% increase in organic traffic from SERPs (search engine results pages).
As of 2018, Google local now allows videos to be uploaded, similarly to photos, from both customers and business owners. When you click on “view photos” there is now a tab that shows videos as well.
As a business owner, here are some things to consider while making your videos.
- It must be on location.
This one may seem fairly obvious, but if you try to make a fancy video and instead include stock images to give it life, you will find yourself violating Google’s guidelines.
- Just 30 seconds
Some users have reported that they were able to successfully upload slightly longer videos, but we found the optimal time is 30 seconds. Your customer likely won’t want to watch anything much longer anyways.
- File Size
Files can be up to 100MB and resolution should be 720p or higher.
Leverage Google My Business Insights
Finally, it doesn’t matter how amazing your listing is in the Map Pack if you don’t truly understand your customer.
Thankfully, Google My Business Insights takes care of this problem. These are the secrets to leveraging the data.
To get started with Insights, just log into your Google My Business account and locate the Insights tab.
From here you can track the following actions of your customers:
- Direct or Discovery
The first major piece of information that Google Insights gives us is if people found your website directly also known as a branded search (they typed in your brand name) or if they discovered it through organic search (they typed in a keyword and landed on your Map Pack).
This is helpful to understand how much SEO is helping you and if you need to improve it or focus on other channels.
- Understand what actions customers take
When your visitors arrive on your Google My Business listing, look at what they do and which actions they take – do they visit your website, do they request directions, do they call you, or do they send you a message? This will help you understand your user’s intent.
You can also track direction requests which helps you better understand where your customers are coming from and where it is crucial that you rank at the top of the Map Pack.
In fact, Chatmeter even has a formula to predict your sales based off of this information.
You can also track phone calls within the Insights dashboard. This is useful, because you’ll know when people usually call and your sales reps should plan their schedules around those times.
- Search Queries
This is the report that most SEOs live by. It shows you which queries are generating the most clicks from your Map Pack as well as where you rank.
These keywords are great inspiration for creating Google posts, though they are also good for creating blog content around, to target more organic search queries you aren’t getting that much traffic from – these would be your opportunity keywords.
If you already have content, consider building local links to those specific pages. One mistake that a lot of SEOs make is building national links when local links actually help more, and are considerably easier to rank with than national links.
- Photo Insights
Finally, even if you think that you have plenty of photos on your GMB listing, you might still be at a disadvantage in comparison to your competition.
Insights will tell you if that’s the case. They let you know if you have more or less photos compared to your competition and the split between customer and user generated photos.
Even after you have your photos posted, you can see the interaction with them in your Insights dashboard. You can see the engagement per photo, and how your photos compared to your competition’s photos.
Again, make sure that your photos are only of your location and have them be of both the inside and outside of the building.
Bonus: Tools to Automate Your Local SEO
As a digital marketer, automation is key to the success of any local campaign. It eliminates human error and keeps things on schedule.
Whitespark is a great tool to ensure that all of your NAPs align. It also is perfect for competitor analysis. Simply type in the name of your competitor and you have a list of all of their citations. It is free for up to 3 searches per day and 1 project and then has paid plans starting at $17 per month (billed annually).
- Bright Local
- Bright Local is a good option if you are looking to clean up your existing citations, submit new ones or remove duplicate citations. The citation submission service with BrightLocal is on a per citation submission basis, starting at $3 per citation.
- Local Viking
This is a great tool for automating GMB management. My favorite feature is the GMB post automation. As Google posts only stay live for 7 days, it’s important that you are constantly on top of this. It also tracks how you rank in the Map Pack in various parts of Orange County and it also provides features like review management and tracks GMB photos. This plan starts at $36 per month.
How many other marketing channels have such an impact? Not to mention that Google’s organic search is a free channel.
If you’ve already done the hard part and have created an amazing business with stellar customer service, these last few local SEO tactics are all you will need to crack those top spots in the Map Pack.
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that just because your GMB listing is filled out means that is complete, and more importantly optimized for results.
If you need help or want to consult a professional in Orange County about your local listing, consider contacting us today.