Local SEO Essentials – Google My Business Updates for Local Businesses to Leverage

More than 80% of the internet searches are now through mobile devices, and the majority of those are to seek information about local businesses. Another upcoming trend is that most of these searches tend to be voice searches. So, those people who don’t have an idea about a particular brand or business name in mind search for any product or services and then access the providers who come on top of the local search results.

To leverage the advantage of such searches, all businesses need to establish an improved SEO strategy. It is a proven fact that even the smallest to the biggest business organizations can effectively grow their business through search engine optimization and attract more customers to their services using local SEO. Further, in this article, we will try to explore the primary concepts of local SEO and then look into the very specific need of updating your Google My Business account per the latest updates.

The concept of local SEO

Local search engine optimization has proved out to be a highly effective mode of marketing for businesses with a local presence. This not only helps the businesses to promote their products and services but also to maintain a good relationship with the potential consumers of that region. This can be done through a wide range of tested and proven methods; however, many of which now differ largely from conventional practices in SEO.

Local search

Almost 46% of the whole searches on Google are now with local intent. So, we have to assume that there is a significant increase in local search over the last few years from the standard information search. In fact, anyone doing SEO can work for ranking for search queries related to ‘fixing blocked drain,’ and when the query becomes more purchase oriented, it could be like ‘plumbers near (region)’ or ‘drainage cleaning services near me’ etc.

For local specific search query, which may include an exact location or the ‘near me’ tagging, search engines can understand the intention of the searcher to get a business listed under that location, sot it precisely ends up in what is offered at the local SERPs (search engine results pages).

Local SEO and Google My Business

First known as Google Local and then Google+ Local, GMB (Google My Business) is now the best landing option for the searchers to find local businesses. As the name suggests, GMB is your profile page on Google for the users to get relevant info and reviews about you. If not claimed yet, then you can immediately add and claim your business in Google My Business listing.

GMB feeds information about local businesses to different places on the internet including the local pack and Google Maps results etc., but the classic appearance of GMB is on the top right-hand side of the search page results with details of the business, rating, reviews, website, phone, address, working hours, etc.

The major features which make GMB a distinct business reference is the attributes like the GMB Q&A, Google Reviews, etc. displayed on your profile, which in fact are generated by the customers based on their experience with your business. When it comes to local SEO, a major part of it now is to make your GMB profile perfect and up-to-date. With a solid GMB, you are most likely to appear on the local pack and also considered as trustworthy and appealing to be worth a click-through. Even though it is just one among those, GMB is now the top venue for business citations.

So, even on owning a small business, you can now optimize your internet presence by optimizing for Google My Business. However, the real fact is that only about 44% of the local businesses only have claimed their Google My Business profile now. In fact, it is a free business listing which everyone can access. Google recently added on some new features to GMB, which will help you enhance your local SEO rankings. Let’s further explore those.

  1. Appointment URLs

GMB now has an expanded option to add the appointment URLs too to allow the appointment based or reservation-based businesses to facilitate appointment scheduling through it. By clicking the URL for an appointment, the users can select an open slot and book it from their mobile phone itself. For businesses, this offers an opportunity to integrate the calendar with GMB and display the availability of open appointment. This saves your time also on the phone to make appointment booking. Apart from booking an appointment, this feature can also be used to set URLs for:

  • Placing an order

  • Searching for time-based items

  • Reserving tables

  • Viewing the menu to book etc.

This feature is ideal for a wide range of businesses looking for local search engine optimization Los Angeles like clinics, physicians, business consultants, computer repair shops, insurance agencies, and electrical or plumbing services and so on.

  1. Menu editor

Previously, only the local restaurants were allowed to add menus on their GMB listing. The menu was deemed perfect to only restaurants however in reality, ‘menu’ is practiced as a more indicative term in general, which could be applicable to a lot of other services too other than food. So finally, Google has now come into a conclusion to expand the scope of the menu to more businesses and let them add it.

In order to use this function for your business, you can simply click on the info tab inside the listing of Google My Business and then click on the Services tab. You can then see a page, which will allow you to add the services menu to offer. As per Google, this feature will be available to the businesses, which are not utilizing any third-party applications inside Google My Business listing. If you find that your listing now has an incorrect menu, then check it with the help center link to get more information on how to remove or correct the link.

This additional layer of versatility now offers some significant benefits to the local businesses. Those who were not previously able to display their services-diversity to new customers can do it effectively now using this feature.

  1. Direct customer messaging

Messaging to customers through the GMB console is also added, which lets you to instantly and effectively communicate with customers. If they have any questions, it is now possible for the users to shoot it from their device and the businesses can receive the message through Google Allo or other messaging systems. It is also possible for businesses to set up the auto-replies for the common questions or turn off the chat when you are not available. It can also be connected to the mobile phone also through the number you’ve given, which makes it easier to manage.

This is now proving out to be a very useful enhancement to GMB. The messaging icon can be seen next to the contact info, which gives the users an option to contact you instantly. This tool will let businesses to better engage with their customers more often. For business users, most the times, they find messaging as a more comfortable tool than talking over the phone. So, this is an ideal opportunity especially for small businesses by utilizing the seamless chat options without any extra cost.

  1. My Business dashboard

Acting as a useful interface for businesses to manage their entire GMB activities, this new addition will let you keep in close touch with the customers. You may also be able to learn their frustrations regarding your products and services and provide instant solutions. It can save a lot of time for you and not only that; it will not let the customers frustrations escalate to the level of negative feedbacks.

If you find the customers tend to ask the same questions about you regularly, then try to improve your listing by addressing these common concerns. The optimization of your website actually results from your understanding of how the customers will interact with your business profile. Remember, anyone who looks at your GMB or Google Map listing can see these answers. So, try to provide the best possible response by setting up the push notification to get instant information when someone raises a new question.

It is also possible to like/thumbs up the questions and answers for other people to know the authenticity and acceptance of these. If anyone provides the best possible answer through the forum, try to give it thumbs up. Your approval of the response to someone’s content will also increase their trust in you. It is found that the people who search for businesses online always use such forums to research on local providers before availing their service.

Make of these inputs wisely in order to enhance your local SEO performance and get listed on top of the local search results. Many providers are offering local SEO services, but it is essential for the businesses users also to know who is the most reliable option based on your business needs. Moreover, local SEO is not a one-time effort, so it is essential for the business owners and marketers too to take ongoing initiatives in order to keep your business on top of the search results in order to get more business through internet.