Google My Business 2015 Newsletter Blog

Posted 2 years ago

Hi Folks

Before I say anything, I want to say this. Don’t get stressed out when you hear me and others telling you that you have to do this and you have to do that. I take forever to get some of these things done or I half start and come back to them a year later, which is what I did with my own Google+ presence. Everything has good and bad but generally slow and steady wins the race.

And if you read this and feel “clueless”, don’t worry!   It will all seep in over time, with exposure.  It’s just the nature of learning.

Perhaps I put the cart before the horse in my recent newsletter about Google+. I’d more or less assumed that all of you were already on Google Local but I probably should have started by simply introducing from scratch, “Google My Business” (https://www.google.com/business/).

What you might have referred to in the past as Google Local, or Google Places For Business (Google+), is now simply Google My Business and the above link is a great place to start if you’ve been avoiding this stuff. Once you have opened the above link, you’ll probably want to click on “Be Found”.  This is where you can set yourself up in Google Local and Google+.   In Google Local, make sure you’ve completed every field including your physical address, opening hours, website address and telephone numbers. Below, you will see why that’s important.

But let’s say you’ve already started this. If you signed up and were previously verified through Google Places or Google+ Pages, you will be automatically moved over to the Google My Business interface. Maybe way back in the distant past, you did something with Google Local and maybe even added a basic Google+ page, so it might be a good idea right now to review your history.  Log in to your Google account. After you’ve logged in, look for the Account Overview link, open it and then look  for View Dashboard. Click on the Dashboard link and you will see a list of everything you have related to Google: Google+, Maps, Blogger, Webmaster Tools, AdSense, etc. You can now manage all the services you use from the Dashboard.   With everything now tied together under one Google My Business interface, it’s easier than ever to collate and curate all of Google’s tools including the local search products and get them working harder for your brand.

The Pigeon Algorithm Update. Before we continue, I need to mention the Pigeon algorithm update.  No one has ever asked me about this. How delightful, an algorithm change that didn’t incite panic. But you’ve probably noticed Pigeon, if you’ve noticed that Google Local listings now display differently. It’s been like this in the States for some months now but for those of us in Canada, the UK, Australia and other places, it’s only just rolled out in recent weeks (July 24 2015).

Now, what we all see in the new Google Local is a three-pack that only shows the business name, review stars, a short description and a link to the website or possibly that link and directions. Of course, you can click on More (e.g. More Carpet Cleaning) and you’ll go to additional Google Local listings on a different page, like in the past. But only three websites have a shot for the first page listing.

So what does it all mean? It means that it’s not easy to get your Google Local listing amongst the three-pack. You’ve got to have the right (current) relevancy signals both on your site and off your site if you want to compete on Google Local in 2015.

And local rankings are even more important as users switch to mobile devices. Local results will be increasingly unique because Google knows exactly where each mobile user is located. Apparently, in Summer 2015, 24% of searches are now done on mobile. You’ve got to have a Google Local listing with the right local signals and your website should be viewable on a mobile device.

The Right Local Signals. According to a 2015 MOZ.com report, on-page signals (city listed in landing page title, other relevant keywords, domain authority, etc.) and your general link trust (inbound anchor text, linking domain authority, etc.) are the two biggest factors in your Google Local rankings followed by My Business signals (e.g. category, keywords in business title, proximity) and citation volume (discussed below). And just so I’m not filtering everything, let me list the top 5 localized organic factors directly from the Moz.com report (https://moz.com/local-search-ranking-factors):

1    City, State in Landing Page Title

2    Domain Authority of Website

3    Page Authority of Landing Page URL

4    Quality/Authority of Inbound Links to Domain

5    Quality/Authority of Inbound Links to Landing Page URL

So you thought links were dead, eh!? Even in Google Local rankings, trust is trust. The more trust, the better you rank whether it’s organic rankings or Google Local.

So, when thinking about Google Local, you can’t ignore your actual website. One of the things I’ve found frustrating over the years is folks who want to rank globally and hence try to exclude local signals in their page content. You really should be including local info and creating local content. Rule your backyard and then worry about ruling the world. That’s one of the things you can use your “About Us” page for, local signals, bur really, local signals should transcend your entire website.

Local Citations. Another important thing you can do to rank in Google Local is build-up your local citations. What the heck is a local citation?

Citations (aka Local Directory Listings) are a key part of local search optimization. A citation is a mention of your business on a 3rd party website – typically a local directory, event site or review site. These mentions contain your NAP: Business name, Address & Phone Number but they can (and should) contain much more detail such as a description of services, working hours, images etc…

Having lots of citations which all display the same, accurate info about your business helps to improve your ranking in local search results. Accuracy and quality of your listings is considered the most important factor – sheer quantity of citations has value but is trumped by quality.

Your business listing on Yelp would be considered a local citation. Or how about Yellow Pages; yes, that company’s still around. It’s another citation. So, directories, legitimate directories, are important once again and Yelp listings now rank above business’ websites. For example, if you search for “bakery phoenix”, you have to scroll past three map listings and then 3 directory listings (2 from Yelp) to see a local business website listing.

The process of building citations is long and somewhat painful because you need to do each one manually. You could use an automated service but Google doesn’t like automated nonsense so if you’re serious about local SEO then you need to put some sweat and tears into it and build them yourself (or hire someone like me to do it).

But you really need to do this, if not now then later. Local citations provide a place for your customers to find your business and they tell Google that you’re a real business listed on legit platforms.

Really important citations signal. This was mentioned above but for all citations, you want to use the exact same address that Google shows on your Google Local listing. That’s why it’s important to begin by getting yourself involved with Google My Business.  If Google lists your address as St put St, not Street. MAKE IT EXACTLY THE SAME! Accuracy across all, or almost all, citation sources helps associate trust with your Google Local and Google+ page.

Then shimmy-on-over to your website and make sure your name, address and phone number is listed, ideally on each and every page. Yes, today’s Google is no friend to those who want to be anonymous. But if you’re anonymous, what trust is there? Google wants to rank trusted destinations. Again, the info needs to be identical to how Google is displaying it. Then make sure your name, address and phone number is an exact match on all the local directories you have joined previously (Yelp, Yahoo, etc.).  Hey, I’m a reclusive Introvert.  I hate people calling me.  So, I just don’t answer the phone.  That’s what answering services are for.  I’m trying to run an online Internet business, not a customer service hotline.  Of course, the very few of you who’ve actually spoken to me know that I am entirely charming and engaging.  🙂

How can you find other Local Directories to join? Search is your friend but this blog lists 20: http://www.verticalresponse.com/blog/top-20-places-business-needs-listed-online/.

But start with Yelp. They call it “claim your business listing”. Once you’ve claimed your business, you can update information, respond to reviews, upload photos and more. Yelp is the most popular consumer review site, and as such, it’s important to ensure your information is present (and accurate) on their site.

Get positive reviews.  In Moz’s top 50 localized ranking factors mentioned above (for Google Local), getting reviews is way down at #41. But you should try to get some reviews. Some of you probably thought getting reviews was more important than your links. Not close. But in a tipping point world, everything matters.

Summary. As an increasing number of searches have local intent behind them, Google is showing Local listings in many more SERPs. This presents an opportunity to either gain a spot on the first page in Google Local or to gain more space on the first page for companies already ranking on the first page organically. Very often, our clients have both a first page Google Local listing and a first page organic listing.

 

LINKS PROGRAM REPORT

In about 10 days I expect to roll out a new program update. It’s a bit late coming mainly because I’ve been doing a program-wide audit and want to give a few sites a bit more time. I want to give them a bit more time because this roll-out will include a special mailing to those in the newly created Red Flag Club, members who failed to do the May 2015 update despite repeated invitations to do so. Two red flags will lead to program expulsion or non-renewal.

Partner Page Quality. Above we talked about the importance of local signals for ranking locally and now I’d like to mention quality signals with partner pages. Examine this partner page at https://bodybuilder.co.uk/guide-to-football-nutrition-and-sports-supplements/. This partner page is fully integrated into the website’s template signalling that it’s just as important as any other page on the site. Some sites have put their partner pages on plain white background pages, not on their template, with no website navigation except a program-required link back to their home page. I’m still catching some with no link back to the home page or to anywhere else on the site.   For sure, Google doesn’t like “orphan” pages!   There are lots of references to this on the Internet.  These pages should be attached to the website structure both in terms of the template and linking. With https://bodybuilder.co.uk, not only are the partner pages sharing the same template with the rest of the site but the URL extension, the title tag, the h1 tag are all optimized to rank and there’s lots of page copy focusing on website themes.   It’s almost hard to notice that there are links on the page. I don’t really know how important this is but we know that if a page is weak/thin/duplicative/rubbish it will not compete. Ideally every page on your website should have a chance to rank for some site-relevant themes so why not make the effort?  I also think this approach is safer for the links program.

I’d like to thank my long-term UK client Simon for the above model website at https://bodybuilder.co.uk. Simon has a few sites in the program going back to 2011.

Helping Each Other. If you would like someone to “review” your website for Google Local, let me know and I’ll include the request in an upcoming newsletter. Or, if you’d like to draw more attention to your Google+, let me know and I’ll include it. Here’s a Google+ shout-out for Tim at http://www.elitehvaccontractors.com/ Visit the page and scroll down to the  g+  link.

The team!  You probably think that I sit here alone writing these newsletters, updating your partner pages, SEOing your home page, but nothing could be further from the truth.  Are you ready for a walk on the wildside?  Are you ready to meet the team:  ShortTail, Chip, lovely Tina, and my very own Pepe Le Pew?  Here they are:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gcxum8SR2Ec.

Thats’s all folks!

Ken

 

 

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