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How to Improve Your Local SEO with Google My Business

Natalia Zaugg, Founder
20 June 2017

Businesses that would like to stay at the top of users’ attention must be listed on Google My Business, it is also an essential part of any successful SEO strategy. In this article we will discuss several areas where local businesses can improve to achieve top search ranking.

Boost your local presence on Google My Business

The ultimate goal for local business is to get into Google’s “three pack” of search results which is triggered by queries with local intent. As it is clear from the name, Google’s local pack shows the top three listings with the best rankings above the organic search results. With search becoming more mobile-centric, it was a logical step to make desktop search results match the mobile-specific search results. Here is how the local pack appears on desktop and mobile, when we search for “restaurants in Zurich”.

Google_Snack_Pack_Zurich

Since there are less contenders for top rankings, to win this tough competition a local business has to put even more effort into optimizing its listing. What measures should be taken? – we have discussed this in one of our previous articles.

Manage your multi-location business with one account

Now, what to do if you are a multi-location business? Don’t panic, Google has a solution for you. It is possible to manage your listings in one business account, if you meet the following requirements:

  • You have 10 or more locations of the same business;
  • You are not a service area business, meaning that your business does not serve customers at their locations;
  • You are not an agency managing multiple businesses.

Have you qualified as a multi-location business? Follow these easy steps to create a Google business account:

1. Create business account on Google My Business page. Now you can add different locations and manage the account with multiple users.

2. Add business listings by searching for them using their name and address, or using a bulk upload spreadsheet. If you have already claimed your business listings in a separate account and would like to have them in one place, you can transfer them to a business account in Google My Business. Just go to the list with the locations and choose the ones you want to transfer, then click Transfer ownership button on the top right corner of the page and choose the business account where the locations should be transferred.

3. Verify all locations. Check whether you have duplicate locations in your account. If there are several identical locations, only one of them can be verified and appear on Google Maps. So, duplicates have to be deleted. Once this is checked, fill out and submit the verification request form. It may take up to one week for the request to be processed.

Being listed on Google My Business is an essential part of any successful SEO strategy.

Are you done with claiming and verifying your multi-location business? No time to relax! The next step is to make sure that the information about your business listing is accurate across all platforms including Yelp, Facebook, Tripadvisor and your own website. Google bots crawl through all of these pages and compare the information found on Google My Business with other online sources. If any inconsistencies are found, your business listing may be flagged and penalized in search rankings.

According to the findings of a 2017 Local Search Ranking Factors Survey published by Moz, in order to achieve high-ranking local results businesses should give particular attention to the following areas: accurate and complete citations, strong on page optimization, quality links, social networks engagement, and customer reviews. In fact, those local businesses which do not have any reviews are at a severe disadvantage and have little chance of having a high ranking in the local search results. A great emphasis put on customer ratings is confirmed by the fact that Google has recently rolled out a new user experience in the local mobile search results. It is possible to toggle between the local business’s details and the customer reviews, which makes it even easier for the users to read and leave reviews on mobile devices.

The Key: accurate and complete citations, strong on page optimization, quality links, social networks engagement, and customer reviews

What to do if a review is fake?

First of all, let us determine what a fake review is. As defined by the European Parliamentary Research Service, a fake review is any review (positive, neutral, or negative) that does not represent an actual consumer’s honest and impartial opinion or does not reflect a consumer’s own experience of a product, service or business (European Parliament, 2015). There are a few characteristics which are typical for fake reviews:

1. There is no information about the reviewer. Such users usually have very few reviews and no information in their profile.

2. The ratings tend to be extreme: either one or five stars.

3. Several reviews are posted at the same time. If a business that does not have any reviews all of a sudden gets several reviews dated the same day, it is a sign that the reviews might be fake.

4. The reviews do not contain any detailed information. They may be very general and descriptive and sound like a marketing brochure.

If you have determined that a review is fake, and is violating Google’s Review content policy, you can flag that review for removal. In order to do that you need to go the review summary of your business, find the review you would like to be removed, flag it, and fill out the form. If this does not work, you can go the legal route and submit a legal removal request. Google takes such requests very seriously, so you have to have a legitimate case. We recommend you to be careful and not try to submit a legal removal request for every bad review you get.

Remember, even the fake reviews should be responded. Keep your response tactful and businesslike and provide evidence that the review is fake.

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About the Author

Natalia is a creative writer at re:spondelligent. She is passionate about helping businesses manage and respond to their customer reviews and loves sharing her industry and marketing knowledge to help brands succeed.

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