It has been around for quite some time now but for some reason local business owners still overlook one of Google main’s service offerings that can lead to an abundance of phone calls and sales leads for any type of local business.
Maybe it is because Google always changes the name or perhaps it is because Google – as it often does – makes things quite complicated for business owners to claim and optimize this source of leads. I am talking about Google My Business listings. AKA Google Maps, Google Local or one of half a dozen names Google has given their local business directory over the last number of years.
Google My Business Explained
When you do a search for a local business more often than not you’ll see 3 to 5 Ads appear at the top of the search results then you’ll see 3 listings with pink map markings beside them. Those 3 listings are from Google My Business.
Google My Business is Google’s own small business directory. It is a free service (for now) offered by the company to get business owners to take advantage of this valuable real estate and share company information with Google.
Those 3 listings are those that Google considers the most relevant to the search being performed and unless your company appears in those top three spots, Google My Business holds little from a lead generation aspect. However, if you DO appear in the top three, this can be a honey hole of phone leads and website traffic.
How to Get into the Top Three
Of course, Google won’t tell you this nor will the publish anything concrete about how to improve your rankings for your business listings but those of us that have been doing this for a while have come up with some theories. Here are some of them:
- Claim your listing. Incredibly, Google tells us that as much as 60% of all their business listings remained unclaimed by their business owners. While unclaimed listings can rank, it is rare.
- Get positive reviews. Once you get 5 positive reviews on your Google My Business page, the little gold stars will begin to show beside your listing. Those little stars will engage visitors and attract more clicks and more phone calls.
- Complete your profile to 100%. Do this when you claim your listing.
- Apply proper SEO practices to your primary website associated with your listing. The better your website ranks, the better your Google My Business listing will rank.
- Get consistent citations on popular directories. List your company with Yelp and other business directories but make sure your company name, phone number and address all appear the same on each site. Any discrepancies tend to confuse Google and adversely affect the chance of ranking.
For years I ignored this source of sales leads. Then I heard a story of a mobile mechanic that was getting so many calls from his Google My Business Listing that he couldn’t keep up with them all. He was getting hundreds of calls per month so he started selling the leads to his competitors.
I also have a client now that sells replacement windows. His site is all over the first page of Google’s organic rankings and I remember him telling me one time that he also gets an additional 30-40% increase in leads from his Google My Business rankings. That is nothing to sneeze at.
This has been a short overview of Google My Business and a few best practices for ranking your listing on Google. Your job now is to claim your listing (if you haven’t done so already) and go through the checklist above to ensure it is optimized. The other nice thing is that these listings tend to jump in rank much more quickly than a website would in the organic listings so don’t hesitate. Get out there and do it.