Seeing your Google my business listing move up from the bottom of the pile all the way to the top is the holy grail for many business owners to attract new customers. But while many are called, only a few are chosen.
If it’s not you, don’t despair because today I’m going to give you a Simple Google My Business SEO Strategy you can use to help you get there.
There are many moving parts in a Google My Business listing, but there are only 4 of them under your control that will directly impact the rankings of your Google listing in search, making this google my business SEO strategy very simple to follow.
Finding the right keywords
It all starts with keywords. Obviously, you want your business listing to rank for keywords relevant to your business.
The question is, how do you find out what the right keywords are.
If you don’t know where to start, I recommend you download a free Google Chrome extension called Keyword surfer.
Once installed, go to google and start searching for a keyword which you think would be a good fit for your business, and you’d like to rank for.
Let’s imagine I’m a plumber based in Tampa, Florida, so it would make sense for my listing to rank for “plumber Tampa” right”.
Keyword surfer will give you the estimated search volume for that keyword directly in google search results but will also provide a list of suggested related popular keywords you can target for your business.
So in this example it would also make sense for me to target, plumbers in Tampa, plumbing Tampa, Tampa Bay plumber, based on the volume of searches. Pretty cool right.
Since we are keeping this strategy simple, I suggest you don’t target more than 5 keywords, which should be more than enough to attract a significant amount of new customers, should your listing rank high in google for them.
Checking your visibility on Google Maps
Once you’ve established your list of keywords, it’s time to see how well your google my business listing is ranking for them on Google Maps.
For this, I suggest you head over to BrightLocal.com.
Brightlocal is a fully integrated local SEO online platform specifically designed to help your business become more visible in search results.
It’s packed with tons of features such as keyword tracking, citation builder, online reputation management tool and more.
You can trial it for free for 14 days without adding any credit card details, and I thoroughly recommend you give it a go if you are serious about improving your local online visibility. I have put a link in the description below.
But as I keep saying, I want this google my business SEO strategy to remain as simple as possible, for that I’m going to use a brand-new tool bright local launched only 3 months ago which I believe is a game changer.
It’s called the local search grid. With this tool, brightlocal is able to map out the share of search visibility of your listing across Google Maps for your targeted keywords, so you can quickly identify areas that need to be improved.
Let me show you how it works.
Once you’ve created an account with brighlocal and added your Google My business listing to your profile, you will have access to a dashboard.
From the left-hand side menu, click on “rankings option” and select local search grid.
Click on “get started” to start setting up your desired grid. You’ll then need to add your google my business listing location details.
If you’re listing is set up with a physical address, all you need to do is enter the name of it and it should automatically be detected. Select it. A small grid will be overlaid on the map on top of the specified address of the listing.
If you’ve set up your listing as a service area and no address is showing , tick the radio button next to “Google Maps URL (best for service-area businesses)” then go to google.com/maps.
Search for your business listing and address. Copy the URL from the browser and paste it into the tool then click on find, your business should be found automatically.
Just like in the previous scenario, a small grid will be overlaid on the map however, because this is a service area type of business, the grid location may not be accurately placed where you want it.
It is likely you’ll need to move it to where you are operating from. So if you are an electrician like in this example and your business is based at your residential address, just drag the grid on the map to that very location.
Once your business details have been added and the grid placed where you want it to, you can set the map criteria and add the keywords you want to track.
Setting the distance between grid points can be done using miles or kilometres. You can set your grid results to be as broad as possible and add as few as 3 by 3 data point, or very detailed and add as many as 15 by 15 data points.
What you’ll need to remember is, despite offering a 14 day free trial for all their tools, you’ll need to pay to use the local search grid and costs will vary depending on your choices as indicated in brackets next to your selection.
In this example, running a tracking report for this location for one keyword with a distance of 4 miles between grid points using 7 by 7 data points would cost 49 credits for 1 keyword.
Before you start panicking, credits are very inexpensive to purchase, and you can buy 2000 credits for just under $7 with which you could run multiple reports for several keywords
Once you are happy with your map criteria, add the keywords you have identified as best to target for your business, which we covered in the first part of this video.
The last thing you need to do is to give your report a name, set how often you want it to run and add an email address where a notification will be sent to let you know the report is complete.
Last but not least, click on create a report.
It will take a little while for the report to process, so i suggest you let it run until you receive an email notification to let you know it has been completed.
The email will include a snapshot of the results for each keyword you are tracking, which is great, but what you want is access the full report. If you click on view full report now, you’ll be taken to the search grid results, which is where the magic happens.
You should now see exactly how well your Google listing is ranking across the area you have specified on the map for each individual keyword.
Any data point showing a position between 1 and 3 means that your listing will show up in the map pack and will be coloured in green.
If your listing ranks between 4 and 10 it means you will be in the mid-range rankings bracket and the data points will be coloured in orange. Anything from 11 and up will be synonym of low rankings and coloured in red.
You can toggle through each keyword using the tabs at the top to see individual performances along with an average map rank score, which is quite useful.
Because this tool is so visual, you can quickly assess which keywords need more attention than others.
This is when brightlocal brings it together and is going to help you identify what you can easily play with to improve the visibility of those keywords.
Looking at the first keyword of the list “24 hour electrician near me” shows this listing is doing reasonably well, but I can see there are a few spots where it ranks right outside the map pack, in position 4 or 5 for example.
Climbing 1 spot or 2 would mean this listing would suddenly be included in the map pack and likely drive more traffic and more leads to the business.
Here is the first thing you can do to improve your visibility.
Hover, or click on any of the data point in position 4 or 5 and check which competitors rank above you. Check their business names.
If you feel some names look a little suspicious, like in this example, just click on it. It will bring the listing up in google.
You may or may not know that a business name on a Google listing is a major ranking factor.
If you don’t know how powerful it is, I suggest you watch my video where I ranked a listing from nowhere to the n#1 spot on Google maps in just 96 hours, by just adding the right keywords in the business name.
A lot of small business owners know this, and abuse it, just like in this example.
If I check another data point where my business ranks n# 4, there is once again another suspicious business listing which looks very similar to the previous one.
It is evident this is the same business who is using very specific keywords on each listing to manipulate rankings on google maps and get more customers.
This is totally against Google’s guidelines, and you should flag these businesses to Google. BrightLocal has even included a link that points directly to the business redressal form to help you do that.
If google suspends this business from the maps for not following the guidelines, my electrician listing will suddenly go up a spot and be included in the map pack.
Replicate this tactic for your five keywords and you should see a significant difference to your overall visibility
And if you feel guilty about flagging these businesses, don’t. They know exactly what they are doing.*
Let’s now look at another factor which is totally under your control and has a major impact on rankings. Your google my business categories.
Pick the right categories
As part of the report, bright local will show what your competitors have selected as a primary category for their listing. Choosing the wrong category for your listing can have drastic consequences on your visibility.
Do all your competitors share the same primary category, but you’ve gone for something else? In this example, the decision would have been fairly straight forward, everybody has picked electrician, and rightly so.
But here is another example for another business I dealt with, an ear clinic, for which the choice of primary category isn’t so obvious. I would suggest you go for the one that makes most sense and for what you want your listing to be found for.
Sadly, brightlocal only displays the primary category of businesses within the report.
For those of you who are unaware, you can add up to 9 secondary categories to your listing.
They won’t have the same ranking power as the primary category, but they will still play a part in the overall visibility of your listing.
To find out what secondary categories your competitors are using, if any, go to the google chrome web store and search for an app called GMB everywhere.
Install it and make sure it’s active. From the “Overall Top Ranking Competitors list” in bright local click one of your competitors which will highlight their own performance on the map, and click on the business name. This will bring up their listing on Google Maps.
After a few seconds, GMB everywhere will show you what the primary category for this business is which is highlighted with a star, along with all the secondary categories.
If you feel these categories are relevant to you, add them to your own listing. I would suggest you check more than one competitors to unearth all possible categories.
If your competitors have not selected any secondary categories or you feel they don’t apply to you here is another alternative.
Head over to pleper.com click on tools and select the Google My Business Categories – Full List ( 2021 ) option. Scroll down and pick your language and the country where your business is located.
Search for what you think your primary category should be, then click on the result.
Plepper will show you what other categories are the most frequently used in relation to your primary category. Pick the ones you feel are relevant to your business and add them as secondary categories to your listing.
Moving on to our next item, reviews.
Get some Google reviews
Unless you’ve been sleeping under a rock, as a business owner you must know Google reviews play a pivotal role for the reputation of your business online and help establish trust with potential visitors.
That’s also why Google use reviews as a ranking factor for your listing.
In broad terms, the more reviews your business gets, the higher your listing will rank. But it’s all relative to your competitors reviews. If they have more than you and a better average star rating they are likely to rank above you.
You can easily check where your listing stand in comparison to your competitors in the “Overall Top Ranking Competitors table” in brightlocal.
If some of the competitors who are outranking you have more reviews and a better star rating, like in this example, try outdoing them.
But numbers aren’t the be all and end all of reviews and they will only take you so far. According to the local ranking factor survey, keywords in reviews play an even bigger role as a ranking signal than the number of reviews themselves.
So it’s important to encourage your clients, not only to leave reviews but also to include keywords relevant to your business when they write them.
If you need help with that I recommend you check my article called “GOOGLE REVIEWS 1st Update in 10 years ” from which you can download a free review email template you can send your client to entice them to add keywords to their reviews.
Select the right website link
The fourth and last item I want to cover as part of this strategy is the website link your listing is pointing to.
This will also play a big part in how well your listing ranks since Google looks at the correlation between your listing and the content of the page it points too.
While in most cases the home page of a site is a preferred choice, it might sometime be worth choosing another page as It could be more relevant.
This is typically the case for businesses who have multiple branches and decide to link up their listing to a corresponding location page on their website instead of the home page.
There is no hard and fast rules here, it’s more based on trial and error so you should do some testing to see what works best for you. This leads me to my last point.
Once you’ve applied some of these recommendations to your listing, you’ll want to check if they had a positive impact on your listing visibility or not.
To do this just re-run your local search grid report in BrightLocal and compare your results with the previous one. No need to run daily report. Once or twice a month should be more than enough.
Brightlocal archives all your previous reports so you can quickly make some comparison. Using the average map rank data and grid points overview makes it super easy to see if you are moving in the right direction.
That’s it for today guys. This is a fairly simple Google My Business SEO strategy but I think a lot of you would benefit from using it.
Brightlocal is very intuitive and makes this strategy super simple to implement.