Google My Business & Search Engine Optimization
Stifel Marcin’s search engine optimization (SEO) plans often include Google My Business, which can be helpful with site ranking and visibility among local customers.
What is Google My Business?
This free tool helps businesses create and manage their online presence within Google – the largest search engine in the world – within their search engine and maps applications. Google My Business is relevant for companies with one location, or many facilities and offices and helps elevate your visibility within the vicinity of your physical locations.
Move Over Yellow Pages
Besides telling Google My Business where your business is located, you can select five categories to affiliate with your business listing. Similar to the old yellow page listings, these categorizations aid customers in finding your products and services. Simply pick five phrases that describe your industry and focus, and Google will list you in that category. At least one of the categories must be an established Google classification, but the other four you can customize yourself.
For example, if I searched for “Italian Restaurant” the first three listings are for national chains. But if I search for “Italian Restaurant Hartford CT” the first listing is a site that has optimized for that phrase, and the rest are Google My Business listings.
Google Knows Where You Are
Here’s the catch – note on my general “Italian Restaurant” search example, I said only the top three hits were national. After that, I had six listings that were nearby locations in Google My Business.
Google is pretty smart. First, it knows where you are. If you are using Google on Desktop, it goes by IP address, but if you are searching on mobile, it knows your longitude and latitude and can pinpoint your exact location. It’s the same technology used in driving navigation apps including Google Maps and Waze. Second, its search engine optimization algorithms identify terms Google thinks you might want localized results for. This is weighted more with terms like “restaurant” or “hospital,” but Google has begun to list anything it can easily identify as a location or business with related Google My Business listings.
So, if you type in “plastic manufacturer” your search results will include local Google My Business listings alongside websites that rank highly for those keywords.
Impact on SEO
The above example demonstrates why Google My Business is not a substitute for a search engine optimization strategy, but a compliment to it. A properly optimized website is extremely important to ensure your business is visible when and where customers search for your products and services. When they search in Google, results include both Google My Business listings and website pages. In fact, the better your search engine optimization, the more likely your business will show up within Google My Business results because Google favors relevant, helpful and valuable search results and weighs sites with good SEO more heavily than others.
Google may also rank you for phrases you don’t necessarily want. For example, we set-up an SEO package with Google My Business profiles for a large practice of eye physicians. All of the doctors were ophthalmologists. After a few weeks, the client called and asked why their doctors were also getting listed as “optometrists” – a less specialized type of eye doctor. Google had extracted a few words out of their practice’s website that referenced optometry. Then Google applied its own “understanding” of the word “optometry” and decided that those two factors made it a relevant search term.
Search Engine Optimization Maintenance
Search engine optimization is not an exact science. It takes ongoing maintenance and monitoring to be sure you are listing where you want, and don’t fall in the rankings. Google My Business is a great tool to add to your SEO arsenal, but make sure it’s just a component of this essential marketing strategy.
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