If you want local, targeted traffic, you have two options:
Some businesses do both, but ranking your website takes time and money.
Want to get traffic faster without having to wait a long time for SEO?
Although you can certainly optimize for local SEO website to generate local traffic, you’ll need time and a large budget for that.
Focusing on your Google Business Profile (Formerly known as “Google My Business”) will generate traffic faster and without the need to spend a lot of money.
Google My Business Profile is a free business listing stored in Google’s database. Business listings will show up in several places across the Google network, including in search results, on Google Maps, and in Google Shopping.
On the surface, it functions just like any other business listing. For example, you can display photos of your business, display your hours of operation, list your services, and provide your contact information. At a deeper level, it plays a crucial role in generating traffic from Google searches.
Here are the steps you’ll take to add your business to Google:
If you don’t have a Google Business Profile yet, you can get one by looking for your business in Google’s database or click on the option to add your business to Google.
If you see a listing for your business, but you don’t remember creating it and you don’t have access to the account, you can claim your listing. This walkthrough video explains how to create or claim your listing.
Otherwise, continue with the following steps to create your listing.
Choose the category that best represents your business and then click “next.”
Set your location by choosing whether or not you have a physical location for customers to visit. If you do, you’ll be asked to enter your address. When asked to add a map marker, make sure you place the marker as accurately as possible.
If you don’t have a physical address for your customers, but you offer in-person services or deliveries, you’ll be asked to list the areas you serve. Once this information is entered, click “next.”
In this section, you’ll add your phone number and website address. You can also omit your phone number if you prefer not to be contacted by telephone, but it’s a good idea to have a contact number.
This step is vital. You’ll be asked to verify that you are the business owner or rightful representative by providing a physical mailing address. This address will be hidden from public view and is only used by Google.
Google will send you a postcard to this address with a verification code that you’ll need to fully activate your listing. If you already have a code, go here to verify your business.
This step is where you’ll enter more nuanced information like your business description, hours of operation, photos, and how you prefer to be contacted. Once you complete this section, clicking “continue” will bring you into your Business Profile Manager dashboard. This is where you’ll find all the tools to manage your listing, manage reviews, read and reply to messages, and even create some PPC ads on Google.
Once you’ve created your Google Business Profile, here are some tips to quickly optimize your Google Business Profile to start getting more traffic.
Knowing how your GBP drives traffic is essential for optimization. In a nutshell, three factors determine local search ranking:
Here’s how it works on the front end from the user’s perspective. GBP results are displayed above organic search results. A well-optimized Google Business Profile will turn up in those results. If your GBP shows up, you’ll get traffic even if your web pages never show up in search results.
Here’s how it works on the back end. Google knows where a user is from based on their IP address. Google also knows where your business is located based on the zip code you provide in your listing.
When a user searches for a business like yours, a bunch of Google Business Profiles are displayed at the top of the page favoring businesses local to the user.
When you optimize your GBP to come up in search results, many users will click on your listing instead of scrolling down to the organic search results.
Knowing this gives you the advantage because you can optimize your listing by including a variety of keywords related to your business that people might search for.
For example, if you’re running a Mexican restaurant, you can name the individual dishes you serve (like enchiladas and tacos) to capture traffic from people specifically searching for those dishes.
Having a Google Business Profile improves your local SEO because your listing is more likely to come up in search results for local users looking for businesses nearby. This will be discussed more in-depth later in this article.
You can spend tens of thousands of dollars on search engine optimization (SEO), but if you’re on a budget there are other ways to get traffic, mainly through your GBP. If you haven’t placed much attention on GMB, now is the time.
In the grand scheme of things, both your website and your GBP are equally important, but when you’re looking for fast traffic, make your GBP the priority.
In the long run, your GBP has the potential to bring you more local traffic than your website, even when you’ve got great website SEO. A strong website optimization strategy will generate some local traffic, but optimizing your Google Business Profile is your ticket to getting a larger share of local traffic. This is due to the fact that your GBP listing will come up at the top of the search results and capture users before they start to scroll.
As far as local traffic is concerned, your GBP holds some serious power. Not only will your listing show up in regular search results, but when users are specifically using Google Maps to find a business, your listing will show up there, too.
When you want local traffic fast, prioritize your Google Business Profile over SEO for your website – at least for now. You can always work on SEO for your website in the background.
Accurate information is critical for getting relevant traffic from your Google Business Profile. Go over your listing with a fine-toothed comb to make sure everything is accurate; every detail matters, so don’t leave anything incomplete.
According to Google, people are 70% more likely to visit your business if your Google Business Profile is complete. Having a complete profile also helps Google’s algorithm match your business with relevant searches.
View your listing on Google either as a logged-out user or from an account not connected to your business. Verify the following data is correct:
Having accurate data is critical. If anything is off, you could lose customers who might want to call or visit you, but don’t because your hours of operation are wrong.
Most of all, pay close attention to your map marker location. Many markers end up in the wrong place and can make it hard for people to find you if your building isn’t obvious. If your marker is in the wrong place, here’s how to request an edit.
Your Google Business Profile has the potential to show up in search results, which means it needs to be optimized for search just like your website. Part of SEO is using latent semantic indexing (LSI) keywords.
In fact, LSI keywords play a critical, statistically significant role as one of 200+ Google Ranking Factors.
While your website will drive traffic from just about anywhere, your GBP listing will drive local traffic when people in your area search for related keywords and phrases. With that said, you need to include related (LSI) keywords and other contexts in your content to make sure you show up for all relevant searches.
For example, if your business serves people from several cities, name those cities in your content. Write something like, “we serve people from [city 1], [city 2], [city 3], and other surrounding areas. Some people search for businesses by using specific city names.
Getting positive reviews on Google creates social proof and helps you build trust with your leads and customers. Building trust through reviews plays an important role in getting local traffic. Users need a reason to click on your listing, and positive reviews are often that reason.
When your listing shows up in search results, users will see your overall rating based on a 5-star scale. The higher your rating, the more likely they’ll be to click through. They’ll also see how many reviews you have. Having plenty of positive reviews will also get you more clicks. However, it’s equally important to have some negative reviews, so don’t worry if you don’t get perfect reviews.
Although it may sound contrary, having a mix of positive and negative reviews makes you appear more trustworthy than having only positive reviews. Too many perfect recommendations can look contrived and inauthentic. Here’s what Google has to say about the matter.
First, understand that your reviews will vary, and that’s perfect. You don’t want every review to sound the same – you want reviews to reflect people’s genuine experiences. However, it’s still beneficial to have a majority of positive reviews.
To earn those outstanding, glowing reviews, you’ll need to focus on customer satisfaction. It’s easier said than done, but it boils down to providing the best possible customer service and making sure your customers are satisfied.
Even when people love your business, you still need to get them to actually write a review. Most of the time, people need to be prompted, so don’t be afraid to ask for reviews.
The best way to ask for reviews is right after someone has had a positive experience. Google makes it easy to get a link you can email directly to your customers. Head over to your dashboard, scroll down to the “share review form” button, and generate your link.
Paste the link into your thank-you emails and even your purchase receipts when appropriate.
It’s important to respond to both negative and positive reviews because it shows your customers you care. It’s a good way to retain customers, but it’s also a good way to show leads how you interact with your customers. Businesses that respond to reviews are seen as more trustworthy than those that ignore reviews.
You can respond to reviews by going to your dashboard and clicking on the “Reviews” tab in the main menu. When you do respond to reviews, be friendly, but stay professional and courteous. Apologize when appropriate, and ask what you can do to make things right.
If you need help creating, claiming, optimizing, or managing your Google Business Profile for local search, we can help.
We’ll start by performing a free local SEO audit to see how you’re doing, and to identify areas where you can make improvements.
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