local listings management

If you’re on a quest to improve your search engine placement and ranking, then you are aware of local directory listings and how they may affect your SEO.  There are many different providers of local listings and it can be cumbersome to manage.  

Years ago, updating your local listings was a technique to gain links.  Presently, it still helps with link building, but the primary value is improving your business’ local presence.  Optimizing your local listing is more than having a consistent name, address, and phone too.  It’s about total business consistency across all local listings directories.

This article aims to address how local listings management helps with your local search engine optimization strategy.  

Why Is Local SEO Important?

We can’t discuss local SEO without briefly explaining SEO. Search engine optimization is the science behind creating content and updating your website to be found when people use search engines.  Local SEO takes that same concept and applies it to being found within a local search. 

Local SEO is important because so many internet users perform local based searches multiple times per day.  If you’re selling new and used cars, and providing vehicle maintenance like oil changes, tire services, and brakes then local SEO is imperative for your online success. 

Featured Snippets, FAQ’s, and Answer Boxes 

Have you asked a specific question on Google and noticed they provided a direct answer within the search results?  Depending on the question, the answer could be in an answer box, or you could get a list of frequently asked questions that support your search query.  These types of featured snippets are pulled from your website, and your Google Business profile.  

Some businesses would gripe about being featured because it answers the question and the user wouldn’t actually click on the website.  However, if your business has a physical location that provides a specific service like brake repairs, equipment sales, or used car sales then this is a prime area to be in.  Why?  Because those searches usually have a direct action related to it.  The search query, “Nissan dealership near me” will likely lead to a directions request if performed on a mobile device. Someone searching “Toyota brake repair” on a computer is probably going to make an appointment. 

Effective management of your local listings can improve your chances of being in a featured snippet.  According to Entreprenuer.com, featured snippets will get you more website traffic.

Virtual Assistants and Voice Search

Another trend affecting local SEO is how users are actually searching.  Virtual assistants have caused an increase in voice searches and they are designed to query their respective platforms.  This means Google Home will search Google My Business when a local search is done.  Siri will search Google as well for certain queries, while also displaying Apple Maps for any directions requests.  Amazon’s Alexa will search Bing to answer queries.  If someone conducts a local search using any device, with any of those platforms, you want to make sure your company information is updated and consistent.  

Company Information and Updates

Name, address, and phone number, aka NAP,  are the top 3 bits of company information needed for local SEO.  An optimized business listing will provide NAP and other data like hours of operation, payment types accepted, available parking, services, products, and even the latest news and/or events.

Google Business and other local listings allow businesses to share posts.  These posts can be company news, coming events, blog posts, and even direct links to call or book now.  It’s important to include a consistent local listings posting plan as part of your local SEO strategy.

Check and Fix Your Local Listings Easily

Having updated and maintained business listings are a key component to local SEO. It is vitally important for lead generation if you are a car dealership, equipment sales company, or repair shop. Consider the statistics that Millenials spend over 17 hours shopping online before they even visit a dealership. Most vehicle owners will search for a location for vehicle maintenance too.  There are hundreds of local listings where the search could happen including Google, Bing, Apple, Yelp, Facebook, Better Business Bureau, Yellow Pages, and more.  

Do you know the status of your business listings?  Is your name, address, and phone number consistent in every directory?  We have a local listings management tool called FastListing. Simply input your NAP, along with your email address and we’ll send you a report with your business listings status. 

is seo dead search box

by Brett Sutherlin

How to dominate the new Organic SEO

As Google continues to evolve, my question to you is simple: is SEO dead? Ads are pushing all listings down the page. Next, you have Google Maps that take up a large amount of real estate. In addition to maps, you now also have ads that also take up valuable real estate. See below for an example. Organic SEO has been pushed so far down the fold, is it worth spending money on? Where does Google Maps and Google My Business fit in your SEO strategy?

maps ad on google

Example of ads in Google Maps.

Let’s look at a simple search “Nissan Dealerships Near Me.” See screenshot below (I had to zoom out to even fit this image on one page). As you can see, Organic search has been pushed so far down the fold, it is almost irrelevant. SEO companies that sell their services can not even tell you when you will see results. The chances of a customer scrolling down below the map section is slim to none. In the automotive world, the days of paying Auto Trader or a third-party provider to outrank you organically are gone! This is GOOD NEWS! For contractors, paying Home Advisor is virtually the same thing. You are basically paying these companies to out rank you. But why? To me, this is incredibly unhealthy for your business. These third-party listing sites, unfortunately, became a necessary evil. In today’s digital landscape, please know you DO NOT need to advertise on third-party sites!

maps location in organic search

Google Maps is the new organic SEO.

Why Automotive Dealerships Need Google Maps Optimization

Back to the question, Is SEO Dead? Yes, SEO is dead- in the conventional form. When consumers conduct searches, you want your business to appear in Maps. Think of the last search you conducted on Google… it could be Pizza Near Me or Gas Stations Near me. You most likely relied on Google Maps to find what you were looking for. In maps, it is possible to show your business in map searches for up to 16 cities, within a reasonable radius from your business, in up to 10 categories. Google Maps is the NEW organic SEO. There has never been an easier way to move the needle with your business. When dialed in correctly, you will bring more customers to your business, more requests for directions and many more phone calls than you have ever received.

Regardless of the industry, customers search the same way now on Google. Their search patterns are easy to identify. You as a business owner need to adapt to this new strategy and you will see your business flourish!

8/10 people will be on their smartphone to pull up a search such as “Restaurants Near Me”. These potential customers will simply click CALL to make a reservation. In the automotive world, new car dealers sell tires, and they have great prices! One problem car dealers have is they never appear in tire searches. You should be front and center in the map section when a customer searches “New Tires Near Me.” This potential customer will be on their smartphone and will click to call and then will book their next appointment with you. An additional way these same potential customers will find you is to click “Directions”. Next thing you know you have a customer who was on Google arriving at your business. Search is ever evolving. If you do not conform to “The New SEO” you and your business will be left in the dust.

I would like to invite you to a free webinar where we discuss how to move the needle with Maps. I will be hosting this webinar on Friday, November 19th 9AM PST/ Noon EDT. This is not a sales presentation but a how-to-course to have your business front and center in the only search that matters.

Learning How To Dominate on Google My Business and Google Maps
Presented by Brett Sutherlin, Friday 11/19/2021 9 AM PST – 12 PM EDT
REGISTER

If you’re looking for an easy way to talk to your customers, it’s now possible to reply to messages on your GMB page via your desktop computer. This feature was previously only available on the Google My Business mobile app, but that’s no longer the case.

Google’s new messaging technology allows you to reply in real-time through your desktop, making it easier to offer a quick and informative reply. This is an exciting update for business owners who use desktop computers and laptops throughout the day. 

What is GMB Desktop Messaging?

GMB desktop messaging makes it easier for businesses to communicate with their customers. Most businesses use desktop computers for work, and it’s often easier to write a reply on a full-size keyboard.

When you log in to your GMB page on your computer, there will be a “Messages” button on the left side of the navigation bar. Simply click on this to open a chatbox, similar to Facebook Messenger. In the chat window, you’ll be able to see the messages customers have sent you and reply to them.

If you are trying to boost your local SEO, this is an excellent way in which you can increase the engagement of your GMB page and, in turn, boost your local SEO.

Why Do I Need GMB Desktop Messaging?

We all know Google dominates the search engine space. All your current SEO efforts are likely targeted towards ranking on Google and not other search engines. If your customers are searching for your business on Google and trying to engage with you through Google, then having the latest means of communication Google offers is vital.

If you own a brick and mortar location, GMB Desktop Messaging is critical because engaging with your customers on the messaging platform will help boost your local SEO. Local SEO is key to driving foot traffic to your business. 

Most searches happen on mobile devices. This means, when people are searching for your business when they’re out and about, they rely on you having a Google My Business page and a Google Maps location so they can head straight to your door. Now, what if they have a question for you while they’re on the way? 

Now, thanks to GMB Desktop Messaging, you can reply to their questions and start a relationship with your new customer before you’ve ever met. This is an excellent opportunity to build trust and establish a relationship with your customers because people buy from who they know. 

What If I Don’t Have A GMB Page?

The entire process should take you about 15 minutes or less. All you need to do is follow these steps:

  • Go to the Google My Business page and hit the “Manage Now” button
  • Add your company name and click the “Next” button
  • Enter your business address and tap the “Next” button
  • Choose your business category and hit the “Next” button
  • Enter your business phone number and website URL and click the “Next” button
  • Complete the setup process by clicking the “Finish” button

Will GMB Messaging Help Local SEO?

When you create a GMB page, Google automatically creates a location for your business on Google Maps. This is a key factor in generating local SEO and driving customers to your door. When people can search for your business and can find your business, they can shop your business. 

And now, with Desktop Messaging, they can ask you questions directly through your Google My Business profile. When you install this messaging feature, be sure to have someone whose job it is to check for messages throughout the day and respond. If questions go unanswered, it defeats the purpose and can have negative consequences. 

GMB Messaging should be a key player in your digital marketing strategy. A GMB page can drive a large amount of quality traffic to your site, and with the help of desktop messaging, you can drive that traffic to your door, answer questions, and help customers find what they’re looking for with a direct link to the product. 

 

CEO Ed Barton talks about when and why you should be updating content to not only rank better with Google, but also to attract more users.

Benefits of An Optimized Google My Business Profile

The first question you might be asking is, what is a Google business profile?

A Google My Business (GMB) profile is a one-stop-shop for a customer to learn all the necessary contact information for your business, such as the address, hours of operation, phone number, website, customer reviews, etc.

It is a great way to boost your business’s visibility and increase your SEO rankings at the same time. The point of SEO is to make your website appear at the top of Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs), and a GMB helps to do just that.

The idea of GMB is for business owners to continually manage their online presence and update the information that we used to find in the phone book.

Since a GMB includes your location, or it should, creating a listing is a great way to get local exposure.

So, what should you include in your GMB? And once you have a GMB profile, how do you make the most out of it?

Two common questions. Let’s answer them.

     1. What Should You Include In Your Google My Business?

When you create a GMB, you’ll receive a form questionnaire from Google. It’s important to answer every question and provide accurate, detailed information. Standard information is your business address, hours of operation, business category, reviews, phone number/email address.

There are three reasons why it’s crucial to answer every question:

  1. You don’t want a customer searching for your phone number and being unable to find it.
  2. The general public can fill in any missing information to your listing, so you don’t want to risk inaccurate information.
  3. When you enter an address, a Google Maps location automatically generates for your business. And you want people to find you.

In your business description, you have 750 characters to add some strategic SEO keywords that tell someone a bit more about your business and what makes you unique.

     2. How do you make the most of your google business profile?

You’ve done it. You’ve created your profile. Now what? Here are three quick tips that will help you make the most of your GMB.

     1. Add Pictures and Video

People like to see content and get a sense of your business. With photos and video, you can showcase what makes your business stand out and give people a sense of what to expect when they visit you, so they feel like they’ve been there before.

By adding pictures and video, you create a sense of familiarity. Bonus tip: when you upload photos, be sure to label them appropriately and with SEO keywords. If you own “Bob’s Chevy Dealership in California,” instead of uploading “001.jpg,” label the photo “BobsChevyCAShowroom.”

     2. Engage with Your Customers Through Reviews

When someone takes the time to review your business, take a moment to respond. You can thank the person for leaving a review and visiting your business, but it’s important to acknowledge their review. Responding to a review will also give you a chance to include SEO keywords in your reply, but be sure to keep it sounding like a human wrote it.

If there’s a negative review, don’t let it go unchecked. See what the issue is, acknowledge it, and show other potential customers how you handle a complaint.

Reviews are a common way for customers to ask you questions. Maybe you’re opening a new store soon, and they want to know when it’ll be open. Perhaps a new model is coming out, and they want to see if you have it in stock. By answering questions, you bring in customers, boost your engagement, and improve your SEO ranking.

This brings us to our final step.

     3. Check it regularly

After you create your GMB page, you have to check it regularly.

How often do you come across another business’s GMB page and find the wrong information? Maybe you call the phone number or try the email address, and they don’t work?

Are the hours correct? The last thing you want is for an excited customer to arrive at your front door only to be greeted by a Closed Sign.

How many customers is that business losing because their contact information is wrong and they’ve failed to update their information? Don’t let that happen to you.

Don’t let your GMB Page sit idle. A GMB is a living document and not something you can set and forget. By posting weekly photos and responding to reviews and questions regularly, your business will grow a local customer base, and your SEO rankings will rise.