A Free Billboard for Your Sales Prospects
You are probably aware that Google, Yahoo, Bing and most other search engines, have provided their services to assist people who search the Internet, instead of the yellow pages, to find local products and services. With the explosion in the use of “local” mobile devices such as smart phone and tablets it is critical to be found on by local Internet Marketing.
Typically, Google is leading the way for this location search capability. Their specific program is called Google My Business (formerly Google Maps) and is represented on the first Google search page with three entries and their location bubbles on the map. For identification we will call these the 3T ( the top three).
A maximum of three businesses are identified on the first search page while hundreds can be found by clicking on “more places” at the bottom of the third business listing. It is to your marketing advantage to be identified in the 3T's. The purpose of this article is to provide the procedures on how to get listed with Google as well as most of the other search engines.
The good news: Google Listing is Free as are many of the other search engines.
The better news: Web site not required. It may help ranking but not required for listing.
The best news: Not a technical task. You only need to be consistent with this process.
In the Spring of 2015, Google initiated a new program to facilitate the identification of businesses and their location(s) by providing a diagnostic tool, Google Your Business Online, found at https://www.google.com/business/
Important Note: To use this service you need to have a Google Account. Get that Google account before you start this process.
After entering your Google Account for access simply follow the instructions for information about your business. Enter your business name, address and phone number. Be very consistent with spelling, including use of commas and abbreviations. Search engine robots are easily confused by inconsistencies.
This diagnostic tool checks your business and provides three alternatives:
- Your business isn’t on the map You add your business and you will receive a verification post card, typically within two weeks. This is location centric so start a separate process and make a separate entry for each location.
- Your business info is incomplete You add or change as needed to improve information.
- Nice job. You’re on the map.
After you have used the Google diagnostic tool to get listed, completed and verified according to the above steps, you should now be identified on Google. The major task hereafter, is to increase your ranking position to one of the top three to get and remain on the first page.
Google’s ranking algorithm details are highly protected but there are three main factors for Maps
Relevancy How your business description matches the user search terms. Your description of your business on Google Maps should include those keywords and keyword streams that your prospective customers would use to search for your products or services.
Distance How your location relates to the searchers present position.
Prominence Your presence on the web. Do you have numerous citations on the Internet? A citation is an online reference to your business name, address and phone number (NAP). Your business should be listed in many of the 80 citation sites such as Yellow Pages, Angie’s List, Yahoo, MapQuest, Info USA. The more citations you have the higher prominence you receive by Google.
Improving any of the above three factors will enhance your ranking position on Google and other search engines. Relevancy and Distance are rather static and can be accomplished with your one time entry at registration. Prominence is very dynamic and can be substantially improved by a Citation Management Program. CITATION– every mention of your business online is a citation.
Here are some programs, with their cost and the number of sites that are monitored, of the approximately eighty (80) most popular citation sites.
Citation Management Program Sites Monitored Annual Cost
Moz.com 14 $84
Yext.com 42 $199
You can manage your own citations by manually registering in most of the citation sites with a DO IT YOURSELF (DIY) Citation Management Spreadsheet, found HERE. You can get a free listing scan report from either of the Citation Management programs in the table above, to provide identification of the sites in which you have already been listed.
IMPORTANT CONCEPT: It’s important that your business information remains onsistent throughout all of these citation site registrations. Information consistency across sources is crucial to the process of getting your business listed quickly and accurately in the major search engines. Be sure and register each physical location of your business with a separate entry.
You can further improve your Search Engine Position Rank (SERP) with Google Maps in two other aspects:
- Add images to your business page. Google favors images. In addition to single images, you can also provide a virtual tour video.
- Manage your reviews. Google seems to favor multiple reviews.
- Immediately respond to unfavorable reviews with a note from management advising the customer as to how you have addressed the problem.
- Seek customer reviews proactively.
How To Check Your Listing
To check your listing, enter your business name and address using any of the Citation Management Programs listed in the table above.
Free counseling about these requirements, or any other concerns you may have about starting your business, is available by calling SCORE (865) 692-0716 to schedule a mentoring session
SOURCE: Walter Williams, SCORE Webmaster Revised May 2019
The material in this publication is based on work supported by the U.S. Small Business Administration under cooperative agreement SBAHG-04-S-0001. Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Small Business Administration. The information contained in this publication is believed to be accurate and authoritative but is not intended to be relied on as legal, accounting, tax or other professional advice. You should consult with a qualified professional adviser to discuss issues unique to your business.