We all know Google has the power to make and sometimes break local businesses. If you are in the good graces of the Big G and your website ranks at the top of the search results for keywords related to your business it is almost a give that you will be a success.
For local businesses the main focus should be Google Maps. Yes the regular search results are important but 9 time out of 10 a search with local intent is going to include Google Maps listings at the top of the results. Therefore if you rank well in Google Maps results you are going to rank well everywhere it is important.
In this blog post we are going to discuss the 2 primary factors in Google’s Algorithm that decide where your business will rank for searches with local intent and how you can improve upon them. It is a very simple formula. If your business is better optimized in these 2 categories of Local SEO, you have about a 90% chance of out ranking your competitors. I say 90% because we estimate that these 2 factors make up about 90% of Google’s Local Search Algorithm.
1. Local Business Citations
What is a Citation as it relates to local businesses? A Citation is simply a mention of your business information on another website. This includes your business name, address, phone number and usually a link to your website. In other words your business listing. The more Citations you have on other websites, the more authority Google gives your business.
By creating these listings you will also be creating backlinks. Links from these websites back to yours. There are literally hundred of different websites where you can create these business listings. Here are just a few.
- Google My Business
- Bing Places
- Yahoo Local/Aabaco Small Business
I would set a goal to list your business on at least 3 different business listing websites per day. Here is a Pro Tip. There are different SEO SaaS solutions that will tell you exactly where your competitors have business listings and backlinks. An example of this would be SEMRush. After finding out where they are listed the next step is to create listings on all the same sites then continue creating them on other sites they are not on. This will ensure that in this category of the ranking algorithm your business is the best.
Local Business Citations – Video Explination
2. Review and Aggregate Ratings
Head on over to Google Maps and perform a search for a local business category. In this image we did “Italian restaurants near me”. If the aggregate rating for your business is not 4 stars out of 5 or higher, the chances you will rank on the first page of the maps listings is slim to none, especially in very competitive niches like restaurants.
Even if you do manage to squeeze out a spot, the chances that customers will seek your products or services are also just as slim. In the infographic below we see some really amazing and important statistics when it comes to consumer decision making. 90% of all consumers read online reviews before visiting a business. 88% of people who read online reviews trust them as much as a personal recommendation. A potential customer is likely to spend 31% more money if you have positive reviews. 72% say positive reviews make them trust the business more. These are just some of the amazing facts. You can read them all below.
So not only do a high number of positive review get you in-front of new customers, they also get these individuals to your location, contracting your services and/or spending more money with you. So if you don’t have any reviews you need to get to work on outreach. The same applies if you have some less than stellar reviews.
In either case the best course of action is to reach out to your current customers and ask them to leave you a review. We recommend diversifying where you ask them to leave these reviews. Start with Google, then Facebook and then it really depends on your niche. If you own a restaurant Yelp would be the obvious choice. If you own a Bed & Breakfast TripAdvisor would probably be a great source of new business.
As for how many reviews you need, your best bet is again to take a look at your competition. If your top competitor has 30 reviews with an average rating of 4.3 Stars, you know you need to beat that. As for how you ensure you are getting the best reviews possible, the obvious answer is that you provide the best services and/or products. We also invite you to take a look at our solution featured in the video below.
Infographic by- Invesp
Google Map rankings are not a unsolvable enigma wrapper in a riddle. Google wants to provide the best results for individual searches. Therefore, if your business is the most relevant, authoritative and has the best customer reviews, that top spot is yours.