One of the largest influencing factors on gaining local visibility on Google is the verification and optimization of your Google My Business listing. When people search for a lawyer near them they’re usually looking to hire someone, so it’s important the information about your business that shows up on Google is as accurate and optimized as possible.
GMB is a free tool that allows you to manage your business information and lets you connect with customers across Google Search and Maps. GMB listings allow you to:
These functions allow you to exert some control over what appears when potential clients search for your firm.
If you are interested in boosting your local online presence, Google My Business is a great place to start. According to Search Engine RoundTable, Google has reported that 46% of all searches have local intent. If someone is looking to hire a lawyer, they may do a search for a “personal injury lawyer near me” or “Austin car accident attorney.” Focusing your efforts on the free-to-use Google My Business platform will not only allow potential customers to find your business online, but it will ensure that the information they see is correct.
In addition, Moz’s list of local search ranking factors shows Google My Business as one of the top-ranking factors in local map search and in local organic search.
Create a Google My Business Listing
There are several ways to verify your GMB listing. Here are the different options:
For this verification option, you will want to make sure your address is listed correctly. You can add a contact name that the postcard will be addressed to. The postcard will be mailed to the business location and will typically arrive within 5 days. Once you receive the postcard, log back into your Google My Business account and select “Verify now”. In the code field, enter the five-digit verification code that is listed on your postcard and click “Submit”.
If you don’t receive the postcard, you can request a new code by signing into GMB and clicking the “Request another code” button.
Some businesses are able to verify their location by phone. If you are eligible, you will see the option when you start the verification process. Make sure the phone number is correct before you verify the listing. You will be given a code through an automated message. Enter the code into your GMB dashboard.
Some businesses are able to verify their location by email. If you’re eligible, you will see the option when you start the verification process. Make sure the email is correct before you verify the listing. You will need to sign in to the email address that the verification was sent to and click the verification button in the email from GMB.
If you have already verified your business using the Google Search Console, you may be eligible for instant verification under the same email address. All you need to do is sign into GMB with the same email that you used to verify your business in Google Search Console. If you are eligible, you will see the notification for instant verification. If you don’t, it means that the category for your business isn’t eligible at this time.
If you have more than 10 locations for the same business, you may be eligible for bulk verification. To do this, sign in to your GMB account, select one of your locations and click “Get verified”. You will then click “Chain” and fill out the verification form with your business name country where you operate, all contact names who will be using the GMB account, phone number, business manager email (someone at the business who can verify you’re a representative of that business), and the email address of your Google Account Manager. You will submit this verification form and it can take up to a week for it to be reviewed and processed by Google.
Once you have verified your business listing, you will need to optimize it by filling it out completely.
One thing to note is that anyone can suggest an edit to your business listing, even your competitors. When a searcher clicks on your business listing, there will be a “Suggest an edit” button. This will allow them to not only suggest edits to your listing, but the changes can actually be made live without you being notified. It is very important that you sign in to your GMB dashboard on a regular basis to ensure no one has made any unwanted changes.
Here are the different areas of the profile that you should fill out:
Make sure your business name is consistent with how it listed on your website and across all online directories.
Make sure the Primary Category is as specific as possible.You can list additional categories that apply under the primary category. For instance, if you are a personal injury lawyer, you will want to put Personal Injury Attorney as the primary category. You can list Law Firm, Lawyer, Legal Services, etc under it.
Make sure your address is correct. If you are in a suite, you can include the suite number on the Address 2 line. If you are located in the same building as other attorneys, this can help differentiate your law firm from the rest.
Enter your business hours, including special hours for holidays, to let potential customers know when they can reach you and when they can visit your location.
Your primary number should be a local business number. You can add a toll-free number as a secondary phone number.
TIP: If you are using a tracking number for your GMB listing, make sure it has a local area code and is listed as the primary number. You will list your actual office phone number as the second number so that Google can still crawl it and see that it is consistent with the phone number on your website and other online directories.
Enter the URL for your business website.
TIP: If you have a multi-location business, you can enter the location page on your website if one exists. You will want to send visitors to the most relevant page on the site for each specific location.
Enter a full list of services your company provides. This will tell Google and anyone who sees the listing what your business does.
GMB allows 750 characters in the business description, but only 250 characters will show up when someone views your business listing in the Knowledge Panel.
TIP: Because of this, you will want to make sure that you put the most important information at the top. This would include priority keywords and your city. Make sure to follow these business description guidelines provided by Google.
Add the opening date so that searchers know how long you have been in business.
One thing you don’t want to forget to do is to add photos and videos to your GMB listing. It will make the listing more engaging and will allow the searcher to learn more about your business. According to Google, businesses that have photos on their listing see 35% more clicks to their website. There are various types of photos you can add such as your logo, cover photo, interior and exterior photos, team photos, and more.
Photos should be at least 720 pixels wide by 720 pixels high and JPG or PNG files. Videos can be up to 30 seconds long, up to a 100 MB file size, and a resolution of 720p or higher. Videos should be taken at the business location, include people who work at the business, or directly pertain to the business.
Google Posts are social media posts that show up in the Knowledge Panel when someone searches for your business. You can take advantage of making the post more engaging by adding a photo, call-to-action, and a link to your website. Google Posts are live for 7 days and then you must post a new one. This is a great way to stand out from your competitors, drive traffic to your website, and inform potential customers of company events, special promos, events, and additional information about your business.
Questions & Answers is a great feature on GMB that allows people to ask questions about your business that you can answer.
If you want to be proactive, you can create a list of frequently asked questions with the appropriate answers. Keep in mind that anyone can answer the questions posted by users about your business. You will want to make sure you closely monitor new questions that are posted and answer them as quickly as possible. If someone else answers a question and it isn’t accurate, you can reach out to the Google My Business support forums.
Online reviews are extremely important and can help you stand out from your competitors. They appear on your business listing, so it is vital that you are continuously working towards getting a larger number of positive reviews. In addition to obtaining reviews, it’s important to reply to all of your reviews. Not only does this show appreciation for the customer who left the review, but it also shows others that you are actively engaging with your listing and influences others to leave a review.
Online reviews have been known to impact local search rankings, click-through-rates, and consumer trust levels. In a study conducted by BrightLocal, they found the following key statistics:
On Google My Business, you can control how your business information is displayed on Google and Google Maps, so don’t miss out on this free business tool in order to gain more local visibility. Remember that Google is always looking at the business owner engagement and the engagement of searchers on your GMB listing, so it is important to continually interact with it.
Shea Benedict. President of Operations, The Search Engine Guys (A Division of Cloud 8 Sixteen, Inc.)
The Search Engine Guys is a leader in the Digital Marketing Space for the past 12 years.
This is pretty plain and simple. SEO experts have performed case study after case study that show that Google ranks sites that use WordPress higher than those built on other platforms. The reason for this is because the WordPress framework makes it easier for Google to crawl and index the pages on the site. The easier you make it for the bots to crawl your pages, the better off you will be.
The adaptability of WordPress sites cannot be overlooked. WordPress is flexible enough to accommodate any plugin, extension, or update you need. There is no easier way to update your site compared to other platforms. Whether you are a small business, e-commerce, or personal blog site, WordPress has the ability to adapt whatever you need.
Google penalizes sites that aren’t mobile-friendly by displaying them lower in their results. With WordPress, you don’t have to overhaul your entire site to make it accessible on tablets and smartphones, since most themes are automatically responsive. WordPress also has an option for websites to be viewed in “mobile view” for themes that aren’t responsive.
Whatever the focus of your site is (commercial or personal), it doesn’t cost a penny even when your traffic increases. Any update you need to the site can be done by you or your developer without any additional WordPress publishing costs.
WordPress has the ability to integrate with popular third-party platforms to help make the site more efficient. There are plugins that you can use for just about anything you can think of that would be useful for a site. WordPress can integrate with just about anything out there, which makes it invaluable for publishers in any industry!
Accelerated Mobile Pages, or AMP, have recently been gaining a lot of attention, even though they were first announced in 2015 and were implemented in 2016. We’ve been receiving lots of questions about the value of AMP, especially when it comes to the search results. So far, we have been able to identify some positive features and a few drawbacks to these pages.
For those of you are interested in, here’s what we’ve gathered so far.
The standard was first announced in 2015, began appearing in mobile search results last February, and was rolled out onto Google’s global mobile search results last September. Because AMP is a mobile standard, it only appears on smartphones, tablets, and other smaller-scale devices. It has no bearing on search results on PCs and laptops.
The goal of AMP is to provide speed to mobile webpages, and that’s where it shines. Page speed is a very minor factor in Google’s ranking algorithm, but it’s incredibly important to mobile web users. As more people are searching via mobile platforms, the value of page speed becomes clear. If a webpage takes more than a few moments to load, many people simply hit their back button and go to the next one, which may load faster.
AMP pages have been receiving favorable treatment on search results pages, and even get a nifty lightning bolt icon next to their listings that indicates their AMP status, as shown below.
As a result of their zippy load times, which are essentially instantaneous, visitors may be less likely to bounce off of AMP pages, which can have an indirect effect on rankings as well.
For all of these benefits, it’s hard to imagine why we may be hesitant to add AMP to sites.
AMP pages are also stored on Google’s servers rather than your site. Any AMP page that appears in a search result is essentially a copy of that page that exists on Google’s servers rather than your web host’s. While this isn’t a problem per se, it does transfer a lot of control to Google, since it makes your visitors Google’s visitors. This also has the added problem of making it difficult to share AMP links, because the URLs for the links are obscured.
AMP can be a great option if your website delivers only text and images, or if you want to keep things relatively simple. With that in mind, sites like that would load quickly anyway, though the boost AMP’s framework provides is welcome. A simple plugin for those using WordPress sites (like we do) makes creating AMP pages even simpler. The issue is that if you want to create a rich experience on your site, AMP’s restrictions and limitations can make delivering that kind of content impossible.
To discuss whether including AMP on your site would be worthwhile, contact The Search Engine Guys at (512) 394-7234.
At the annual Search Engine Strategies conference in London last week, Searchmetrics founder Marcus Tober lead a session on “Meaningful SEO Metrics.” In the presentation, Tober tackled a variety of topics including the move from page rank to author rank in the future of SEO.
The presentation began with Tober explaining the importance of the “SEO visibility” metric. He said that the cumulative number of all relevant keyword rankings for a market reveal important trends. The ranking on single keywords is worth less, according to Tober, because of personalization, localization, and search history. Analyzing SEO strategies with this broader scope will allow businesses to see trends that are independent from seasonal effects or traffic spikes based on independent events.
One of the most notable moments in the presentation was when Tober directly disputed a statement made by Google Engineer Matt Cutts. When asked if Google +1’s affect a website’s ranking, Cutts answered “Not really.” Cutts claimed there was no “direct effect” on rankings from +1’s, but said Google does “have an authorship proposal.”
According to Tober, Cutts was not telling the whole truth. Tober excitedly told the audience that +1’s do indeed influence search. He explained that several experiments conducted over the last year in Searchmetrics Labs found that Google+ triggers instant indexation. He claimed that based on analysis with different unique postings, “URLs with a +1 are being indexed instantly and rank for the title as well as some longtail queries.”
These findings, Tober said, illustrate the move from Page Rank to Author Rank in SEO. He quoted Google’s Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt saying “Within search results, information tied to a verified online profiles will be ranked higher than content without such verification, which will result in most users naturally clicking on the top (verified) results.” Tober continued to say “the true cost of remaining anonymous, then, might be irrelevance.”
Tober concluded the presentation by reminding SEOs to focus on the big picture and not get bogged down studying one metric. He recommended that marketers measure activity and outcomes saying, “understand how the business makes money, build a simple model, and remember that the best metrics guide behavior.”
Internally at the search engine guys we have been watching this closely… since May of 2012 Google+ profiles, circles and +1 (as well as other social media profiles which may factor into the author-rank equation) have become increasingly important to our SEO strategies. Please contact us to schedule a call with a web strategist if you have questions about SEO, author rank and how to prepare your website to “weather the storm” as Google continues to shift from page rank to author-rank.
According to research firm eMarketer, Google is likely to exceed Facebook in selling online display ads in the United States. Google is expected to have a 15.4% share of the U.S. market. eMarketer said Google is projected to make $2.31 billion in revenue from online display ads. These are more profitable than the text-based ads that appear next to search results and account for the bulk of Google’s revenue.
This lead in online display ad marks a historic day for Google. This is the first time ever that it will be the leader in three different modes of online advertising: display ads, web-search ads, and mobile ads.
eMarketer calculates that Facebook will hold 14.4% of the market this year with $2.16 billion in U.S. revenue. Back in February, eMarketer predicted that Facebook would be on top with 16.8% of the market and Google with 16.5%.
(Graph from The Wall Street Journal)
eMarketer estimates that the display ad market to grow 21.5% to almost $15 billion in the U.S. this year, compared to last year’s $12.3 billion. Collectively, Google and Facebook will have nearly 30% of this year’s display ad revenue. In the year 2014, eMarketer predicts the two companies to have 37% of the market.
Google continues to make it easy for advertisers to use one source for all of their online marketing needs, via traditional desktop Adwords, Mobile adwords, display ads and re-marketing – both within their search network and on thousands of partner websites within Google’s content /display network.
Contact us at The Search Engine Guys if you would like to explore options for PPC advertising on Google’s network.
The Search Engine Guys were featured on BusinessWeek.com yesterday in the Small Business section. Every day, the publication’s web site features a tip for entrepreneurs on ways to improve how they do business. TSEG’s Joe Devine composed a tip about the benefits of search engine optimization and it was published on January 24, 2011.
Check it out here and please feel free to share with anyone you think may be interested:
Optimize Your Website for Search Engines
Cloud 8 Sixteen, Inc., which includes The Search Engine Guys, Ngage, Inc., and most recently, Big Momma Apps, was featured in the Austin Business Journal (ABJ) and its sister publication, ABJ Entrepreneur.
ABJ’s Christopher Calnan interviewed CEO Joe Devine, who shared news about the companies’ growth and how the Cloud Family of Businesses came to be.
The article was published in the print edition of the Austin Business Journal on January 7, 2010 and on its web site as premium content.
To read the full article on ABJ Entrepreneur, click here: Austin tech founders on Cloud 8.
TSEG’s CEO, Joe Devine, was interviewed by Search Marketing Standard, a quarterly magazine that covers the search marketing industry. According to its web site, each issue is read by 50,000 subscribers.
In his interview, Devine discusses best practices for Online Reputation Management and provides advice to companies who want to protect their brand’s image online.
To read the story in its entirety, click on the following link and flip to page 44: Online Reputation Management: An Interview with Joe Devine.
Today, The Search Engine Guys contributed a guest article to Mashable.com. The article discusses how SEO may be affected by the new “social search paradigm”, triggered by the Bing/Facebook partnership announcement from the last week.
To read the entire article, click here: http://mashable.com/2010/10/18/social-search-seo/
We are excited to be included on such a high-profile website and are happy to contribute to this ongoing discussion. Please check out the article and give us your thoughts!
This past week, news of TSEG’s recent growth has reached two Austin publications, the Austin Business Journal and the Austin-American Statesman.
In the Austin Business Journal article, published on Monday, the reporter highlighted TSEG’s new real estate developments, an addition of 1,360 square feet to our S. Lamar office. The article points out that this change was made to accommodate rapid growth of the company. For the full article, click here: http://www.bizjournals.com/austin/stories/2010/08/23/daily6.html
This story was also posted to ABJ’s sister publication, ABJ Entrepreneur here: http://www.abjentrepreneur.com/news/2010/08/the_search_engine_guys_double_lamar_office.html
Today, the Austin-American Statesman highlighted two recent promotions at TSEG, Marcela Curran to Social Networking Director and Sean Hall to Content Director. This story ran on the publication’s web site, as well as in their print edition in the Business section. For the full article (and a large portrait of our very own Marcela Curran!), click here: http://www.statesman.com/business/up-the-ladder-877166.html
Keep your eyes open for more exciting news about TSEG in the future!