Optimize Google Maps

Step four, optimizing for Google maps. So this is really prime territory that you need to try to get your business listed on. I show you an example of the Google map result with the three pack. A three pack just means that Google is returning results of three when people type in a search phrase of, for example, painting contractor, Miami, Florida. And when you type that in, this is the search result page that you get. And this is just zeroing in on the map section of that.

So how do you get your Google My Business page ranked on Google maps? You really want to focus on getting these directories created. They provide these types of links called citations back to your website, into your Google My Business page. You want to get reviews; you want to make sure your Google My Business page is optimized. You want to fill that out and be as complete and thorough as possible and continue to add content and make regular updates to your Google My Business page. Take advantage of Google My Business app. As you're working on a job take a picture and post it to your Google My Business page.

When you look at the things that you need to do specifically to be found for local search to help you improve your opportunity to show up on the Google map results, these are the three things that Google tells us that they care about: relevance, distance, and prominence.

So the first thing you have to do is you have to claim your Google my business page. You can do that by going to google.com/business.

Now the first criteria that Google told us about was relevance. Relevance is what Google can know about your business from everything that it can find on the web. So that's going to be based on the content you have on your website. So you better have all of those services described in enough detail. Don't just have a bullet point or a short one-sentence description of each service. Have a page for every service.

Pick your primary and secondary categories very, very carefully. If you're a painter, that's probably your primary category. If you do drywall installation, and that's your primary thing, then have your primary business category be the drywall category and use the Google category, that's available to you. When you start typing it in, Google's going to suggest you to you what the category is that they have for you.

There are times when businesses don't have an appropriate category that pulls up. But painters, drywall, wallpaper--those are all going to have categories that are going to allow you to claim and attach to your Google my business page. This is why the service area pages are so important because again, that provides that extra content that just helps Google understand what your website's about and it provides detail. When you have these city pages we talked about it just validates you do business in the service area that you're telling Google you do business in, on your Google My Business page.

So the consistency of what you have and what you say on your website and how Google can understand that based on the information that you've provided in your Google my business page is really important.

Then you've got all of the data that is out there about your business from all these different directory sites. There are literally hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of these, and they have bad data. They have incorrect phone numbers; they have incorrect addresses, incorrect company names, incorrect hours of operation.

That all needs to be cleaned up, as Google or Bing are looking at those sites that they see as really credible, authoritative sites that have information about businesses on them. And they see that there's a lot of bad data out there. They don't have any confidence that anybody knows the right information about your business. So don't take that for granted. You’ve got to pay attention to the directory.

And then other websites that are out there. There are a whole host of other websites. The PDCA website, for example, is really important to be listed on as a painting contractor. There are other associations that are local chambers websites. All of these things that you want to think about and get your business listed on and have the right up-to-date information about your business on that website.

Here's just a quick snapshot of just some of these directories. There are literally a hundred of these that are really probably super important to consider being on. You want to make sure you have your most accurate name, address, and phone number information on all of these. It really should be exactly the same to the extent that you can make that happen.

There are some great management tools that will help you do this. You can do it manually. I wouldn't necessarily encourage that because entropy happens; all of these individual directory listings that send information about your business to your Google my business page into your website, they all have their own algorithm to calculate what information they think is the correct information about your business. And their algorithm is going to overwrite anything that you could put in there unless you're using a specific management tool to lock that down.

Consistency with this concept of name, address, phone number, that's what we refer to as NAP, is really, really critical. These directories carry a lot of authority in the eyes of the search engines because they are information about businesses. That's why these sites exist. And so as a result, the search engines trust them, but also your customers trust them. So if your customers find your business listing on a site like City Search or Mantra or Yelp, they're going to look at that, and they're probably going to say, okay, here's, the phone number I need to call. And if that phone number isn't correct, they're going to have a negative impression about your business. So make sure that you don't create an opportunity for that to happen.

The more that you can get listed on all of these different sites is generally the better. And duplicates are out there. You can have one site that has multiple listings for your business and that bad data can really confuse the search engine. So definitely pay attention to that and fix that stuff.

Capture positive reviews. Google reviews are king. They are one of the most important things to help you show up on Google map results. This gets into this idea of prominence that Google talks about.

So we didn't talk about distance. Let me talk about that for just a second. Distance is going to be factored in based on probably a three to five-mile radius. Even though you can specify a 25, 50-mile radius of what your service area is on your Google My business page, the reality is you're probably not going to show up on that Google map result for anything outside of three to five miles.

Distance is going to come into play based on the location settings. And when people do a search on the phone, if they type in that specific city with the service that they're looking for, it’s going to dictate the result of what they see on the Google map results. So just be aware of that.

In terms of reviews, there are a lot of different sites that you can get reviews captured for. But if you want to be found for Google searches, Google My Business page and showing up on Google maps, as a result, is the most important review site that you could get your customers to write reviews on.

Positive reviews drive activity. When somebody reads a positive review, they take action. And they’re almost as trustworthy if not as trustworthy as recommendations from friends and family members at this point.

Optimizing your Google my business profile. So again, just fill out the information, add pictures, add video, don't use stock photos, use your own real photos, add pictures of your staff, your team, describe the services that you offer. There's a place for that. There's a place where you can define the service area, where you're going to go to work at your customer's locations.

You want to be as thorough as possible and keep updating this and keep it up to date. Make regular updates. You can upload pictures and change those on a regular basis. Google now has a post feature where you can go to your Google my business page and create an offer or a special or have a link to your blog post or just post a short little status update. And these are starting to show up in search results.

Now make sure you respond to each and every review that somebody gives you on your Google page, whether it's positive or negative. If it's positive, thank them. Express why it was a joy to work with them. If it's a negative review, take the conversation offline, but write a response to say something to the effect of, “We're sorry you didn't have a great experience. Our business takes your feedback very seriously, so we would love for you to contact us at this phone number or at this email address.” They may not take action on that; they may have gotten what they needed by writing that review.

You don't want to get into this discussion that could escalate and turn really negative and get really ugly. You do want to take it offline. But the other thing is everybody else who's reading these reviews and seeing that you're responding and acknowledging that maybe somebody was less than satisfied and you're working to try and make it better, that's all they need to see. They want to know that you're paying attention, that you're trying to work with a customer to give them the best possible experience.