If you’re a business that serves local customers then the value of being in the ‘snack pack’ on Google’s search results is huge. The snack pack, as illustrated below, shows the top 3 local listing for the search you entered, in this case ‘Plumber Cardiff’. This shows up below the paid ads but above the #1 organic listing and as a result the click through rates are excellent.
But a question I get asked a lot is ‘How do I get my business on Google Maps?’. This blog post will give you step by step instructions to do just that.
It’s not uncommon, however, for companies to have multiple listings on the map simply because they forgot they added it or can’t find their original listing. The first step, then, is to check whether you’re already on Google maps.
You can do this by searching on Google maps directly (maps.google.com) or by going to Google My Business https://www.google.com/business/ and clicking the ‘Get on Google’ as shown below:
You will then be presented with the following screen:
It’s vital at this stage that you search for your business to ensure you’re not already listed – just because you haven’t added your company, it doesn’t mean it won’t be there. It’s particularly important to search by any variation of your company name, address or phone number, especially if you’ve moved or changed details in the past, however long ago it might be.
If your business is already listed it will look like this:
And if it’s not it will look like this:
Don’t forget to try every possible option when searching, before continuing to add a new listing. Multiple listings for the same business can get confusing, not to mention difficult to manage.
You will now click on the box where it says ‘Let me enter the full business details’ and you’ll be taken the this page:
Make sure you add the full address in the right format and double check your phone numbers too! For the category, you can start typing and you will get suggestions – it’s worth searching Google for the terms you want to show up for and see what categories the top 3 results are using, then use the same one. If you click on the top listing you’ll see this:
Click to continue to the next step. If you checked the box to say that you deliver your services to customers at their location, you’ll see the following:
Enter the appropriate details so Google knows when to show you to relevant searchers in local areas. When you continue you’ll be presented with the following screen:
Check the box to say you’re authorized to manage this business listing and click continue.
Now you have to verify your business, which is normally done by sending a postcard to the address that’s been registered. The card contains a verification code which you will then enter into the admin area of your listing to verify. In some cases you are given the option to verify by phone, in which case a code is sent by text or by voice call to the registered phone number.
By clicking on the ‘Mail’ button you will be sent the postcard, or you can click very later. Whichever you choose you will then be taken to your Google My Business listing so you can edit the details.
At this stage you need to add as much information as possible as a fully filled out listing will have a much better chance of ranking in that snack pack.
Clicking on the red ‘edit’ button will take you to the page where you can add all your business details:
When you’re finished hit ‘done editing’.
Be sure to add your logo and other images – click on ‘manage photos’ and you’ll be taken to the area where you can add a profile and logo image, plus various other photos about your business.
Add as many as you can to make for a better profile.
Your listing won’t show in Google until you’ve verified it – keep an eye out for your postcard and follow the instructions when it arrives. It usually arrives within a few weeks.
And that’s it!
There’s been lots of talk of AMP in SEO circles lately, but what exactly is it and do you need to be worried about it?
Mobile has become more and more important in terms of SEO in the past year, with mobile searches finally overtaking desktop. It’s hardly any wonder when you think how much time we all spend with smart phones in hand…
It’s no surprise, then, that Google is working hard to provide a better experience for its mobile searchers. We first saw this with the ‘Mobilegeddon’ update back in April 2015. That was when Google categorically stated that if your site wasn’t mobile friendly then it wouldn’t rank for searches made on mobile devices. Ouch! Think about that for a second: if more than half of the searches are done on mobiles, if your website isn’t mobile friendly you could be losing more than half your potential visitors!
(If you want to check how mobile friendly your site is then visit their mobile friendly test: https://www.google.co.uk/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/)
But even mobile friendly pages can be a pain to load when you don’t have great signal. Indeed even when you have 4G they can sometimes be sluggish because so many these days are full of ‘images and interactive elements. Be honest, most of the time when you’re looking for something on your mobile you aren’t interested in pretty pictures and funny videos, you just want the information you’re looking for. And usually you want it fast.
This is the latest solution to that problem. Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) are pages with all the fancy stuff stripped away. They’re ‘back to basics’, simply coded pages, which are designed to load at lightening speed.
It doesn’t take a genius to see how this can benefit both users and businesses, and there will be a raft of marketing and tech companies falling over themselves to offer to implement the technology on your website.
But before you go full steam ahead and allocate a chunk of budget to doing this, just stop and think about who your potential visitors are. Why are they searching for you? Will it make a huge difference to them if your page loads in 4 seconds or 1? If you’re an emergency locksmith and I’m stuck in a secluded carpark at midnight with my keys locked in my car then the answer is probably yes. Or if I’m wandering around Tesco and need to know the ingredients for the casserole I’m making tonight, maybe yes too.
For the vast majority of business, however, there won’t be this urgency. You don’t need to fall over yourself to get AMP implemented by next Tuesday. That doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be on the horizon – something you can plan into your next website overhaul or upgrade perhaps.
It might be that your target market simply don’t use mobile! Do you even know how much of your website traffic comes from mobile? Are you measuring what percentage of visitors who become customers are coming from mobile? Does it make you think you should be measuring it at least? I hope so….
Whatever happens, don’t be scared into thinking your world will end if you don’t have Accelerated Mobile Pages on your website. There are plenty of people who will be only to happy to play Chicken Little and try and convince you the sky is falling…. and of course take your money to put it right.
If you’d like to read more about the AMP Project then visit their website at https://www.ampproject.org/
Google have recently circulated an email in forums and online communities (an excerpt of which is below) stating that Google My Business pages that haven’t been verified will be unduly closed down on 28th July 2015. Here’s what they said:
In the past few months, you may have seen some changes in the look of Google+ pages that have been associated with Google My Business (GMB) accounts. These changes, including how we treat business pages without owners, are part of Google’s ongoing effort to simplify people’s experience with our tools. We are constantly working to provide only valuable and rich content to our users.
On July 28, Google will begin shutting down those GMB-associated Google+ pages that have not been associated with user accounts and are also not verified. You may find that some of your Business View tours also sit on such pages, but note that after this removal of unverified Google+ pages, the Business View tours will still remain available on Google Maps and Google Search.
For many small business owners the process of claiming and verifying their Google My Business or Google+ Local pages as they’re also called doesn’t always run smoothly. First you have to have a Google user account, then claim your listing and wait for your postcard to arrive with the verification code to verify the listing. Many people quite frankly don’t even know if their listing is verified, and many more end up with duplicate pages.
What IS a GMB page even?? If you’re a local business (eg a plumber or tree surgeon) your Google My Business page certainly has some SEO benefits. When you claim your page and your map listing you have the chance to rank locally in the map listing results on Google even if your website is nowhere to be found so that’s a definite advantage. So if you haven’t already claimed your listing you should do so.
What if you’re page is one of those that’s been affected? You can simply create a new Google+ page and follow their process to verify it fully to get you back in the game. Even if you’re not a purely local business you should do this – a fully completed and SEO optimised Google+ Business Page can still help your website’s ranking as a link from here to your website still carries weight.
To get your business on to Google My Business visit this page.
Have you had them? You know, those phone calls from SEO agencies promising to get you to the top of Google for your search term because you’re not ranking as well as you should be? Am I the only one that finds them a damn nuisance – I wish they’d leave me alone! And of course the emails too…. “I came across your website and notice that…..”.
I brush them off as a bit of an annoyance and politely tell them where to get off, but judging by comments I’ve seen in various Facebook groups not everyone takes the same approach. I think it’s fair to say that many small business owners actually get pretty stressed about them – after all they’re being told their website isn’t ranking and that someone has a magic pill to fix it. It’s no wonder people sign up for some ‘too good to be true’ deal and end up living to regret it.
For some it’s a case of being baffled by science: not being knowledgeable about the subject of SEO means you’re not in a position to argue or query any of the claims that are being made. For others maybe it’s pure battle weariness and they caught you on a bad day where you just didn’t have the will to say no!
But what if the person on the other end of the phone IS a good SEO guy. What if the agency really CAN do what they say they can? How can you tell?? What should you do when you get one of these sales calls and what questions should you ask?
Do You Know What My Business Does?
May seem obvious, but not you’d be surprised at how many will say no! Chances are you’re on a contact list of thousands and it’s a pure numbers game – call enough people and eventually someone will say ‘yes’. If an agency can’t even take the time to look at your site and see what your business does before calling then how much care will they take with your SEO? Time to end the call.
If they say yes, then what next?
What Search Terms Will You Rank Me For?
If they have looked at your site then they should be able to answer this. If they do, check out the search terms they’re quoting you for. Look at the search volumes in a tool like the AdWords Keyword Planner or at http://keywordtool.io/ and see if anyone is actually searching for this term. The higher the volume the harder it’ll be to rank for that term – if they’re giving you search terms will very low or non existent search volumes then frankly it won’t matter if you’re number one because no-one is looking for it! Hang up.
If they say yes hang up!! NO-ONE can guarantee a first position ranking – here’s a quote from Google themselves regarding this:
No one can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google.
Beware of SEOs that claim to guarantee rankings, allege a “special relationship” with Google, or advertise a “priority submit” to Google. There is no priority submit for Google. In fact, the only way to submit a site to Google directly is through our Add URL page or by submitting a Sitemap and you can do this yourself at no cost whatsoever.
These three simple questions are likely to weed out 99% of the calls you get and ease your conscience along the way maybe. But what if you really want to find someone to help you, and they passed this first little test? Or what if you just need to find someone and don’t know where to start.
There are lots of reputable agencies who use cold calling as a sales technique so feel free to investigate them further and find out how they can help you. Request a written proposal and ask them exactly what they will look at before starting work: they should be looking at things like your site structure, load times, how well the site is set up to convert and whether it’s mobile friendly to name a few. It’s not just about backlinks and meta titles these days.
Google have written an excellent article about how to choose someone to do your SEO for you – you can read it here: https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/35291?hl=en It goes into great detail on what you should look for and what to avoid so it’s well worth a read.
Google recently started sending out alerts to website owners who have their site set up in Google Webmaster Tools. Of course this isn’t something new – you’ve always been able to set this up so you can be notified if anything is up with your site.
What these latest notifications relate to is your website’s mobile capabilities. With so many people now accessing the Internet via their smartphone it’s been pretty clear for quite some time that you should be making sure they have a great user experience whilst doing it. That’s just common sense and good business sense too.
Google has now started telling site owners when they don’t consider their website to be mobile friendly. They will tell you how many of your site’s pages it considers need to be updated and typically this is the message you’ll see:
“Google systems have tested xx pages from your site and found that 100% of them have critical mobile usability errors. The errors on these xx pages severely affect how mobile users are able to experience your website. These pages will not be seen as mobile-friendly by Google Search, and will therefore be displayed and ranked appropriately for smartphone users.”
If you haven’t received a notification it might be worth logging into Webmaster Tools to check just in case you turned off these notices. And if your site isn’t verified with Webmaster Tools you need to do it now!
When you log into WMT you can check on your website’s mobile usability by going to Search Traffic -> Mobile Usability. Here it will tell you of any errors in this respect.
When Google tells you a page will be “displayed and ranked appropriately for smartphone users” they’re telling you in no uncertain terms it won’t rank! Think about that for a minute. How much of your traffic comes from people searching on mobile devices? Even if it’s only 10% can you afford to lose that 10%? Let’s be honest, it’s likely to be much higher than that.
Take a look at your competitors – are their sites optimized for mobile viewing? You might outrank them on desktop searches but hey presto they could start beating you on mobile if they’re ahead of the game… Your backlinks and social profile won’t mean a thing – if your site is not mobile friendly it WON’T RANK ON GOOGLE FOR SEARCHES ON MOBILE DEVIES. Period.
Without wanting to state the obvious update your site so that it’s mobile friendly. That may mean updating your theme to a responsive one if you’re using WordPress or you might have to speak to your web designer to discuss the options. If you’re just starting out and getting your website built make sure that mobile usability is at the top of your list of specifications and don’t accept any excuses for not getting it done.
The use of mobile phones for internet browsing and shopping is only going to increase – make sure your business isn’t left behind!