[Infographic] Google Guidelines for Local SEO
Many SEO providers try to keep their work shrouded in mystery, claiming they have the secret recipe for success that they can’t share with anyone. But here’s the big secret: most of them are just getting their information from the Google guidelines. When it comes to the Google guidelines for local SEO, there are seven areas that you need to make sure you are following closely.
Here at Fusion Group USA, we don’t need our work to be a big secret – because our business is built around working harder than any of our competitors. Today, I’ll run through the seven most important areas of local SEO according to the guidelines for representing your business on Google. Hold on to your hats, here they are:
Not every business is eligible for a Google My Business listing – so your first step should be to determine if you qualify. Fortunately, the test is pretty simple: our business “must make in-person contact with customers during its stated hours.”
This requirement is an overarching theme to the many of the following guidelines. The idea is that you need to be a real business in a real location serving real customers. Pretty simple, right?
The business name is most commonly abused aspect of a Google My Business listing, and it also carries the possibility of suspension if you ignore the guidelines. The basic rule-of-thumb should be to use whatever appears on your sign, business card, or website.
A lot of businesses try to get cute here and keyword stuff their business name. It is not uncommon to see businesses like Sarah’s Flower Shop to be listed as ‘Denver’s Number 1 Florist Near Me.’ I know it’s tempting – but it’s a losing strategy in the long run.
This one is simple: use a real address that accurately reflects your business location. This means you can’t use a PO Box, virtual office, or employee’s house as your address – even if you think it will bring in new customers. There is a common question here: what if I run a service business out of my house? Do I have to post my home address to Google for the whole world to see?
In this case, you can designate your business as a ‘service area’ business. This will allow you to show all the areas you service without displaying your home address right there for everyone to see.
When you link a website to your Google listing, it should be a direct URL that goes to your business home page. Some people try to use a lead-capture landing page here – in an effort to capitalize on Google traffic. But this goes against the guidelines and runs the risk of being penalized.
If your business does not have a website, then you’re long overdue – check out our web design services here.
When it comes to providing a phone number, there are just a few basic things to keep in mind. Whenever possible, use a local number that connects directly to your local location. For most small to medium-sized businesses, this won’t be a concern. But it never hurts to know all the guidelines, especially if you are looking into using a call center.
There’s not much benefit to lying about your business hours – so just be honest here. According to Google, “provide your regular customer-facing hours of operation.” That’s it, no need to make it more difficult than it is. It is also a good practice to include any seasonal or holiday hours – this helps your customers and shows Google that you are an active business.
Choosing the right category will help your business get found by potential customers. But that doesn’t mean you should spam across as many categories as possible. Google recommends using as few categories as possible to accurately describe what your business does.
Local SEO Services
Local SEO isn’t a mystery, but it is hard work. Many businesses start out with the best of intentions, but it is easy to let your SEO efforts slip through the cracks on busy days. If you need help building citations; ensuring address, phone, and website consistency; maintaining your GMB listing; or any other SEO service, consider hiring an SEO provider.