Google Local Maps Rank

The 5 Keys to Getting Visible in Google Maps

The Maps are prime digital real estate. It’s front page coverage for any local search. Get your business visible here and the phone WILL ring.

This area is actually called Google My Business and it’s essentially Google’s local business directly, much like the online Yellow Pages. There are two ways to get your business listed here. You can go to Google My Business and create your own profile page for your business or you can do nothing and eventually Google will list it within the maps section themselves.

If you have a new business, you should create your own profile page to speed up the process. If you have an existing business, Google will allow you to search its database to find out whether or not your business is already listed. If so, you’ll need to claim it. There’s no need to explain the process here as Google My Business takes you through the easy steps of claiming or setting up a new business profile.

Google My Business

Instead, I want to give you five essential keys to getting your local profile to show as high as possible within search results, hopefully on the first page. I can’t guarantee you’ll get there, but I am very certain that without these steps, you won’t be anywhere near the top. So here they are:

1. Choose Your Categories

When setting up your profile, choose your categories carefully. At first you will only be able to pick one category, but once your business is verified by Google, usually with a letter in the mail that contains a verification code, you will be able to choose up to five categories from Google’s drop down list.

The categories you choose are how Google knows where to show your business to consumers.  For example, if you choose the category Air Conditioning Contractor, Google will show your business to consumers who are looking for air conditioning installation and HVAC contractors. You don’t want Google to show your business to consumers who are looking for plumbers if that’s not what you do.

I can’t underscore how important it is to choose accurate and relevant categories. your categories are the first place Google crawlers look to determine where to place you in search results.

2. Fill Out a Complete Profile

Give Google as much information as possible. This can only help them show you to more consumers. Complete a detailed description of your business (between 100-250 words), add plenty of photos, set hours of operation and provide all your accurate contact information. Be sure to include a local telephone number as your primary business number so Google knows you are a San Diego company.

You will also get a chance to associate your business with a website. Choose your strongest url (usually the home page of your website). This is critical. Here’s why…

Google My Business

3. Have a Well-Optimized Website

Google relies heavily on the strength of the web page you associate with your Google My Business profile. Say you associated your profile with the home page of your website. If your website ranks really well in search, chances are that your local maps profile page will rank well, too. Your website will pass authority to your local Google My business listing. I suggest optimizing your website by using search engine optimization best practices or by hiring a digital marketing consultant.

4. Spread the Word

Google uses other websites and directories to verify your information. By scraping sites like Yelp, Super Pages, Yahoo Local, Angie’s List and others, Google will cross reference your profile details with those in other places across the Web (including your website so make sure it’s accurate).

Business Citation

Therefore, it is crucial that all this information is consistent. If your address is different in the online Yellow Pages from your Google My Business Profile, then Google is going to get confused and not know which one is correct. Having consistent company information in all the major directories is a significant ranking factor so search the Web for your company and make sure your business, name, address and phone number (NAP) is exactly the same across the Web. Here’s a list of the major business directories.

5. Start Getting Reviews

In my testing, we have found a strong correlation between rank and profiles with lots of reviews. It appears businesses that have a lot of consumer reviews in Google tend to rank better. Google doesn’t appear to care if the reviews are good or not, they just want to see real, detailed reviews.

Ask your customers to post very descriptive testimonials of their experience with you. Have them post it in Google Maps, Yelp and any other platforms that are important to your niche.

Reviews can be an entire marketing strategy on their own. I have clients that get more business from review platforms than anywhere else. In fact, consumers may never even visit the website, they’ll just call the business right from the phone number on their profile page. I suggest engaging in a customer review campaign to spread the good word about your business.

There are certainly more ranking factors than the ones I’ve listed, but if you get these first five right, you’re on your way to getting much better visibility for local consumer searches. The more traffic you get from search, the more sales you’ll make and the faster your business will grow.

Digital Marketing Workshop in San Diego CA

Workshop: How to Get Found Online by Consumers

Internet Marketing Secrets from the Pros

Discover the secrets the Pros use that get their websites top visibility in Google, Bing and Yahoo in this free Internet Marketing Workshop for Small Businesses by your host, the Small Business Development Center.

The Internet is the great competitive equalizer. More than any other time in history, you have the ability to target the very consumers who are ready to buy from you right now. Discover methods to beat your top competitors, even the ones that have enormous advertising budgets. After this workshop, you’ll know the secrets to becoming the authority in your market.

Workshop Details

The Small Business Development Center
880 National City Blvd., Suite 103
National City, CA 91950
(619) 482-6391

May 7, 2015 2:00pm – 4:00pm
You must pre-register
Instructor: Dino Maiolo
Cost: FREE

Digital Marketing Workshop

What will be covered in this workshop?

Search Marketing
Did you ever wonder why Google chooses to show some companies at the top of search while others seem to get exiled to page six? You’ll learn what it takes to get that top spot as well as tips and tricks to get you there faster – and stay there.

Conversion Marketing
You don’t know what conversion optimization is? You’ll discover why it may be the most important element in your marketing strategy. Learn not only how to get your customers to stay on your website, but to convert them into paying customers. Discover the biggest mistakes you’re making on your site and what to do to clean things up.

Social Media Marketing
Can social media really drive more business? If done correctly it can. Discover ways to use social media to get more customers and the deadly mistakes most business owners make that kill sales.

Customer Reviews
Stop hating Yelp. Discover how to use Yelp to drive loads of traffic – for free. You don’t have to pay Yelp for advertising. Turn a bad review into even more business with a little known tactic. Never fear negative customer reviews again.

The SBDC is a nonprofit resource that offers counseling, workshops and resources at no charge to business owners and entrepreneurs in San Diego. Your instructor for the workshop is Dino Maiolo, Digital Marketing Advisor for the SBDC and owner of DINOMADIC, a web marketing and design agency in San Diego, CA. For more information about this workshop or the SBDC, please call us at (619) 482-6391.

Mobile website optimization

Is Your Site Mobile-Friendly? If Not, Expect to Lose Visibility.

Google has been urging business owners and webmasters for quite some time to make their websites user-friendly on mobile devices. User-friendly means several things, but it essentially boils down to usability. Google believes that websites that do not adjust screen size, font size and image pixelation for mobile devices is a bad user experience.

What is mobile-friendly?

Let’s take a look at a couple examples. Below is an image of several websites with their mobile-friendly version. A really well optimized site will view nicely on all devices; a desktop, tablet and mobile phone.

Look at the two example below (you can click on them to enlarge). The first is my agency website and the second is from one of my cleints in New York City. You can see in both examples that the mobile version is very easy for consumers to get the information they need. How do you accomplish this? It’s a bit technical to explain, but not so difficult to implement. If you want more details, make an appointment with me and I’ll help you with it (by the way, there is no charge to meet with an SBDC advisor and you can meet with me as many times as you want).

You can even provide better user features on mobile than you can on a desktop version. Notice the two buttons at the top of the page for M&D? One is a Click-to-Call button and the other is a Click-to-Text. M&D makes it very easy for consumers to contact them.

mobile site optimization

Now look at the websites below. These examples were pretty easy to find, which tells me there are a lot of sites out there that are going to see their rankings in Google drop (more on that in a moment). Notice how there is no adjustment to help the consumer view the site on a smaller screen. Google considers this a bad user experience. So do I. In both examples, the desktop versions show nicely, but in mobile, the one on the left has overlapping text and doesn’t show the complete page. The one on the right is almost entirely blank. These could be fine companies, but consumers would never know it because they probably hit the back button and moved on to another contractor.

Bad mobile website ooptimization

What kind of penalty can I expect?

So “penalty” may be a bit harsh. Google is not really penalizing websites, but they have said that websites that are not mobile-friendly can expect a drop in rankings. How far? It’s anyone’s guess. It depends on your market and how well most of your competitors are optimized for mobile. It is certain, however, mobile-friendly websites will rank better in mobile search and I wouldn’t be surprised if that ranking carried over to desktop as well. At the moment, search results for both versions are identical. We’ll see if that changes after the 21st.

How do I know if my site is mobile-friendly?

Google has provided a tool to help you determine how well the mobile version of your website is optimized for consumer experience. Go here to enter your website address and Google will tell you if you need to some work to make your website more mobile-friendly.

When can I expect rankings to change?

If your website is not mobile-friendly, expect it to drop in rankings on April, 21st, 2015. That’s what the industry is calling “mobilegeddon.”

How do I keep my website from losing its rank in Google?

Ask your web developer. He or she will need to get to work. If you don’t have a web developer, make an appointment with me at the SBDC as soon as possible and I will help you. We can discuss your website and your internet marketing as well. It’s all a free service to local entrepreneurs and business owners. Our contact info is in the footer of this page, but you can contact the SBDC at (619) 482-6391.

Web Design Mistakes

The Top 5 Mistakes You’re Making on Your Business Website

You are making some huge mistakes on your website. Those mistakes are costing you money. As a web developer and web marketing consultant, I’ve complied the five most common errors I see business owners making when it comes to their website.

Mistake #1: Not Using Your Website as a Marketing Tool

Most business owners do very little with their website. For them, it’s just a place to send customers who want more information. It’s little more than a fancy online brochure, circa 1995 web design. There are many ways you can engage consumers on your website, yet I see so many of them that are static and lifeless.

Today, consumers expect a lot from your online presence. In my company, we’ve tested many different website designs and we’ve found that a site doesn’t have to have all the newest bells and whistles to be effective, but the information does need to be current, relevant and compelling. The design and layout is a reflection of your company and consumers will make a judgement based not only on the information you provide on your website, but on how it looks as well.

Most importantly, your site is a tool to drive business. It should engage the consumer and answer the important questions they have, always leading them to a conversion. A conversion is the goal you have for the site. Is it to make a sale, entice the consumer to call your office, fill out a web form or perhaps sign up for a newsletter? Determine what your conversion is and build your site around achieving that goal.

Most of all, use your website to engage the consumer. Encourage reviews and comments on your blog. You can create contests and fun trivia. Link from your social media platforms such as your Facebook fan page and Google Plus account.

TIP: Your website is not a place for you to try to be different or to express yourself creatively. Everything needs to be where the visitor expects it or they’ll get frustrated and hit the back button. The navigation goes at the top, not on the side or in the middle. Resist the urge all business owners have to make their logo big and bold. Keep it small and in the top left corner of the page. Your main content area is in the middle of the page with a big, compelling headline. Your call-to-action should be a quarter of the way down the page and on the right. Make your website easy to navigate and your visitors will stay longer – perhaps long enough to buy something from you.

Mistake #2: Not Designing for User Experience

When a business owner decides to design or redesign the company website, he or she almost always does it wrong. This happens for several reasons, but often, it’s because the wrong person is in charge of the design project—namely, you.

Controlling business owners want to promote a specific image for their company. This image is usually based on past accomplishments, awards, history, personnel, experience and even unsubstantiated design preferences – all the things most consumers could care less about. This happens because it’s very difficult for business owners to see themselves as anyone, but themselves. It’s even harder for them to understand what it’s like for a consumer to visit the site for the first time, not knowing what the owner already knows.

If the wrong person still insists on designing the site, it’s important to design for consumer experience, not owner preference. Find out from your customers what is most important to them. Don’t assume. Every Time I have clients go through this exercise, they are always surprised from what they find out. Owners who have been in business for twenty years finally learn what motivates their customers to buy, simply by asking them. You have to ask. Then, give them what they want.

You’ve heard that in business, you should always sell benefits to the consumer, not features of your company, right? Same goes for your website. Consumers don’t care how long you’ve been in business, how good your people are or what certifications you have. They care about themselves, not you. They want to know how you are going to solve their problems. They want to know what kind of deal they’re going to get. That message has to be front and center on your home page.

TIP: Deals are great. We’re Americans. We love getting a good deal, but don’t build your business by having the lowest price unless you actually have the word “Discount” in your company name. Price is not a marketing strategy, it’s a cop-out tactic used by the noncompetitive. You sell a good product or service. That’s worth something. You have to convince customers why paying a little more for quality is in their best interest. You can do it.

Mistake #3: Not Making it Easy for Consumers to Buy from You

For heaven sakes, put your phone number in plain site. Plaster it all over your home page so your visitors can find it. Have a strong call-to-action button that tells consumers exactly what to do next. I can’t believe how many websites I visit that leave me scratching my head. Where’s the Buy Now button? How do I purchase this product? How do I get a hold of a sales person?

There is a common rule in web design to never let your visitor think. If they have to think too much, they’re going to bounce off your site and right into the lap of your competitor. Everything on your website should be intuitive. If you want your visitor to go to another page on your site, then make sure you tell them to do it. If you want them to call you for pricing, then make sure your telephone number is big, bold and clearly visible.

Mistake #4: Using Images Incorrectly

Images on your website are important. They help to support the content and they break things up in a nice way. Content is very, very important, but most consumers don’t like to read too much (until they find exactly what they’re looking for). They skim. A good way to help get your point across is to use bullet points and bold titles. Another good tool is images, but most websites have the same, boring stock photos that are meaningless to consumers.

I’ll say it here, “Don’t use stock photos.” Consumers want real images of real people. They want to see happy, smiling employees. If your picture looks like a mug shot or your employees refuse to smile for the camera, don’t use them. You need to be approachable. If you show an image of a customer, it ought to be a real customer. It’s fine if the image isn’t perfect and looks like you took it with your iphone. Consumers appreciate the authenticity.

Don’t use images just for the sake of having an image. Make sure they are relevant and support the topic. Images help make your message stronger and can really drive home certain points.

Finally, there is a lot of debate among web developers about the use of sliders. Sliding images on your home page can help you communicate several important messages in the same space. The problem is that most visitors don’t wait around for the second or third slide. They start scrolling and then the sliding images just become a distraction at that point. Personally, I prefer one static image on my home page. If I want to make several points, I can use animations – text that overlays the image and changes to promote different topics.

If your business is small and your niche narrow, then I would definitely use only one image at the top. Our testing shows that a large image of a face either looking back at the visitor or at a line of text is the most effective. Consumers love big images right now.

For large corporations and organizations with a lot of different focus areas, a slider may be the way to go in order to cover all those areas, but as a general rule, I usually discourage my clients from using a slider on their home page and absolutely never on a landing page. A landing page needs to be narrowly targeted so no sliding images. Go it?

Mistake #5: Not Using Your Analytics for Deep Insights

If you are not measuring user activity on your website, you are leaving a lot of money on the table. Why wouldn’t you measure? You can gain more insights about your customers’ buying behavior than you ever have before and with Google Analytics, it’s all free information. These are insights and data that even the biggest corporations in the world didn’t have access to just ten years ago. Now you do.

Find out what pages your customers stay on and which pages cause them to leave. Find out where they are coming from and how many pages they click on. How many visitors added a product to a cart, but abandoned the check out? Knowing this behavior can be the difference between business success and business failure. If you are not using your data, go to Google Analaytics now and sign up for free. If you can’t do it, then get your web developer to do it for you. He or she will be able to tell what the data means and how to use it to increase sales.