About seven years ago, I was standing in my mom’s driveway. I’d just moved back from Denmark and was considering going back. I’m an only child, so my mom had other plans for me (although she was always way too loving to ever tell me to stay).
She brought up her friend Valerie. Her daughter was getting married this weekend to a guy she met online.
I’d left a boy behind in Denmark. Our relationship was over and now my mom was itching for me to find a nice American boy in Tucson to settle down with.
“Sure, mom. I’ll give it a shot.”
That night, I signed up for eHarmony. I had zero expectations. I didn’t plan on meeting “the one.” I was only doing this to appease my poor mom who didn’t want to have to travel 24 hours straight to spend time with her only daughter (fair enough).
As I started to chat with a few people online, I realized that some of these boys might not be half bad. I went on one date. Strikeout. I went back to the search results and found another who happened to be a pretty decent guy. We started talking more often, made our relationship Facebook official and eventually things got serious.
Fast forward eight months after our first date and he was on one knee in the middle of a snowy forest putting a diamond ring on my left hand. Today, we’re expecting child #1!
Moral of the story: Online works for dating and business, but first, you have to put your profile up so people can find you.
It All Starts With Your Profile
Relationships and business are a lot alike. In the case of local SEO, they’re even more similar than you might imagine.
Let’s look at the first step to getting found by your future
To get any kind of love from Google, you have to create your business profile. This is the heart of getting on the first page of search results for any local business. Without it, you’re fighting way too hard against the competition. Save yourself the effort.
To put your listing on Google, you need to meet four main criteria:
- You must have a business name or DBA
- You must have a local phone number that matches the city where you operate
- You must have a physical street address
- You must make face-to-face contact with your customers (sorry digi-shops)
If you checked all four items off the list, congratulations! You’re technically a local business that can submit your listing and start getting found by Google+ Local, Yelp, Bing Places, and more. For the sake of this article, I’m focusing only on Google (because it’s King in the search world).
Verifying You Are You to Google
To claim your business’s listing, follow these steps:
- Go to Google My Business and click “Get On Google.”
- Type your business name or address into the search bar. Chances are Google already has you listed in their database somewhere. Now, you want to get control over that listing.
- If found, click on your business name. Check the box that you’re authorized to manage your business and click “Continue.” If not found, add it.
- Click to have a postcard sent to your business to verify it. This takes a few weeks so be patient.
Once you’ve verified your business, you’re able to:
- Edit all of your business’s info, including adding images, updating your phone number, and changing your business’s name
- Share news with customers
- Receive reviews of your business, and respond to them
This listing is what you see when you type your business name into the search box. More importantly, it’s what your customer (the person you’re trying to seduce) sees too. Here’s one example of what it looks like (which just so happens to be of one of my clients).
Why Does This Matter So Much?
Without it, Google doesn’t know who you are. Google can’t grab images to put in your profile. Google can’t respond to customer reviews for you. Google can’t put you on their search map. And, Google can’t list your company’s name exactly as you want it listed.
That last point is important.
In local SEO, it’s vital that your business name is written consistently around the Internet. For example, my client Rita Ranch Automotive & Tire shouldn’t refer to his business online in any of the following manners:
- Rita Ranch Auto (even though this is his domain name)
- Rita Ranch Auto and Tire
- Rita Ranch Automotive Tire
- Rita Ranch Tire and Auto
Etc., etc. You get the point.
Consistency is valued by Google. The more consistent you keep your business name, the better you’ll rank for all your websites.
Your Google profile is like your dating profile. It helps you get found online by the people you want to see walk through your doors. Because you’re including your physical address and local phone number, you’re automatically getting found by people close by…
… and without this listing, you’ll have a much harder time hearing your customers squeal “YES!” when you make a big offer or cry with happiness while you’re on bended knee in a snowy forest.
Did you miss the first two posts in this 12 Days of Christmas series? Click here to keep reading: