Please note, this is an older article that hasn’t been updated in several years. Hopefully the basic information will still be helpful for you.
In part 1 of Can Customers Find your Local Business on Google I introduced you to Google’s Local search results they call the Pack (or snack pack). That’s the 3 local business that are displayed directly below the map.
For some fun homework I asked you to search and see if your business shows up in the Pack.
Search for your business category + your city. Did you come up in the top 3 results?
How about further down on Page 1 of Google results?
Depending on the competition in your city it can be tough to get ranked. If you consider that when you search for “pharmacy + your city” it will only show 3 results in the Pack regardless if “your city” is Vancouver or if its Banff.
But there are some things that you can do to boost your chances.
In Part 1 I mentioned that making sure your NAP (name, address, and phone number) is consistent in the various online directories is important. I’ve heard it described as “reducing the noisy signals” that Google picks up.
And you should enter your business on several different directories including YellowPages, Yahoo, Bing, and any local directories that are displayed in your search.
So far we have been talking about getting seen and being found on Google. How else can you increase your chances of that happening?
Well its like in the schoolyard, if you want someone to be your friend and be nice to you,
then you play their games. In this case, sign up for “Google My Business.”
What is Google My Business?
Google My Business is a free service provided by Google where you can enter information about your business (NAP, hours, website, etc…) and it provides a chance for potential customers to find you on Google Maps, Google +, and Google Search. Google + is Google’s attempt at a social network. So people can enter comments or reviews on your Google+ page and it can be displayed on other Google results.
Its an easy process to sign up and if it helps your chances of connecting with more potential customers than great.
But is it guaranteed to get you ranked in the Pack?
When I searched for “pharmacy Winnipeg” or “pharmacies in Winnipeg” both times I was presented with three pharmacies in the Pack that had not claimed their business. (Meaning they haven’t signed up with Google My Business)
How can I tell they aren’t claimed? Click on one of the businesses that shows up in the Pack. Google will take you to a page where a map is displayed prominently on the right side of the page, and the other businesses in the that city will show up in a list along the left side. The business you clicked on from the Pack result will have its information displayed in a pop-up box in the center of the page. (I learned that this page is often called the Local Finder page from this article.)
And beneath Address, Phone Number, and Hours you may see “Claim this business.”
Have a look in the example below. I have zoomed in the on the screenshot so I don’t divulge which pharmacy this is from but you can see the owners have yet to claim this pharmacy.
They haven’t claimed their businesses yet on “Google My Business” and this hasn’t hurt them yet (in Winnipeg anyway), but that could change.
- What if other pharmacies in your city decide to take all the steps I mention?
- What if Google decides to change its Search result algorithm and “punish” the business that have not claimed their Google My Business? (It may sound strange for them to do this but they have made tons of changes over the years.)
If you haven’t already done so sign up for Google My Business.
Google combs the web and may have already auto-populated information about your business into its Maps and Local Search results. That is why the examples of the pharmacies in Winnipeg mentioned above show up in the pack despite the business owners not registering with Google My Business.
But…sometimes the information Google scrapes from the internet is not correct and it may show your business being in the wrong physical location. Imagine how irritating this would be for a customer trying to find your store. Or the hours it lists may not be current.
So search for your local business category in your city and your business may already show up on the Google Map and may show up listed as “More places” under the Pack results. When you find your business on there click “Claim this Business.”
Follow the steps to sign up and verify your business. You have to verify it because imagine if some prankster was able to claim your business listing then do a bunch of jackass things like say you are permanently closed.
Do Google Reviews help local search results?
Answer 1) According to Eugen Oprea’s article on Copyblogger he mentions that reviews on your Google listing may help with local search results.
Answer 2) But outside of just thinking about Google the search engine, think about how genuine Google reviews could help influence your potential customers.
Reviews help make up people’s minds. They can be considered social proof. “Well if other people like it I probably will too!” How many times have you Googled restaurants in your city and have been swayed by reviews? I know I have.
After signing up for Google My Business you could post a little sign in your dispensary saying you now have a Google account and you’d appreciate genuine reviews on your Google+ page. Let them know its like “old-fashioned word of mouth.”
Aim to get real, genuine reviews on your Google+ page. If it doesn’t directly help your local search results it will help persuade potential customers.
- Make sure you have your N.A.P. listed on all the important online directories
- Sign up for Google My Business (Claim your business)
- Remember the importance of reviews on your Google+ page (a part of Google My Business)
I hope this helps with your local business. And I hope more customers find you because of these tips.
By the way… have you tallied up the cost of these recommendations so far? Yes, zero dollars.
You can do a lot in online marketing with little money, so if your pharmacy or other local business hasn’t started yet…what is holding you back?
If you have any comments or questions I may be able to help you with let me know.