Without question, every local business owner with a physical location should have control of their Google My Business (GMB) account.
Your business’s GMB account may already exist on Google, or you may have to create one from scratch.
Either way, it is imperative that you create, verify, and/or claim your GMB so that you can have the control to fully optimize its listing.
This is important because a GMB listing puts you on the map (literally!) when potential customers are searching for you.
It is the part of the search engine results page (SERP) that appears on the Google Maps section of any keyword query.
It looks like this:
Here, you can see that 3 GMBs are shown ABOVE the rest of the regular 10 search results.
The power of this can be quite substantial.
And you can understand why if you put yourself in the user’s shoes and think of times where you were in this type of situation yourself.
For example: there have been plenty of times where I, myself, have typed a similar keyword phrase into Google and simply chose to go to the 1 listing out of the 3 that had the best reviews.
In the above case, the same can generally be assumed.
If a young couple were looking for the best restaurant in Toronto and saw this results page on their phone, all they would have to do is click the restaurant which appealed to them the most, and they would immediately be given directions on Google Maps to the restaurant’s location.
That’s how easy it is.
But in order for you to even be an option in this scenario, your GMB would have to outrank the rest of Toronto’s restaurants so that it could appear in the top 3 GMB results to be viewed by potential customers.
The method we will discuss will help both your GMB rank higher AND your website rank higher for these relevant, local search queries.
Local Business NAP Citations
A local business citation is simply a mention of your business’s name, address, and/or phone number (NAP) anywhere on the web.
The purpose of a citation is to establish local relevancy and authority for your business.
The more you have your business’s NAP information in various places on the internet, the more Google can trust to lead a user to your site when they’re searching for relevant keywords in an area near your business.
But most businesses and SEO companies that build citations do it wrong.
They do it wrong because they aren’t detailed, meticulous or careful enough to have uniformity throughout all of their citations.
And uniformity is key when building citations.
The Uniformity Of Your GMB Listing
First, you have to remember that Google is a machine that uses algorithms to analyze websites on the web; because of this, the way that it interprets information is extremely black and white.
So, to start, you MUST make sure the NAP of your business that lives directly in Google’s registry (your GMB) is EXACTLY correct down to the suite number, P.O. Box, or even the brackets around the area code, such as (647).
You should also decide at the beginning whether you will include the “LLC”, “Inc.”, etc., into your business name in your GMB because however you set it initially here is what you should continue using in every part of the web hereafter.
Let’s look at one of the restaurant’s GMB NAP from the above example:
Address: 163, Spadina Ave, Toronto, ON M5V 2L6
Phone Number: (416) 260-2222
This is EXACTLY how this business should look EVERYWHERE.
No more, no less.
We realize this is extremely simple, but you would be surprised at the number of SEO companies that would build citations for their clients using variations of this information such as “Avenue” instead of “Ave”, “M5V2L6” instead of “M5V 2L6”, “416-260-2222” instead of “(416) 260-2222”, etc.
A clean, repeated citation makes your business’s information easy for search engines to interpret, identify, and verify.
Anything even slightly different will only confuse Google’s crawlers and make your business look less legitimate, less reputable, and less trustworthy in the search engine’s eyes.
Supercharging Your Website And GMB With NAP Citation Backlinks
As discussed in a previous article, backlinks are one of the most important ranking factors for SEO in 2018.
So when you combine a backlink with a citation that defines the local relevancy of your business, what you get is a strategy that is built to rank your business for local searches.
As we know, a backlink is simply a link TO your website FROM another website.
And a citation is a mention of your name, address, and/or phone number anywhere on the internet.
What this strategy defines is receiving a backlink from a website that INCLUDES your business’s name, address, AND phone number from the linking page.
First, we’ll show an example that has been done INCORRECTLY.
Using the most Canadian restaurant we can think of, here is Wayne Gretzky’s restaurant’s GMB:
And here is a NAP citation backlink that has slightly different information:
The person who created this profile on Websites.ca had the right idea in mind, but butchered the execution.
The small difference between the business name in the GMB being “Wayne Gretzky’s Toronto” and the backlink being “Wayne Gretzky’s” is HUGE in terms of SEO.
That, along with the phone number being a totally different number, will confuse Google’s crawlers and fail to pass on this business’s local relevancy and trustworthiness as strongly as it was intended to be.
Now let’s look at a CORRECT example of a backlink that passes local relevancy through a uniform NAP citation.
For this example, we’ll use Cluny Bistro & Boulangerie’s GMB:
And here is a NAP citation backlink for Cluny Bistro & Boulangerie from Yelp:
You’ll notice that the NAP citation matches up with the GMB.
What is shown on Cluny Bistro & Boulangerie’s GMB is exactly the same as what is shown on their Yelp listing.
You’ll also notice that, on the Yelp listing, is a link to Cluny Bistro’s site.
This shows that this business has successfully created a backlink with an exact-match NAP citation.
The Importance Of This Strategy
This strategy does wonders for local rankings.
When a user searches a keyword phrase into Google that is highly localized, Google will crawl through all of the information on the web to return to the user the most relevant results to their search.
To create this local relevancy for your own business, you MUST have your name, address, and phone number out there on the web in many different places.
And in order to ensure Googlebot can register the connection between the NAP of your citations and your GMB with 100% accuracy, the NAP of your citations must EXACTLY match the NAP of your GMB.
But most people stop here.
They create their citations that match their GMB, and that’s it.
Their business is mentioned on the web many times in the same format and they are happy with their efforts.
But our strategy takes this one step further.
We MAKE SURE that there is a link on the page of each citation that links DIRECTLY to your site.
This FORCES Googlebot to connect the two pages together; thus, allowing it to understand that the information on the linking site is used to describe your business’s website.
Not to mention the domain authority and link equity (more on both these terms in a later article) that can be transferred to your site from such a link, this becomes a truly powerful technique.
Now imagine you built 50+ of these links.
When a user in the city of Toronto searches “restaurant Toronto”, Google will crawl through the web and discover your business’s address – which is “backed” and repeated by over 50+ other websites – and because of this, see that your site is EXTREMELY relevant to this local Toronto search.
As we mentioned before, Google has over 200+ different ranking factors, so this alone may not put you to the top of the SERP for a specific keyword, but for a local search like this, it will help IMMENSELY.
And this is for both your website AND your GMB.
They BOTH benefit from this local relevancy and will climb the rankings as you implement this strategy more and more.
Then if you combine this strategy with a few other clever techniques, you will be giving your business a VERY high chance of ranking for your desired local keywords.
To Sum It Up
Both a website and a GMB are crucial for your online presence.
The more you can optimize the two, the more likely you will become visible to your customers on Google.
To optimize for local keyword phrases, it is imperative that you create backlinks that contain NAP citations that directly match your GMB information.
By doing so, you will be indicating to search engines where your business lives, which will signal them to rank you higher for relevant, localized phrases.
If you have any questions about this strategy or are interested in learning more about SEO, please do not hesitate to visit our contact page and reach out to us.
We look forward to helping you grow your business.
And if you’re from Edmonton, please click here for our services page.
Or if you’re from Santa Barbara, please visit our SEO services in Santa Barbara page.