Get your small business found locally: My Business (formally Places)

Part one of this series discussed how to use structured data on your pages so that Google can pick up essential details about your business, and best work out what it’s actually about. Google is pretty smart about categorising pages these days, but the same old rule holds true that the more cues and clues you can give it, the better.

Google My Business is a commonly overlooked feature that allows you to control how your business information appears on result pages. This is separate from actual search results, it’s the section on the right hand side of the main listings that show you visitors your company information. This is most commonly displayed when somebody searches for your business using a “branded” keyword, or basically searches for your company by its name.

These days very few people think to type out a website address, browsers and search engines are great at autocompleting phrases and company names. When is the last time you started typing “www.” and got all the way to “.co.uk” without your phone, browsers or tablet guessing what you’re looking for first? People will often type your company name directly into the address or search bar, and this is when they’ll be greeted by the Google My Business listing. Assuming that is that you’ve gone to the trouble to create it

Google My Business can be a powerful tool, you can edit your listing to include a brief intro to your business, perhaps show the sector it operates in, link to your website, a whole bunch of things! You can go further though, you can allow customers to publically post reviews of your business here which (assuming they’re positive!) will help inspire confidence is your business.

Depending on what sort of business you operate, you can use this listing to show pictures of your premises, inside and out. If you operate a showroom or something of a visual nature this can be a powerful tool.

The most obvious things you want here however are all the ways customers can get in touch, a website address is an obvious one, but you ideally also want your telephone number, address (with map) and your business hours.

We can create all this for you when we launch your site as one of our promotional packages, or we can put it together as a standalone service if you need it. Regardless of whether you do it yourself or drop us an email, make sure you don’t neglect it! You can set up your listing by going to https://www.google.com/intl/en_uk/business/

Get your small business found locally: structured data

Part one: structured data

So you’ve got a website, now you can just sit back and watch the visitors roll in right? Customers will call, business will flourish and all you needed to do was have a website built and put it live. Well, not really.

Getting the site live is the first step, what message does the site convey if nobody is there to read it? Modern search engines (read: Google) are very good at working out what’s worthwhile content and what’s not, however unless you give your site the best possible chance of at ranking you’re likely to sit below your competitors on the result pages.

Google has what’s called an “index”, basically it crawls the internet continuously, caching page content, working out what’s relevant and deciding where to list pages and in what order. A huge number of factors dictate how deeply Google crawls your page and what it decides to do with the information.

Specifically here we’re talking about local businesses. As a bare minimum Google will want to know your location, contact details, opening hours and what type of services you offer. Some of this it can work out itself, but if you want your page to appear as a local search result (the type with a little map next to it, reviews, opening hours etc) then you need to do a bit of extra work.

Structured data is a phrase coined in search engine land to describe specific metadata on your page, like the categories mentioned above. By correctly including these items in your page you’re instantly telling search engines some really key pieces of information to help it display your local listing correctly. Without these we find that the local listing is unlikely to appear which will hugely affect the chance of your customers finding the service you offer.

We can ensure this information is included in your current website with a quick site health check, get in touch for more information.

Next time, the Google places business listing, a free service that a surprising amount of people ignore.  With this you can supply descriptions of your business, pictures of your premises as well as information on physical locations.