Don't Let Poor Website Optimization Hold Back Your Local Google My Business Rankings
There are plenty of articles with detailed lists for Google My Business (GMB) optimization (we have our own here), but not many of these GMB ranking articles make it clear that your website, the website associated with the GMB profile has a very large impact on local SEO results.
Typically GMB optimization advice generally focuses on what listing owners should do inside the profile:
- Fill out all the GMB fields
- Upload images regularly
- Create weekly GMB posts
- Fill out the Q&A section
- Respond to all reviews
.. which leads to the false impression that this is all that needs to be done, or can be done to rank higher in Google Maps.
Don’t get me wrong, those profile optimizations above are extremely important. That’s why dbaPlatform offers GMB automation services to help save you time on these necessary tasks.
Once you’ve taken the profile optimizations as far as you can, you may still be asking the question we frequently hear:
“I’ve completely optimized my GMB listing but I am still not ranking high enough. What should I do next?”
The fact is this: optimization of your website influences the local Google results, and not just in the organic rankings, but in Maps results as well.
Organic Search vs. Maps Results
Just to make sure we are all on the same page, the Google organic results are the standard blue links that display after performing a search, while the Google Maps results display the Google My Business listings, typically in a “three-pack.”
As you might expect, the algorithm that controls the results of the organic search results is different from the algorithm that controls the maps results.
Specifically, to use a simplified description, the maps algorithm is a more complex version of the organic algorithm. Whatever impacts the organic search, impacts the maps search; and the maps algorithm has some extra distinguishing elements (all the GMB fields) to take into account.
Prominence as a Google Ranking Factor
Google states that there are three main components to local rankings: relevance, distance, and prominence.
Buried in that Google help article you can find this line:
“Prominence is also based on information that Google has about a business, from across the web, like links, articles, and directories.”
In a few words, Google is telling you that the factors for website rank in organic search are a factor for ranking in local search too.
SEO Assessment of Local Ranking Factors
Because Google doesn’t expressly share its algorithm, we can only guess at the impact of those factors. A survey of the top local SEO professionals developed an estimate suggesting that your on-page website counts for about 15% of your GMB rankings and that backlinks to the website constitute an additional 15%.
That means that SEO professionals believe that almost one-third of the local Maps rankings are affected by typical organic website ranking factors.
Source: 2020 Local Search Ranking Factors
Most Important On-page Website Rankings Factors for Local
There are many tactics you can employ on your website to increase the strength of your GMB profile. But we’ll keep the list as simple as possible with a brief explanation for each one:
- Make sure the website can be indexed
- Optimize page title tags
- Add sufficient homepage content
- Create separate pages for each service or product you offer
#1) Make Sure the Website is Indexed
Website indexation issues can easily go unnoticed by business owners since the web pages themselves appear to load. However, just because the website works when a person visits it, doesn’t mean that Google is reading it properly.
The first step is to make sure you connect your site to Google Search Console. There are many benefits and one is that Google will report any technical issues with the site.
Google Search Console lets you see technical issues from Google’s perspective as well as keyword performance.
#2) Optimize Page Title Tags
Make sure that your page titles are all different, include the main keywords for the page, and that your home page is not “Home”.
To easily check this, type the following into the Google search bar: site:yourdomain
Google will return a list of all the pages it has indexed from your website. You should easily see if your page titles are meeting the minimum optimization requirements.
If your pages all have the same titles, update them right away!
#3) Add Sufficient Homepage Content
The key to on-page optimization is (well-written) sufficient content. This is especially true for the home page which is typically the strongest page of a website. Too many business owners and web designers focus on making their website look great, but don’t realize that the words on the page are what Google uses to understand your site.
There’s no hard rule as to how many words there should be, but there should be at least a heading and a paragraph of about three sentences for each service/product that the business offers on the home page itself.
#4) Create Unique Pages for Each Service/Product
Each service should also have its own page. This includes an optimized page title tag and sufficient content to describe the service. Main services should be included in the main menu and also linked from within the home page content.
After a page is created, go into Search Console and ask Google to crawl the new page to ensure that it is indexed.
The most important service pages should be included in the main website navigation.
Tying Up a Few Loose Ends…
All the action items above are things you can quickly check without using any extra GMB tools. And if everything checks out, then you’ll need to advance to more advanced website optimization tactics (which we won’t go into in this article).
Backlinks were previously mentioned as being a strong local ranking factor. However, acquiring backlinks is one of the most difficult SEO tasks and not something you will want to invest in until all the website optimization basics are taken care of first.
We frequently get contacted by business owners and marketing agencies who have tracked their local rankings; they ask how to further increase their GMB rankings. When we take a look at their site, they are missing some crucial optimization elements that if corrected could make a huge difference.
Remember that pie chart above? Most of it can be covered using the dbaPlatform GMB optimization tools, but to round out your efforts, make sure that your website optimizations are on point.