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If you are just getting started in Internet marketing for your advisory business and are just trying to get an idea of how to get your company listed on the Google Map, this is a great place to start. We are going to cover the core fundamentals of what the Google Map is, how it works, and what you need to do to at least get the ball rolling in the right direction towards getting you placed on the map.
Fundamentally, the Google Map or Google My Business listing is what shows up when you type in your city plus your services on Google. The map listings, or what we usually call Google My Business or the Google Map listings can be found at the top of the search results under the paid listings. Directly below that in local search is what are typically the organic listings. There is a lot of information about search engine optimization, meta tags, meta descriptions and all of the like but really this is a totally different realm of search engine optimization known as Google My Business Optimization.
So, what do you need to do in order to make sure that you are listed on that map, and more importantly make sure you are showing up on page one over time? There are a number of things you can do, and there are multiple layers of complexity, strategies, and things that you can do.
The latest statistics indicate that more than 89 percent of users or businesses haven’t claimed their Google My Business listing. This creates a great opportunity for you to beat your competition to the punch. One of the first things you want to do is claim your listing so you can at least make sure it’s got all of your right information. Your phone number, your website address (if you have one) description of what you do, some pictures, and maybe some video of what you and your team does. More than anything else make sure that you have control of your own business listing on Google.
Now, we will walk you step by step through claiming and optimizing your listing.
Having your company listed on Google maps for your industry keywords is a complicated process. By following the steps in this guide, your chances of success will greatly improve.
First, go to http://www.google.com/business.
On the left side you are going to see one that says, “Start Now.” What that will do is take you through the process of claiming your Google My Business listing.
If you have a Gmail account or some type of Google account, Google will recognize that and let you use that to claim your Google My Business listing. If you don’t, you’re going to need to go through the process of establishing your Google account so that you can claim your Google My Business listing.
Once you have logged in, you will need to type in your phone number and company name. Then, the system will search the Google My Business directory to see if you already exist in the database. In most cases if you have been in business for any period of time for more than a year, you’re typically going to show up on the list already. So Google will pull up your existing listing and ask you to confirm that it’s your listing. If you don’t, there is another process that will let you add yourself to Google My Business. So if you’re a new business or if for some reason you don’t already exist in the Google My Business directory, you would press “add new listing.”
In either event it’s going to walk you step by step through the process. You’re going to type in your company name, address, and phone number. You’re going to make sure all of that information is correct. A couple of things to pay attention to as you do that:
Make sure that you use your actual company name. So if you’re, “ABC Capital Incorporated,” make sure that you name it, “ABC Capital Incorporated,” and not some other facsimile thereof like “ABC Investment Advisory Services” or “ABC, Your Dallas Financial Advisor Firm.” Don’t add additional key words in that name. It’s against the Google My Business rules and policies. Make sure you keep your name as the actual name of your company.
It is important that you establish your NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number Profile) and that it is consistently referenced the same way across the web. In other words, make sure that every website lists your company name, phone number, and address the same way every time. As a starting point, if you’re getting started with Google My Business, make sure that you make it very simple. And that you use the same methodology for naming yourself across the board. Same with your address. If you’re at 105 SW 10th Street, Suite 105, use that same exact wording. If you’re going to use SW use SW. If you’re going to spell out Southwest, spell out Southwest. If you’re going to use your suite number, “Suite 105”. Make sure you either list it, or you don’t list it, and decide whether it’s going to be “unit number” or “suite number”. List it that same way every single time.
For your phone number, use a local (not 800#) and use your real office number rather than a tracking number. We find that 800#’s don’t rank well. If you use a tracking number it won’t be consistent with your other Online Directory Listings and ultimately won’t rank well.
Google offers 2 options here:
1. No, All customers come to my location
2. Yes, I serve customers at their location. If you offer any “Meet the Client at their Location” services, then you need to select “Yes, I serve..” because clearly you and your team are visiting clients at their location. Not doing so can result in a penalty on your listing. The next option once you click “Yes, I serve customers at their location” is “Do not show my address”. If you work from a home office it is required that you select “Do not show my address”. Not doing so puts you at risk of having your listing deleted. If you don’t have a business address or a home address to list, then the only other option is a virtual office. Unfortunately, P.O. Box Addresses & Mail Boxes etc. addresses don’t tend to rank well.
Moving on, once you have added the fundamentals, make sure you add your website address. This is very important. If you don’t have a website, we definitely recommend getting a website created. We’ve share some ideas on different posts on what the best website formats are, and what pages you want to build to your website from an SEO perspective. Suffice it to say, add your website on your Google MyBusiness profile. It’s obviously going to drive links to your website, but it is also going to make it easier for prospective clients to get to you when they do find you on the map.
Directly below that, you have categories. You want to, obviously, choose the categories that most specifically match what your business does. Don’t add yourself to categories that aren’t relevant. You can add five categories.
Be sure to use categories that describe what your business “is” rather than what it “does”. So you can use “estate planning advisory firm” and “family succession advisory firm” rather than “estate planning” or “family succession”. The latter would be considered a violation of Google’s regulations and would hurt rather than help you.
You also have the option to create custom categories. You might want to add a custom category for “estate planning”, “alternative investments”, “wealth management”, etc. That way you’re making sure that you’re categorizing yourself as well as possible. But always exercise the already available categories as much as possible, as opposed to creating some unique category name.
Moving down the list, the next thing that you see is the ability to upload photos and videos. We encourage you to upload as much content here as possible because Google is looking for a complete profile. The more information that you include the more complete your profile appears. You can upload up to ten pictures & five videos. Try and use real pictures. Always upload first either your logo, or a picture of you and your team in your office, or a picture of your office. That way you’re putting something up that is a representative of your firm and not just some stock photo. Try and upload pictures that are representative of your organization. So your logo, pictures of your team, etc.
We love to use team shots. If you have 3, 19, or 150 people on your team, get a picture of the whole company standing in front of the building or in your office. That helps people quickly look at who you are and get a grasp, “Wow this is an operation that has some bulk to it, and there are people behind it that drive this business.” Our preference would be logo first, then photo second, with a picture of everybody standing together in the office, or standing in front of the building. Next, use an individual shot of the owner or principals. If you’re members of the local Chamber of Commerce, IAA, or any other industry related organizations, add logos or photos from these events on your Google My Business profile.
Save all images with keyword specific naming. So, if your first image is your logo, call it “your company name – your city service”. If you’re Joe the Financial Planner in Dallas, you might want to name that first image” Joe the Financial Planner – your Dallas area Financial Advisor”.
You can also create geo context for the photos by uploading them to a video sharing site like Panoramio.com (a Google Property) that enables you to geo tag your photos to your company location.
You can upload up to five videos, and the videos connect through YouTube. Don’t miss out on this opportunity. You should absolutely upload all five videos here. Even if they’re not super hi tech. Break out the iPhone, break out the video camera. Shoot a video of yourself / the owner, just explaining who you are and what you do, and what makes you unique. E.G. “ Joe the Investment Advisor is a full service financial advisory expert, servicing the Dallas market. We do this that and the other, we specifically cater to the high net worth individual targeting business owners and family wealth.” Something along those lines. Just a video that is representative of who you are and what you do. What we find is having a video helps build out your Google My Business profile which improves your probability of showing up on the map.
Always remember: Information is power in the Google era, and providing videos to Google gives it more information.
Videos also help prospective clients resonate with your organization. If they can feel like they can get to know, like, and trust you before they have decided whether they are going to call you, this improves your probability of getting that call and that new business. So, upload five videos to YouTube and then connect them to your Google My Business listing.
Ideal scenario for your Google My Business profile: 10 pictures, 5 videos.
One last expert tip for your videos: A best practice is to upload them to YouTube and then geo tag them using advanced settings.
The next section is the Service Area. Unless you have a special service where you offer office or home visits to your clients, this section may not be relevant for you or your organization.
The last field on the Google My Business listing is additional information. Here you will find two fields. One on the left, one on the right, and it basically lets you type in whatever you want. In a lot of cases, people left to their own devices will get to that section and just press submit, then feel like they’re done. This is the area where you can really add a lot of valuable content, a lot of specific information about who you are and what you do, and the specific services that you offer.
What we like to do within that section is to create the first field which says, “Services Offered.” Right next to it list out all of your services. Again, if you’re an investment advisor you would say, “investment advisory services” – “charitable planning, business succession planning, alternative investments, asset protection, family succession planning, and so forth.”
Then the second one would be, “Our Philosophy.” In this field, you really want to go into detail about your firm’s philosophy and/or approach when working with clients. In other words, what is the unique angle your team takes when managing your clients’ financial assets? This gives you the ability to add additional keyword rich information into your Google My Business listing, and enhance the probability of showing up for additional keywords.
Once you have got all of those things filled in and you feel comfortable that you have chosen the right images, you have added the right description, and you have the right content listed in the additional information, go to the next step and press “Submit.”
This is where the verification process takes place. Google gives you two options for verifying your listing. Depending upon if it’s a new listing, sometimes they don’t offer the phone verification process. Typically, you have the choice to verify via phone or mail.
We always encourage you, if you do have the option, to verify via phone because it is an instantaneous process.
Here are the steps:
1. You press verify via phone.
2. You will get a message indicating that Google will be calling that number with your PIN.
3. A call will come into your business line. Therefore, make sure you have someone available to answer that call directly. The call will be from an automated system that calls with a message like “this is Google, your pin number is 43625″ for instance.
4. Next, you type that number into your Google My Business account online.
You have now officially claimed and verified your Google My Business listing!
If you don’t have the phone verification option for whatever reason, then you need to press “Submit” to verify via mail. With this option, you will receive a postcard, via the mail, typically within three to five business days. Your postcard will have a pin code just like the phone option. The mail verification process takes a little bit longer, but at least you get your pin and you are able to log back in and verify your account and be off the ground with your Google MyBusiness Listing.
Now once you have verified your Google My Business listing, now you have the ability to go in and post status updates and, if applicable, add special offers. We would encourage you to log back into the account. Up on the top right hand corner you will see, “Dashboard” and on the right you will see, “Offers.”
You have the ability to upload as many offers as you want. So, create offers. For whatever offers you provide to your customers make them available there. “Free consultation.” Or “Free Strategy Session.” Whatever offers you want to make available. Because offers, again, make your listing a little bit more attractive to prospective clients.
Once you have optimized your listing using the best practices referenced above, you want to be sure that you don’t have any duplicate listings listed on Google Maps. We have found that even just one or two duplicate listings can prevent your listing from ranking on page 1.
In order to identify and merge duplicate listings run a search on Google for “[Your Company Name], City”.
To report duplicates of locations you’ve noticed on Google Maps, click the Report a Problem link from the Google Maps results which contain the location. Then, select the options to report the location as a duplicate.
Now that you have set up your organization’s Google My Business listing, you have a placeholder and a higher probability of showing up on the Google map. But, your online marketing should not step here. We wish we could tell you it is just as easy as setting up your Google MyBusiness profile and you’re going to be on Page 1 for your City + Your Service. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple, because there are multiple competitors in your area or region that provide the same services. Most of them probably have claimed their Google My Business listing. So, at this point it really doesn’t give you a free pass to the front of the line.
But it does get you on the list.
The next step in getting placed on Google My Business on the map is obtaining consistent name, address, and citation profile information across the web along with collecting positive online reviews from legitimate clients.
With your Google My Business listing and created, now you want to make sure that your business is included in other important online directories.
Because Google looks across the web and it says,
“OK, Joe the Financial Planner in Dallas has a Google My Business listing, but where else is his organization listed online?”
Google looks at a lot of different places.
And the list goes on and on.
Google pulls data from info providers like Info USA and Axiom. So, in order to improve your probability of maintaining a high rank on Google Maps, you need to make sure you’re showing up in all of these different places with a consistent name, address, phone number, and profile.
Showing up on different online directories shows Google that you’re credible and that you do exist on other online directories.
In order to build up your citations, add yourself to the local directory sites where you are not currently listed. Some of the most important directories include:
Look at the listings of the people who have spots A, B & C on the Map for your services and look at their citations. In many cases you can go out and get those same citations!
Earlier, we talked about the fact that when you claimed your Google My Business listing, you should use the same name, address, and phone number across the board.
The other really important thing you need to do, in order to improve the probability of ranking well on the map listings, is to get reviews from real clients online. You will notice that the companies showing up on spots A, B, & C on page one have a tendency to have a large quantity of reviews.
It is important to point out that you don’t want to try and game the system on reviews. It might be easy to think, “I’ll just go out there and set up a bunch of accounts and I will write up a bunch of reviews, and I’ll have 55 reviews on my account then I should be good to go.”
It’s not that simple.
Google has algorithms in place to prevent people from gaming the system. Really they are looking at the reviewer’s profile. In order to write a review on Google My Business, you need to have a Gmail or Google account. Google knows the historic profile of those that have Google accounts. Google watches users’ search trends. The Google algorithms have IP information which gives them information about where users are located. In most cases, users have entered and volunteered that information.
“I’m located at this address, and they have frequented these types of websites.”
So Google has a pretty good idea about legitimate users of their search engine, one of the most frequented sites in existence. Google has data on just about everyone. If you’re trying to game the system, Google will catch that.
You want to make sure that you have a process within your business to solicit reviews from legitimate people who have used your services.
A strategy that we use takes a three-pronged approach:
1. Send an initial email to your client database asking them to write a review of your company on Google and provide them with the URL to your Google My Business page.
2. Keep an open ear for happy clients and ask them if they would be willing to write a review. If so, get their email at that moment and let them know that you will be sending them an email with the link to write the review.
3. Have a “Review Us” card printed and give it to your clients during in person client meetings.
Again just to cover the fundamentals of what you want to do from a starting point to really get started on Google My Business and get the ball rolling in the right direction.
1. First, go to www.google.com/business.
2. Claim your Google My Business listings with some of the specifications that we defined earlier.
3. Then, really get aggressive with your name, address, and profile information across the web. Go onto websites like; CitySearch, BBB, and YP.com, and make sure that you’re listed there and that your information is consistent.
4. Then, launch an aggressive process for getting reviews from authentic clients.
If you start to do these things on a consistent basis you will start to show up at the top of the Google map listings in your area when people search “your service + your city”.