Michael Lykins

As an SEO Coach at Pathfinder SEO, I have the opportunity to bring my prior SEO, eCommerce, and freelance experience to the table. My aim is to help site owners, freelancers, and agencies grow their businesses with SEO. My SEO strengths lie in keyword research, content planning, on-site optimization, and finding off-site SEO opportunities."

All Resources by Michael Lykins

blogging in bed

Blog Post Checklist: 10 Things To Do Before Hitting Publish

October 11, 2021

Have you ever tried to bake your favorite cookies by remembering the recipe from last time? If so, you might have discovered that a critical ingredient or measurement is missed.

The same is true for blogging. There are so many small details to remember when publishing a blog post.

The solution is easy! Create a blog post checklist that you utilize each and every time you go to hit publish.

By turning your publishing into a standard process, you'll ensure that each post is optimized for your readers and the search engines.

Here's our list to help you create your own.

 

Blog Post Checklist

1. Dial-In Keyword Research

To begin, decide the keywords you want to focus on while creating your article. Keyword research may help you identify related keywords to your content and observe how many times visitors look for them each month.

It's a good idea to do this even before you start thinking about what to write about on your blog. Instead of attempting to squeeze the term in after the fact, you may create content specifically for it. You can create content that attracts your target audience by learning what keywords they use to reach your site.

To find out what terms your audience is searching for, utilize Google Search Console. Here you can see which queries people are making to find themselves on your website. This is great info for building out your blog with proper keywords to drive traffic.

Once you have a list from Google Search Console, you can find similar keywords to those by searching in the Pathfinder SEO Keyword Research tool or checking out the Google Keyword Planner.

Google Keyword Planner homepage

This should give you plenty of ideas for how to best optimize your post for keywords that matter.

2. Proofread

This step is essential. It can be easy to glaze over a bit while focusing on one topic for a while, but always come back with fresh eyes and look for any spelling or grammar mistakes.

If you would like to have a more proactive approach to handling your grammar and spelling live, try out a tool like Grammarly!

3. Get Your Headers Just Right

This next piece is about making sure you are telling Google what the article is about by correctly using headers to break up your post into sections.

With each blog post, you want to only have one H1. This is the title of the post.

Within the body of the post, you can utilize H2, H3, and H4 to add structure.

This post follows such a format. The title of the post is our H1. The header “Blog Post Checklist” is our H2. And then each of the 10 tips is an H3.

 

4. Optimize Your Images For SEO

No blog is complete without some mixed media included. You can make a post more engaging by including images, infographics, or videos.

There are elements to an image that can be optimized for search engines and users. The three most important elements are:

  • A naming structure that has relevant words. An image name of image234.jpg has little meaning. Instead, an image of blog-post-checklist.jpg gives you a sense of what the image is about before you ever see it.
  • Alternative text describes the image behind the scenes. This is a principle of accessibility. Include 3-6 words to describe the image.
  • The size of the image should match the size of the frame. If you download an image from Unsplash for example, resize the image to match the size that will be utilized. This reduces the size of the file which is good for page load times.

5. Include Internal Links

Internal linking is not only a way to send readers to other pages on your site that is relevant to the topic at hand, but also a great way to communicate to Google what you think is most important on your website.

A best practice for this is to link to and from each of your blog posts to the most relevant other posts that you mention in your blog.

Sometimes mentioning something intentionally to link to it from the newest blog is a great way to stay on top of where you want visitors to go next.

For a business with services or products, linking to those from any informational content is also a great way to get people further into your funnel and closer to a conversion.

Notice how I did that with the Pathfinder Keyword Research Tool up above? 😉

6. Include External Links

Usually, when you are crafting a post you will run into a few opportunities to link to another useful resource that is off of your website. Often this is to an authority in the space, a tool that you mention, or just anything else you think the reader would be interested in checking out that is related to the post topic.

When doing this we always want to point to strong, relevant sites. These sites reflect back positively on your own blog post.

When you add an external link, make sure it opens in a new tab so readers don't leave your post when they click on the link.

7. Craft a Custom Title Tag and Meta Description

One of the main factors Google is looking at on your page to decide what it is about and how to serve it to people using the search engine is the Title Tag.

Having this Title Tag dialed in for your post is essential. You need to make sure that the Title Tag includes the main top keywords for the page. This should also be reflected in your H1 and URL for the post.

While you are creating this meta tag you can also craft a nice meta description. This is what shows up under the Title Tag in the Search Engine Results Page.

Pathfinder SEO SERP Result

Here you can give a little sales pitch for your page. Don't be afraid to be a little salesy or even include a call to action like “Learn More Today” or “Click to read more”.

Google does not use this meta description as a factor for ranking the page, but they will also bold any mentions of the queries people are typing in that appear in your description. It doesn't hurt to mention your keyword here if it makes sense to do so.

8. Craft your Open Graph Tags for Social Media

Open Graph tags are what display when a link to your post is shared on social media platforms like Twitter or Facebook.

You want these to be dialed in since you are competing with everything else someone could see on social media too.

This involves editing the meta tags for your particular post, but if you are using WordPress there are a few plugin options that can really make this part a breeze.

Check out Social Warfare or use the options inside of Yoast SEO.

9. Pick A Good URL Slug

When it comes to optimizing your posts for SEO, one more place you want to include your keyword is in the URL where the post will live.

A best practice is to keep dates and numbers out of the post and go for something broader in case you add more to the post later. This also keeps it looking evergreen opposed to something like christmas-2021 etc.

Keep it tidy and not to long. The shortest you can while including your keywords works just fine.

 

10. Include a Call to Action

After all of the hard work you put into making a useful blog post, why not leverage it to get people further into your funnel?

Is there a service that is directly related to your post or do you have a product that you mention in the post?

At the end of your post giving the reader an action to take works wonders for converting readers into customers.

Don't forget this crucial step when crafting your blog post!

Next Step

As you publish your next blog post, use this checklist as a guide. Adapt it to fit your workflow. Then, write the steps down in a handy spot so that you have this process documentation ready to go each and every time you hit publish.

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wordpress

Set the Page or Article Type Schema in Yoast SEO

October 6, 2021

Yoast SEO lets you easily implement Schema.org markup on your WordPress website.  Schema markup gives the search engines more context about your content.

The plugin does a lot of work behind the scenes on your behalf in regards to Schema markup. There are several customization options to take this a step further.

In this post, we show you how to set the schema type for your pages and posts within the Yoast plugin.

Yoast Schema

Yoast SEO uses the WebPage schema by default to describe your pages, and the Article schema to represent your posts. Most of the time this will be sufficient for your particular page.

If you would like to have more control over your schema there are options to change this up based on your own preferences.

Editing WebPage and Article options

When editing your Pages and Posts, you'll see various choices in the Yoast settings box that allow you to alter the default settings. Some choices will only appear on specific types of pages. This is because some pages, such as Posts, require particular information to complete the schema.

yoast seo plugin

 

Below are some tables from Yoast SEO describing the different options available for you to select for any page or post webpage.

 

Schema Page Options

Schema Post Options

How to Change The Default Settings

Although the default settings are appropriate for most websites, you may change them for each individual post type on your site.

Your default settings can be changed under the Search Appearance settings.

Changing Schema Options in Yoast

 

Changes to a post type's default settings will affect all posts of that type's schema, except for those where you have already specified a value different from the current default.

When changing the schema types from the default options you need to be aware that you can make changes that do not make sense to Google. Be cautious when changing these options and make sure it is the logical thing to do on a case-by-case basis.

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google alerts notification

How To Set Up Google Alerts & Use It for Link Building

August 27, 2021

 

Getting backlinks is one of the most important activities of an ongoing SEO strategy and can also be one of the most difficult to execute.

Luckily with a tool from Google called Google Alerts, we can set up notifications and have opportunities sent directly to our inbox!

In this blog post, I will show you how to use Google Alerts to your advantage and even get a few backlinks in the process. Let's begin.

What is a Google Alert?

Google Alerts is a free service from Google that allows you to set up notifications for anytime a particular phrase, keyword, URL, etc. gets mentioned on the internet.

They will send you an email with the exact location where this mentioned happened.

You have the option to select which sources you want to be included, the frequency you get these alerts, and much more.

To help explain this a bit more let's walk through setting up an alert.

Setting Up Google Alerts

  1. Go to Google Alerts. Make sure you are logged into Google in your browser
  2. Now select keywords or phrases you would like to be notified about when they appear online. This can be your brand name, product name, web address, or even your competitors. You can use quotation marks to specify an exact phrase, “site:” and “intitle:” to specify a website or text in a title, and “+, -, AND, OR” to make different combinations within the alerts.Google alerts input
  3. Dial-in the options for your preferences. This includes how often you get alerts, sources, language, region, how many, and where the alerts are going.Google Alerts Options
    I'd recommend getting them at most once a day, from only Blogs and Web, and in your language and region as a starting point.
  4. Create the Alert.
  5. Repeat steps 1-5 until you have an alert for all things you would like to track in regards to your business or client.

Using Google Alerts to Get More Backlinks

Now for the juicy part, how do we turn these Google Alerts into a brand new backlink to our site?

With each email notification, you receive you will get a link to where this mention was made on the web.

If that mention is already linked to your website, great! No more work is required and you've got yourself a new backlink.

If that is not the case and you, your business, or your product is being mentioned without the link then we want to take this opportunity to reach out to the publisher and see about getting a link back.

This can be tricky if you don't know how to get a hold of them, but with tools like Hunter.io you can easily pull contact information from any page and use it to contact the publisher.

In these emails, you will want to tell them you saw their post was mentioning something related to your site and you would appreciate it if they could send a link over to the relevant page that is on topic with the mention.

Sometimes they will grant your request and other times you may never hear back from them. Sometimes a follow-up or two is in order to get the link we are looking for here.

Using Google Alerts to Beat The Competition

Now same as with the technique we listed above, you can set up notifications for when your competition gets mentioned somewhere online.

With these alerts, we can do a little investigating and see why they were mentioned. Are they included in a “best of” list or is their product/service being talked about?

If that is the case it is a great opportunity for you to reach out and ask to be included in this list or to show the publisher the benefits of your product or service of the competition and even ask for the backlink back from this new mention.

Being creative with Google Alerts is a great way to put yourself on the radar of any publishers that are already savvy to your competitors and have the potential upside of snagging a backlink out of it too!

Conclusion

Getting Google Alerts set up for you, your brand, products, or any clients you might have is a great option for seeking backlink opportunities on an ongoing basis.

With the daily updates, you can stay topically fresh with these backlinks sometimes even scoring a same-day backlink.

There are plenty of other techniques for getting backlinks, but this is a great addition to any SEOs toolkit.

Good luck with securing more link juice to your site!

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Open sign for LocalBusiness schema post

Getting Started with Schema for Local Businesses

August 25, 2021

Ever wonder how Google includes star ratings, FAQs, or how long it will take to make a recipe directly on the search engine results page? It's via schema markup.

In this post, we'll introduce you to the what, why, when, and how of schema for local businesses. Let's start at the beginning.

What is Schema?

Schema is structured data that helps the search engines better understand your website and business. It provides the search engines with more meaning by providing insight into the type of content on a webpage and the relationships between entities.

Schema can seem technical and complicated at first glance. It doesn't have to be. It is as basic as telling the search engines “this is a phone number” or “this is the number and quality of reviews”. With this structured information in hand, Google can then use it to create rich search results like so:

 

Why is Schema Important for Local Businesses?

Every day, search engines are getting better at understanding the content on web pages and the relationship between pages and businesses. With that said, they still aren't always great at placing web pages and their content in the proper context.

For example, it might be hard for search engines to understand if a bakery website belongs to a local business or an industrial bread company. However, with schema, a small local bakery can add local business markup to their site and an industrial bread brand can add corporation markup to theirs. This will help the search engines place each in the correct context and proper search results.

In the same way that those companies can add company schema markup that defines what kind of business they are, they can also add schema markup that helps define the different types of content on their site. There are dozens of different kinds of content that you can define using schema markup. Google outlines the most useful in its search feature gallery.

What Types of Schema are Important for Local Businesses?

There is an entire library of schema types and vocabulary at schema.org. You'll quickly discover that the list is long and not everything applies to local businesses. When getting started with schema markup, the first thing we want to do is identify what schema types are most applicable.

For a local business, it is LocalBusiness. This type includes:

  • Name – This is your business name as it appears on your directory listings.
  • Address – This is the same address used in your directory listings.
  • Telephone – This field is for your business phone number.
  • Logo – This is a link to the logo you use on your business website.
  • Description – A description of your business. Use the same one as you have on your Google My Business.
  • Same As – This field is for listing your Social Media profile or other listings you have. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.
  • URL – This field is for your business website.
  • Area Served – This is for the city or region that you serve through your business.
  • Geo – This is the longitude and latitude of your business. You can get this easily at http://www.latlong.net/
  • Open Hours Specifications – This is where you can specify your hours of operation.
  • Type – This field is to specify your type of business

There are plenty of other schema fields you can use for your local business, especially if you are a restaurant with menus, prices, etc. We recommend starting with these basics and build from there.

How to Tell What Rich Data Your Web Pages Already Have

If your website is powered by a content management system like WordPress or Squarespace, you may already have schema markup giving Google rich data behind the scenes. To find out, go to Google's Rich Results Test and paste in your website's URL.

From there you will be able to see what kind of schema is already in use. Here's an example below.

Here you see basic structured data around breadcrumbs and sitelinks. You don't see local business markup so there is an opportunity for improvement.

How to Add LocalBusiness Schema to a Webpage

Our goal is to add the LocalBusiness schema to your homepage. How to do so depends on your content management system. Below we will cover how to get your schema implemented on some of the more popular CMS's.

WordPress

If your site is built using WordPress, then there are plugins that can make the implementation of LocalBusiness schema a breeze.

  • Yoast Local SEO – This plugin takes care of all of the technical configurations behind local SEO including schema markup. You just install the plugin and enter your business information.
  • RankMath – This plugin also has a schema feature in the pro version. You can select the type of schema you would like per page and fill out the info right inside the plugin.
  • All in One SEO – This plugin allows you to select your schema type and implement it directly into your page straight from the plugin.
  • WP SEO Structured Data Schema Pro – This plugin is specifically for schema and allows for multiple schema types per page if that is something you need.

Be sure to use the Rich Results Test from Google to make sure the implementation went smoothly.

Squarespace

The easiest way to implement schema markup on Squarespace is to add it directly to the code of any particular page.

This can be done by clicking on the page you want to add schema too, hitting the gear icon, then clicking advanced.

From here you will have the option to inject code into the header. Drop your schema from the generator here.

Save and you are all set!

Be sure to use the Rich Results Test from Google to make sure the implementation went smoothly.

Wix

If you are working with Wix as a CMS you're in luck! They actually already have a great support article on implementing schema into their CMS.

You can check this out here.

Shopify

If you are using Shopify, you can use a plugin from their store like Schema Plus to make implementation plug and play.

Use a schema generator and copy that code into the plugin. Then you're all set!

Be sure to use the Rich Results Test from Google to make sure the implementation went smoothly.

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GMB without Addresses

Google My Business without an Address

August 20, 2021

It's possible to have a Google Maps listing without publicly sharing your address. This is great for service area businesses, especially those that may be operated out of a personal residence.

In this blog, we show you how you can keep your address private on Google Maps.

Let's dive in.

How to Create a Google Maps Listing without an Address

Google Maps listings are powered by Google My Business.

Go to Google My Business and click the “Manage Now” button.

Now you will end up on a screen that is asking for your business name. Type in your business name how you would like it to appear on your Google Maps listing.

After your name is in you will need to select an appropriate Business Category for your business listing. Start to type what most accurately describes your business.

 

After you have an accurate category added select next.

Now you will be on a screen asking you if you want to add a location customers can visit. For today, our answer will be no. This is how you signify to Google that you have a service area business, not a physical location that serves customers.

Now you will be prompted to provide an area your business provides services to. Enter all of the areas that you service.

After filling out your service locations, hit “Next”. Our next screen is all about how customers can reach you. This includes your phone number and any website you would like to have attached to your listing.

After the contact information is filled out you will find yourself on a screen asking for your address. This screen also has a disclaimer on it to say this will not be included in your listing. Instead, it is for the mailing purposes of Google. You may not add a P.O. Box. This must be a physical location. If you want to know more, read this article about why P.O. Boxes are not permitted. Add your address information and click “Next”.

Now you will have the option to verify your listing. The options available depend on your business information. Most likely, Google will want to send you a postcard to the address you provided. It takes approximately 1 business week to arrive. Click Verify and request the postcard. You'll need to log into Google My Business when you receive this postcard to enter in a code that the postcard contains. This provides Google with proof your business information is accurate and that you are permitted to manage this listing.

If you aren't ready to verify, there is an option to “Verify Later”.

Now, you can continue to fill in information about your business which will appear in your profile. The more complete your listing, the better for SEO purposes. Complete the information via the prompts from Google.

Next Step

Nice work creating your Google Maps listing for a service area business. Once your listing is verified, you'll want to optimize it. Learn how to optimize your Google My Business listing.

Still, have questions? Contact us.

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Google My business without reviews

Google My Business without Reviews

August 20, 2021

Have you hesitated to create a Google My Business because you fear that someone will leave a bad review for your business?

Have you wondered if you could have a Google My Business listing and just hide or disable reviews?

In this blog post, we cover everything you need to know about Google My Business and reviews. Let's dive in!

Do I have to have reviews on my Google My Business listing?

In short, yes, when you have a Google My Business map listing it will by default have reviews enabled. As a GMB owner, you will not be able to toggle these on and off.

You may be worried about getting negative reviews or having potential customers see the bad press.

If that is your hesitation, we have good news. Your customers will leave good reviews if you provide a great product or service.

If you get any unsavory reviews, you can respond to those reviews publicly to show that you are an engaged business that cares about customer feedback. Learn how to respond to Google Maps reviews.

A growth mindset requires welcoming this feedback in the form of Google Maps reviews and improving processes or services based on the feedback.

What if I get a bad or fake review on Google Maps?

Sometimes customers have a less than ideal experience with a company. This can be unexpected charges, poor service, or anything they didn't find up to their expectations.

This could result in a 1 or 2-star review on your listing.

What if it is not true though or they were never a customer. Maybe a competitor is leaving fake reviews to discredit your business.

If you suspect any activity like this you can visit your Google My Business dashboard and click “Reviews”. Here you can flag any reviews as inappropriate that violate Google's terms of service or are part of a fake review attack. Learn more about Google's Terms of Service regarding reviews.

If you don't get the review removed by Google or if it is a real customer you can always reply to the review apologizing for their experience and asking them how you can right this wrong.

If there is a reasonable solution to patch things up for the customer you can then ask them to remove the bad review or edit it. This is only if they have their issue addressed and solved.

The last option is for slander or illegal content in the review. Simply reach out to Google and explain the situation. To learn more about getting a hold of Google Support, read our blog post about it here.

Conclusion

Not having a Google My Business listing because you fear the chance of bad reviews will only keep you off from all of the upsides of having a great, optimized Google My Business listing.

Think of having a listing as another touchpoint in the customer journey of your business. Ideally, you can get traffic to your site, locations, or calls coming in from simply being found in Google.

If you get a bad review here, just address it and try to right things for the customer. If it is fake or spam, reach out to Google, otherwise enjoy your free public listing that shows off all of your good reviews from customers that were satisfied.

Speaking of optimized Google My Business listings, be sure to check out our blog post about how to get your Google My Business listing optimized!

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Can I Call Google My Business?

August 2, 2021

Well, you used to be able to call Google My Business. They even have the phone number available still, 1-844-491-9665.

It will just tell you to visit their online support.

So for today's blog, we will cover all the different ways to contact support for Google My Business.

Google My Business Online Support Options

As the automated voice message on the other end of the phone number above states, you can always start off by visiting the Google My Business Support Page.

 

This is a great place to start since most problems have already been solved before and you can just find your issue listed there. This doesn't happen all the time though. Sometimes your issue may be a bit more nuanced.

If that is the case the next best place to check out is the Google My Business Help Community.

 

Here you will find a community of GMB Users and Google Product Experts to communicate with on the more specific issues you may have. There are a ton of archived threads with all sorts of instructions, guides, and more to get your issues resolved.

Personalized Google Support Options

If the above support options don't really work for addressing the specific problem you are having, you might need to get in contact with a human over at Google. Luckily there are a few ways to do this!

1. Reach out to Google My Business on Facebook

 

Head over to Google My Business on Facebook and shoot them a message explaining what you are having trouble with. After it is reviewed by someone on the team you will hear back from them with the next steps to take.

This is one of the quickest ways to get in contact with GMB Support. Often not as quick as our next option though.

2. Reach out to Google My Business on Twitter

 

Google My Business is @GoogleMyBiz on Twitter and provides prompt personalized service there.

With this method becoming more popular it is not always immediate, but someone will be reaching back out to you when it is your turn.

Be sure to give them all the details you can in your initial message to help them make this process even easier.

3. Reach out to Google My Business via Email

Although this may be the slowest method out of those listed above you are sure to hear back from the team when you're up in the queue. It is best for issues that you don't need to be resolved immediately.

After sending your email it can take 24 hours for them to get back to you, but they will often send a very detailed email laying out several options for you to try.

Conclusion

Sometimes if you are having an issue with Google My Business it can be frustrating to not fix it immediately, but with a little patience and outreach, you can get answers for any problem you are having. Whether that is a support article, community thread, or a personalized message from the Google My Business team.

Good luck with your GMB and may all your issues be resolved quickly!

STILL HAVE A QUESTION?

If you have more questions about this, feel free to reach out.

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temporarily closed

What to Do: Google Marked My Business as Temporarily Closed

July 29, 2021

Here you are, you just found out that your business listing on Google Maps says “Temporarily Closed” and yet your business is actually OPEN? What do you do now?

There are a few reasons that your business could display this status on Google:

  1. You manually set it to temporarily closed sometime after Google added this feature at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.
  2. Google changed the status of your business to this status due to government information about the area they pulled.
  3. A patron or competitor has marked your business as Temporarily closed.

The reason why your business has been marked as Temporarily Closed doesn't matter. The solution is pretty easy! Let me walk you through the steps you need to take to mark your business as Open on Google Maps.

How to Change Your GMB Listing From “Temporarily Closed” to “Open”

  1. Sign in to your Google My Business account and navigate to your business listing. If you don't have access to your business listing on Google Maps, start by verifying your listing with these directions.
  2. Click on the “Info” tab on the left side of the screen.
  3. You will see a “Mark As Open” Option on the right side of the screen. Select this option.
    temporarily closed
  4. Your listing will go under review. Often Google will have your business listing posted as “Open” within minutes. Sometimes it'll take days.

What If That Doesn't Work? What If I Don't Have These Options?

Some people have reported that they are unable to get the Google My Business listing opened using these options. If that is the case for your listing, you will need to reach out to Google Support.

There are three ways to get a hold of Google to get this “Temporary Business” status changed.

Some patience can go a long way here since there may be a wait for them to review your request manually and get your “Open” status back.

What's Next?

Now that your Google Maps listing is in order, you are ready to grow the traffic to your website and storefront.

If you are interested in getting found in the search engines then let's talk about it! Find out how Pathfinder SEO can help by scheduling a demo with us today.

STILL HAVE A QUESTION?

Schedule a call with one of our SEO coaches.

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PO Boxes

Google My Business with a P.O. Box

July 26, 2021

We are often asked, “Can I use a PO Box for Google My Business”?

The short answer is no.

Google does not allow remote locations such as P.O. Box on Google Maps as the goal of the platform is to represent precise physical locations or service area businesses. Learn more from Google here.

The good news is that there are several easy-to-implement solutions to get your business on Google Maps even if a P.O. Box is your primary means of receiving mail.

In this post, we explore the three more common scenarios that prompt this question along with the alternative solution to get your business listing on Google Maps.

1. I Can't Get Mail at My Address

Many businesses can't receive mail at their physical address. If this is the case then you can still verify your Google Maps listing in Google My Business, but it will take you a few extra steps.

Start by going to Google My Business and begin the signup process. If you're looking for some help with this part be sure to check out our post on Getting Started with Google My Business. Be sure to use your real, physical address.

When you get to verify your listing part of signing up, see what options are available. If mail is the only choice, go ahead and click get a postcard sent.

You won't get this card, but Google will want you to wait for 14 days to see if it shows up. When it inevitably does not come you can then reach out to their support. Here you will be able to get in contact with someone at Google to help you finish this part of the process. This often will require taking photos of your business or going through whatever method they have at the time for verifying your business is actually at the location you say it is.

image1

After you finish verifying your business with Google Support you are all set. Get your GMB optimized and start watching the business come in. If you're looking for some tips on getting this new GMB in order be sure to check out our 11 Tips for Optimizing Your Google My Business Listing post.

2. I Don't Want My Address Visible to the Public

If you work from a home office or desire more privacy, then it's common to want to hide your address on Google Maps. Good news, it is possible to set your Google Maps listing to represent a service area instead of a physical location.

You can do this at one of two times:

  1. When you are first setting up your listing. One of the questions you will get asked when first setting up your GMB is “Do you want to add a location customers can visit, like a store or office?” If you select no, the next question is “Where do you serve your customers?” Here you will be able to select service areas instead of giving your address.
  2. After your listing is live. To do this you will need to go to the “Info” section in your dashboard. From there click on the pencil icon to edit your address. In here you will see an option to clear. Do that then click Apply.

Next, you will go to your “Info” section again and click the pencil to edit your services areas. List all of the areas you service here then Apply.

image2

You will now have a service area that is shown instead of your address on your GMB.

3. The Post Office is More Centrally Located Than My Business Address

The Post Office may have a more centralized location, but unfortunately, it misrepresents your business in Google's eyes to use such a location.

Google will not allow you to create a GMB with a P.O. Box and using any address besides yours is against their terms of service. No matter how close to the city center your post office is.

If you want your business to be represented to the city center, move your business there.

Really though it is not such a big deal. Google uses the relative location of the searcher to the businesses near them. If you are close to people searching for your service you are more likely to show up.

If your service area covers the entire area then you are likely to show up in the results for the whole area if the search intent lines up with your offerings.

Next Step

Start your local SEO campaign by getting your business listing accurately on Google Maps. Once you have a verified listing, optimize the listing using these tips.

Guided SEO

SEO is a series of small, actionable steps just like this that accumulate to drive more traffic to your website and storefront. You don't have to be an SEO expert to get found on Google. Instead, follow our guided approach. Schedule a demo with us to learn more.

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What is Google Screened & Google Guaranteed

July 1, 2021

In recent years, Google has added a couple of badges to Local Service Ads. These include the Google Screened and Google Guaranteed badges. Having a trusted badge from Google can mean a lot when it comes to marketing your local business on Google.

What are these Google Badges? Who are they for? How can someone get one?

Let's dive in!

What is Google Guaranteed?

Google Guaranteed is a badge awarded by Google to any qualified small business that is running Local Service ads. It is reserved for mostly home service professionals like roofing, HVAC, plumbing, lawn care, etc. You can see a full list of professional services that can apply on this Google Support page.

This badge signifies that you have passed all of Google qualifications checks and any customer that purchases a service from a Google Guaranteed business through a Local Service Ad will be eligible for a $2000 reimbursement on any services they were not satisfied with. This is a max of $2000 in a lifetime and they do also investigate the case before issuing the reimbursement.

image2

You can read more from Google on the topic of the reimbursement amounts and how it works on the Google Guarantee page here.

Something else to note is the cost involved with being a part of the Google Guaranteed Program. Besides the cost of running your ads, which is generally in the $25 per lead range, you will also have a membership fee of $50/mo. So if the leads you can get from this do not offset the price, it may not be worth joining the program. This will be different from business to business.

What is Google Screened?

Spawning from Google Guaranteed, Google Screened has a very similar meaning to its predecessor. It is for business professionals that pass the qualifications criteria that Google has laid out.

The difference between the two is that Google Screened does not come with the reimbursement for work you are not satisfied with and it is also reserved for lawyers, real estate agents, and financial services. 

image1

Something else to note is that Google Screened is not completely rolled out for all locations that Google serves. There is no running list of places that have Google Screened available, but many major cities have it available. If it is not in your area you can always try again later and see if it has reached your service area by then.

Which One Is Right For Your Business?

If you are a local business that runs Google Ads and are eligible, then it's worth pursuing these programs. Having a vote of confidence from Google at the top of the search results can really do a lot for your ad conversions. 

The main deciding factor for which you should get is based on your business vertical. Besides that, all you have left to do is apply!

To check your eligibility for either Google Screening or Google Guaranteed all you have to do is sign up for Local Service Ads and see if you pass. You will also need to have at least a 3.0 rating on your Google My Business page and it is best to have resolved any negative reviews with responses as all of this will be manually checked.

Before hopping straight into applying though you should prepare some documents to save time from going back and forth to collect all of these documents later in the process. 

You will need to pass the following checks:

  • Business-Level Background Check
  • Business-Owner Background Check
  • Employee Background Checks
  • License Checks
  • Insurance Checks

After you have all of your proof and documents in order go ahead and submit. From there you will hear back from Google if they need anything else from your and their decision. 

Conclusion

Getting a badge from Google to display on your ads is a great way to show that one of the world's best-known brands trusts your business. If you are eligible and plan to run Local Service Ads, signing up could be a great move for your business. 

If it is showing up higher in Google than you are after then you should also consider doing some Search Engine Optimization to capture organic searches, as well as any ad, clicks you get from your Local Service Ads. 

If you would like to learn more about how you can get your website higher in the rankings, schedule a demo with us today. Let's chat about how your site can get closer to that precious position #1 on Google.  

Good luck! 

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11 Tips for Optimizing your Google My Business Listing

June 23, 2021

You may already have a Google My Business (GMB) listing in place, but is it completely optimized?

Filling out your Google My Business profile is just the first step. It is important to optimize your profile to increase your chances of being found for relevant search queries.

Optimizing your GMB is as simple as updating it to ensure all information is accurate and expansive.

In this blog post, we will cover 11 of the best tips for turning your GMB listing into a conversion machine.

Let's begin.

1. Complete All Sections For Your GMB

This may seem like a given, but you'd be surprised how many GMB listings out there just do not have all of their information filled in. That won't be you though right? Be sure that your listing has all of the following information included:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Phone Number
  • Website
  • Description
  • Category
  • Attributes

2. Have Consistent NAP Info Across All Platforms

Speaking of filling out all of your info, it is also important that this is all consistent across your website and other citations you might have. The big ones are Name, Address, and Phone Number (NAP). If you use “St.” instead of “Street” then every citation needs to use the St. The same goes for all of your postal code formattings, the order of your state, city, and country, and so on.

Something else to consider is having a local phone number when possible. It increases the amount of trust in local searchers when they see a phone number that they can tell is local to them instead of some 800 number.

This consistency is important because Google can now tell when it sees all of these different citations and NAP listings that you are indeed the exact same business. Be consistent!

3. Select Secondary Categories

This one is not always a must and in many cases is something you should avoid if no other categories really match what you are doing at your business. If you offer multiple services and some other categories make complete sense then, of course, include these. 

There are so many different options of categories to choose from also. There is a complete list of Google My Business Categories over at Solid Stratagems. Check it out and you might find a few that are worth plugging into your GMB listing. 

4. Select Attributes That Apply To Your Business

Attributes are a way to add some extra details to your listing to help potential customers see some of your features, amenities, menus, and more. Below you can see an example of some attributes that a Holiday Inn has listed on their GMB.

google my business attributes

Select all that apply to your business to better inform anyone looking into your business.

5. Add your products/services

In your GMB listing, you will have a section that you can populate with any products or services you offer. As with the attributes, this is a great way to give potential customers a better idea of what you offer. They can even click on them to see an extended description and any pictures of it. 

You can show before and afters or nice polished product photos here to really stand out from the competition. Below is an image of some HVAC services on a GMB as an example. 

google my business example

6. Include Your Primary Keyword in your Description

When filling out your Google My Business listing you will have a section to describe your business. With this section, you want to give an accurate description of your business while also making sure to include keywords that you would like to be showing up for. 

This does not have to be spammy and you don't want to stuff them out of context. Take a few minutes to make sure you are mentioning your main services/products and that it flows nicely with how you would describe your business.

7. Add Quality Images, Update Them, and Geotagging

Including photos of your logo, your team, products, and location all help with conversion and click-through rate. The more imagery people have to check out the more time they can spend on your listing. These photos do need to be related to your business of course. 

Another factor is how old are the photos sitting there? Do you add new ones occasionally? Having a habit of uploading new photos when you have new products or services is a great way to show Google that you are actively managing your GMB and that is a positive factor. 

The last thing I would recommend for your GMB photos is to geotag them. This adds a location to your photos and tells Google that those photos were taken at the same place as your business. Some photo apps will allow you to do this in the app or you can manually add geotags to your photos. Here is a post on how to geotag your photos by the Internet Marketing Team. 

8. Reply to all of your reviews

When you get new reviews, whether they are positive or negative, you should be replying to them. 

If it is a positive sentiment be sure to thank them and welcome them back anytime. As for the negative comments, you can try to make things right by them or ask for more details about their visit. 

The idea behind replying is that when new potential customers are seeing your GMB and that you are replying to commenters you show them that you are active and care about the customers' feedback. This can turn into new visitors or customers for you. 

9. Maintain your Q&A section

You will notice that on the GMB listing there is a section for people to “Ask A Question”. This is a common place to address Frequently Asked Questions about your products or services. 

Be sure to check your questions often and keep the answers up to date and accurate.

10. Enable Customer Messaging

Inside of your Google My Business account, you will see a messaging section. In there you can flip a switch that will allow you to now receive messages from people viewing your GMB. This method for connecting with your customers can take out an extra step of them calling or reaching you through your contact on your website.

Having one less step between you and your customers may help you get that much more business or at least build their trust in your business seeing that you care enough about their business to allow messages and are responding to them. 

Enabling this option will add a “Send A Message” button to your GMB and from your GMB Dashboard, you will be able to manage these queries. 

11. Create Posts On Your GMB

Posting on your GMB often will show customers and Google that you are staying active. It also gives customers the newest updates for any new products, events, or sales you might be having. 

You can cover anything related to your business in these posts and make them from your GMB Dashboard. 

Some tips would be to share this post on your socials, include a Call To Action, and include photos or videos if possible. 

Happy posting!

Conclusion

Starting a Google My Business account is just the first step. With all of these tips above you will be able to truly have an optimized GMB listing and start driving that much more traffic to your business, site, or phone number. 

If you're interested in learning more about more ways to organically grow your business consider scheduling a demo with us at Pathfinder SEO today! 

We can show you how we grow organic traffic for business through Search Engine Optimization. Our Guided SEO approach will have you understanding and even offering SEO services in no time!

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Getting Started with Google My Business

June 17, 2021

What is Google My Business?

Google My Business is a free tool that powers Google Maps. In Google My Business, you can create and manage your Google Maps listing. These listings have the opportunity to appear at the top of search engine results pages in a featured panel of Google Maps results. 

Google Maps listings are for any business that has a physical location or a service area. In this post, we'll teach you how to get started with Google My Business.

Why is Google My Business Important?

Let's face it, as a local business, it can be hard to compete online against large, national brands. Good news! Google Maps helps to level the playing field.

Here's an example. Search for “Boston sushi restaurants”. The first three listings are all powered by Google Maps:

image1

Each of these features an individual business. Below, the competition is steep with larger websites:

image2 With Google My Business you can:
    • Ensure your business information is correct on Google Maps. Think name, address, phone number, hours of operation, etc. 
    • Gain great visibility on Google.com. The example above is case and point.
    • Manage your reviews. Third-party feedback is an essential part of marketing. 
    • Increase your phone calls, website traffic, and footsteps into your store. 

How to Get Started with Google My Business

Getting started with GMB is easy.  Here are step-by-step instructions.

  1. Go to Google My Business and sign in.
  2. Click on “Add Business” and select “Add a Single Business”.
  3. Search for your name to see if you have an existing Google Maps listing. If so, this is the listing you'll want to verify. If there isn't a match for your name, you can add a new listing.
  4. Enter the basic information about your business. For Business Category, select your most relevant option as your primary. Continue through the prompts to fill in this formation.  Use a unique phone number if possible as your point of contact. You'll have a chance to further update this information later if anything changes.
  5. Verify your listing. Google will walk you through a process to prove your association with the business information provided. This will be via phone, email, or postcard, most of the time. Just follow the steps.
  6. Update your listing. Now that you own your listing, you can further update the information in Info. Complete as much information as possible. This includes adding secondary categories that are similar to your primary offering or match up with other services you provide.
  7. Add photos. In the left navigation, select Photos. Upload a Logo photo, a Cover photo, and snapshots of any of your work that you think could help potential customers better understand what it is you deliver on.

Nice work! Your Google Maps listing is live!

Next Step

Now that your Google Maps listing is live, it's time to optimize the listing by adding additional details. Here's how. (Link coming very soon, working on publishing a GMB Optimizations Blog)

Looking to amplify your website's growth? Embark on a guided SEO journey with Pathfinder. We break SEO into a series of actionable steps. Coupled with our easy-to-use SEO tools and one-on-one coaching, you will be off to the races.

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