Forget about “seeing is believing.” In 2017, Googling is believing. These days no one goes out to “see” anything (be it attractions, retail shops, movies, hotels, etc.) without first Googling it. Why make a trip to check out a business or service when you can Google it from the comfort of your own home? This new buyer behavior is no different when it comes to shopping for senior living services. Sure, leads will want to come in and actually see your community if they’re truly interested — but not until after they’ve googled your company and brand, and read online reviews of the communities you operate.
The result of this Googling revolution: if your business doesn’t appear within the top results of a Google search, you simply don’t exist.
So how do you make your business corporeal to the public? You use a combination of SEO strategies to make sure your business appears front and center on Google (and on Google, front and center means top of the search results). In this highly competitive digital age, it can be difficult to secure that top spot, even with a smart SEO strategy and even after spending lots of dollars on paid search campaigns. But there is an easy way to significantly boost your SEO and move up the list — a way that’s free, we might add. And that’s a Google My Business listing.
What is Google My Business and how does it affect SEO?
Google My Business, or GMB, is an online directory that literally puts your business on the map. Google “senior living” and after the paid search ads that appear at the top of the search results, you’ll find a local area map listing the top (according to SEO) three businesses in directory format, with embedded reviews and links to their websites.
Google a senior living community by name, and your search should produce exactly the community you’re looking for, ranked at the very top of the list and accompanied by a GMB listing.
According to Google, about four out of five consumers use search engines to find things nearby, yet many business have not claimed a Google My Business listing. You need a GMB to ensure that your senior living community appears right when people are searching for your community or similar businesses and services on Google Search and Maps.
Not only does GMB put you on Google’s map, it dramatically affects your organic search ranking and is the single most determining factor for your local search ranking. Being included in GMB’s local three-pack (as shown in the first image above) can get your business incredible free exposure.
It boils down to this: if you don’t have a GMB set up for your senior living business and communities, leads may not find you, even if your website has fantastic SEO.
How do I set up Google My Business?
First step: head to google.com/business. From there, you’ll be able to sign up for a listing with a company email. Be sure to register with an email that can be used company-wide, one you and future employees will be able to access. Something like firstname.lastname@example.org should do the trick. There’s a verification process involved — you’ll receive a postcard with a PIN in the mail, which you’ll need to input to verify your business and claim your Google My Business listing.
Optimize your GMB listing
Complete your business’ profile accurately and in detail. Accuracy and consistency are crucial: your senior living community’s name, address and phone number must match those included in other online directors and especially on your website. Punctuation, spelling and capitalization all matter: make sure that if your business’ address is listed as W. Broad Street on your website, you list it exactly the same way in GMB. Don’t use “W.” in Google My Business and “West” on your website. Not ensuring consistency of listings across your online platforms will affect your SEO.
Tip: If have multiple business locations you can manage them all from the same account — don’t create a new account for each location.
Fully populate each relevant field to optimize your GMB listing. You’ll want to add logos, photos of your senior living community and images that showcase your services. Google recommends including a minimum of three images.
Once your Google My Business listing is up and running, focus on getting customer reviews on your listing. Online reviews are crucial to promoting your business and services, and GMB is one of the first places consumers go to find and read reviews. Plus, Google notes that positive reviews from customers will improve businesses’ visibility online, indicating that reviews may factor into rakings on the GMB local pack listing. So promote and nurture online reviews!
While GMB is the biggest driver of your business’ local SEO success, it isn’t a catch-all tool that will magically boost your local SEO once created — you’ll need to keep plugging away at it and make sure it aligns with and supports your other on and off-site SEO efforts.