Improve local SEO with Google My Business

Every business owner with a website is looking for ways to get noticed in the search results. Today, there are loads of tactics to rank well as a local business, but there is no silver bullet: as with most SEO issues, this is a combined effort. One of these pieces of the local SEO puzzle is Google My Business, a dashboard for managing listings. But what is it exactly and why is it so important for local SEO?

What is Google My Business?

My Business is Google’s one-stop shop to manage how your business will look and perform in the search engine. It is an essential tool to find out and adjust how your site shows in Maps, the Knowledge Graph, Google+ and organic search results. According to the 2017 edition of Moz’ Local Search Ranking Factors Survey, Google My Business continues to be the biggest driver of local SEO success, with quality links coming in at a close second.

You can manage your business listing by adding NAP details, opening hours, photos et cetera. In addition to that, it is possible to manage the reviews your customers leave behind. As you know, reviews should be a key factor in your local SEO efforts.

How does it work?

Getting started with My Business is easy; you have to make an account and claim your business. After filling in your details, you will get a real-life postcard from Google on the address you’ve specified. This card is the only proof you’re the owner of the business listed at the address.

Once verified, you can fill in all the necessary details and check how your listing is doing. You can even get regular insights to see how many impressions, clicks and subscribers your listing got over a period. It’s a great way of getting a feel for how your business is perceived by Google and customers alike.

Keep in mind that My Business is not the catch-all tool for your local SEO. It has to work in tandem with your on- and off-site SEO efforts. You won’t climb the charts if your profile is inaccurate, but you also won’t reach the top without a well-optimized site and localized content. These things go hand in hand.

Ranking factors

Google My Business uses many factors to determine rankings for businesses. We’ll highlight the three most important ones:

  • Relevance
  • Distance
  • Prominence


Relevance determines how well your business fits the search intent of the customer. Is your focus identical to what the customer needs or are you a bit opaque about what your business does? Vagueness doesn’t rank. Be as clear as you can be. Keep your focus.


Distance is a well-known factor for ranking local businesses. You can’t rank in a local search for (dentist New Jersey) when you have located your company in Manhattan. The exact way Google determines which businesses to show in a local search is unknown, and it can be pretty hard to rank in a given area. The other factors play a significant role as well. It helps not just to say you are located in a particular area, but also to show it by creating local-oriented content around your business on your site. Google uses what’s known about the location of the searcher to present the most relevant local businesses.


Prominence is all about the activity around your listing; this could be the number of reviews, events, local content et cetera. It also helps if you can get loads of quality links to your site. It is somewhat hard to determine what prominence means exactly, but one thing is sure: no one likes dead profiles. You have to keep it updated with new photos and manage your reviews. As said before, this works in tandem with your site, so make sure both listings align and that you publish local content.


Optimize your Google My Business listing

To start, you need to claim your listing. After that, you can use the following tips to make your My Business account a success. Keep in mind that everything you add must be in line with the information you provide on your site. Inaccurate information kills your listings and could kill your rankings:

  • Claim your listing with your actual business name
  • Choose a category as accurate as possible
  • Provide as much data as you can – your profile has to be 100%
  • Check your phone number
  • Check your opening times – think about holidays!
  • Review your photos – are they accurate and good or can you improve them?
  • Create citations on other sites as well – pick well-regarded business listing or review sites and directories, stay away from spammers
  • Keep your My Business listing in line with your site – and use data
  • Above all, keep your data up to date

It’s critical to remember that this is not a set it and forget it type of thing. Things change, your business changes. Keep everything active, monitor reviews and stay on top of things. It’s frustrating if your listing doesn’t perform as well as you’d like, but keep putting in the hours, and it will work. US businesses can check their listings with this tool by Synup: Google My Business Guidelines Checker.

my business guidelines check

Structured data and Yoast Local SEO

Google increasingly depends on structured data to find out what your site is about and which elements represent what. This is most certainly true for your business information, including the information that My Business uses. Make sure you add the correct structured data to your site. Enhance your NAP details, opening hours, reviews, product information et cetera, with data. This will make it much easier for Google to determine the validity of your listing. Several tools can help you with this, including our Yoast Local SEO plugin.

Your local SEO is critical, even with Google My Business

So, you should activate and maintain your My Business account, and make it awesome. But to get the most out your listings and to get good rankings, you must have your site in order as well. Optimize every part of it. Create local content for your chosen keyword and business location. Acquire quality local backlinks to build up a solid link profile. Ask customers to review your business onsite or on My Business. Make sure your listing is active and attractive. Dead profiles are no good.

Read more: The ultimate guide to small business SEO »

Optimize for a local audience!

  • Show up in local search results
  • Stand out in Google maps results
  • Get more customers to your store or office
  • Easily add Google Maps and a route planner
More info

23 Responses to Improve local SEO with Google My Business

  1. Adrienne - Sofia SEO Consultants
    Adrienne - Sofia SEO Consultants  • 3 years ago

    Excellent information about how to improve local SEO results with Google My Business. As an Internet marketing professional myself, I feel it is definitely a very helpful one-stop shop wherein business owners can manage the appearance of their company website as well as their company’s website performance.

  2. Anthony
    Anthony  • 3 years ago

    Nice article Edwin.!

  3. Cheshire web design
    Cheshire web design  • 3 years ago

    Really useful article. The Google setup is one of the first things we look at for clients. Adding their business to Google and making sure that they are visible in local searches. Yoast is invaluable in doing everything else on the site and making it easier to manage the process of SEO.

  4. Doug Smith
    Doug Smith  • 3 years ago

    Local SEO is all too often ignored by so many – I cannot even begin to count how many clients have come to us with 3-4 variations of NAP data with tons of inconsistent listings. Wonderful write-up! This will be a great point of reference for our own clients.

    • Edwin
      Edwin  • 3 years ago

      Thanks! Great to hear this article will help you and your clients.

  5. CreateIT - SEO
    CreateIT - SEO  • 3 years ago

    Thanks for sharing. We think that the Google MyBusiness will play a huge role in local SEO the next following years.

    How do you think – can the number of ratings determine the Google My Business ranking in maps and search results? We found out that the quantity of high ratings doesn’t play a big role for our clients on My Business positions.


    • Edwin Toonen

      Ratings are an important part of SEO, but you probably won’t rank well if you only focus on getting great reviews. Fix incomplete /incorrect listings and work on the terrible onsite SEO many local businesses have.

  6. Haris
    Haris  • 3 years ago

    Nice write up Edwin, and thanks for quick and easy checklist, from my experience, Google will reward you immensely with multiple local pack listings if you also have a good backlinks profile

    • Edwin
      Edwin  • 3 years ago

      Hi Haris, you’re welcome. And, indeed, (local) SEO is always a combined effort.

  7. Purbita Detecha
    Purbita Detecha  • 3 years ago

    Great article Boss, Thanks for the tips I am very happy now, before reading your post ,

  8. Gary McCormack
    Gary McCormack  • 3 years ago

    Synup checker looks great unfortunately they only support US websites. And were based in the UK does anyone know if there is something like this that works in the UK?

    • Edwin Toonen

      Sorry, I still haven’t found a checker that works in Europe.

  9. Julian
    Julian  • 3 years ago

    Great article Edwin. Thanks for the tips.

  10. David
    David  • 3 years ago

    Thanks for that. Another great SEO read from the team!
    GMB is crucial for businesses to be found, even for those that don’t (yet!) have a website.

    • Edwin
      Edwin  • 3 years ago

      You’re welcome, David!

  11. Jack Kilbi
    Jack Kilbi  • 3 years ago

    I am agree with this post. SEO is must to improve business.

  12. Muzammil Hussain
    Muzammil Hussain  • 3 years ago

    I was looking for Google My Business listing verification methods, your post provide me cool tips. Thanks for posting, especially providing “Google My Business Guidelines Checker” link.

  13. sumon07
    sumon07  • 3 years ago

    very informative writing and learned a lot from this post. I am encouraged for new Article Submission like this.

  14. Jan
    Jan  • 3 years ago

    Great stuff, as always! Thanks for that!

    but let me ask you something off topic. I noticed your links open in the same window/tab. Is it much better from SEO point or it doesn’t matter? Because I like it much more if the link opens on new tab. Thanks!

    • Willemien Hallebeek
      Willemien Hallebeek  • 3 years ago

      Hi Jan, Thanks for your comment! It doesn’t really matter from an SEO point of view. Usually, but I think we might have missed that on this article, we open an internal link in the same tab, and an external link in a new tab. That’s more UX related though.

  15. tabung pemadam kebakaran
    tabung pemadam kebakaran  • 3 years ago

    very helpful Edwin Toonen

  16. Eric
    Eric  • 3 years ago

    Now if I could just stop the scammers trying to sell me Google my business I would be happy

  17. tabung pemadam api
    tabung pemadam api  • 3 years ago

    Thank you, very helpful. Useful information