Google My Business Optimization

How to Optimize Google My Business Listings

Top Google My Business Ranking Factors


We are going to talk about the top ranking factors and how you can reverse engineer what is working for your competition. Once you know what is working for them to outrank you, adjustments to various factors can be done to outrank them. This section is about being seen specifically in the Local Pack that appears at the top of Google for most service type searches.

GMB optimization

Gmb optimization is the number 1 factor for Map ranking and the number 4 factor for organic ranking.

Optimizing your Google My Business listing is the #1 factor in ranking in the local pack. Be sure your listing is fully filled out and use the same exact Name, Address, and Phone number, also known as your NAP in citations built.

What is a NAP?

The important factor in how to optimize Google local listing has an acronym. NAP stands for Name/Address/Phone. Making sure this business information is consistent across all the listing sites AND MATCH YOUR GOOGLE MY BUSINESS LISTING is vital for local optimization. There are directories which are specific for regions and cities that can also help a great deal in those respective areas. Likewise there are directories specific to certain niches which can also be very powerful.

Building out your profiles on all of these different review and citation pages is a large factor. One technique to make sure this part of local optimization is up to par is by searching old addresses for your business, finding listings with old information, and then updating the information for your business. This also ensures potential customers that find your listing on that site have the correct contact information.

Another way to make sure your listing profile is up to par with your competitors is by searching their addresses on Google. By searching part of their address in quotes, you can find directories their business is listed on. Once you have the list of directories and review sites your competitors are listed on simply create those for yourself.

Google posts for your Local listing

Not too long ago Google added a feature of being able to post as you would on a social media site information on your Google my business GMB page. This can be useful for you to announce new promotions or specials in order to bring in new customers.


So there’s nothing you can do about the proximity of your customers to your business. However, if you do optimize all the other local ranking factors your business can show up from searches that happen further away. Location is just a piece in optimizing your Google My Business listing.



I like to do a few searches, and check the categories of the competition ranking for my terms locally. From that data I find the most common category used by the top listings and use it as my main category. You can then go into your subcategories and add 2 – 3 relevant categories from the list you derived.


Keyword in your GMB title

Having the keyword in the title of your Google My Business listing is a big factor as well. However, it is not advised to go and add the keyword if is not already a part of your name. GMB listings do need to match the other citations for your business. Google My Business listings can get delisted for spamming their keywords in the title.


Authority of website

Link Signals are the number 2 factor for Map ranking and the number 1 factor for organic ranking.

The authority of your website connected to your GMB page is also a factor. Having inbound links from other websites relevant to your business shows your site as an authority. There are many ways to get links from your industry, just a few are:

  • Create guest posts on sites that focus on your industry.
  • Have pages on your site that are a resource that attracts links from other websites.
  • Do a Press Release about your Company

Review Signals

Review Signals are the number 3 factor for Map ranking and the number 7 factor for organic ranking.

Get a system in place to gather reviews from your current customers, and make it easy for them. When you have a new customer, send them an email about your service and if there was anything you needed to change. If they had an issue, try to resolve it for them, by going above and beyond for them they will be more likely to give you a good review and recommendations in the future. Be sure to ask for them to review your service. The new GMB short names make it easy to send a link to your customers.[your GMB Short Name]/review will open a review box for your customer.

Most of the major places to build your local citations easy to find and allow users to submit reviews, the short list goes something like this: Google local, Bing local, Yahoo local, Yelp, Manta, Foursquare, Merchantcircle, Yellowpages, superpages, citysearch, citysquares, showmelocal, mojopages, and there are many more.

Yelp along with some other up and comers are big on reviews and getting reviews on these pages can also make a big difference. Angie’s list, superpages, yahoo, and Google will accept reviews and ratings from customers and this can show up in search results as stars. You may be able to use schema to get Google to show the stars of your business on Google search results.

On-Page Signals

On Page Signals are the number 4 factor for Map ranking and the number 2 factor for organic ranking.

On your website it is important the on page signals are correct. On page is about having the right amount of keywords in the correct placement on your page. I have an in depth guide for on page SEO as well.

A Quick Initial Check

To do a quick on page check, see if the page associated with your Google My Business has the keyword in your Title and H1 tags and the density of the keyword on the page is under 2%. Each search may be a little different but that is a fair starting point. Search the term you are targeting and find the number of words on your competitors pages, this gives you an idea if your site has enough content. I like to match the competitor with the most content, ignoring any site that wildy differentiate from the norm. In the past I would use a tool called SEOquake for this which still works fine. There are newer paid tools to make this process faster.


Digging A Bit Deeper

SEOquake will also let you see the keyword densities of those sites that are ranking high in the search engine. This can help you find keywords you may not have in your content and make adjustments as well. It may even lead you to creating a new section making it easier to lengthen your content.

Now that you’ve got the proper length and you found a few related terms your competitors are using and added them. It’s time to go back and check to see what the keyword density for your competitors are. I like to take the top 3 websites that have good rankings as they’re doing it right and we can match their on page. As these pages could be ranking because of factors like links, I do a quick check with the Moz toolbar to be sure the websites I’m choosing aren’t ranking because of their link profile.

When I say matching top ranking websites on page,  I do not mean by copying any of their heading tags or content, but by matching the average for the keywords and keyword phrases they are using.

This is best accomplished with a spreadsheet. Gather the info from each competitor for the keywords, 2 word phrases and 3 word phrases that have densities over 1%. You will find most of them are used in all competitors but you may find some that are not in common.

Once you have those numbers get your numbers for those phrases to match. Be sure while making adjustments to certain phrases it doesn’t throw another phrase into being over optimized. I do not like to go over 3%, and if I find that occurring I will use synonyms or otherwise adjust.

Another more technical addition you can make is by using local business schema to the page you’ve associated with your Google My Business listing. This is meta-data that gives Google more information about the page.


Citations Matching GMB Listing

Citation Signals are the number 5 factor for Map ranking and the number 5 factor for organic ranking.

Citations can be great for local marketing because not only do you get your NAP listed many of them also will link to your website. Not all citations are equal, some of these are extremely important to get listed and others may be set up specifically for a different niche and not help very much. Some of the top citations are Yelp,, Facebook, Linkedin, Bing, Yahoo local, MapQuest and Yellowbook. One way to get your listings on various sites with less work is to use an aggregator. Neustar Localeze, InfoUSA, Acxiom, and Factual all fit this category.

For your citations you want to be sure everything is matching your GMB listing, most importantly your NAP. When you do this you can also search for listings you may not know exist, claim, and adjust them to match what your Google My Business has.

Completely fill out each citation as much as possible. Be sure to use descriptions, and include but do not overstuff keywords and the location you service. This will add more relevance to your website with the terms and location you are targeting.

Finding those Unique Listings to Put You on Top

One of the ways I find niche or localized listings which I can implement is through Google. Doing searches for the highest ranking local listings doesn’t always pay off but it can be gold. Many times you’ll just find that they’ve paid yahoo the $300 yearly to be in their directory, or they’ve been around long enough to get listed in DMOZ(no longer available)- by far the most reputable directory out there. Sometimes you will find that they’ve been listed in some directory which is comprised only of businesses from your city, or a directory specifically listing businesses in their niche. These are the big payoffs which can happen.

Images in your Citations

Another thing that can be done is use Geo-tagging for the images you are loading into the citations. Most citations will allow 5-10 images for your free listing and more if you pay for it. Geo-tagging is adding meta-data to the image with the location of your business. Some directories may strip the data from your uploaded images but many do not.

Next up, Behavioral Signals

Behavioral Signals are the number 6 factor for Map ranking and the number 3 factor for organic ranking.

Behavioral signals are factors like Click-through rate, check-ins, etc. Actions and interactions with your Google My Business profile or website. This can be optimized by making sure your website is well optimized for conversions, looks good and has a clear call to action. You can influence this on your GMB profile as well by making sure your profile looks good, tidy and is inviting to potential customers.

Social Signals

Social Signals are the number 8 factor for Map ranking and the number 8 factor for organic ranking.

Social media management is something that businesses should look to add to their marketing campaigns. If you do not want to hire an outside source there are ways to schedule out your posts for various platforms.

Social signals are things like the size and activity of your social audience. Having people interact with your content on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram can also give your local and map rankings a boost. Having social icons on your website and interacting when your content is shared, encouraging customers to follow you on various platforms, and posting pictures or videos that get more interaction than plain text posts can get the social profiles for your business positive signals for ranking.