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The Ultimate Google Listing How-To Guide

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Barb McGrath, Owner & Chief Marketing Officer Above the Fold Canada June.12.2018

Dominate the top of Google.

Ever wonder how search engine results are compiled or what you need to do to appear higher in those results? Here’s your How-To Guide for improving your rank in search engine results.

Your Google Business Listing is one of the most powerful and fastest ways to climb the search engine ranks. Both Google and Facebook agree (yes, they agree on something!) that Business Listings and Customer Reviews can fast-track a local business to the top of the Search Engine Rank Pages (SERPs) faster than many other strategies.

Google recently added the ability to “Post” to your Google Listing and the combined power of the image and keyword-rich text is a recipe for success for local businesses wanting to climb the search ranks. (If you’re not familiar with Google Business Listings read here and create a Listing here. Not sure if you have a Listing? Check on Maps here.)

Dominate the ‘Top 3’ for Free

The ability to Post is just one of many recent enhancements Google made to the platform. Here is a list of the free marketing features available on your Listing:

  • Business Info including name, address, phone number and website (If you don’t have a website yet, use the free Google Website in your Listing.)
  • Specialty information including hours, holiday closures and Appointment URL or booking button
  • Text Messaging or Google’s Allo app for discreet messaging (your phone number stays concealed)
  • Photos: logo, cover, profile, interior, exterior, team, videos
  • Virtual Tours: add a virtual tour of your business
  • Insights on the number of searches, views and actions taken from your Listing
  • Link to Google Adwords and Google Analytics: tie all your Google accounts together
  • Respond to Customer Reviews
  • A Menu of products and/or services with prices and descriptions
  • A 750-character SEO-friendly Description of your business, and, of course,
  • Posts up to 300 words with an image (min. size 300px W x 225px H) to promote sales, events, offers and promotions. Unlike many social media platforms, Google wants you to promote the ability to buy and sell, get an offer or discount, sign up online or make a booking.

A Definitive Guide to Listing Results

You’re likely familiar with the anatomy of search results. i.e. Paid ‘Ads’ at the top, the ‘Top 3,’ or local listings in the middle, and organic results immediately below.

Ad placement is relatively straight-forward – pay to play. Buy an ad, set your budget and BOOM your ad will appear at the top of the page.

Organic results, the sites under the Listings, appear based on website visits, relevance to the search and a host of signals received by the search engine.

The real gold-mine is in the Listings. This is the Holy Grail for business owners. Doing your due diligence to dominate the Snack Pack will expose your business to hundreds of additional customers every month. Similar to organic results, working your way into the Snack Pack takes time and attention to detail. According to Moz, these are the determining factors to claim your spot in the Snack Pack:

  1. Business Signals – 19%
    1. Listing accuracy and categories in directories, business proximity to the search, keywords in business title
  2. Link Signals – 17%
    1. Quality and volume of inbound links (other websites linking to you) and outbound links (links on your website to other sites)
  3. On-Page Signals – 14%
    1. Business name, address and phone number on your website, keywords in titles especially the site title
  4. Citation Signals – 13%
    1. Citations and listings across online business directories. Google looks for a name, address and phone number consistency, as well as citation volume.
  5. Review Signals – 13%
    1. Review quantity, velocity and diversity
  6. Behavioural Signals – 10%
    1. A user’s behavioural and mobile signals including click-through rate, mobile clicks to call, check-ins as well as current offers and promotions available.
  7. Personalization – 10%
    1. The uniqueness of your website and business.
  8. Social Signals – 4%
    1. Facebook Likes, Twitter Followers, Google+ authority and signals from Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn.

Let’s Get Started

Where to next? It’s time to tune up your Listing and climb the search engine ranks.

First, start with a review of your business information. Is it accurate, up-to-date and complete? Have you used keywords in your Description, noted your products and services in the Menu and added Posts to highlight your offers, promotions or events? The quality of this content is equal to a conversation with Google. Think of this as your opportunity to say, “Hey Google, here’s what my business is all about!

Insider’s tip. Upload your photos first, then use the photos you’ve uploaded to create a Post. It saves uploading the photo twice and ensures all of your photos are displayed.

Next, respond to Customer Reviews. Positive, negative or neutral. Reward every one of those customers with a moment of your time to respond. Need an idea or two on how to respond? Check out this great video that highlights a simple 4-step process to respond to every review.


And finally, check out your Insights from the menu on the left-hand side of your Listing dashboard. How often is your Listing viewed? What actions are taken from your Listing? Do potential customers ask for directions, visit your website or click to call? Monitoring this information will help you decide what Posts to share and how to maximize the value of your Listing.

Your Google Business Listing may be the missing link in your content strategy. As you plan your upcoming offers, social messages to followers and events, don’t forget to take advantage of these free marketing features and include your Listing in your plans.

Keeping your Listing up-to-date is one of the simplest, yet most important marketing activities you can undertake for your business. Take advantage of all the free features Google provides by updating your Listing today!



Barb McGrath is the owner and Chief Marketing Officer at Above the Fold Canada. With over 20 years of marketing experience, she empowers business owners to actively manage their online presence through support and education. Her company develops websites, manages social media and builds online reputations through reviews and listings. Their focus is turning browsers into buyers and thinkers into doers.


**Above the Fold Canada is the first approved Google My Business Agency in Saskatchewan. You can contact them at chat@abovethefoldcanada.ca to answer all your online marketing questions!



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