If you recently built your local business’ website but it isn’t showing up in local search results or Google Maps, there could be a few reasons you aren’t performing well online. Your website might be too new to rank, you may need to claim your online business profile, or you may need to further optimize your website and listing. Learn why you might not be showing up in Google search and Google Maps and what to do to appear higher in organic local search results.
Why You’re Not Showing Up on Google
If your local business doesn’t show up in Google search or Map results, you likely need to pay more attention to your Google Business Profile (also known as Google My Business). Here are a few issues with Google Business Profile (GBP) that may be preventing your business from appearing on Google.
Your GBP Profile Doesn’t Exist Yet
First, you need to create or claim your Google Business Profile in order to appear in local search and Google Maps results. If you don’t, you run the risk of having your listing either not exist or show incorrect information.
If you already claimed your business on Google but your listing isn’t appearing in search results, this might be a sign that you haven’t verified your business. To do this, Google sends a physical verification card to your business address, and you must sign and return that card to Google.
This process can take weeks, but it’s best to optimize your listing in the meantime—just don’t expect to see any results until your business is verified.
Listing Is Suspended
If Google notices that you have violated Google Business Profile guidelines, your listing will be suspended. This isn’t always because you’ve done something suspicious—sometimes it can mean that a piece of your listing doesn’t match up with other information online, or you may have made a simple mistake while creating your listing.
Here are two reasons your Google listing may be suspended:
- Changes to your listing
- Business name
- Phone number
- Physical business address
- Primary or secondary business categories
- Website’s URL
- Violations of Google’s policy
- Being unable to prove the address belongs to your business
- Listing a physical location that customers can’t visit
- Creating a listing for an online-only business
- Having multiple listings for the same location
- Using a forwarding website and phone number
To stay compliant with Google policies, learn more about managing local listings with these posts:
- Is Your Business Able to Set Up Local Business Listings?
- How Duplicate Local Listings Affect Your Business
- Managing Multiple Google Business Profile Listing Locations
You’re Listed as a Service-Area Business
If you’re listed as a service-area business on Google, you can only show up in Google Map Pack results. You should only indicate that you are a service-area business if your business doesn’t have a physical address.
But if you have a non-residential address that a customer could visit (even if they wouldn’t need to in order to use your service), you’re considered a hybrid business. You must provide Google with both your service areas and your physical business address. Your physical address makes you eligible to appear in Google Maps searches.
Why You Aren’t Ranking on Google
If you’ve claimed and verified your Google Business Profile but aren’t satisfied with your ranking, it’s time to optimize your Google Business Profile. Here are a few common mistakes that can harm your ranking performance.
Incomplete/Incorrect Google Business Profile
As we mentioned earlier, your Google Business Profile is the first thing you should look at when trying to find success through Google. If your listing is missing important information, you’re limiting the possibilities of ranking for customer search queries. Here’s what to look at on your Google Business Profile that could be holding you back.
Inaccurate Business Categories
You need to choose business categories that are tailored to your local business’ services and goals. If your business categories on GBP don’t fully represent your offerings, you could be missing out on opportunities to rank in searches. For instance, if you are a dentist who offers orthodontics services but doesn’t pick orthodontists as a secondary category, you could be missing out on local searches for orthodontists in your area.
Google is all about trust signals when trying to determine which local businesses best fit the needs of its searchers. You may not think so, but adding photos to your Google Business Profile can go a long way to consistently ranking in local searches.
A few types of photos you should add to your profile include:
- Interior and exterior building shots
- Common areas of your business
- Your products or services
- Employees that your customers may interact with at your storefront
Check out our guides to Google Business Profile photos:
- How to Get the Most Out of Your GBP Photos
- 5 Tips for Getting More Photos on Your Google Business Profile Listing
You Aren’t Generating Enough Reviews
Google still relies on crowdsourcing as one of its biggest methods of determining if a local listing is eligible for ranking. Reviews and ratings may be the purest form of customer feedback Google can collect.
Both the sentiment (positive or negative) and the number of reviews you receive matter. Google prefers businesses that receive a lot of reviews—even if a few are negative—over businesses with only a few reviews that are all positive. Because even though the star rating is lower for the more reviewed local company, Google still registers it as more popular than the business that only drives in a few reviews.
If you are looking for ways to earn more reviews, try some of these marketing tactics:
- Encourage customers to leave reviews
- Incentivize employees to earn reviews
- Use leave-behinds
- Leverage email marketing
- Respond to negative reviews
No/Inconsistent Local Citations
You’d think that as long as you provide accurate business information to Google, you would be able to start ranking in local searches. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case—Google looks at more than just the information you include on your Google Business Profile. In fact, a big ranking factor for Google is the amount and the accuracy of information about your business across the web.
An online citation is any time your business’ name, address, and contact information are listed on a site. If you don’t have citations in common places like Yelp, Bing, and Apple, Google may not think your business is popular enough in your area to recommend to new customers.
If your business is listed on other sites across the web but the information is inconsistent with your Google Business Profile, you may have trouble ranking because the search engine isn’t sure which information is accurate.
Your Website Isn’t Strong Enough
One of the biggest mistakes small businesses can make is skimping on their website. Your website is your online representation to both customers and the search engines that drive traffic to your website. Take a look at these common website issues for small and local businesses that could hurt your ranking performance.
Not Mobile Friendly
Now, over half of all Google traffic comes from mobile devices, and that number is only expected to grow. If you haven’t already optimized your site for mobile devices, you can’t afford to wait.
Some common website elements that can make your website less responsive on mobile devices include:
- Pop-up ads and features
- Large images or poor image formats
- Flash Player videos
- Too much text
In an effort to keep up with modern search behaviors, Google has started indexing new websites for mobile-first. So, optimize your website for local search and mobile-friendliness to help your website’s indexing and overall performance online.
Hard to Navigate
If your website is difficult to navigate, you may see a high bounce rate as users leave your webpages in pursuit of more user-friendly options. A high bounce rate can hurt your ranking performance since Google reads this behavior as users not finding the answers they want from your website.
In reality, you could have everything a potential customer could need, but if the user has to work hard to find what you offer, they likely won’t put in extra effort to find it. This is why it is so important for your site to be as easy to use as possible. Consider these tips when designing your user-friendly website:
- Be sure your homepage is simple
- Don’t use too many pages
- Make your contact, services, and about us pages accessible from anywhere on your website
Even if you haven’t had traffic to your site yet, Google can still determine if your site is hard to navigate. This is why design, on-site information, and meta optimization are so important to your website’s success.
Slow Loading Speeds
Maximizing online user experience is key to beating your competition in local organic search. Your website’s loading speed impacts user experience. Seconds can make all difference between earning or losing a potential customer.
HubSpot shows just how important page loading speed is:
- 70% of customers say loading time affects their willingness to buy from online retailers
- Website conversions rates drop about 4.5% for every second of load time between 0-5 seconds
- Sites that have the best e-commerce conversion rates have load times between 0-2 seconds
Try to cut down on the amount, size, and complexity of images and avoid the use of Flash Player videos on your site.
Duplicate content is a common reason why Google isn’t indexing your website. Even though the majority of duplicate content is created by accident, Google can still view duplicate content on your site as unreliable or suspicious, potentially blocking pages from ranking.
Some of the most common causes of duplicate content for local businesses include:
- Copying product descriptions from third-party distributors
- Creating location pages without content variations (like local keywords)
- Using multiple URLs to lead to the same page
You can fix the first two issues by creating unique, optimized content. The third problem can be solved by setting up canonical tags or 301 redirects. If you used a web development service, they should be able to fix any duplicate content issues that arise because of the website structure.
You Aren’t Creating New Content
Whether on your website, social media channels, review pages, or your online listing, Google loves new content. By creating new content, you let Google know that your business is active and trying to help customers.
One of the best ways to create new, engaging content for your website is through an active blog. Small business blogs can be used to promote your products/services, employee recognition, company news, and upcoming events.
Blogs are especially valuable because of the potential to repurpose blog posts to create fresh content on multiple channels. Short blog posts can be added directly to your Google Business Profile as a Google post. Or they can be used on your social media to further support your SEO efforts by driving traffic directly to your website.
You Aren’t Targeting Keywords
Trying to rank in Google search without targeting keywords is like trying to play tennis without a racket. Keywords are words and phrases that help Google figure out who you are and what your page is about. They are often the subject of consumer search queries.
Without keywords, you likely won’t rank in local organic search results for any searches besides those that use your company name.
Fortunately, it’s pretty difficult to avoid keywords when writing your website content. If you name your products or services, those are keywords. But those natural occurrences probably won’t be enough to rank on your own.
Try to implement keywords and phrases deliberately, but naturally, throughout your website’s content.
For example, if you’re marketing as an electrician, you could use phrases like:
- “Commercial electrical services in Chicago”
- “Residential electrical solutions”
- “Reliable electrical instillation in Chicago”
Notice the “in Chicago” in the examples? By adding the location of your business onto industry keywords, you’re turning them into local keywords. These are keywords designed to drive local traffic.
These examples would fit the search requirements for “electricians near me” and “commercial electrician in Chicago” and even just searches for “electricians” if the user shared their location with Google.
Not only can local keywords help you appear in local organic search results, but they can help you stay out of areas where you don’t want to compete for traffic. If you have local keywords on both your website and GBP reviews, it can even help your rank higher in local search and Google Maps results.
How Much Does It Cost to Put My Business on Google?
It is free to put your business on Google. All you need to do is create a Google Business Profile, claim your Google listing, enter your business information, and wait for Google to verify your business.
How Can I Edit My Google Listing?
You can edit your Google listing by:
- Logging into your Google Business Profile
- Click “Info” from the menu
- Select the information you want to change
- Click “Done Editing”
It may take up to 60 days for new information to appear. New information may be deleted if it isn’t consistent across other web sources like Bing or Yahoo.
Is Google Business Profile Good for Small Businesses?
Yes, Google Business Profile is an essential tool for any small business trying to make more online impressions. It is the only way to appear in local search results and Google Maps—the areas where people find local businesses.
Looking for ways to improve your small business website performance? Local Search Fuel by Hurrdat has small business web design, citation management, and local SEO optimization services designed to create more interactions and drive meaningful conversions. Get started today!
After playing tennis and majoring in political science at Doane University, Grayson McCartney decided to put his education to use and became a USPTA Elite Tennis Professional in Mckinney, Texas, before changing directions and landing a Content Strategist role at Hurrdat. He has since progressed to his current role of Digital Strategist with a strong passion for tackling niche projects and helping small and local businesses connect with their audiences authentically. In his free time, Grayson enjoys trying and failing to learn the piano, playing golf, participating in weekly softball and volleyball leagues, “nerding out” about 60s & 70s music, and occasionally dusting off the old tennis rackets.