Optimizing Your Google My Business Listing
Optimizing Your Google My Business Listing
Google My Business has gone far beyond a simple business listing, and thanks to a wealth of features and functions, is now considered a core part of local SEO. Even if you’ve just started working to improve your local business’s placement on the search results page, you have probably heard of Google My Business.
What is Google My Business?
Google My Business (GMB) is one of the best free tools from Google that helps business owners manage their online presence. While having a Google My Business listing is a great first step to garner some local exposure, Google My Business optimization takes your profile to the next level. It can offer an enormous impact for brands that want to rank in local search. This article will cover everything you need to know to get started with Google My Business and make the most of local search in your marketing efforts.
Why Do I Need It?
Google My Business helps local businesses manage their presence on Google Search and Google Maps. Google My Business is not unlike listings on online business directories such as Yelp, but it’s found directly in Google and Google Maps search results, and therefore doesn’t require a visit to a third-party site. While SEO optimization relies on relevant searches, search engines and search engine results pages, this tool will help your business flourish even more. An optimized Google business profile will have your business booming in no time.
Just in case you don’t know why this free tool is important, consider the following:
- You need it to show up in Google Maps searches – and keep in mind, proximity is second only to reviews in factors consumers use to choose a business
- Customers trust Google, and by association will trust you
- You will benefit from the star rating system
- Increase traffic, leads, and sales
- Gain access to valuable analytics
- Rank higher on the search results page
Customers can call, reserve a table, or make an appointment in one click – and without leaving the search results page
How to Get Started with Google My Business: Step by Step
Verify Your Location
This step is necessary for Google to establish your Google business listing. Your local business and the details you’ve added won’t be visible to the public until you have completed this step. The process is simple and involves a postcard sent through the mail.
How to Find & Claim Your GMB Listing
Its actually pretty easy!
- Open Google Maps.
- Type your business name into the search bar.
- Choose your business from the results.
- Click “Claim this business.”
- Select a verification option, and follow the steps you see on-screen.
If your search comes up empty, then it’s time to create your Google My Business profile.
Set Up Your GMB Profile
There is a difference between the Google Business Profile and Google My Business account. You need a Google My Business account to access your Google Business profile. If you don’t have a GMB account, you’ll want to set that up before going any further.
Head over to Google My Business and sign in using your business Gmail address. (If you don’t have a Gmail address associated with your business, start there.)
Complete Every Section of Your Google Business Profile
Fill out your Google Business Profile carefully and thoroughly. The more info you provide in your profile, the better Google can match your business to local search queries, and the more your potential customers can learn about you from your business listing. Make sure all of your information is accurate, and keep it up-to-date.
A Few Things to Keep in Mind:
You’ll want your business name to match your store signage to avoid confusion. Enter your address exactly as it appears in other places on the web
List your regular business hours as well as holiday hours. It’s important to be meticulous about indicating changes in your store hours. If your business listing suggests that you’re open on Sundays and a prospective customer shows up to find your doors locked, you’ve not only lost a sale, you’ve lost credibility.
Choose a Category
Choosing a business category is an essential part of optimizing your Google Business profile.
When you choose a category, You’ll be easier to find in discovery searches. Google will match your category to relevant search queries, so choose carefully. Think “coffee shop,” “restaurant”, “clothing store,” “grocery store.”
Highlight category-specific features. Once you choose a category, Google will automatically present special features specific to that category, such as the ability to include a menu or customer ratings. The more your prospective customers can learn about you from your Google Business listing, the more likely they’ll choose you over the competition.
Be as specific as Google allows! Google offers more than 4,000 business categories, so keep searching until you find the category that most accurately describes your business.
How to Verify Your Google My Business Listing
After creating your profile, Google needs to verify your listing. The way they do this is charmingly low-tech. They send a postcard with a verification code to the address listed in your profile. It can take up to five business days to receive it, but Google won’t display your edits until your verification is complete. Once your business is verified, you’ll gain access to insights, analytics, and reviews. You can find out more about the verification process from Google.
After you’ve verified your business, Google will publish your new or edited profile, and you’re ready to start ranking in local search.
Making the Most of your Google My Business Listing
Now that your listing is claimed and verified, you can take the following steps to make sure the listing is doing as much as it can for your business.
Make Sure Your Data Is Complete
The more complete your profile, the easier it is to serve to appropriate customers.
Use Keywords in Your Business Description and Local Posts
Remember to keep your Google listing user-friendly!
Keep Business Posts Accurate
This business strategy keeps customers from becoming dissatisfied with your business. Make sure your business location matches the business address you have for your business listing. Many businesses fail to realize how wrong information affects their Google Business profile.
Add Photos That Reflect Your Business and Its Personality
People respond well to visuals. Include good pictures!
Encourage Customers to Leave Online Reviews
This will help your local business profile tremendously.
Enable messages through the Google My Business App
Customers > Messages > Turn On
Keep response time as short as possible, and never more than twenty-four hours
Google My Business allows you to engage your local audience by publishing new product announcements or sales and other events. Keeping your business fresh in the minds of potential customers can be extremely beneficial in today’s competitive market, and it’s also free advertising! This way you can give your loyal customers the latest business offers while making them feel like they matter.
How Does Google Determine Local Ranking?
For the most part, Google ranks local listings on three values:
A combination of these Google My Business SEO factors helps Google find the best match for local searches. For example, if Google finds a more relevant business that’s further from a searcher’s location, it might rank that higher than one that’s closer but less relevant to the search query.
If you are a small- or medium-sized business with products to showcase, Google business gives you an opportunity to do so. Most smaller businesses are eligible, while larger businesses should use Local Inventory Ads instead.
With the Product Catalog, you can inform customers of your prices, product details, and photos. The more information consumers have prior to making a purchase, the more confident they feel, so sharing these facts can increase sales. They also provide Google with more information about the business, which allows it to serve it to potential customers with greater precision.
Making the Most of Photo and Video on Your Google My Business Profile
Your business logo is important because it gets the most exposure by far, and it has the potential to make a big impact on customers. Your logo expresses your brand personality and helps customers remember your business. You want your business listings to stand out from other businesses!
Google suggests you use your business logo in a square-sized image to help customers quickly and visually identify you online.
Learn more about logo design.
Other Digital Assets
Like your logo, your cover photo will get a lot of mileage, so it should reflect your brand personality and help customers identify and remember you. Some ideas include a nice shot of your products (this technique is especially effective for food-based businesses), your storefront, or your staff.
This photo is positioned at the top of the business profile and is always cropped to fit a 16:9 aspect ratio.
Including interior photos always enhances your profile, because they attract attention and give potential customers a better idea of what it will be like to engage with your business. Good photos can entice people to want to interact with you and draw them to your business.
Video is a very popular medium, so much so that Google ranks websites with video content higher than those without. Video can also help you optimize your business profile.
Video content is engaging because of its ability to tell a story or express concepts or processes that might otherwise be difficult to relate (such as how-to videos).
Photos can play a part in a customer’s decision to patronize your business. You can include photos on your Google My Business profile that give them a better sense of what you offer or highlight specific aspects. What you choose to include will depend on the type of business you’re in, but you want to use photos that will attract customers to your company or products and make them want to learn more about you.
Google Best Practices for Photos
Photos should be in JPG or PNG format. Size should be between 10KB and no more than 5MB, and they should have a minimum resolution of 720px x 720px. Needless to say, since these photos represent your business, they should be high-quality, with good lighting and items in focus. You should not alter the photos or use filters; they should represent what your products or establishment is really like
This feature is especially effective during COVID-19, as it allows customers to visit your establishment virtually with a 360-degree interactive experience.
How Customers Find Your Listing
This section will show you how and when customers arrive at your business. One option is a direct search: a customer searches specifically for your business name or address. A discovery search means they search for a product or service and arrive at your listing that way. You can see total searches, direct searches, and discovery searches here.
Where Customers Find You on Google
This section shows whether customers found your business website through Google Search or Google Maps. You can also set a time frame and see how many views your listing received from each product. Like the above section, you can quickly determine total views, search views, and map views.
This section is fairly self-explanatory, but it offers some additional information, such as a graph that records call volume by the day of the week and the time of the day, and it can be helpful to know when customers are most likely to contact you after viewing your Google My Business listing.
This section lets you know how often you photos are being viewed through two graphs: photo views and photo quantity. You can even use the graphs to compare your photo views with those of similar businesses.
Your Google My Business profile is a powerful tool, and as you can see, optimizing it is not difficult nor especially time-consuming. It’s definitely worth investing a few hours, especially considering the fact that it doesn’t cut into your advertising budget yet can bring in a lot of leads and new business.