Optimizing your 'Google My Business' for local search is not rocket science. Don't allow the techy terms scare you, you only need to understand how keywords and optimization works. It's pretty easy to grasp, if only you can commit your time.
Take your body for instance, so complex and yet, work together for one goal - to keep you alive. If that is the case, what keeps your business alive and running? Your business is an entity, and surely it deserves its space on the vast web - Google My Business.
With this sophisticated tool, you give your brand a personality, and more leads. Instead of fighting for a spot at a local blog like touts in the 80s, businesses now utilize Google business listings to attract customers.
To put things in perspective, there are over 5.5 billion searches performed on Google every day. Nonetheless, only a fraction of the market is getting the juice. When you see high performing business listings, you might be grumbling about a secret sauce.
There is no secret sauce, aside from optimizing your Google My Business to the best you can.. When done well, you wouldn’t have to struggle to double your customer base or make a sale.
Before we get started, take a look at what we’re trying to achieve. When a customer punches ‘hotels in New York’ on his keyboard, hotels close to the user are immediately ranked on SERP based on numerous perimeters.
If you noticed anything, you’ll see that each of the business listings has an image. This makes it more enticing. A customer could go for the cheapest hotel, or perhaps one with free wifi, or breakfast. One thing you must not overlook is the images. They are the most vital element that brings your Google My Business listing to life.
What an optimized and unoptimized Google My Business Listing Looks Like
An optimized Google Business listing should have all the sections filled. If you’re yet to claim your Google My Business account, you can always click claim this business. Typically, Google will mail your PIN code to your nearest mailing post, or even to your doorstep if you prefer.
Depending on your location, your mail can take 7 to 14 days to arrive. When you’ve gained full permission to your Google My Business Account, you can optimize your business listing to look like the image below.
Now, take a look at what an unoptimized business listing looks like. Only if he's a monopolist, the business might never generate a lead.
No doubt, the difference between the two pages is glaring. Now, let’s go in-depth on how YOU can optimize Google My Business listing, so your business can rank impressively on local search.
Ready to devour this delicious delicacy?
How to optimize your Google my business listing
1. Create a Google My Business Account
Before we dabble into how you can create your Google My Business account, it is important to know that Google My Business account is a separate entity from Google Business Profile. With the former, you can optimize the latter. Your Google My Business Account is like the admin dashboard of your Facebook account.
To create an account, head over to Google.com/business and sign up with your regular Google or Gmail account. You don't need to be a badass geek to get this done.
2. Fill every section
Google My Business comes with tons of empty fields that you need to fill. This is where you start to input details about your business. Through the details you've provided, Google will know your business better and rank you accordingly. When you play your part well, you will improve your local search ranking, and attain your business goals.
Sections you should pay attention to the most are:
For these other sections, you'll need to take your time. It's understandable the rush to get it over with, but that is what will mar you. Take your time, and fill these empty fields. While doing that, always mention some keywords that describe your business. If you don't, Google might never know what you're blabbing about cause it's dumb.
Category & Attributes
- Products & Services
- From the business
- Questions & answers (Owner-generated queries)
These sections are continual, which means you'll be interacting regularly to solve customer queries. Isn't that why you're in business?
3. Optimize Your Contact
If you want your business to rank impressively on SERP, take your time and ensure your contact details are consistent. ...emphasis here, "consistent. Do you know what works most? Have a document, a spreadsheet, or something, and have these important details saved.
Whenever you need them, you can always copy and paste. Easy peasy!!! Not only will this approach save you energy punching on your keyboards, it also aids consistency.
- Business name consistency
Ensure that the name of your business is consistent across all handles. Google algorithm takes all these into account to know how credible your business is. You can’t use different names to identify your business, as that will create confusion for Google and your potential customers.
- No irregularities on address
If you're to use 'St' or 'Street', know that these can be termed differently by Google. Whichever one you go for, please consistently use them. Like the unique approach shared, you can always copy from a saved file.
- Disclose your regular and holiday hours
This is an important feature, as having those open and close hours encourages your customers to visit. There is nothing a customer hates most, if not driving for hours only to find your business closed. Surely, they will curse your business and probably not visit again.
4. ‘From the Business’ description
First and foremost, the short description under the name of a business is autogenerated. That means you don't have control over it. It's way out of your league, just like your crush was in High School. However, you do have control over an important segment of your Google My Business - ‘from the Business’ description.
Ideally, this section is located right under the reviews section. If you can optimize your ‘from my business’ description, you’ll have a better chance at ranking high in local research results. To optimize, you’re required to use all 750 characters, with relevant keywords in the first 250 words. Also, try to optimize for keywords that your customers use to find businesses like yours.
A common mistake most businesses make is repeating information already found in other sections of your profile. Please don't do that, you're cheating yourself. No law prohibits you from hiring a freelancer. The focus is to have a professionally optimized page that ranks for local results. By all means, strive to ensure you don’t include any links or HTML.
5. Choose a category
Another aspect of your Google My Business that needs optimizing for local search is your business category. For adequate optimizing of your business, the category option must not be overlooked. Not only will it help your business to appear on discovery searches, choosing a category makes your business more attractive to potential customers.
For instance, a restaurant can have a menu or reservation button. Hotels, on the other hand, tend to shine through the star rating.
Details like these help your business to stand out from the marketplace. There are tons of categories to choose from, and it is best to choose the right one for the best result. Here are a few tips on how to optimize your Google My Business listing using categories.
There are over 3000 categories, and that’s a whole lot of options to choose from. If you’re running a barbershop salon, it’s recommended you use the 'barbing salon' category, other than using the ‘salon’ category. If you're running a digital marketing agency, there is an option for virtually anything you can think of. The same applies to Other categories. Be specific as possible, as that’s the only way to optimize your Google My Business for local search results.
Another important section that you shouldn't neglect is the ‘secondary categories’. This is where you extend more details to your business, and it is determined by the primary category you use. For instance, if you’re running a fast-food business. You can use the 'fast-food restaurants,' category, not the 'eatery" or 'canteens.'
Most times attributes are confused with categories. But don't, as they are separate sections.
6. Working with attributes
In Google My Business, another section that you need to customize is a list of attributes that further discloses what your business offers. They are special features that potential customers will see. Some of these attributes include free wifi, free breakfast, wheelchair access, and so many others.
However, this feature is not unique to Google My Business alone, since sites like Yelp also have a similar feature. Sometimes, Google attributes can go a little more specific, like 'a good business laptop,’ or ‘popular among students,’ etc.
You don’t have to rush this page, but rather take your time to ensure every piece of information about your business is correctly filled. If your business doesn’t do delivery, it is best not to tick the delivery attribute, or the takeout or dine-in if your business doesn't support it. Through your attributes, Google learns more about your business and how to appropriately rank you in local search.
7. Business Pictures
Pictures make your business come alive, and also improves click-through rate. If you’re uploading directly through your Google My Business account, that is best since it ensures quality. As you might already know, anyone can add a picture to your Google listing. But by adding your own through the backend, your Google My Business account, you improve the quality and make the page look appealing.
Another thing with photos is that they have to be frequently updated. Adding pictures regularly sends a healthy signal to Google, which always affects your ranking. For a restaurant business, pictures of local dishes and delicacies might be the magic you need to attract customers.
While for a digital marketing company, reviews from satisfied clients might work best.
Furthermore, GMB increases engagement. According to BrightLocal study, businesses that have over 100 pictures get over 520% more calls, 2717 direction requests, and 1,065% website clicks than the average stat.
What this means is that to buff engagement and the overall activity on your business listing, images are something that must not be missing from the equation. That doesn't mean you should dump 100 images at once on your Google My Business. Hell NO!
However, you can follow these common optimization tips:
- Your thumbnail photo has to be your logo
- Add at least one new picture every week
- Ensure your cover picture reflects your brand
- Avoid using stock pictures, or pictures with special effects.
- Use pictures that are of high quality for image-enriched results.
8. Reviews Optimization
When it comes to customers buying behavior, reviews play a vital role in convincing the customer. Also, reviews are a key factor when it comes to what affects ranking. Business listings that appear on the first three local results are often listings with solid star ratings and multiple reviews.
If your reviews come with relevant keywords, that is also an added advantage that will improve your Google ranking. To better optimize this section, begin with your old customers and let them know that reviews aren't just for the immediate benefits. One of those benefits is fast decision-making for other potential customers. To get more reviews on your Google Business listing, try to include a call to action on your website with a review button.
You can always urge your blog readers to drop a review. That way, your customers are reminded of what they can do and most likely take action.
According to research, 70% of customers will drop a review if asked. If that is the case, there are many channels that you can use to ask for reviews, like emails, bulk SMS, social media, and even in-person conversation. Including a review shortcut in your website will even prove better, since it makes it easier to access.
Most of all, try as much as you can to always respond to reviews. It is very important and can determine the impression your business gives to customers.
9. Questions & Answers
For many people, this is the section that decides if they will go through with their patronage or not. Through the Q&A section, customers tend to find more about your business, products, and services. Amazon has a similar feature, and it has proven to be an important feature to date.
To optimize your Google My Business to perform impressively on local search, there is a need to also optimize your Question & Answer section.
Since anyone can drop a review on your Google Business listing, there are chances of getting inaccurate information from ill-informed customers. To remedy this, set up alerts so you get notified when questions and answers are posted on your profile.
Also, you can make a list of some frequently asked questions. Ask these likely questions, answer, and upvote. When optimizing, don’t forget to keep keywords in mind.
By constantly monitoring your Questions & Answers section, you ensure that only correct information is disseminated. These questions are crucial and help show off your business in its best form.
10. Enable messaging
Customers want the quickest way to get their problems solved, and one of those ways could be sending you a text. That is why messaging is the best route to take when it comes to keeping in touch with your customers. About 82% of online shoppers are millennials, and they use their smartphones the most for local search.
If you want to enable messaging, quickly select the ‘Messaging’ tab in your Google My Business dashboard. You will have the option to install this via Google Play or perhaps, Apple App Store. Some businesses are often afraid to use this feature, thinking that it might expose their personal number. With Google’s Allo app, you can always use a different number. It will also be best if you turn on alerts for messages, as it will help you respond swiftly to your customers.
11. Regular posting to your Google Business Profile
Just like social media or blogs, you can post to your Google Business profile about a couple of things. It could be an event, announcement, product, or offer. When you make a post on your Google My Business profile, it shows up on the ‘updates’ section right at the footer of your Business Profile.
Through regular posting, you exponentially increase the number of actions a customer can take. Also, it sends positive signals to Google, the same way images do. Another interesting feature is that customers can equally follow your Business Profile and receive alerts of new updates.
Here are tips that will help you optimize your Google Business Profile with posts:
- Post regularly
- Use event and offer post for marketing purposes
- Include links and CTAs on every post
Just like all marketing strategies, getting your business listing on the top page of Google results entails providing quality and accurate information about your business. Apart from your website, your business listing could be your major source of customers.
If you had optimally optimized your business listing, climbing to that spot on SERP wouldn't be a hurdle. Since optimizing your Google My Business could cost both time and energy, it might even be best to work with an agency that gets it all done for you. If that sounds like a good deal, call 718-273-3070 or fill out the contact form.