Google My Business
How to Optimize A Google My Business Listing
More customers are using their mobile devices to search for local businesses. Local searches make up 46% of all search queries on Google.
When your customers are looking for your local business, you want them to find you in search results and to get all the information they need to buy your products or services.
They will want to know your contact information, opening hours, products & services, unique selling point (USP), and other useful information that will help them make an informed buying decision.
They will want all that information before they even visit your website. So how can you make that information available in local search results?
The answer is Google My Business (GMB).
In this article I will help you understand the meaning of GMB, how to set it up, why it’s so important for local SEO, and how to optimize your Google My Business profile.
What is Google My Business?
It is a free tool by Google that lets businesses create and manage detailed profiles on Google to make it easier for searchers to find such businesses on Google Search and Google Maps.
With GMB, you can provide searchers with the information they need about your business without the need for them to go through your website.
Google will curate this information and create a dedicated profile for your business that will appear in searches for your brand name and other relevant queries. This information includes your website link, business address, contact information, Google Maps directions, and more.
Your GMB profile is the most important factor in getting your business to rank high in local search results, and it’s how you will get your business to appear in the Map Pack.
The Map Pack is a box that holds a list of three businesses and a map that appears in search results for relevant local search queries.
For example, let’s say you own a Roofing company in Trenton, Michigan – and a potential client searches for “roofer Trenton, MI”. Google will show a Map Pack that contains three local roofing companies at the top of search results, Holbrook’s Roofing, MCM Services, and Napier’s Home Improvement.
How Does Google My Business Help Local SEO?
Your GMB profile is not just a place where searchers can find information about your business, it is a powerful tool that can help boost your online presence.
Any local business that wants to thrive online needs to prioritize local SEO, and your GMB can contribute a lot to helping you rank high in local search results. Here are a few ways that GMB can aid your local SEO efforts:
You'll Show Up On The Map Pack
Like I pointed out earlier, the Map Pack is prime real estate in local search results, and it’s where your business needs to be.
Just by creating your Google My Business listing, you vastly improve the chances that your business will appear in the Map Pack for one of the relevant local keywords.
There is also the added benefit that the Map Pack is positioned at the top of the search results page. If your business is on that coveted list, customers are more likely to check you out instead of scrolling down the web page to see other businesses.
The effect of showing up on the Map Pack is so profound that research shows that brands that show up among the list of three businesses get a 700% increase in clicks to their website.
On that 3-pack box, customers will see your review ratings, business address, website link, map directions, opening & closing hours, and your contact information.
You Will Generate More Leads
Let’s say you’re a Dentist in Southgate, Michigan, and a local customer searches for “dentists near me”. Your chances of converting that searcher into a customer will be much higher if your business appears in the local 3-pack and at the top of search results.
Research shows that the conversation rate for businesses that rank high in local search results is 80% and it’s easy to see why.
Customers can call or message you directly from the search results page. They can book an appointment directly from your GMB listing or access your website in one click to check out your range of services. Check out what Admire Dental in Southgate did for their GMB listing..
You Will Appear In Map Searches For Relevant Local Queries
Searchers are primarily interested in local businesses that are in proximity to their location. To find such businesses, they use Google Maps.
Your GMB profile will not just help you rank high in local search results, it will also ensure your business shows up in relevant Google Map searches.
Let’s say you run a handyman business in Allen Park, Michigan. Simply creating your GMB listing will ensure your business will pop up in response to relevant search queries like it did for Handyman Service Plus.
Good Reviews On Your GMB Profile Helps You Rank Higher
If you get enough positive customer reviews to earn a 5-star rating like Mac’s Towing in Taylor, customers will trust your local business and Google will rank you higher in search results.
You Differentiate Your Business From Your Competitors
Apart from displaying basic information about your business on your GMB profile, you can also add a business description. This gives you the opportunity to provide searchers with a snapshot of your business and to highlight the USP that makes your products and services different from those of your competitors.
Just look at how Turf Concepts Landscape Management – a landscaping company in Flat Rock, Michigan utilized its business description space effectively.
You Gain Insights
You will also see the number of customers that reached out to you through your contact directly from your profile, the actions each searcher took on your profile, and whether more customers are finding you on Google Maps or Google Search.
All these insights will help you gauge how well you are performing in local search, and you will be able to identify areas that need improvement in your local SEO strategy.
How To Set Up Your Google My Business Listing
Step 1: Create A Google Account
Anyone can create a free Google account to use Gmail, Google Docs, Google Drive, and other Google services. To create your GMB listing, you need a Google account. Since it is possible to have multiple accounts, you can have a separate Google business account from your personal account.
To create your account:
- Go to the Google Account signup page
- Click the link to create your account
- Select “to manage my business” from the dropdown
- Follow the prompts and provide the required information
Step 2: Confirm Your Business Profile
Your Business profile on Google Search exists separately from your GMB account.
Provided information about your brand is available online, Google will still create a profile for your business.
The issue with this is that you have no control over the structure and accuracy of that information. Having a GMB account will ensure you can dictate and edit the content of your profile.
To confirm if you already have a profile, follow these steps:
- Go to Google Maps
- Search for your brand name
- If your business name and address appear in the dropdown, it means you already have a business profile.
- If not, click on your brand name and you will see the image below
- Click the “add missing place” link
- Fill the form in the pop-up and provide all the requested information
Step 3: Set Up Your Google My Business Listing
This is the stage where you finally create your GMB account. Follow the steps listed below:
- Go to the GMB page
- Click the “Manage Now” button
- Fill in your brand name
- Choose your business category
- Select your location and indicate if you want to appear on Google Maps
- Select your delivery area
- Add your contact information
- Click the “Finish” button
- Select the option you want to use to verify your business. You can do so by mail (postcard), by phone, by email, instant verification, or bulk verification.
- Make sure you select the convenient option to verify your business. If you don’t verify, you won’t be able to fully manage your GMB listing.
Follow the 3-step process outlined above to create your GMB profile. After creating your profile, the next thing is to optimize it.
7 Ways To Optimize Your Google My Business Listing
Some local business owners simply claim their GMB profile and promptly forget about it. This is a very bad idea.
If you want to maximize the advantages of your GMB listing and rank high in local search results, you need to consistently maintain and optimize your GMB listing.
Below are 7 ways you can optimize your GMB listing:
Step 1. Provide All The Required Information
After you have provided the basic information as outlined in the steps above, go back to your GMB dashboard and provide more detailed information.
Make sure the information you provide is accurate and consistent with what you have on your website and other online profiles.
Google reviews your business information all over the web to check for inconsistencies and to verify the credibility of your data.
If your information is not consistent, it will negatively impact your rankings in local search. Also, failure to provide all the required information will leave you at the mercy of third-party editors.
Google allows searchers that visit your profile to make user-generated changes with the “suggest an edit” option.
If you don’t provide all the required information, anyone including your competitors and other mischievous individuals can make dramatic changes to your GMB profile.
This also emphasizes the importance of constant management of your GMB listing.
You should check your profile regularly to ensure no one has made any unwanted changes.
To do this, log into your GMB dashboard and click “Back to GMB classic” from the dropdown.
From the classic dashboard, you can see if any updates have been made to your profile by third parties or Google Search bots.
Click “Google Updates” and you will see the option to review and rectify any incorrect information that may have been added to your profile.
Step 2. Use Images / Videos
Visual content converts better than bland text. It gets you more leads, visits, likes, social media shares, and sales. Research shows that visuals will get you 650% more engagement from users than text, and 85% of buyers are more likely to buy your products if they can see a product video.
Since your customers love visual content so much, it’s easy to see how adding photos of your products and business to your profile can increase conversions.
You will humanize your business by adding photos that show your location and employees, and you can also include photos of your customers using your products.
Step 3. Set Up The Messaging Feature Of Your GMB Profile
A key reason why a GMB listing is so good at generating leads for service businesses is that customers can contact you directly from the search page.
Let’s say a customer finds your Taylor, Michigan based real estate business in search results and wants to contact you immediately. The customer can use your phone number to contact you or better still, send you a text message.
Research shows that 90% of leads prefer to send a text message instead of calling your phone number. If you don’t activate the messaging feature on your profile, you could be losing many potential customers.
To do so, go to your dashboard and click “messaging’’.
From there, you can turn on the messaging feature and you will add the phone number that will receive your messages.
You can also set a default welcome message that customers will get immediately, anytime they contact you.
Step 4. Optimize Your Profile For SEO
You can optimize your GMB profile for local search by integrating relevant local keywords into your profile. Add these keywords to your business description, customer reviews, answers to questions, and GMB posts.
Doing this will signal to Google that you want to rank for those keywords. Google will also embolden the relevant keywords in your profile content in search results.
Step 5. Populate Your Profile With 5-Star Reviews
More 5-star reviews + high local search ranking equals more sales.
85% of local buyers regard online customer reviews as personal recommendations of other customers and most buyers require a minimum 4-star review rating before they can choose a local business.
The more 5-star reviews you get from your loyal customers, the more you will be able to convince potential buyers to choose your business. The best way to get these reviews is to ask your customers.
Also, you should respond to all reviews both positive and negative. Responding to positive reviews shows your customers that you care about the effort they took to leave feedback.
And when you get negative reviews, respond.
Take the time to address the concerns of the reviewer and try to win them over. Besides, searchers will read your response to such reviews and 44.6% of buyers say they are likely to check out a local business that responded to negative feedback.
Step 6. Take Full Advantage Of GMB Posts
With GMB posts, you can publish 300-word posts with images and CTA buttons on your GMB profile. Look at how Home Base in Lincoln Park, MI utilizes the GMB Post functionality.
With these Google posts, you can grab the attention of searchers with interesting content about company products, upcoming events, latest blog posts, and anything that can pique the interest of searchers.
To start publishing posts on your profile, go to your dashboard and you will see the “Posts” button in the left-side menu.
Step 7. Respond To Customer Questions
Final Thoughts on Local SEO
A Google My Business listing is a powerful tool that can position your business in a prime spot in local search results and make it easy for potential buyers to find you.
Now, it’s up to you. Use the information in this post to set up and optimize your GMB profile, so you can start driving local customers to your business.