Google My Business, popularly known as GMB, is a free tool provided by Google that can be used by business owners to manage their online presence across Google’s platform and its growing portfolio of utilities. It offers the greatest influence for businesses that are seeking local exposure.
For a local search strategy, your Google my business listing is your most valuable asset. The local search results and organic search will provide the greatest return on investment for your business as compared to other digital marketing tactics. Especially, when your business is largely dependent on local customers, having a great google business listing should be your first priority.
Around the world, there are only a few people who are ‘searching the internet’, because the majority of us just ‘Google’ our queries while searching online. This equation of ‘internet search = Google’ has been beneficial to both customers and businesses.
The introduction of tools like Google Analytics, Google search console, and Google trends have completely changed the way to look at digital marketing. Google has given you the control of what people see when they search for your business (or a business similar to yours). It has given you the opportunity to rank higher in the search results.
Thus, if you are serious about increasing your visibility and targeting local customers, you will have to take out some time to optimize your Google my business listing for your own good. Before we dive into the tips to improve your local listing, let’s understand the importance to do so.
Why is Google my Business optimization necessary for your business?
Simply speaking, each and every business requires a Google local business listing. It will provide loads of information about your business to Google as well to your potential customers.
Whatever information you fill in your Google my business listing is used in a number of ways:
- To decide the details of the knowledge panel which appears on the right side of the search result page.
- To decide the listings of Google local pack.
- Providing accurate voice search results.
- Filling in Google maps results.
- Assisting with Google app search results.
When you optimize your Google my business listing, you let Google know all the information it needs to list your business at the right time and at the right place. By doing so, your profile will show up when any person searches for a product or a service that your business provides.
Every year, the influence of Google my business has been continuously increasing. It is changing the way people are finding and interacting with local businesses. It is now one of the defining factors in the success of local search results. Thus, knowing how to optimize your local listing could make all the difference that your business needs to thrive in the market.
The basics of Google my business
The first step is to obviously set up your Google my business listing. Go to Google my business page and click on the ‘Manage now’ button on the right-hand upper corner.
On the next screen, click on ‘Add your business to Google’.
Enter your business name, category, business location, service areas, contact details, and submit the request for verification.
Note: Even if you do not have a physical store from where you operate, you can still have your Google my business listing. You can just select ‘no’ option when it asks for a location that customers can visit. You can then set up service areas to indicate the cities that you cover.
Optimizing the Google my Business listing
1. Double check your NAP
NAP stands for your Business Name, Address, and Phone number. These are very crucial pieces of information for any business listed on Google. Make sure that they are entered correctly and coherent with your other business citations.
Citations help in finding businesses – they will enable customers to search for your business. In order to make your business rank higher, citations help in feeding Google the information it needs. If any one of your name, address, or phone number is wrong; your local search accuracy will deteriorate and people will not be able to find you. The overall success of your local business listing majorly depends on the accuracy of these details.
The consistency of NAP is very important to appear in the Google Local Pack. To check your NAP, go to your Google my business dashboard. On the left-hand side, click on the ‘Info’ section and verify all the details.
2. Craft out the perfect description for your business
Google my business allows you to add a description of your business with a limit of 750 characters. But, only the first 250 characters are shown in the knowledge panel. Whatever you write in this section should make your business stand out from the others.
Be upfront and honest about your business and write what makes customers understand your business in a better manner. You can talk about your experience in the industry, your vision, mission, products and services that you offer, and your unique selling points.
Pick up one or two keywords and build your description using them. Also, make sure that you use the keyword in the first 250 characters. This will help in making your business rank higher. You can edit your business description as many times as you want to.
3. Set your custom short name
After the verification of your Google my business account, make sure you ‘set up your businesses’ short name. The custom short name makes it easier for people to find you in the search results. According to Google, the short name must be something that represents your business – something that customers commonly use to refer to your business.
The short name has the limit of 32 characters and it needs to be unique to your business – means that no other business listed on Google should have that name. Once you have claimed your custom name, you can start using ‘g.page/[your-short-name]’ in the browser to go directly to your business profile. Sharing your profile with people becomes easier this way.
4. Choose a relevant and specific category
When you sign up for a Google my business listing, you enter one business category. But after the verification, you can add more categories that are related to your business. The categories that you select are one of the most important things in optimizing your listing because it helps Google to decide when to show your profile to searchers.
Google lets you choose up to 10 categories for one listing from its pre-set category list (you can not create your own category). In case you cannot find a category that describes your business, you can settle with a more general one that describes your business accurately.
For example, if you have a grocery store, you can select “Gourmet grocery store”, or “Indian grocery store” as your sub-categories. The more specific you are, the better the search results will be.
5. Upload high-resolution photos
60% of Google my business listings received more views in search results because of good images that captured people’s attention. If you have a physical shop, upload a variety of images including interior and exterior shots, pictures of products, photos of staff working inside the store, customers checking out your products, etc.
Do not use stock photographs in your Google my business listing. Google will recognize them and remove them from your profile. All the images should be your own. Also, avoid overly professional photography. Keep a real touch to all your images so that people can relate to them.
You can also add 360-degree photos to give your audience a wider perspective of your store. Add videos, if you can, to maximize your visibility even more.
Google’s search engine research report says that, “Businesses with photos receive 35% more clicks to their websites and 42% more requests for driving directions than the businesses who don’t have photos.”
6. Make sure your information is similar everywhere else
Another thing Google’s algorithm is looking at in order to check the validity of a listing is the accuracy of how it is listed across multiple websites. This sounds so simple to maintain, but little differences may slip in when you enter your address. For example, you may have written your street name as “XYZ Road” on one website and “XYZ Rd” on another. This will make all the difference.
Fix a standard way to write your address and use it everywhere you register your business. Have a consistent phone number and make sure it is local. Using a phone number with a local area code assures Google that you are actually targeting local customers. In addition to that, mention that number on your website’s homepage or any other landing page that you are going to link on your Google business listing.
7. Use Google posts feature to boost conversions
This is indeed an amazing feature provided for Google my business users. It is very crucial to use this in order to raise your optimization efforts. Want to give a news update? Want to share a discount coupon or offer with your viewers? Wish to disclose details of an upcoming event? Whatever you want to tell your audience, publish a post to do so. Along with an image or video, you are allowed to add up to 1500 characters as the caption content. When you continuously post on your profile, your visibility in the search results increases immensely.
Google my business posts have an expiry period of 7 days. If you find it troublesome to create and publish posts every week, you can create a lot of them together and schedule them using a Google my business post scheduler. RecurPost is a social media scheduling tool that will help you in scheduling posts to your Google business listing. To check it out for free, click here.
8. Focus on your business listing reviews
Remember the last time you searched for a business and looked at its reviews to decide whether you will visit the place or not? It’s natural. For local businesses, the beauty of reviews is in the persuasion they have on buying behavior. On an average, a user reads 10 reviews on a Google my business listing before trusting a local business. Thus, having positive reviews will have a direct impact on your lead generation and sales.
Half of the consumers will interact with a business only if it has a minimum of 4 stars. See how reviews impact actions of people:
- 50% of consumers visit the business website after reading positive reviews on Google business listing.
- 15% of people visit the local store after reading the reviews.
- 13% of consumers will directly contact the business after looking at the reviews.
Whenever someone leaves a review on your profile, make sure to reply to it. If it is positive, leave a thank you message. If it is negative, address the issue raised. This will make your business more trustworthy in the eyes of viewers.
In a nutshell,
Having a Google my business listing is inevitable in today’s times. Implementing the above tips will keep your business a step ahead of your competitors. After your listing is optimized completely, you can even run google ads to gain maximum visibility in the search results.
Local SEO takes some time and work, but the results obtained pays off for the efforts made. While some actions such as setting the category and operating hours need to be done only once; others such as uploading the latest photos and posts need to be done on a continuous basis.
So, what are you lingering for? Go ahead, add your business to Google, and start unlocking the power of GMB!