Out of all the online business listings, Google My Business is one of the most important and crucial business listings. Especially for any local business. Google My Business listing aids local businesses by providing more visibility. It drives the local search results (related to your products and services) on Google assistance, maps, and Google search. For some businesses, Google My Business listing is essential than a website.
Any business, whether small or medium, who aims for targeted visibility know that they need to optimise their website and Google Ads. But what they do not know is that they need to optimise their Google My Business Listing as well.
Many business owners create a Google My Business and leave it. Tey neither optimise it nor use it. What they do not realise is the true potential of leveraging Google My Business for increased visibility.
Google My Business page is your Business Profile. It is a powerful listing which highlights your complete company information (contact, email, phone number, address) to people who are looking for products and services, locally — all from the SERP. The best part? It's completely free.
Why is Google My Business Optimisation important?
Optimising your Google My Business profile is extremely important for - local marketing, to attract local consumers, and to help consumers choose your products/services over your competition.
The other benefits of optimising Google My Business profile are – improved engagement, improved local rankings, driving quality leads and improved conversion.
So, how to optimise Google My Business listing?
Optimising Google My Business is a step by step process, following are the necessary steps for optimising your Google My Business page.
Before you start, conduct a Google search to find out whether your business already has a Google My Business listing.
Claim or Create and Verify Google My Business listing
If your business has been around for several years, chances are it might already have a Google My Business listing. In that case, you need to claim it.
Once claimed, you can then manage the information as if you started the GMB listing yourself.
Create Google My Business Listing
If your business listing is not yet created, you can quickly set it up.
- Go to Google My Business page
- Click the "Manage Now" button.
- Sign in with a valid Google account. If possible, use an email ID from your business domain.
- Follow the process and provide all the information that's asked to create a new listing.
Claim your Google My Business listing
- Sign in with a valid Google account.
- Search for the business on Google and click 'Own This Business' link.
- On a mobile device, you might see "Claim this business" link, click that.
- Follow the process and proved all the information to claim the listing.
Complete your profile
The complete profile information will help Google to rank your business higher in the search results. Incomplete information may hamper your local ranking. There's a lot of information to provide, so here are some guidelines for prioritising.
Make sure that you complete these aspects of the profile right away:
The other elements can be added later, such as
- Category and Attributes
- Products and services
- From the business
- Questions and answers (Owner-generated queries)
The following are the ongoing elements of your Google My Business page
- Questions and answers (Consumer-generated)
Verify Google My Business Listing
Verification is essential for your business visibility and performance. Without verifying your page, you cannot access page insights, customer reviews, and analytical information from the back end. The verification process usually takes about a week.
Majority businesses are verified with a verification postcard received via mail, but some businesses can be verified by phone, text, or email or through the Google Search Console.
Once done with the necessary information and the verification process, you can now start optimising your Google My Business profile.
Optimise Your Google My Business Listing
Optimise your NAP (Name, Address, Phone) first
- Pay attention to your business name. It needs to be identical to the one on your store (physical store).
- Make sure your Google My Business listing name is an exact match to other listings on the web. Consistency is crucial for Google to assess credibility.
- Indicate your hours of operation, including regular and holiday hours.
Optimise 'From the business' description:
The short description that appears right below your business name is not in your control. Google picks it up on its own. Buy, what you can control is the 'From the business' description. You can add this description from your Google My Business Dashboard. It appears slightly below in your profile, under the review section.
- The character limit is 750, utilise all of it with the vital information in the first 250 characters.
- You can repurpose the 'About Us' page information as well as the 'Mission statement'.
- Use your target keywords and the keywords that your audience use to find businesses like yours.
- Do not repeat information that's visible in other sections of your business profile.
- Do not include links and HTML in this section.
Category plays a vital role and optimising it for your Google My Business profile is a must. Here why it is advantageous for your business listing
To appear in 'discovery searches': When a customer searches for a product/service/category, and your listing appears in the results is the discovery search. If you optimise categories your chances of appearing in the search results improves.
To highlight category-specific features: When you choose a category, Google provides you with some category-specific features that make your business profile more useful and attractive.
Here's how you optimise
- Be specific when you choose a category: If you select a restaurant, it won't help you much. But if you prefer an Italian restaurant, it's beneficial. You can choose the specific category from the drop-down list as you start typing.
- Specify a secondary category: Many businesses fall in multiple categories, so, choose your main offering as your primary category and choose others in the secondary category. For example, the Italian restaurant is your primary category, and Italian food delivery can be your secondary category choice.
Once you choose a category-specific to your products or services, Google will provide you with a list of attributes you can check off to describe your business further. For example, in case your category is Italian restaurant then possible attributes could be
- Serves beer
- Live music
- Private dining room
- LGBT friendly… and there are a lot more.
Optimise for photos:
Uploading photos through your Google My Business is important for your listing. Mainly for the three reasons below
To ensure quality: Anyone can upload photos to your profile, but adding photos of your own will ensure quality and will make sure it looks useful to the audience.
Be active: Adding photos regularly from Google My Business sends signals to Google that you are active, and your account is up-to-date.
For increased engagement: Customers interact more with businesses that have photos in their Google My Business listing profile as compared to those who do not have any.
Here's how you optimise photos:
- Do not over-upload photos. Add at least one photo per week.
- Upload your company/business logo for thumbnail
- For the cover photo, use a photo that best describes your brand and business.
- For other photos in your profile, refer Google's guidelines and best practices.
- Upload quality photos only.
- Do not upload photos with special effects or stock photos.
- Add geotags to your photos.
- Using Google street view app, add 360-degree photos to your profile.
- You can add videos as well.
Optimise Google Reviews
Reviews are crucial to build trust or to add a trust element to your business listing. Customers prefer businesses with reviews over the one which does not have any.
Reviews and ratings are essential to influence customer buying, and it also affects your search rankings. Google may also display a Business Profile in search results if it has reviews that contain those keywords.
Here's how can optimise Google My Business with reviews:
- Start with your long-term loyal customers/clients.
- Make it as easy as possible for your clients to add reviews.
- Ask all your happy customers/clients to write a review for you. Study shows that 62% of these customers will happily leave a review for you.
- Add a 'leave a review' CTA on your website and landing pages to direct your clients to review page.
- Respond to reviews, no matter if it's a negative or a positive one. Replying to negative reviews means you care.
Optimise Google Profile posts
Google posts are like any other social media posts that you can add for any announcements, offers, events, product launch, content promotion, anything. They appear in search results based on the search query.
Google posts increase the number of actions a customer takes who lands on your profile. Regularly posting G+ post sends a positive signal to Google that the account is active as well as updated. The consumer intent here is different than that of Facebook and Instagram. They are more likely to engage with your Google posts. Customers can follow a GMB profile and get notifications for any new post or update.
Here's how you can optimise Google posts:
- Include links and call to action buttons in your posts
- Post on a regular basis. It sends positive ranking signals to Google as well as to the clients who follow you.
- Use events and offers for your marketing campaign and post according to your marketing calendar. You can also add a date range for a post to stay alive for the specified duration.
Optimise questions and answers
Google offers a Q & A section for Google Business profiles. Optimising this section is crucial because not can anyone ask a question but anyone can answer as well. It can be misleading, and it may give inaccurate information.
Though you can turn-off the Q & A section altogether optimising it is a better idea.
- Set up alerts to stay on top of it. You can get a notification for every Q & A posted.
- Seed your Q & A section to highlight frequently asked questions. Make a list of such questions, post them on your profile and answer them in the best way possible. Then upvote your answer
- When you ask or answer a question, keep your keywords in mind. It will help improve your Google My Business profile ranking for those targeted keywords. Do not overstuff it. Use them organically.
- By monitoring Q & A section, you can ensure that accurate information is added to your profile, and it highlights your best features & services.
Add products and services
Adding products and services in your Google My Business profile becomes crucial when your business name doesn't specify what you offer. Populating this section of your profile can help your business rank for relevant keywords. When you add a product, include name, a short description and price (is applicable).
Set up messaging
The messaging feature on your Google Business profile lets searchers send a text message to your phone. It is an excellent opportunity for customers to connect with you.
To enable messaging, do the following:
- Login to your Google My Business account
- Go to the dashboard and select' Messaging tab'. Now you have the options to install the app.
- Don't worry. Google will not display your number. You'll use a different number via Google's Allo App.
- Set up alerts for messages in your GMB dashboard. Go to settings and un-check' customer messages'.
Maintain your Google My Business listing
Google My Business is not a set-and-forget kind of marketing task. It's an ongoing activity that needs to be maintained, monitored and modified to maximise your benefits. It is your local SEO and marketing tool that requires continuous action.