Most business owners realise the importance of ranking well on Google for keywords that relate to their core products and services. Showing up high in search for relevant phrases will result in a flood of highly targeted traffic to your website. And that means more customers!
What is less widely known are the benefits you can gain from leveraging a Google My Business listing, and ensuring it is optimised to the fullest.
What is Google My Business?
Google My Business (or GMB for short) is a platform that allows you to manage how your business appears in the Google Map results. Whenever a user performs a local search, invariably the results will include some map listings, to help the user find businesses close to their location.
The GMB listing features a range of information including:
- Business Name
- Type of business
- Phone number
All business owners have the ability to claim their listing or create a new listing if one isn’t already featured in the maps. And it’s totally free!
If you are unsure if your business has a GMB listing, simply type your brand name into Google, and if one exists, it will appear on the right of the search results.
Google sometimes autogenerates listings based on data they receive, so if a GMB already exists for your business but you didn’t create it, you have the ability to claim it.
How to claim your GMB listing
After typing your brand name into Google and finding a map listing on the right, you will see a link that says “Own this business?”
Clicking on this will let you enter your business details and “claim” the listing. Note, you must have a Gmail account to be able to do this.
If someone has already claimed the GMB listing, upon trying yourself you will see a message along with a partially hidden email address to prompt you as to the original verifier of the account.
Once you fill in your basic details and press submit, Google will send a postcard to the address, which normally arrives in 5-10 days (but be prepared for delays sometimes). The postcard contains a PIN code, and upon entering this in the GMB account, it will become verified and active.
Optimising your Google My Business Listing
Setting up or claiming a GMB listing is a smart move. But it is really just the beginning. Unfortunately, most business owners simply enter their basic info and then leave the account to lie dormant.
But you want to get the most out of your GMB listing, you need to optimise it. And here’s how:
We will already assume you have entered basic details.
1. Choose ALL relevant categories
Google allows you to choose multiple categories for your business. Using their search function within the GMB portal, find and select as many relevant categories that you find. However, don’t choose ones that AREN’T relevant, as it will not only annoy people when you appear for something that you don’t offer, but it can also result in a penalty from Google.
2. Create a comprehensive business description
Your business description is where you can sell yourself. Google allows up to 750 characters so look to use every single one of them! The big G loves content, so the more information you can include, the better the results. Make sure it is informative and enticing. And include keywords, as Google will pick these up and it will maximise your chances of ranking well in the map results.
3. Add Geotagged photos
Adding photos to your GMB will help performance. Research shows that brands with images on their listings receive 35% more click throughs to their websites than brands without photos. Similar to the business description, the more you add, the better, but make sure they are relevant!
Before uploading images, you should also Geotag them. This means adding geographical meta data to the photos, so they relate to the exact address of your business. There are several tools that let you geotag images. It takes a bit of extra work but is highly worth it.
4. Choose a good Cover Photo
Google allows you to select a cover photo for your GMB page and you should choose this carefully. It is the image that comes up when users first see your listing, so it needs to showcase your brand effectively and leave a good impression. Also make sure it is an appropriate size as Google crops Cover Photos to fit a 16:9 aspect ratio.
5. Ensure your Trading Hours are up to date
This is one of the most important requirements, from a customer service point of view. A number of times I have turned up at a shop based on trading hours on their GMB map listing, only to find they are shut, and their hours have changed. Let’s just say, I never went back!
Take the time to update your hours when they change, and make sure they remain accurate for your customers. Google also allows you to add special hours, for public holidays or particular events.
6. Encourate Customer Reviews and respond to all of them
Reviews are a big part of Google My Business, and the number of reviews and your overall rating has a strong influence in your local map rankings. While Google stipulates you cannot incentivise people to leave reviews, you should definitely be asking your customers to leave one for you. If they’ve had a positive experience they should be only too happy to comply.
And for every review you receive (both good and bad), look to reply. This shows you take customer service seriously and are a thoughtful and engaging brand.
Fake reviews can be a problem and unfortunately getting them removed from Google is incredibly hard. The best thing to do is embrace them, and rather than going on the front foot and attacking them, doing the opposite and showing concern is the best strategy. Remember, everyone else can see these interactions, so paint yourself in the right light.
7. Ensure NAP Consistency
NAP stands for Name, Address and Phone Number. Making sure these details are consistent across the web is crucial for strong rankings in Google’s map results. While this particular optimisation strategy is done outside of the GMB account, it’s a very important part of the puzzle.
Firstly, make sure your website contact information is correct. And this means exactly the same as your GMB information. If the address has a suite number in the GMB but not on your site, this reduces NAP consistency and can hurt your local search results.
Likewise, ensure any local business directories have a business name, address and phone number that is consistent. An SEO agency will likely have a tool to be able to find ALL your local directory listings, and perform an audit showing the contact details for each one.
8. Get active on Local Posts
GMB has a feature where you can post updates whenever you like. It is seldom used by businesses but a great opportunity to share what’s new with your customers and potential audience. And since Google loves content, the more posts you do (provided they are good quality), the more it will help your map rankings.
9. Add Products and Services
GMB also has functionality allowing businesses to add specific Products and Services to their listings. Again, this is overlooked by most businesses as it can be time consuming. But a little extra effort will go a long way as it can help to better inform customers of your offerings, and makes your overall listing more comprehensive.
10. Monitor your GMB Insights
Google provides a great deal of analytical data which gives business owners fantastic insights into their listings, how they’re performing, and what improvements can be made.
These “Insights” provide information such as:
- Whereabouts on Google customers are finding you (search vs maps)
- How they are finding your listing (type of search)
- What actions they are taking (site clicks, directions, photos, reviews, calls)
- Requests for directions (which identifies customers locations)
- Number of phone calls made from your GMB (and time of calls)
All of the above strategies will go a long way to helping you optimise your Google My Business listing and help your brand show up in more maps results, and in higher positions.
For help with Local SEO or a more comprehensive digital marketing strategy, contact Temerity Digital today.