If you’re a local business and looking to achieve digital marketing success by leveraging a location-based strategy, you’ll need to take some time to understand how to optimize Google My Business (GMB) listing. The importance of Google My Business for local businesses can be acknowledged from the fact that it is more effective than social media, content marketing, email marketing, profiles on other directory sites, and all forms of advertising.
What is Google My Business?
Google My Business is a free tool offered by Google that helps business owners manage their online appearance and performance across the search engine. With Google My Business, you can find out and adjust how your website shows in Google Maps, the Knowledge Graph, Google+, and organic search results. For local businesses, it is imperative to set up the business location on Google My Business so that people can find them when they search in Google Maps.
Google My Business superbly complements your existing business website by giving you public identity and presence with a listing on the most popular search engine in the world i.e. Google.
Creating a Google My Business listing is free, quick, and easy, and once it’s set up completely, you can optimize Google My Business to improve your local search presence.
Check out the article on Schema markup SEO which is a very essential part of local SEO.
Optimizing your Google My Business listing is both about updating and using GMB to tell Google everything it needs to know to accurately list your business in the right places at the right time. Google My Business is now one of the defining factors in local search success so knowing how to optimize Google My Business could be the difference your local business needs to thrive.
8 Simple Steps to Optimize Google My Business
1. Set up your Google My Business Account
The very first step of knowing how to optimize Google My Business for local SEO success is to set up (or claim) your GMB. Head over to the Google My Business page for adding and claiming GMB listing. Enter your business name and check whether you already have GMB listing. If not, add your business to Google.
2. Submit Complete and Accurate Information to Google
Once your Google My Business listing is successfully claimed, you have to provide all the information that has been asked to you by Google. Make sure that every piece of information you feed to Google is 100% accurate. When you create Google My Business account, the setup wizard will ask the following information:
- Your Business Name: Enter the correct name of your business without stuffing any keywords as you would not want your business to look spammy.
- Your Business Category: Next, you will have to choose a category that defines your business best.
- Your Business Location: If your business has a physical store then you can select ‘Yes’ to add a location or otherwise select ‘No’.
- Your Complete Business Address: Now enter the accurate business address to indicate which cities or postal codes you cover.
- Service Locations: If your business involves visiting or delivering customers outside your business location, then select ‘Yes’. You can further mention your service areas if you want.
- Your Contact Details & Website URL: To help customers get in touch with you make sure to provide a valid mobile number and the link to your business website.
3. Verify Your Business
Once you have submitted all the required business information correctly, it’s time to verify your business listing on Google. This is a crucial step top optimize Google My Business, for the visibility and performance of your business listing. Also, without verification, you will not be able to manage your listing fully. Google will send you a postcard containing four-digit verification PIN via mail to the business address you provided earlier.
The postcard might take around 12-14 days to arrive and once you receive your verification PIN, go to the link provided and enter the PIN to optimize Google My Business so that Google knows your business is legitimate. Remember, without verification, you can’t access any page insights/ analytical information or business reviews.
4. Maintain NAP Consistency across the Web
When you are looking how to optimize Google My Business, it’s very important to maintain consistency with all the information you provide about your business. You must check that your business name, address, and phone number (NAP) is correct, always up-to-date, and entirely constant across the web such as your website, social media profiles, and other directory listings.
NAP consistency plays a vital role in Google’s local and Local Pack algorithms. If local business citations are built with a consistent NAP to your Google My Business listing, it can influence your local search rankings. If your NAP is wrong and inconsistent on your Google My Business listing, you’re potentially derailing your entire local search SEO accuracy and making it harder for people to find you. This is the most important part to focus on while you optimize Google My Business.
5. Choose Relevant Primary & Secondary Categories
The service category you choose to optimize Google My Business listing plays a key role in local SEO ranking as it tells Google which searches your local listing belongs to. From nearly 4000 categories, you can choose one primary category and nine secondary categories to be more specific about your business operations.
However, if you can’t find a specific relevant primary category that best describes your business, try to settle on a more general one that still describes it accurately. The service category and sub-category comprise an important component of strong local SEO rankings.
6. Write the Perfect Business Description
Local search results favor the most relevant results for searches, and businesses offering the most detailed and accurate information will be easier to serve in search. Once you’re done with category selection to optimize Google My Business, enter a brief description of your business within the 750 characters limit.
This guide on how to optimize Google My Business suggests writing an engaging, authentic, and informative business description will help you in your optimization process of Google My Business. You can mention the services you offer, your USP, your mission, or anything else that will be helpful for your customers to know. It’s worth noting that the business description should primarily focus on details about your business instead of any promotional content or links as Google guidelines prohibit such descriptions.
7. Upload High-Quality Photos
Having high-quality photos of your business is one of the most important aspects to optimize Google My Business listing. Photos help your GMB listing stand out and give potential customers a glimpse of what to expect. According to Google, businesses with photos on their listings receive 42% more requests for driving directions on Google Maps and 35% more click-throughs to their websites than businesses without photos.
High-quality photos of your business premises or staff act as windows for users to get a sneak peek into your business and also help build trust. Uploading high-quality semi-professional photos also help in improving local SEO rankings. If you want to excel in how to optimize Google My Business listing for local SEO search success, you can have a look at Google’s advice on uploading business-specific photos.
8. Manage and Respond to Customer Reviews
For local businesses, customer reviews (positive or negative) have the power to influence people in the purchase process. Positive reviews will leave a positive impact on potential costumers when researching your business, whereas negative reviews will hamper your brand image.
Thus, it is important to optimize Google My Business, get as many positive reviews as possible. You can ask your happy customers to take some time out and post an appreciating review on your Google My Business page. Along with reviews, Google also considers the average star rating in its algorithm to determine which businesses appear first – both in Google Maps and in the local pack for web search results.
After having understood how to optimize Google My Business listing is a priority for you, you need to make sure that you have a sound strategy in place. You can start an email campaign, approach your customers personally, or put up encouraging materials in your store. Also, ensure that your reviews are legitimate as you would not want Google to remove all the spammy reviews. Even if bots miss the over-enthusiasm in fake reviews, searchers sure won’t.
Another important aspect of optimizing Google My Business page is responding to your reviews.
This small gesture will not only inform your customers that you listen to them and appreciate the time they took to review you but it also shows the Google algorithm that your business is engaged, responsive, and active on the platform. When you respond to customer reviews it shows that your business values its customers and seeing this more customers will be encouraged to post reviews or indulge in your business offerings.
But when you respond, to optimize Google My Business, do not neglect the negative reviews, you should take negative reviews in your stride and respond to them with grace while committing to improving on the services in the future.
Boost Your Local SEO By Knowing How To Optimize Google My Business Listing
Knowing how to optimize Google My Business listing offers a plethora of benefits for local business owners. With greater local search visibility and plenty of reviews, your business can thrive just the way you always wanted. Local SEO may require some extra time and hard work, but the payoff can be really big. After all, you want your business name to appear on the top when someone from your city is searching on Google for what you sell.
To leverage the benefits of Google My Business for the long-term keep monitoring the insights you get and keep your business details updated on Google. Don’t let the opportunity slip by because you didn’t take the time to understand how to optimize Google My Business listing.