If you read our last blog (Google My Business vs. Your Website), you know how crucial a solid presence on Google My Business (GMB) is for driving traffic (and SALES!). Whether your business is brick-and-mortar, strictly ecommerce or a mixture of both, Google is directing where customers spend their money. Let’s help you capture your share of this traffic by enhancing your Google My Business listing with some basic best practices.
- Claim Your Listing
If you haven’t already done so, let’s set up your Google My Business account. Note: This is different from your Google Business Profile. A GMB account is needed to gain access to and optimize your profile. At google.com/business, sign in with the Google/Gmail account you use for your business. Then tell Google My Business to connect with your Google Business Profile. Once those two are working together, you will be primed to make the optimizations we recommend.
- Fill It Out
Having a fully completed Google Business Profile will enhance your presence in two major ways: You’ll rank higher in local search results, and it will increase the number of actions customers can take when they find your profile.
- Physical Address
Think Through These:
- Products / Services
- Questions & Answers (owner-generated)
- Reviews (& Responses)
- Questions & Answers (consumer-generated)
Let’s take a look at these in a little more depth…
- Double Check It
- Ensure your business name on your GMB listing is exactly how it appears on your store signage. Unless it is in your brand name, adding location (or other keywords) to your name in the listing is considered spam by Google, which could cause you to be penalized.
- Make sure your business name and address is identical in every location your business is present across the web. This even includes using “st” versus “street” or “co” instead of “company.” Standardize it, and double check it!
- When listing your regular business hours, also include your holiday hours. You encourage customers to visit you, while also avoiding the issue of a negative review from someone who wasn’t aware you would be closed.
- Don’t Skip the Description
The short description directly below your business’s name on your profile cannot be adjusted. This editorial summary is written by Google to ensure consistency across the platform. That can be disappointing, but Google does a great job in coming up with these descriptions.
However, you CAN decide what is written to describe you in the “from the business” section in your GMB account dashboard. What you include here will appear lower in your profile, just below the reviews. Here are some steps you can make to take full advantage of this brief section:
- Use all 750 characters you are allotted, and be sure to include the most salient information within the first 250 characters.
- Work smarter, not harder! Repurpose content from your “About Us” page or your mission statement.
- Sprinkle in keywords that customers use to find businesses, services, and/or products like yours. WordStream has a great guide on how to find the best keywords for your niche.
- If it’s already visible somewhere else in your profile, leave it out! Take advantage of this space to talk about what sets you apart from your competitors and why customers like your business. This can also be a great space to highlight a testimonial a customer left on a different platform.
- Don’t put any links or HTML.
- Categorize It
Choosing a category for your business on GMB helps in two major ways:
- An incredible 84% of Business Profile views on GMB originate from discovery searches (meaning a potential customer searched for a product, service or category, and that business’s profile appeared), versus only 16% came from direct searches (the customer typed in the business name or location).
- Once you choose a category, Google will offer you category-specific features that will make your profile both more attractive and more effective. It’s details like these that can help customers choose you over your competitors.
Google offers a whole host of categories, and it is important to pick the right one. Here are some tips:
- Be specific! If you are a nail salon, choose “Nail Salon” and not just “Salon.” Choose “Egyptian Restaurant” instead of “Restaurant.” Once you start typing, a drop-down list of categories will appear. You can also peruse the full list HERE.
- If, like most businesses, your brand falls into two or more categories, there is a solution. Set your primary category to your chief offering (e.g., “Grocery Store”) then choose additional categories that apply (e.g., “Grocery Delivery Service,” “Gourmet Grocery Store).
- Don’t overdo it! Choose only categories that match your offerings. Remember not to confuse categories with products or attributes, which have their own separate sections.
- Add Your Special Features
Once you choose your category, Google will give you extra attributes to further describe your business. These are the special features that customers tend to seek, like “free wi-fi” or “gift shop on site.” This article has a lengthy list of potential attributes and can help you determine which to include on your profile.
- Add Products & Services
This is especially important to complete if your business’s offerings are not clearly indicated by the business name. Populating this section also adds content to your profile that can help it rank in even more relevant searches. When adding products/services, include the name, description, and price (if applicable). Make sure to include a picture and a link to purchase.
- Share Your Photos
Uploading your own photos to your GMB profile helps in the following ways:
- Ensure Quality! Anyone can add photos of your business to your profile, but (by adding your own) you can ensure that you have great quality photos that will keep your profile looking its best.
- Be Active! By regularly adding photos, Google knows you are active on your profile and that your listing is up-to-date, both of which positively impact your ranking.
- Appear in Image Searches! Google’s image recognition capabilities are continuously improving, and they are beginning to include images in search results.
- Increase Engagement! According to Google’s own research, customers are 42% more likely to request driving directions to a business if their profile has photos (and 35% more likely to click through to its website). A BrightLocal study showed that businesses with over 100 photos get 520% more calls, 2,717% more direct requests, and 1,065% more website clicks than the average business.
- Don’t go overboard! Just keep it simple (yet active). Change your thumbnail image to your logo. Add a new image once a week. Google’s photo guidelines will steer you in the right direction, but be sure to include interior and exterior views, team photos and happy customers.
- Keep It Real! Don’t use stock photos or images with special effects or branding.
- Get Reviews!
Over and over, we are seeing that reviews are the #1 influence on consumer buying. As such, reviews are also a key ranking factor in Google’s algorithm. Additionally, Google will also pull business listings for profiles who have reviews that match the search terms used.
If your pool of reviews on Google is shallow, here are some ideas to get the ball rolling:
- Ask your long-time, loyal customers to hop over to Google for a review.
- Make it easy for your customers by including a link to leave a Google review for your business in other online locations (e.g., website, social media, etc.).
- Just ask! Whether through email, text, social media or in-person conversations, 62% of individuals will leave a review if asked.
- Respond to reviews! This feedback will incentivize other customers to leave reviews, as well. It will also improve your local SEO. Just don’t incentivize reviews with cash, discounts or gift cards; that’s not allowed!
- Post Content Regularly
Just like on your social media profiles, you can post to your GMB listing. Create posts about announcements, offers, specials, products, events or general updates. You can access them in your GMB dashboard, and they will appear in the “Updates” section near the bottom of your profile. However, they might become more prominent based on particular search queries.
Regularly posting to GMB will optimize your profile in the following ways:
- Posts increase the number of actions potential customers can take on your profile (e.g., link to a particular product on your website, link to your latest blog).
- Posting regularly keeps you active on GMB and positively impacts your ranking in the same ways as uploading new photos does. Posts expire every 7 days, so put a new one up at least once a week.
- Consumers have higher intent on search engines versus social media platforms (where they are leisurely scrolling). This makes them more likely to engage with (and remember) your posts.
- Ask & Answer
Just like on Amazon, Google Business Profiles have a questions and answers section. Answers to these questions may be what makes a customer choose you over your competitors. It is important to keep this section optimized because anyone can ask questions AND anyone can ANSWER them (which could lead to inaccurate information). You cannot turn off this feature, be here are some ways to optimize it:
- Set up alerts, so you can stay on top of questions and answers on your profile.
- Seed your own Q&A section! Make a list of the most frequently asked questions your business receives. Ask, answer, and upvote your answer on your own profile. This does not go against Google’s terms and conditions. On the contrary, Google encourages it!
- Include keywords! Whether in questions or in your answers (to your own questions and those of others), include keywords to increase their likelihood of showing up in search results.
*Note: Google has temporarily suppressed the Q&A section on most business profiles in response to COVID-19.
- Get the App
Download the Google My Business app to be instantly notified of any activity on your profile, make on-the-go changes and updates, and message with your customers.
- Set Up Messaging
This feature gives searchers the option to message you directly. Depending on how you prefer to set it up, you will receive a text message or be notified in the GMB app. With 82% of smartphone shoppers (92% for millennials) using their device for local search, this provides a great opportunity for customers to get in touch with you.
To enable messaging, select the “Messaging” tab in your GMB dashboard. Be sure to turn on alerts for messages. Head to “Settings” and check “Customer Messages” under notifications.
- Map Out Your Strategy
As you can see, your Google My Business listing is not a one-and-done marketing tool. It requires some ongoing action to maximize the benefits. Establish your strategy and schedule time to implement the individual pieces on an ongoing basis.
- Always keep your information up-to-date, even minor changes like your location’s suite number.
- Publish posts and upload photos each week.
- Keep a steady stream of reviews coming in.
- Monitor and respond to reviews.
- Answer questions in the Questions and Answers section! Upvote accurate answers.
- Respond in a timely fashion to messages from customers on Google.
- Stay on top of new features to ensure you are continuing to use this tool to its fullest potential.
To Sum It Up…
With an up-to-date and fully completed Google My Business listing, customers can (and do) go from a Google search to a purchase without ever visiting a business’s website. Maximize the number of people who discover you on Google by optimizing your business profile and regularly posting, responding and engaging! For more information, take a look at Google’s Guidelines.
We are happy to help! If you have questions or want someone to tackle this task for you, send us a message.