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What do you get when you put ‘Google’ and ‘my business’ together? Google My Business. It’s simple grammar really (of a sort). You know what else is simple? Optimizing your Google My Business account. It’s also a complete no-brainer.
At the end of September 2019, Google had 92.96% of the Search Engine Market Share Worldwide. (statcounter GlobalStats) As a small business, or even a big business, you really need to play nicely with Google, and optimize your ‘Google My Business’ to get anywhere online.
Google My Business is one of the most obvious, and easiest ways to improve how your business performs, and how it appears to searchers, in search results. Yet so many businesses are still failing to make the most of it, obstinately refusing to take the time to make their Google My Business listing as useful and effective as possible. Face, meet palm. Don’t be one of those businesses. Please. Especially not when you’ve got access to our straightforward beginner’s guide to optimizing your Google My Business account.
What is Google My Business?
Google My Business (GMB) is a free, super-easy-to-use tool that can help you manage your business’s online presence and appearance in Google Search and Google Maps.
If you’ve ever searched for a business by name in Google – and really, who hasn’t? – it’s more than likely that you will have seen their GMB listing first. This appears in the form of a ‘knowledge card’ – a snapshot of everything important you need to know about that business front and centre. Because Google is clever like that. On desktop, this shows up at the top of your SERP, on the right hand side of your screen. On mobile, it more often than not takes the top spot, above organic search results.
What exactly does this knowledge card display? Well, if your Google My Business is optimized, the question is more like what doesn’t it display.
Used to its full potential, the knowledge card displays a ton of valuable information, exactly the kind of information you customers want and need to know in order to engage with you. Things like your:
- Business name and type
- Physical address (where applicable)
- Hours of operation
- Phone Number
- Website link
- Google Maps link for directions to get to you
- Customer reviews and overall star rating
- Related searches
- And more
In short, GMB gives customer pretty much every single piece of information they need about your business to help push them in your direction.
Why Should I Optimize Google My Business?
Why wouldn’t you? 92.96% of the search engine market share. Over 4.5 billion searches per day (as recorded on October 10, 2019 on Internet Live Stats). You want to be a part of those search successes on Google? Go to the source – Google – to ensure you’ve got everything they recommend to get you seen.
The more Google knows about you, the more types of searches your GMB listing can appear in – including that holy grail of search: Google’s 3-Pack, that handy dandy 3-pack of businesses which appears under the map for any local-related search query. For example, search for ‘best plumbers near me’. You see the three businesses that pop up under the map? Nine times out of 10 you’re going to call at least one of those for a quote!
So, to summarize, an optimized Google My Business listing can:
- Increase your visibility in search
- Drive more traffic to your website, social channels, and front door
- Improve your bottom line.
Like we said, why wouldn’t you optimize your GMB listing? #justsaying #nobrainer
How to Optimize Google My Business – 7 Tips
Fortunately, unlike a lot of SEO which, admittedly, can be kind of a brain bomb, optimizing your Google My Business listing is quite easy. No. Really.
Here are our top tips to make the most of your Google My Business account.
1. Complete all your business information
- Full business name
- Business category
- Phone number
- Website link
- Email address
- Hours of operation etc.
And, for the love of all things SEO and Google, add a description of your business. Google gives you 750 characters (~250 characters before the “Read More” separator) to describe your products, services, value, or whatever you want to communicate to your audience. Use them well. The more people know, the more they’ll trust you. Plus, descriptions improve your search rankings in Google.
2. Add your service area
Aside from your physical address, you’re going to want to complete your service area – where applicable. For example, if you’re a plumber, you may have a bricks and mortar location where people can find you. But you don’t really do any plumbing there do you? (Well, there was that one time post-curry… but that’s a story for another day.) You need to tell folks where you offer your services. Enter ‘Service Area’.
Sign in to Google My Business. ➔ From the menu on the left, click Info. (If you have multiple locations, open the location you’d like to manage, then click Info.) ➔ Scroll down to the ‘Add service area’ section, then click Edit. ➔ Enter your service area information. ➔ Click Apply.
3. Add your products/services
Add in the services and/or products you offer. Restaurants can even add their menus.
For some accounts, Google My Business now offers a new feature that lets businesses add collections of products to their listings, rather than services. And for some, GMB offers both. Either way, add yours!
Sign in to Google My Business. ➔ From the menu on the left, click Services and/or Products (Beta). ➔ Follow the instructions for each. ➔ Click Add.
For each product, businesses can display the name of the product, a 1,000 character description, the price, and a photo.
4. Add photos
A picture paints a thousand words and all that. Add authentic photos of your business, staff, products, etc. Update them every month or two. Why? Because, as Google tells us: “Businesses with photos receive 42% more requests for driving directions to their location from users on Google, and 35% more clicks through to their website than businesses that don’t have photos.”
Bonus: Other people can upload images to your Google My Business page too. Encourage your customers to do just that.
5. Respond to reviews – ALL reviews
Customer reviews, the good, the bad, and the ugly, can make or break your business. But only if you ignore them. By responding to all reviews, you can thank customers for their loyalty, deal with any customer issues that may arise, and show anyone reading the reviews that (a) there is a real, live person on the other side of the screen who (b) really cares about their customers’ experience of their business.
Don’t believe us? Check out some of these local consumer review statistics from a Brightlocal survey:
- 85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations
- Positive reviews make 73% of consumers trust a local business more
- 68% of consumers left a local business review when asked
- 30% of consumers say they’ve judged a business based on its responses to reviews
Note: That negative review? The scathing one that lambasted you and decried their inability to give negative stars? With a professional, full response you can turn that troll into a loyal return customer. Don’t turn it into a slinging match; if they are dead wrong, you don’t need to bow to that old chestnut that ‘that the customer is always right, but you shouldn’t turn it into a slinging match. Simply outline your policies clearly if they are wrong; and if they are right tell them how you would like to fix it.
6. Post to Google My Business at least once a week
Even though Google Plus is going, going, gone, dead and buried, Google My Business is only getting better with time, including the addition of Google Posts to that platform. Posts can really help Google know more about you, and reward you for that knowledge with improved search results. You can use posts to promote events, offers, news about your business or your staff, new products, and new content. In other words, post about stuff that is interesting, relevant to your business, and that people will want to know about you.
Bonus: You can also upload video via both Google My Business posts and direct to your GMB page via the photos link in the menu on the left. Do it.
7. Build citations that confirm your NAP information
Wait. Build what? …citations? … to confirm your what?
In simple terms, citations means gathering mentions of your business across the web on other relevant websites and directories (local and otherwise – like GMB, Facebook, Apple Maps etc) that confirm your Name, Address and Phone number (NAP). This is important if you’re hoping to rank well in local organic search results, because Google takes it into account when gathering results for or geo-targeted searches.
You want your NAP citation to include:
- Your name as it appears on all documents and business registration forms
- The best email address for all business queries
- Your company name – don’t deviate. For example, if your company name includes Limited don’t shorten it to Ltd.
- Your exact address as it appears on your mail, including suite or floor number where relevant, city, province, postal code.
- Your phone number – as it appears locally, don’t include international codes etc.
- Your landing page specific to your business’s location – match this to each location you’re building the citation for.
Want more awesome information on how to “Make your business listing awesome” (which is exactly how Google puts it in their abbreviated version of how to optimize your GMB account)? Contact 1st on the List today by calling 1-888-262-6687 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.