In 2019, it is essential for every business to be set up on Google My Business.
It may seem daunting for small business owners, however the process can be straightforward and extremely worthwhile. Your customers are already looking for you, but if they find your competitor first, then you are missing out on valuable leads.
The tools provided through Google My Business allow you to easily manage your Local SEO strategy, as well as provide useful information for potential customers, and the GMB dashboard provides a simple and straightforward way to manage a key part of the online presence of your business.
In this article, we detail everything you need to know about Google My Business Optimization and explain how it can increase your reputation as well as bring in the high-quality leads that will allow your business to grow.
What is Google My Business?
Google My Business is the way your business is represented anytime someone searches for keywords that are relevant to your business.
If someone searches for your specific business, then the first thing they see will be your Google My Business page. In many ways, this makes the page just as important as your business website. Many potential customers will get their first impression of your business as a whole from this page.
A major aspect of your online presence can be easily managed through Google My Business (GMB).
The smartphone revolution is changing consumer habits. 76% of people who search for a local business through their smartphones will visit a related business within a day. This highlights the importance of having a strong online presence.
The platform is also a way to easily interact with potential customers and quickly provide information for events and special discounts. It also offers you valuable insights from anyone that views your page, which allows you to optimize your strategy.
Google My Business is an essential component of local rankings. The best Google My Business setup is one that completes all of the required details and provides all of the relevant details about a business.
Why Should I Care about Google My Business?
In 2019, a Google My Business listing is more important than ever. However, an optimized listing is even more important. A study showed that only 56% of local retailers have claimed their listing, revealing how claiming your listing and managing it well can be an easy way to keep yourself ahead of your competitors.
Your digital presence is one that you simply cannot afford to slack on. Below are the key reasons why you should care about having an optimized Google My Business listing.
1 - Improve your local ranking on Google
Your local ranking on Google is crucial for visibility. When a user in your area searches for your services, your ranking will influence their decision. If you are nowhere to be seen, then high-quality leads simply won’t be able to find you.
Additionally, if your competitors are ranked higher, you may be losing crucial business to them. Therefore, it is essential to setup a Google My Business page so your business can get the best ranking possible. There are a number of ways you can improve your local ranking on Google and your GMB profile is one of the top ones.
2 - More visibility
The days of using physical directories are fast coming to an end. Most users search for the things they need via a smartphone or laptop. They will then be able to view numerous results that fit their search.
If you are not there, then your business will simply be ignored. It is now more important than ever for small businesses of all types to have an online presence, or you risk losing important ground to competitors.
Through Google My Business Optimization, you can ensure that you remain ahead of your local competition.
3 - More traffic to your website
Your website may be exceptional and it may showcase your business in the best way possible but, without traffic, the effort put into your website is wasted.
Many potential customers will use your website to judge if they want to use your services or not. However, if they do not reach your website in the first place, then your chance to convert them to customers never occurs.
A Google My Business page means that you can expect more targeted traffic to come directly to your website, which means you will have more potential customers who are looking to buy from your business.
4 - More traffic to your storefront
Google has a number of applications that are integrated. This means that your page has the opportunity to come up as a result in every relevant application.
An example of this is Google maps. A Google My Business page will have the address and opening hours of your storefront, so it is incredibly easy for customers to locate your business. They can come directly to your storefront by following the directions of Google Maps, and with the confidence of knowing the opening hours, they are more likely to come directly to you.
5 - More leads means more business
The end result of setting up a Google My Business page is more high-quality leads. These are the leads that will allow your business to grow.
The implementation of Google My Business allows you to define your online presence, and it means you can help to further establish an online reputation. This will serve your business well, and it will also help you to get ahead of your competitors.
How Google Determines Local Ranking
Local ranking works differently than “traditional” ranking. In “traditional” search engine results, all manner of websites will be taken into account.
With local rankings search engines will prioritize the location of the user as well as other specific factors.
Ranking towards the top of search engine results is important since most users will only view the top few results.
Google makes use of sophisticated algorithms to provide the best results for the user. The following factors will determine your local ranking:
1 - Relevance
The first criteria that your ranking will be based on is relevance.
This refers to how closely your business relates to the search terms of the user. You can increase your relevance by completing your business information and adding as much detail as possible.
This will allow the Google algorithm to better understand your business, which will help to increase your chances of ranking highly for search terms that match your business.
2 - Distance
The proximity of your business to the user also plays a significant role in search engine results.
A person in Miami would not be looking for a plumber in New York. Sometimes users tend to search for specific location-based words, such as “plumbers in LA.” However, even without the added location, Google can still identify the precise location of the user. This means that you will rank highly if users are close to your business, and these are exactly the type of customers who are most likely to visit your business in the first place.
This is why having an optimized GMB profile is so critical. Someone could literally be a few blocks from your business, looking for exactly what you have to offer and not be able to find you if you don’t have your profiles set up correctly.
3 - Prominence
The last factor is prominence. Essentially, this is the overall reputation of your business on the web.
It is composed of a number of different factors. Google places a higher weight on well-established businesses, which means prominent brands have a better chance of ranking higher than a lesser known brand.
The review score of your business will also be a factor in gauging prominence. The general SEO practices of your business, such as outside links and placements on relevant directories also play a part.
As you can see, local ranking is based upon a range of interconnected factors. By following the best local SEO practices and having a detailed Google My Business profile, you can set yourself up to rank highly for the valuable search terms that your ideal customer will be typing into their phones.
Create Your Google My Business Listing
Creating your GMB listing can seem daunting, especially to those who may not have the time to really devote to doing it well. However, the process is fairly straightforward.
You can go to https://www.google.com/business/ to begin.
You will need to be signed in with a Google account, or you can create one if you do not already have one. The Google account you use will be the one associated with your business.
Below, we will explain the key steps involved in creating your Google My Business Listing.
What if my listing already exists?
Right before we get to creating your listing, some of you may run into a situation where your listing already exists!
If your business is already well-known, then it is likely that your business may already be listed. Luckily, it is fairly easy to claim your business and begin optimizing your listing. Google makes it easy to manage a listing that already exists.
The first step involves searching for your business on Google. If it is matched, then you claim it by clicking “own this business.”
There is a process for requesting ownership of a current business listing on Google. In the business panel, you will see an option that states, “I own or manage this business.” You will then be presented with a verification option. The most common option will be by mail. After verification, you will gain full control of your business listing. You will get a response from Google within 7 days.
Now, if your business is not already listed, here is how you start your listing:
1 - Add Your Business Name
The first step involves entering the name of your business. You should ensure that you use an accurate name. If your business is already registered, then you will see it pop up. If not, you will be able to register it right then.
2 - Add a Location
The second step involves choosing to add a location.
There are a number of benefits to this, and the main advantage comes in the form of a local rankings boost. A definite location means that users located near you will see your business higher up in the rankings.
Regardless of whether your business provides services from home, an address is vital to fill in. It gives your business authenticity for the listing.
You will need to enter the full details of the address, but you can select to have your address hidden from public view if, for instance, you are working from home and don’t want to let everyone know your home address.
3 - Add the Areas You Serve
You will then be asked to add the areas that your business serves. Once again, an accurate description will allow your listing to be optimized for the correct audience.
4 - Add your Business Category
You will fill in your business category next. You should be sure to find the specific category that best aligns with your business. You can also select subcategories that help to cover more areas. If you are looking to go into more detail on which category you select, you can check out BrightLocal’s article on the subject.
5 - Fill in your Complete Business Information
During the creation of your profile, it is vital to enter your complete business information for a variety of reasons.
Be sure to fill in as much information on your business as you can
All of your business’s important information, such as your phone number, website, logo, and hours are relevant here. The more complete information that you enter, the better chance you have of ranking for the terms that matter most to your business.
Your Google My Business profile should contain all of this information. This information will be indexed on various Google platforms, such as Maps, and it will form a critical piece of your Local SEO campaign.
Also, your information must match the information that is listed on your business website (and anywhere else on the web). Any inconsistencies can hurt your local ranking.
Complete a full business description
Google also allows you to add a business description. This description is vital for SEO, and it will allow you to target relevant users.
The description should not be generic. Rather, it should be content that showcases what makes your business unique, the services and products your business offers, and/or your mission and business history.
You cannot exceed 750 characters, which means you must keep it short and snappy, but we do recommend getting as close to 750 characters as you can (take note, characters, not words).
Additionally, your description cannot mislead customers or provide unverifiable claims.
You can optimize your description by truthfully grabbing the attention of your audience. This should be done by including a number of relevant keywords, alongside succinctly telling potential customers why they should go with your services.
A few relevant keywords should be naturally placed into the description, but be careful to not go overboard: any keyword stuffing can be detrimental to your local SEO ranking.
Keep your hours accurate
It can be tempting to make your hours larger to appeal to more people and to get ahead of competitors. However, you should always ensure that the hours on display are kept accurate.
They are very important for potential customers, who will base their decision to visit your business on these hours. If you are closed but your hours say you’re open, you’re inviting bad reviews. Keep in mind you can also set special hours for holidays or special events.
Alright…time for a quick breather. At this point, your basic Google My Business Listing is set up. Now, it is time to optimize and get the most out of your profile. Let’s go!
Add Photos to Your Google My Business Listing
Every business should have some photos on their profile. You can click on the “photos” tab in your dashboard to begin adding photos, either through uploading or through drag-and-drop.
Additionally, be aware that customers can also add their own photos of your business.
Adding photos to your profile helps to make your profile and business more attractive and alive and gives you a greater opportunity to be discovered in search.
According to Google, businesses with photos receive 42% more requests for driving directions and 35% more clicks through to their websites than businesses that don’t have photos.
Add your own quality photos
The first thing to do is to add your own high-quality photos. They should clearly show your business and provide a look into some of the facilities, products, and/or services you offer.
Ideally, they should be professional photos. Blurry, amateur photos can lead to the perception that your business is unreliable.
We recommend adding at least 10 photos to your profile. You should add a cover photo, your logo, pictures of your team, pictures of the inside of your business, the outside of your business, your products, and your team at work.
The photos alongside the description will be the first thing that customers see, and they will also allow them to easily locate your storefront.
Moderate photos that others add
As mentioned above, customers are also allowed to add photos. In the profile listing, photos added by you and photos added by others will be grouped so that any viewers are aware of who took the photo.
Since anyone can add photos, it is important to carefully moderate what is added. You should keep the best photos that show your business in the best light, and delete any irrelevant photos.
Google gives you the option to moderate photos, and you should definitely take advantage of this feature.
The cover photo will be an important part of your GMB listing. It is a large photo that will be shown on the background of your page.
The aspect ratio is 16:9, so you should choose a widescreen photo that is high-quality. You should seek to show the uniqueness and personality of your business through this photo.
This photo also automatically becomes your listing’s preferred photo. According to Google, “This action doesn’t guarantee it populates as the first image for your business, but it does tell Google you prefer to display this photo.”
Upload Videos to Your Google My Business Listing
Videos can be a fantastic way to make your business page more personable and friendly. You can upload videos by going to the photos tab in the dashboard. They can easily be drag-and-dropped.
Uploading a video can be a great way to make your business stand out. Many visitors to your page will be interested in viewing a short video where they can “see” you in a more personal fashion.
You should not make the mistake of believing that videos must be long or need extensive production. A short video that allows your business to stand out is ideal to optimize your GMB listing. To add a little something extra to your video, have it shot at the location of your business.
The type of video you upload will depend on what your business does. Ideally, it should offer a glimpse into how your business operates.
For example, a short tour of your business, a short interview with an employee, or showing how a product is made are be great ideas for a video.
You should also know that customers can also upload videos to add to your page and that you can moderate these videos as you would customer-uploaded photos.
Google gives some requirements for your videos including:
- Your video can be up to 30 seconds long
- Your video can be up to 100 MB
- Your video should have a resolution of 720p or higher
Manage and Respond to Reviews
Reviews will form a crucial part of your Google My Business profile.
They are easily viewable to potential clients and those reviews (and your responses to them) will have an impact on your potential customer’s decision making process.
Reviews allow prospective clients to check whether your business is reliable, and it is also a tool that many clients will use to compare your service with the competition.
The perception of your entire brand will be influenced by the visible reviews on your Google My Business profile.
In order to be successful, you must ensure that you manage and respond to reviews. A proactive approach will put you ahead of the competition.
You can manage reviews on the dashboard.
Asking for reviews
An empty page with no reviews will raise red flags in some people’s minds. It signals that you are an unknown business, and it may even look suspicious. Making it important to start gaining reviews as soon as possible.
The best way to do this is to simply ask.
It can seem awkward asking for reviews, however, there are some professional ways to go about this.
Many customers will be more than happy to leave a positive review, provided you did a good job.
We know that asking for reviews may seem a bit unusual, but the importance of reviews means that it is essential to build up a routine where you receive regular reviews from customers. Most people already have a Google account, so including a link to your GMB business page will be an easy way to garner reviews.
Here are a few more ways you can ask for reviews:
- After a successful job or purchase, send a thank you email and include an ask for a review.
- Have a follow-up phone call to check in and ask for a review, letting them know how much you appreciate it.
- Put a thank you card in the package or mail one to the customer after a job and include an ask for a review.
- Add a button on your website where they can go to leave a review.
- Whatever you decide, make sure to build the ask into your business processes.
The management of reviews is just as important as gaining reviews.
We recommend that you respond to every review, both the positive and the negative ones.
However, it is especially important to monitor your page for any negative reviews, which can have harsh consequences for your business if they are not dealt with immediately and in the appropriate manner. Even just a handful of negative reviews can be detrimental to your company.
Luckily, Google gives you the option to respond to every review that you receive.
Here's how to respond to negative reviews:
- The first action you should take is respond to the review, apologizing for the poor experience and letting them know that you will be contacting them privately.
- Next, message the unhappy customer privately or call them to hear their problem.
- Work to resolve the problem.
- If you are able to resolve it, then follow up with them again, letting them know how important reviews are to your business and asking the if they would update or remove their review.
- If the issue is something that cannot be resolved, then you can go back to your original response to the review and explain what happened and the steps you took to remedy the situation.
It is crucial not to display any anger in this process. That would be detrimental to your reputation.
A rational response can often be enough to explain away a few bad reviews, especially if the rest is positive.
Finally, here are the official guidelines from Google on the best way to respond to reviews:
Reporting fake reviews
Occasionally, you may notice a review from someone that you have not done business with. This could be a competitor who is trying to ruin the reputation of your brand or just an internet troll trying to get a rise out of you.
If you notice a false review Google makes it easy to report it and have them taken down.
To report a review, you need to click the three dot icon and select “Flag as inappropriate.”