How to optimise Google My Business (GMB) Listings
Optimise Google my business for local search and grow your business on and off line! According to Google, 46% of searches have local intent. That’s a lot of user traffic.
Google my business or GMB is designed to help small businesses win for local searches. A properly optimised Google business listing will improve your visibility online for locality-based and “near me” searches.
It can also even help improve your website organic rankings. That’s because Google my business gives Google meaningful signals on how you interact with your customers. Your content, your posts, products, and services listings etc. all help improve Googles understanding of your website and your business. As such, a properly optimised business listing on Google can help get your website higher in search results also.
What is Google my business (GMB)?
Locality-based businesses, or “near me” searches result in a list of business profiles above organic search results. These profiles include all the information a user needs to visit a business, make a purchase, or contact the company. It includes a Google map view as well as links to the company website, customer reviews, questions and answers, and posts shared by the business on the profile page.
How a business listing appears in search
This is based off a search for “Google my business listing”. The panel on the right is how a business profile appears in search.
GMB gives access to business owners and digital marketers to claim their business listing or create a new profile. That’s right, businesses don’t automatically own their business profile or control the information there. Anyone can generate a Google business profile. GMB gives control to business owners of their profiles on Google.
There are several things you can do on GMB. This includes.
- Add your business information to Google Maps, Search, and other Google services
- Create or get access to a Business Profile on Google
- Manage how your business information shows up across Google
So, how do you properly optimise Google my business listings for local search?
Following is a definitive guide for optimising your Google my business listing with 14 steps to follow. Alternatively, Found Online offers complete local search optimisation services. Get in touch with us.
14 Ways to optimise your Google my Business Listing for local search
1. Claim or add your google business listing and verify your business
Claim your business profile so you can manage it in GMB. If it doesn’t exist, create a new business listing.
If you have multiple locations, you should claim or create a unique business listing for each one. Link each back to the specific location page on your website to maximise your search results.
See Google’s guide for how to add or claim your Google business listing. Follow these simple steps to claim and verify your listing.
It is important to note that you must verify your business listing before you can fully optimise it for search. It can take two weeks or more to complete this process so, if you’re looking for search rankings fast, we recommend you not delay in claiming or creating your business listing.
Once you have verified your business, you will be able to fully leverage all the features available via Google my Business listings including customer reviews, customer messaging and responding to the Q&A section.
2. Complete all your business information on your Google my business listing
Ensure that all information on your Google My Business listing is complete and accurate.
Fill in all details about your business. Don’t leave anything incomplete if you can help it. Add business category, service locations/areas, hours of operation, products, or services you offer, accessibility information, COVID19 information and appointments link.
Ensure to keyword optimised all of your profile information for locality-based searches and popular search terms. When completing your business description, avoid copy and pasting it from your website or other local directory listings or this could be seen as duplicate content.
3. Check you have the best GMB Category selected
When selecting your business category, select the one that most represents what you do while being as specific as you can. For example, Google refers to a nail salon in its guidelines. For a nail salon, it’s best to choose the category “nail salon” category rather than “salon”.
If your category doesn’t exist, though, select a more general one.
If you could fit within more than one category and you’re not sure which to choose, select the one most others are using. It is still important to be specific so have a look at you’re your competitors have selected and go with the same one. Avoid selecting the general option in these instances.
You can add another category as a subcategory if you need to. This will ensure you are ranking for the right search terms.
4. Add secondary categories
Second categories are helpful when you offer a range of services that could just as easily cover multiple categories.
We recommend only selecting 1 or 2 sub-categories at most. That’s because whatever categories you have selected, your listing and your website should reflect a business that operates in the selected category. Selecting too many categories and your website is unlikely to cover relevant topics for them all well.
Remember, Google loves relevant content. Therefore, Google will serve only relevant websites for given search queries. You will not help your search rankings by selecting categories that you’re not optimised for.
5. Ensure Name Address and Phone Number NAP Consistency
The most important information to ensure you include is your Name, Address and Phone Number (NAP). It is important that you ensure your NAP is consistent across all digital elements. And when we say it should be consistent, we mean that it should be EXACTLY the same! Your website footer should include your NAP written identically to your Google my business listing and all online directories, social media and anywhere it is mentioned online.
The precise formatting of your NAP should identical too. For example, if “Street” as the full word rather than “St.” is used on your website, ensure this is consistent anywhere else your address is mentioned. If there is a comma included after the street name in one listing online, it should be there for all listings of your address online, and so on.
6. Add images to your Google my Business Listing
Google will favour a business that has relevant and unique images on their google my business listing vs. a business that doesn’t. Google wants businesses to use images that give the end-user an accurate feel for who they are and what they do. Therefore, unique images of the business location, its products, services and/or team can be beneficial for improving your rankings for your business listing.
It’s important to avoid generic or stock images that offer very little insight into your business. If you have used them, it’s best to remove them. Google prefers original content that adds value to the end-user. That is that it is informative, relative and/or engaging. Stock images, unfortunately, fail to meet these criteria.
Photos taken on location can also improve your rankings via metadata recorded within the image file. This metadata includes the longitude and latitude of the image location. This is an additional geo-targeting signal for Google and can help with your local SEO.
7. Get customer reviews and respond to them quickly
Customer reviews on your business listing indicate to Google that you engage with your customers. Replying to them quickly means you value your customer’s opinions and the review they left.
Send a request for a review to customers after they have purchased your goods or services. Even better, make the process of placing a positive review for you on Google easier by providing them with suggestions they can copy and paste. Your suggestions are a great way to add some key search terms and keywords in which will also help your local search.
Aim for 5-star customer reviews. Your listing will appear higher in search results the more five-star ratings you receive. You see, as your average star rating increases, it shows that you are a good, reputable business that your customers trust. And Google loves to support businesses that keep their customers happy.
The way you reply to your customers Google reviews matters too. Replies are a great way to include keywords for searches you want to win on. There’s quite an art to getting this right while sounding sincere and appreciative. With practice though, you will be able to fully leverage Google reviews to optimise your business listing.
8. Post articles linked to your website
Google Posts are almost like mini ads with a picture, description, offer landing page URL etc. They are a great place to share your blog content and to link back to your website. And the more times you share your content online, the more opportunity it has to reach more users online.
Google has insight into how you and your potential customers are engaging with your Google My Business listing and the more activity associate with your listing, the better. Posting interesting content and sharing articles from your website is a great way to increase activity on your listing as well as to increase engagement.
GMB posts with linked content can also contribute to better search rankings for more search terms and keywords. This will, in turn, increasing your online visibility overall and drive more traffic to your website.
9. Post locality-based content
Locality based content is relevant to users searching for businesses in their area. It is more engaging, and it will more likely include location-based keywords and other geo-targeting attributes.
If you have a few locations, each location will need regular content to be shared on the given google listings. It is important that you share unique content via each.
Take images from the local area, including news stories relating to people from the area and content relating to products and services you offer from each location, particularly if they are unique to the shop, office, or storefront in that area.
There are many ways to make content locality relevant. Whatever your content, ensure you are including keywords relating to the location and its surrounding areas to maximise performance.
10. Enable customer messages
By enabling customer messaging via google business listing, you allow customers to contact you more easily. A contact is an opportunity to tell them about your products and services and to, ideally, convert them to a sale. Therefore, the more ways for a customer to contact you the better.
Using the Google my business app, go to the “customers” page and enable customer messaging. Once enabled, a button will appear on your profile which customers can click to message you.
There is even the option to add automated responses to customer messages. Not only does this help you and keep the customer happy, but it can help you improve your average response time.
You should be aiming to respond to customers within a maximum of 24 hours’ time. The better your average time to respond, the higher your listing will appear in search. This, again, is because it tells Google that you readily engage with and value your customers.
11. Answer questions via the Q&A section to promote information about your business
Q&As is a section on your GMB listing for crowdsourced questions from people online. Similar to Google My Business reviews, customers can leave questions here with the expectation the business will respond with an answer.
Anyone can answer questions posted to a business profile. That includes the business and other customers too. Google and customers are more likely to perceive user answered questions as unbiased. They, therefore add credibility and trustworthiness to your profile.
However, it is also important to answer questions about your business when you get them. It’s a great way to promote your business in a good light. Customers also like to have their questions answered in a timely manner. This is information they need to make a purchase decision. Unfortunately, many businesses are failing to answer questions posted on their profiles. So, by answering any of yours, you’ll get a competitive advantage.
12. Add your own questions to Q&A section
Yes, you can add your own Q&As to your listing. Add questions that your customers frequently ask, then answer them as the business. Creating an FAQ section this way is great for search and it’s something your competitors probably aren’t doing, so will give you an advantage.
If you add these commonly asked questions and answers, they will also head off questions potential customers have. This means your answers are already there and they will likely perfectly answer common search queries.
13. Clean up old listings that could be competing with your relevant ones
If you have old, irrelevant listings, remove them. Mark closed business locations as permanently closed.
This will avoid competing in search for your other nearby locations and will ensure customers are interacting with the correct business and GMB listing.
If your business has moved address and you created a new listing for your new location, you need to mark the business as moved. You should also transfer your customer reviews first. It’s important to refer to Googles guidelines for listing your business profile. Do it wrong and you run the risk of losing all your hard-earned reviews and search rankings.
14. Ensure you stick to Googles Guidelines for representing your business
Familiarise yourself with Googles Guidelines for representing business on Google. You will need to abide by these to avoid being penalised.
Unfortunately, businesses are making simple mistakes that are hurting their search rankings. These include things like adding addresses to nonphysical locations, selecting the wrong business category, duplicate content or duplicate listings and many more. Google can penalise you for mistakes like these.
Getting Google penalties can be challenging to recover from and can really hurt your business. Therefore, it is very important to follow Googles guidelines on representing your business and its information on your listing correctly.
Hire an SEO like Found Online to optimise Google my business listings for you.
Optimising your GMB business profile is relatively easy to do. Unfortunately, many companies simply lack the time and expertise to do so properly. Simple mistakes are easily made and, unfortunately, very common. These mistakes can invertedly hurt search rankings and undermine SEO efforts.
Found Online Holistic SEO specialists are are experienced at getting google business listings ranking higher in local search for businesses. We have proven success in helping small and local businesses in competitive industries get to the top of page one search results.
Contact us on 02 7906 8405 or via website enquiry to find out how we can help you get found online.