For many digital marketing professionals, if we’re talking about getting the most bang-for-our-buck strategy for beefing up your local SEO presence, creating and optimizing your Google My Business listing would be it.
Why is Google My Business great for business owners?
Google My Business (GMB) is a free tool that helps you manage your brand’s online presence not only across Google’s own search engine but also within its growing portfolio of online utilities.
Created by the good people over at Google, GMB was designed specifically to give brands that much-needed impact they need to establish local exposure via search.
Certain features like the Google Local Search results give local establishments a priority when it comes to users looking for a specific store, service provider, or other neighborhood establishments.
Typing in a particular search query for products and services within a specific location (such as “where to eat in Sacramento” in this case), will yield a slightly different search results page, as you will soon notice.
Remember: Google is now more adept at discerning search intent– that is, it has a better idea of what you’re searching for, and will always strive to give you the best possible search results.
So it’s not enough to just give you a list of restaurants on a page. You now have a prominent section before the main search results that gives you just about everything you need to decide on which restaurant to visit while you’re in town.
As you can see, there’s a breakout area that contains a list of recommendations, some important information (e.g., name of the establishment, address, phone number, ratings, etc.) at a glance, and their location on a Google map.
Google Knowledge Graph makes use of verified GMB information to generate a list of these local establishments and all their details that are relevant to a particular search query, like “where can I get breakfast near me at 3 PM?” or “emergency pest control in Rocklin, CA”.
Your GMB listing is synched with your Google Map location and then ties into the usual Google Search functions. So you can say that, yes, your brand can optimize itself for search, but you also get an added advantage when someone specifically searches for your products and services in your general location.
Getting Started with Google My Business
Let’s get you started with your very own GMB page:
- Claim Your GMB Listing — If you haven’t yet, claim your Google My Business listing here. Especially if your business has been around for quite some time, there might already be some information about your establishment available. All you have to do is update the information as needed.
- Fill In Your Business Details — make sure everything is accurate and grammatically correct. Use capital letters properly, and pay particular attention to your business name, business address, and contact numbers so that they’re not just correct and up-to-date, but also consistent with those found on your website and other social media accounts.
- Best Relevant Category — there might be quite a number of categories to go through, but try to find the one that best describes your business.
- Service Area Business Details — if you’re delivering goods or services, make sure you indicate the areas you usually service. This is of particular importance to local services like pest control companies, cleaning services, local plumbing professionals, and so on.
- Verifying Your GMB Listing — you’ll likely be doing this by mail. This helps Google establish you as a real-world business establishment and not just some fly-by-night operation. Note that Google won’t display your business or access other key GMB features until you have been verified. You’ll be receiving a postcard in the mail that contains a code for you, Verify your GMB listing with the enclosed code, and your Google My Business page is now officially up and running!
Google My Business Page Best Practices
Optimizing your GMB listing is key to local SEO success. Google loves updated and active Google My Business pages, so here are a few basic, easily-overlooked, but important tips for optimizing your listing:
- Enter Complete Data — put in the effort towards completing all the fields and sections on your GMB page. Remember, it’s not just Google who appreciates it, but your customers will as well. By leaving nothing to guesswork and providing accurate information about your business, you’re actually contributing greatly towards building trust.
- Include Keywords — your keywords should normally come out in your descriptions and other fields relating to your products and services. No need to be contrive and force keywords for the sake of having them; instead, concentrate on properly representing yourself and what your business is all about.
- Keep Business Operating Hours Accurate — it’s not enough to just put in a generic schedule for your business hours. Consider utilizing the special functions to update your listing for holiday schedules and special events as well.
- Add Photos — it goes without saying that a good selection of photos add greatly to your visual appeal, and also encourages engagement. Make sure you have a proper logo and a cover photo for your page. And for any other pictures depicting your products and services, your physical location, your behind-the-scenes or in-action shots, make sure it follows Google best practices:
- The format should be in JPG or PNG
- Image size should be between 10KB and 5MB
- The minimum resolution should be at least 720px tall and 720px wide
- Your photos should be properly focused and well-lit. No need for drastic alterations or excessive use of filters. The best images should represent what’s real.
- Manage & Respond to Customer Reviews — reviews legitimize you as a real-world business with real-world customers. When reviews come in via Google, you’ll want to make sure you respond to each one– especially the negative ones when you do get them. By doing so, you show customers that you do take the time to listen and work towards improving your business.
Voice Search: The Future of Local SEO
One very important trend to prepare for as early as now is voice search.
Think about it– smartphones today are only getting smarter. And smart speakers like Alexa, Siri, and Google Home are also on the rise. Ever noticed how it’s easier for you to talk into your phone to find nearby parking while you’re driving?
Thanks to advancements in mobile technology, voice search has never been more popular. And its popularity is only going to explode.
What this means is, as early as now, think of incorporating quick answers to commonly-asked questions about you, your establishment, your products, and services on your website.
How does your Google My Business listing factor into all this?
A lot of voice search is going to be AI-powered, which means your phone can now anticipate your needs based on your query.
Notice how when you’re asking for available movie listings nearby, Siri also gives you a map and directions to your preferred local cinema as well as recommendations on where to park and what to watch?
That deceptively simple search query all draws from available information online. Keep your GMB page up-to-date and active, and you’re helping your business become more discoverable for relevant vocal search queries.
A Final Word About Google My Business
Google My Business at this point, might still be an under-utilized and under-appreciated tool for brands and businesses trying to better carve out a more prominent online presence locally.
But as more entrepreneurs, digital marketers, and business owners start realizing just how much impact GMB has on local search, you can expect it to be a mad scramble soon enough.
There’s a likelihood that not many businesses within your space have fully maximized their Google My Business listing, so it’s important for you to optimize yours today by providing clear, consistent, and complete business information on your GMB page.
Without a doubt, a fully fleshed-out Google My Business page will greatly boost your search rankings. So do make the effort to claim your listing today (if you haven’t yet) and start sprucing it up.
Think of anything that will help a potential customer choose you over your competitors– by making it easy for them to find you, by providing helpful images about your establishment, products, and services, and even just by answering questions or addressing reviews. All these contribute greatly to an active Google My Business Page, and Google will definitely love you more for it.