In the early to late aughts, winning the top spot in Google results was the best way to get traffic to your page, and many brands held a no-holds-barred approach to getting there. Today, modern local SEO tactics put relevancy and organic engagement above black hat SEO tactics like keyword stuffing and spammy backlinks, and the first listing on Google isn’t the king it used to be. That’s partly because you have other options for appearing on the first page of Google results, and your Google My Business page is one of them.
Many businesses have a basic page created by Google, but you can put that digital property to work in your online marketing strategy by taking some steps. We provided a 10-step list you can follow to fully optimize your GMB page, but the good news is that you don’t even have to do all of them to start seeing results. By working with us just to complete optimization steps that seem most relevant for your brand, you can boost traffic, conversion and revenue related to your GMB page and overall presence on Google.
1. Claiming Your Google My Business Page
The first step in optimizing your GMB page is claiming it and ensuring all the information is correct.
Here’s how to claim and update your listing.
- Visit the Google My Business website and sign in to manage your account. If you don’t have one, click “Manage Now” to create an account and claim a listing.
- Search for your business by name.
- If your business is on Google’s list already, you can click on it to begin the process. Otherwise, you can provide Google with information to create your listing and then verify it (steps to verify your business are included below).
- To continue ensuring your business information is all correct, click “Verify later” and work through all the sections on your listing to provide updated information. Do so by choosing the section, making any necessary changes and clicking “Done editing.”
You can verify your business listing by:
- Completing instant verification options on the website, which you may be eligible for if you use the same email address for other Google services
- Video verification, which occurs via a video phone call with a Google rep and involves answering some questions to prove you are who you say and showing the rep your vehicle or place of business
- Email verification, which is an option for some businesses and involves entering a PIN code you receive by email
- SMS/text verification, which involves the same type of PIN code, but you receive it via text
- Postcard verification, which lets you receive a PIN code by mail but takes up to two weeks
2. Update All Relevant Data Regularly
Even after you verify your business listing and make the relevant changes to ensure everything is accurate, you should monitor the page on a regular basis.
Many people don’t realize that anyone can suggest edits to your GMB listing — there’s a “suggest an edit” link right under your business name, address and phone number. Users can use it to suggest Google remove a business that no longer exists or update data such as hours, location and phone number.
While Google obviously makes some effort to police these changes, it’s not impossible for pranksters, less-than-ethical competition or even people who make a genuine mistake to cause errant information on your GMB listing. Taking an active approach to your listing lets you keep things accurate.
Plus, your business information does change periodically, and a GMB page with old addresses, phone numbers or contact names can cause frustration for consumers trying to get in touch with your business. You work too hard to drive online traffic; you certainly don’t want to put obstacles in the path between exposure to a consumer and the final purchase.
3. Add a Photo (and Video)
Your profile picture is served up on top of the rest of the information in your Google My Business listing, so it’s the first thing people will see. Leaving a profile photo out of your GMB listing makes it less eye-catching, and it can even lead to users skimming over it for other options. Visual content is critical to any online content because users are more likely to dwell longer and pay attention to pages with images.
Make sure your profile is:
- Obviously relevant to your business
Good options for profile photos include pictures of your team or place of business.
4. Write a Compelling Business Description
Under your business name and photo, Google will display a business description that you provide. This is the first text content that can really impact the user and help encourage them to contact your business.
Google provides some regulations for the type of content that goes in this field. First, you can provide up to about 750 characters. That’s roughly 100 words or a single paragraph. Google suggests you include information such as your history, what sets you apart in the industry or anything specific about your business that would be important for customers to know.
The description shouldn’t focus on your products or services, and you definitely don’t want to highlight promotions or time-sensitive opportunities here. Other things Google doesn’t want to see in the description are any links or URLs or any HTML coding.
That means you’ll need to spin some strong words to make this text-only field work for your company. Keywords are good to incorporate when possible, but you should never keyword stuff or prioritize SEO over the quality of your description content. Many businesses work with experienced copywriters or marketers to ensure those 750 characters get the job done.
5. Ask for and Interact With Customer Reviews
Now that you’ve got the basics of your GMB profile handled, it’s time to move on to generating ongoing content for it. Fresh content is compelling because it shows users you’re an active company that cares about customers. The good news? You don’t even have to create all the content yourself.
Some profile and review sites frown upon businesses asking customers for reviews, but Google encourages it. Incorporate your GMB page link into invoices, letters and emails to customers, asking if they’d be willing to leave a review.
Here’s how to find the link for your Google profile.
- Open Google Maps.
- Search for your business.
- Select the appropriate Google listing.
- Click the Share icon.
- Under the Send a Link tab, copy the link or use the social buttons to share directly on social media.
6. Leverage GMB Posts to Keep Content Fresh
Google doesn’t want short-term promo or product content in your business description, but it provides Google Posts for this purpose. These are similar to social media posts, and you can use them as quick updates to your consumers or to post small “ads” about upcoming events, promotions or products.
Here’s how to start posting to your GMB page.
- Sign into your GMB dashboard.
- Click on “Posts” in the left menu.
- Click “Create Post.”
- Add text, images or a call-to-action to the post.
- Save and publish the post.
The image of your post will show up in various places, including Google Maps, so test different options to see which one looks best and is most likely to catch user attention on various Google search pages. You can also use a variety of emojis in your Google posts, and because users can now search with emojis, this may become more important in the future.
Just some reasons you might want to make a GMB post include:
- You have any type of business event coming up, locally or digitally
- You’re launching a new product
- You’re having a sale
- You just want to connect with consumers with fun seasonal content
- You want to direct users to your web page — you can put links in your posts
7. Turn on Messaging
Boost the power of your GMB page by turning on messaging. This lets consumers interact directly with your business from the profile.
How does this optimize the page? It makes it more likely that users will reach out to your business at all because it plays on instant gratification principles associated with many online marketing strategies. Individuals may be more likely to use the button because they can take a step right away, without even navigating to another site. That’s especially true for mobile users, who are increasingly likely to search online for local businesses and engage with GMB pages.
To turn messaging on for your page, click “Messaging” from the left-hand menu of your GMB dashboard. You’ll then need to go through the prompted steps to verify the number where messages will be received.
Finally, Google will ask if you want to create an automated message that customers will receive after they send you a message. You can use that to set expectations, such as when someone will respond. Do make sure you have a plan for handling consumer messages if you turn this option on, or you put yourself at risk for negative reviews.
8. Use the Booking Button
The same premise makes the booking button a powerful conversion tool for your GMB page. Obviously, this option is only relevant if you offer appointments of some kind. You also need to be using automated booking software that can interface with Google so people can make the appointment right from your GMB profile.
You can find a list of booking software providers that partner with Google here. All of these options integrate with the booking button.
9. Get Involved in Q&A on GMB
Consumers can use the “Ask a question” link on your business profile to ask for more specifics about your business, services or products. The link appears for consumers in a variety of locations, including Google Maps if you’re using an Android phone. Mobile browsers on both Android and iPhone phones also show the Q&A, and you can answer them when you’re signed in with your relevant business email address.
If you’re going to put your GMB page to work, it’s important to check in regularly to see if anyone has asked questions so you can answer them. Remember that questions and answers are visible to the public. While that makes them a great way to create relevant content that can help more than one person, if you never answer questions, it makes your business seem distant or out of touch. The public nature of the questions also means you need to maintain a professional brand voice and not share any private information.
10. Add a List of Your Services
Finally, GMB offers the functionality to create a menu of all your goods and services along with prices. This lets consumers quickly see what you offer so they can make on-the-go decisions about visiting your establishment or pressing the booking button to schedule an appointment.
Access this option by choosing “Info” from the left menu of your GMB dashboard. This is where you can update a lot of the information about your profile, and if you scroll down, you’ll see a “Services” section.
Click “Add or edit items.” You can add categories of services and products (click “Add section”) and put products, short descriptions and pricing beneath each.
Get Professional Help Optimizing GMB
That’s a lot of information about what might seem like one small profile, but your GMB page can have big impacts for your company. If you’re not sure where to start or how to best apply any of the above steps, request a quote from the Google My Business experts at Lead to Conversion.
If you’re trying to optimize Google My Business for SEO, the odds are good that you’ve heard of its impact on your business. A free, user-friendly tool for businesses, Google My Business helps companies manage their online presence while ensuring customers can find their retail locations. Additionally, Google My Business can aid businesses in boosting their local SEO ranking with the search engine. Since Google accounts for 74 percent of searches worldwide, this is an opportunity that business owners can’t afford to miss. Our digital marketing experts have gathered essential steps to optimize Google My Business for SEO:
Benefits of Optimizing Google My Business for SEO
A Google My Business page is crucial for local SEO and can impact how often your site appears in search results when people are looking for your products or services. Without a GMB profile, Google won’t show your business in local maps listings, either.
Business owners should note that having a Google My Business profile won’t guarantee your website will appear in local search results or the Knowledge Panel – that box to the right of the search engine results page that offers specific information about a business. Google uses multiple factors to determine local ranking results, including:
- Relevance (how well your business listing matches a user’s search)
- Distance (how far your location is from the one provided in the search term)
- Prominence (how well your business is known in the community)
However, businesses that don’t complete a Google My Business listing will almost certainly lose out on search traffic – and sales.
Of course, a business doesn’t just optimize Google My Business for SEO reasons. Companies that verify their GMB listings are generally viewed as more reputable in the eyes of customers. Additionally, optimizing a Google My Business page lets you verify address information and hours, add photos and respond to reviews and comments from your client base which will drive traffic back to your website. The end result is a better understanding of the people using your products and services.
How to Claim Your Google My Business Listing
The first step to optimize Google My Business for SEO is claiming your listing. Start by performing a Google search to see if your business listing already exists – this is likely if your company has been around more than a year or two. Once you claim the page, you can edit and update the information as needed.
If your business doesn’t already have a listing, you can create one here.
Steps to Effectively Optimize Google My Business for SEO
Once you’ve created or claimed your Google My Business page, you need to fill out the input boxes to increase your odds of getting found. Double- and triple-check along the way to make sure all information (including addresses, phone numbers, and hours) is accurate and spelled correctly. Additionally, you should check this information against what’s listed on your website and social media pages. Google uses algorithms to check your business listing against information provided online from other sources. If the data you provided doesn’t match up, it might affect your ranking online – and it will almost certainly irritate your customers.
Once you’ve entered and verified this information, choose the right category for your business. Selecting the most relevant category is essential because it determines when Google will choose to show your listing. If none of the categories is an exact match, choose the most general one that describes your business. Note that Google might use your category selection to assign a place label to your business when showing it on the map. For example, restaurant listings are shown with a fork and knife image.
Next, take time to upload photos to your profile. Photos draw potential customers’ eyes and help you stand out from the competition, so make sure to use high-resolution images that paint your business in the best possible light. And, take the time to select a profile photo, which users will see first when your listing pops up.
Finally, check your Google My Business listing to make sure you haven’t violated any policies. The following offenses can result in your business listing being suspended:
- Using a URL that redirects the user to your site
- Adding keywords in the spot designated for your business’ name
- Providing an address that isn’t a physical location where you do business or see customers
Here are some of the ways to improve your business’ local search ranking through Google My Business optimization:
- Claiming and verifying all your business locations, if you have more than one
- Entering complete, accurate, and up-to-date information on hours, locations, and more
- Adding high-quality photos of products and services
- Checking that the website link is listed and accurate
Update Your Google My Business Page Regularly
It’s not enough to check your Google My Business page once and then forget about it. For best results, monitor this profile regularly to ensure the information, such as holiday hours, is accurate and up to date. Additionally, you should keep an eye on any new photos or reviews posted by your customers. Don’t be afraid to (respectfully) respond to comments – especially the negative ones. The goal is to get a sense of how both Google and customers view your business on a regular basis.
To edit your Google My Business profile, choose the page you want to manage and then click “Info” in the menu. Find the section you want to change and input the new information. When you’re finished, click the “Done editing” button. Business owners should be aware that it could take up to 60 days for old information to be removed and replaced.
Request a free quote or contact our team today for help optimizing your Google My Business page for SEO or revamping your social media presence. If you’re looking for a digital marketing team dedicated to improving your business, we are here to help.