Most of us are using the Internet to find products, services and information – that’s not news. But did you know that 46% of all searches have some sort of local intent?
Whether it’s searching for directions to a location, a dentist with good reviews, nearby restaurants or a plumber that services your area, most of us would have searched for a local provider recently. And in doing so, you would have come across a Google My Business listing.
Google My Business is an awesome free tool provided by Google that lets you manage and promote your business’ information in Google Maps and Search, and looks like this:
Google have improved their dashboard over the years to provide more features for businesses and more insights into how customers found your listing and engaged with it.
Why do I need a Google My Business (GMB) listing?
If your business has a location or services one, and has been around for a while, then chances are you already have a listing. Whether or not you manage your listing is another question (see our section below on claiming your GMB listing).
If your business is fairly new, then you should know that a GMB listing packs a powerful punch in a local SEO strategy (and did we mention it’s free?).
Having an accurate, complete and verified Google My Business listing is incredibly valuable in that it can:
- Help improve your local SEO performance
- Increase your visibility in organic search results
- Provide an extra way for customers to communicate and engage with you
- Allow you to appear more authentic and trustworthy.
Enhancing Your GMB Listing
This tool is available to all business owners that provide a local service or product. So how do you maximise its value? Here are a few tips on how to optimise your Google My Business profile to help your listing rank higher on the map and make it work better for your business.
1. Accurate & Consistent N-A-P
Ensuring your Name, Address and Phone (N-A-P) details are accurate and up to date might seem obvious but you’d be surprised at how often we see businesses fail to do this.
This bit of advice is not just for your Google My Business listing either, but for your website and basically every other profile you have on the web.
Google collect information about your business from a ‘cluster’ of third party sources, including Yellow Pages, True Local, Trip Advisor, Facebook and Yelp (to name a few), so it’s important to make sure your details are current and consistent across all of your online profiles.
Doing so gives your business that extra level of legitimacy, credibility and trustworthiness.
2. Make sure your profile is complete
Sure, you can fill out the basic details and then never look at your profile again, but this isn’t a great tactic.
Filling out all of the optional extras is recommended not only to help you stand out, but to give your profile a better chance of out-ranking your competitors in Maps results and local search.
Ensure your profile includes:
- A well-written, enticing description about your business.
- Correct opening hours
- Your service area (if applicable)
- Products and services info
- Photos of your team, premises, vehicles, products, branding, customers, completed and in-progress jobs,
- Special attributes/features – such as parking availability, cuisine type, wheelchair access, appointment only and so forth.
3. Choose your categories wisely
Google allows you to choose one primary category and up to 9 secondary categories, with the primary category carrying the most weight.
Be as specific as you can when choosing your primary category and always aim to describe your core business, not your services or features. For example, choose “Mexican Restaurant” instead of “Restaurant”.
It’s also recommended that you use as few categories as possible.
4. Individual Practitioners
Lawyers, doctors, real estate agents and other individual practitioners can have their own dedicated Google My Business listing. This only applies if the practitioner is in a public-facing role and can be contacted directly at the verified location.
To keep listings from competing against each other, choose the correct category for each listing, e.g. A doctor would choose the category “Doctor” instead of “Hospital” and vice versa.
For the “website” field, link directly to the practitioner’s profile page rather than to the home page.
5. Follow Google’s guidelines
We can’t stress enough how crucial this is. Have the Google My Business quality guidelines open in another tab while you complete your listing so you can be sure your listing isn’t flagged as violating Google’s terms.
There is no way to get around this; you have to follow the guidelines. By not doing so you can cause your listing to be removed which can have a rather negative impact on your visibility in search.
Much like you can post an update on your business Facebook page, Google has re-introduced the ability to post updates using your GMB listing. This isn’t really a new feature, but not a lot of business owners are aware of it. While it might not help your listing to rank higher, it can definitely help make your listing stand out and encourage searchers to click through to your site.
This article gives an excellent overview of Google Posts and how you can use this feature more effectively.
Do you check out reviews for potential businesses you are thinking of using? As a consumer reviews can be incredibly useful and help you make a decision on which business or product to choose.
As a business owner, being notified about a new review can cause a few butterflies in the stomach – “oh gosh what if it’s a bad review?” “What will people think when they read it?” “Am I going to lose business from this?”
It’s ok. It’s not the end of the world to get bad reviews. Many businesses get them, and there are plenty of ways they can be useful to you. That’s right, bad reviews can be a good thing. Here’s how:
- You get the chance to publicly respond. Responding to a negative review can be a positive step towards clearing the air with the person who had a bad experience. You could rectify the situation and get this customer back, or you can simply tell your side of the story. No matter what though, don’t make it personal, stay professional and be polite.
- Fix potential issues with your business. Maybe there is an issue that you were previously unaware of? Are wait times too long? Do phone manners need to be improved? Is your website clunky or too slow? Negative reviews can be a good way to be notified of an issue that you can actually work on and improve.
Positive reviews on the other hand, well, we love them! Who doesn’t? The problem is – how do we get more of them? It might feel strange to ask your customers for a review, but these days it’s more common than you think. And there are plenty of great tools out there that can help automate the process and ask your customers for you (and remind them if they forget).
Building positive reviews (and responding to those as well) may even give your GMB listing greater visibility in search results.
8. Keep it up to date
Do your hours change on public holidays? Do you run deals for new customers from time to time? Is there a recent project that you have completed that you would like to share with your audience? A new staff member you would like to tell people about? Maybe you just won an award and want this front-and-centre of potential new clients?
Share all of this info and more on your listing. Add posts, special offers, new images and notify your customers about special hours or updates using your GMB listing.
It’s more than common practice to keep people up-to-date on important information about your business – Google actually expect it!
9. Google Ads link up
Did you know that you can link your GMB listing to your Google Ads account? Local search ads appear at the top of results on Google Maps when a user performs a local search, and they work the same way as other Google PPC ads. You pay when a searcher clicks on your ad.
By using location extensions in your Google Ads dashboard, you can potentially reach a wider audience and generate more foot traffic by advertising your business to people who are nearby.
Common Questions About Google My Business
Who can get a GMB Listing?
Essentially any business that offers some sort of face to face interaction and is not 100% online. You can have a physical location like a shop, restaurant or office, or be service-area based such as a plumber, electrician or mobile mechanic. You can even be a home-based business.
I have multiple locations – can I list all of them?
Definitely. Depending on how many locations you need to add, you can either add them in one at a time (each requiring separate verification) or if your business has 10 or more locations, you can add and verify them in bulk.
How do I register my business?
It’s a fairly simple process – login to your Google account or create a new one (if possible, use an email address that’s attached your business website’s domain), and go to:
Fill out all of the details including Name, Address, Phone, Website and Description. If you are service-area based, you can hide your address at this stage as well.
Whether you wish to show your address or not, you will need to verify that you are the business owner and that you’re located where you say you are. There are a few methods of verification:
- Postal – this is the most common option. Google will mail out a verification code to the address you listed on your business profile.
- Phone or Email – not all businesses are eligible to verify using this method. It’s not exactly clear which businesses qualify but it may have something to do with your category.
How do I claim my listing?
In many cases your business will have an existing GMB listing. In this instance it’s best to claim the listing rather than create a new one, otherwise you’ll be creating a duplicate which will dilute the SEO value of your listing across multiple profiles.
Search for your business name and if it appears in the knowledge graph on the right hand side of the screen, you have a listing already. Click the “Own this business?” button and go through the prompts to claim your listing. You will need to verify that you’re the owner using one of the methods listed above.
Importance of claiming your listing:
- Ensure you have control over your business’ information.
- Easily update your contact details when they change.
- Respond to customer reviews and address any negative reviews promptly.
- Consolidate duplicate listings into one – Google can even merge reviews so no data is lost.
Can I delete my GMB listing?
Not really. You can delete the listing from your account, mark a business as closed or as a duplicate, but it will never really be deleted.
This article from Moz is an excellent reference to the different scenarios that arise where you may wish to delete a listing, and the correct steps to take:
Need Any Help?
If you’re not quite sure how to best manage your Google My Business listing and need some help, we are just a phone call away. Contact our SEO team for advice on (07) 5531 3810.
For more tips check out our blog posts on Google Places