First impressions are everything for a business. Just as a salesperson might put on a fresh-pressed suit, polish their shoes, and don a charming smile, you want your business’s online listings to look their absolute best. One of the most effective ways to do that is through Google My Business.
Google is, without question, an internet powerhouse. It has 90.46 percent of the search engine market share across the globe and the search engine receives more than 63,000 searches per second.
Pretty impressive, huh?
With all that in mind, it only makes sense that Google My Business can be beneficial for your business. While this is true, it’s a platform that is only going to benefit you if you use it the right way.
Google My Business is a platform that allows businesses to clearly establish their identity and help customers get a sense of who they are. Google My Business also plays a major role in improving your business’s SEO and ensuring that Google is showing your listing to the right users.
The tactics below will give your GMB profile the lift it needs to effectively improve your local SEO.
1. Include Up-to-Date, Accurate Information
There are several parts of your Google My Business Listing. You should begin by adding/checking that your core business information is accurate and up-to-date, which includes:
Google My Business platform requests you fill out the basic business info such as your name, address, and phone number – commonly referred to as your NAP. All the information you provide is indexed by Google Search, and Google Maps, which provides you with a basic local SEO foundation.
Make sure your information is consistent with what’s listed currently on your website. It’s important to make sure everything matches – exactly.
If there are inconsistencies in the information you post, it’s going to negatively impact your search ranking.
2. Add High-Quality Photos to Your Profile
A picture says a thousand words, and high-quality photos can tell customers a lot about your business. Make sure your Google My Business profile features these three types of photos:
- Exterior photos: Sharing several exterior photos will decrease the chances of customers getting confused when trying to locate your business. You want your customers to be able to easily recognize your establishment from every angle. It is also incredibly helpful to capture exterior photos at different times of the day. Keep in mind that these photos might be the first image and impression customers have of your business—you want them to be captivating and enticing.
- Interior photos: Sharing photos of the inside provides potential customers with insight into what it is like to be a part of your business. Make sure to select truthful and honest photos to prevent any misconceptions.
- Product photos: Product photos speak to the business itself. Take this opportunity to showcase items and services that your business is best known for. Sometimes the best way to capture the essence of a business is to share photos of the work happening.
Things to keep in mind about Google My Business photos:
- Images help build trust and brand authority
- Familiarizes customers with your storefront and staff
- Provide a preview for your products and services
It’s been proven that businesses that have photos posted receive 42 percent more requests for directions from users, and 35 percent more clicks leading the user to their website than the listed businesses with no photos.
Don’t you want people visiting your store, instead of your competitions? If so, you need to start adding photos right now.
If you need some ideas of what type of photos to post, consider taking pictures of your showroom or office. You can also take pictures of your building so potential customers know which one is yours. You can even upload pictures of your team, so people know who to look for if they need help.
Others can upload images to your Google My Business page, as well. This is something you should encourage your customers to do.
If you do have customers posting and sharing photos, make sure you moderate them. For example, you may find some images you want to have removed, such as:
Make sure to take advantage of the visual aspect of Google My Business. It’ll pay off.
3. Select the Right Business Categories
Categories are one of the many ways that Google decides who will see your business. The category you select will be directly linked to the searches of customers who are interested in that specific area. So, you want to be incredibly mindful when selecting the appropriate category for your business.
Pick a primary category that truly embodies what your business is about. Be specific—think “hair salon” instead of “salon.” Make sure to only choose one primary category. For instance, Google recommends that “if you manage a grocery store that includes a pharmacy and deli, you would choose ‘Grocery store’ as your primary category and add ‘Pharmacy’ and ‘Deli’ as additional categories.”
Try to be as certain as possible when deciding on a category, since making a change down the line will most likely result in you having to re-verify your business.
Key things to keep in mind about Business Categories:
- Primary business categories can influence local SEO, so choose wisely!
- Choose the most relevant option
- Include as many relevant secondary business categories as permitted
- Check regularly to see if there are any new categories that fit your business as Google is always adding new categories!
4. Create a Thorough Business Description
Your business’s description is your chance to tell customers what your company is all about. Bear in mind that Google highly values accuracy when deciding on organic rankings, so you absolutely want to make sure you are accurately describing your business.
Be straightforward and concise, and cut back on sharing irrelevant or distracting information. (This will also hopefully prevent any misleading information from making its way onto your profile.) Resist the temptation to advertise specials and promotions in the description. Think of your description as your elevator pitch, a means to summarize what your business does at its core.
5. Reflect Accurate Opening, Closing & Holiday Hours
For the most part, businesses don’t usually make too many changes to their set schedule. But keep in mind that holidays, special events, and unexpected circumstances sometimes call for a change in hours. Customers respect when there is clear communication, so make sure to manage the hours on your Google My Business profile as changes come up. Once you are able to confirm those modifications, SEO will help Google lead customers to the information they need.
Key points about GMB business hours:
- Make sure they are consistent with the business hours listed on your website!
- Be sure to keep updated for special holiday hours
- Inconsistencies can hurt local rankings
6. Get Reviews & Respond in a Timely Manner
Reviews are the lifeblood of any local search. It’s a simple equation, good reviews result in more sales. More good reviews result in more sales.
While this is true, bad reviews also present an opportunity. Virtually everyone wants a second opinion about something, which is why so many people seek out reviews before making a purchase.
But, that’s not all.
The frequency that people conduct searches for reviews is going up. Approximately 53 percent of consumers search for a local business at least once a month. That’s an increase of 10% from 2015.
Getting reviews from customers is easier than you may think – all you have to do is ask. There are some sites that discourage this practice, but not Google My Business. In fact, the platform makes it easy for you to send a link to your customers, which simplifies the process of getting reviews even more.
Once you start getting reviews, make sure you respond to them. All of them. Take time to respond to each review you receive, regardless of if they are neutral, bad, or good.
Reminder about responding to Google My Business reviews:
- Responding to review makes you appear authentic
- Gives your business a chance to provide their side of a story
- Help to clarify misunderstandings (ex. disgruntled customers)
7. Post on a Regular Basis
Posting on a regular basis is a critical part of any SEO strategy. With every post, you are able to publish the most accurate and recent information about your business—two qualities that Google rates highly when ranking search results. Plus, frequent posts will create more links and more opportunities to drive traffic to your website, a major opportunity to boost your SEO.
There are four different types of Google My Business posts that you can use to make regular updates:
- What’s New
Posts are a great way to communicate with your customers and show off everything that your business is doing. Post what you want your buyers to know about your business, your products, or your services.
Up to 70 percent of people look at several businesses before they make a final decision. When you use posts, you can share relevant and timely updates right on Google Maps and Search to help your business stand out to your potential customers.
Also, when you include custom CTAs directly in your business listing, you can choose how your customers connect with your business.
Posting on Google My Business— Things to Know:
- Posts and updates expire after 7 days
- Great opportunity to highlight special offers and coupons
- Help your brand stick out!