Google My Business (GMB) is a free online tool for business owners to manage how their business appears in the Google search results and what kind of information is available.
Claiming and verifying your business’s GMB listing is very important to increase your online exposure, especially if you’re a local brand.
By optimizing your listing as much as possible, you increase your chances of appearing in many important Google tools, such as Google Maps, Local Finder, and even the regular search results.
In fact, 92% of searchers will choose a business from the first page of local search results. This means that if your listing is not optimized properly, you’re basically sending your customers to your competitors.
Luckily, this can be easily fixed with the right Google My Business optimization strategies.
Let’s dive right in!
Enter All the Necessary Information
Local search results will prioritize the most relevant result for each individual search. By completing all the necessary information, you increase your chance of matching the right searches and appearing higher up.
In addition, your information is valuable to customers so they know exactly what your business does, where it is located, when they can visit, and what kind of products or services they can expect to find.
Maximise your search appearance…
One of the most important parts you need to keep an eye on out there is the category. Depending on which category you choose for your business, Google will decide which searches to show your listing in.
There are a number of different available categories, so make sure to choose the most specific one in order to avoid competing with other businesses who are not necessarily in your niche (example: Restaurant store vs. Italian restaurant).
Just make sure that all the information you provide is consistent through all your digital channels, including your website.
Top Tip: Add multiple categories to your listing which are relevant. For example, a gym might use “Gym”, “Wellness Centre”, “Fitness Centre” among others. Find as many relevant categories as possible, but don’t add ones which are not relevant.
Add Google My Business Posts
These posts appear in Google search results at the bottom of your GMB listing. Posts stand out on your business’s Knowledge Panel, and are a great way to get more customers to visit your business.
And just like any other web content, you need to make sure to post on a regular schedule and follow the already established SEO practices.
Note that Google allows a maximum of 1,500 characters for these posts, so keep things short and simple. Also, with such a low word count, don’t make the mistake of including too many keywords – instead, use them wherever possible but in an organic way.
Here are some content ideas for your Google My Business post:
- Company updates
- Promoting an upcoming event for your brand
- Highlighting a new line of products
- Short snippets of an important blog post with a link to it
- Showcasing special discounts and offers
Ask and Respond to Reviews
Reviews are an essential part of the customer’s decision on which business to choose. In fact, surveys have shown that positive reviews make 73% of customers trust a business.
Additionally, 30% of customers said that responding to reviews is crucial when judging local businesses.
And unlike other similar sites, Google actually encourages businesses to ask their customers for online reviews, but only in an ethical manner. You can create a link which you can then include on your digital communications.
When you finally get those reviews, make sure to respond to them to show new customers that you value them and their feedback.
Besides making a good impression on new customers, positive reviews will also increase your chance of appearing higher up in the search results, so it’s hard to ignore their potential.
Use High-Quality Images
A picture is worth a thousand words. This adage has been true since the day it was said, and it continues to translate into the world of digital marketing.
Quality images help your listing appear more premium and stand out above the rest. Moreover, it provides your potential customers with a glimpse into your business and lets them know what to expect.
As a matter of fact, businesses with photos on their GMB listing receive 35% more clicks to their websites, and 42% more driving directions requests.
Since the profile image is the one that will get the most views, it’s important to choose the right image for that one. Avoid using your logo, and try to get a picture of something that truly captures the story of your business.
Additionally, you can also hire a Google-approved photographer that can create a 360-view virtual tour of your business, further increasing the chances of attracting new customers.
Now that your Google My Business listing is complete, you might think that the optimization is over, but it’s actually not. Once you successfully complete all the necessary steps, you need to make sure you get as high up as possible.
According to Google, prominence is one of the 3 main factors that determine where you will rank.
And to improve your prominence, you need to partner with other local businesses and mention each other throughout your digital channels.
Also, try to get your website in as many online directories as possible, which will improve your website’s authority and your whole listing as well.
Become an authority…
The internet works very much like the real world when it comes to optimizing your site for better search engine position.
You want other people to say that you’re the best local business in town. That means getting them to talk about you, online.
You can ask to write a guest post for a site which is relevant and high quality. For example, if you are in the fitness space, getting a guest post from Men’s Health would work wonders for you.
Getting mentioned on such high authority sites is not the easiest, so start off with smaller blogs that you know of.
They will be grateful for the content and it builds your reputation. You then have multiple examples of your writing which you can use to show off to higher authority sites and work your way up the ladder that way.
Remember, this is an ongoing piece of work which never stops. Keep getting your name out there, writing, blogging and giving value to your audience in order to get more visibility and higher rankings.
Robert Jakson is the owner of PT Pod, a personal training and massage studio, and Minimal FiT, his personal training business in Canary Wharf, London, UK. He helps time-restricted office workers improve their health, habits and get back in shape.
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