At a time when everyone is struggling to stand out from the ever-growing online competition, it’s crucial for growing businesses to find new ways to gain an edge through better placement. Google My Business may be just the solution they need.
Think about it. If your brand is trying to rank in traditional organic search for “furniture store,” you’re going to have to compete with huge corporations like Havertys and Ashley’s Home Furniture. However, with an optimized profile on Google My Business, small and medium-sized businesses can rank high in the results based on factors like keyword relevance and customer reviews.
Google My Business puts businesses of all sizes on the same level, allowing them to share important information their target audience needs in an easy-to-follow format that increases clicks and hopefully conversions.
In this post, we’ll go over why you need Google My Business, how to set up your GMB profile, and how to best optimize it to connect with your target audience and increase sales.
What Is Google My Business?
Google My Business (GMB) is a free tool for businesses that allow them to create profiles of key information like locations, operating hours, websites, and products or services offered. This information appears in a small, designated section at the very top of the results pages.Users can click in order to see the list expanded, giving them more businesses to review.
Why Do I Need Google My Business?
GMB is free for businesses to use, and it offers an enormous range of benefits. The most significant of these benefits is easily the potential for heightened visibility with a profile that contains easy-to-digest information that your audience is searching for.
Your Google business listing will give you an opportunity to rank higher in Google’s search engine results pages, or SERPs, especially since a 2016 study found that more that 56 percent of local businesses hadn’t actually claimed their GMB listing. If you’re in the minority of businesses that do claim and optimize your profile, it’s an immediate chance to stand out.
In the search for “antique clocks,” for example, many users are looking to see what their buying options are. The GMB listings have a better chance of showing stores that either don’t have internationally recognized names or aren’t paying a ton for sponsored product listings.GMB has the benefit of displaying reviews prominently. If you have reviews, this will help you rank higher, and they’ll also draw user attention to you quickly and increase the likelihood of you getting the clicks.
This platform also gives you the opportunity to provide multiple options for users to get in touch from the listing, including a phone number they can call directly on mobile, a “contact” call to action (CTA) that can be used to drive text messages, or a link to a contact form.Since searchers have most of the key information they need right in front of them (including publicly asked questions and answers), the easy-access contact options will become even more powerful and directly increase the likelihood that they get in touch.
When they do, you can use the app to see, review, and manage all of these messages, alongside posting offers and responding to reviews, making engaging with your audience a much simpler task. You can get the app here on iTunes and here on Google Play.If the heightened visibility and ease of use for customers isn’t appealing enough, keep in mind that Google will also give you analytics about what’s happening with your profile. They’ll give you quick numbers about how many people are actually seeing and interacting with your profile. That way, you can evaluate your progress over time and view the impact of any changes you’re making.
How to Add Your Business to Google
Registering businesses on Google is an exceptionally easy process.
Start here, and then add in the name of your business. This should be the name your customers know (like “Matt’s Piping Hot Popcorn”) and not the official business license (“MPHP LLC”).You can choose if you’d like to add an address that customers can visit. If you choose this option, it can help you with local search. However, if you don’t have a local brick-and-mortar store that customers can visit, you may want to skip this. You should especially skip it if you’re using your home as your business’ official address. If you have an ecommerce business that delivers or serves customers outside of your designated location, you can make sure you let Google know that this is an option, too, and add in the areas that you serve. This will increase the likelihood that you popup in relevant searches.
Note that you can choose areas that you serve customers even if you don’t set a location for your business. This, you guessed it, can again help you come up in those searches.Next, you’ll choose a category to help increase search visibility among relevant searches, and you can then add in your phone number and website’s URL.
How to Verify Your Google My Business Listing
You need to verify your business on Google once the listing has been created in order to manage its information and have it prioritized in search and on local maps. This helps Google ensure that you’re the actual owner of the business you’re claiming.
Immediately after you originally claim your listing, you’ll be asked to verify your business. The Google business verification process is pretty simple and plenty fast.Verification options include:
- Verify by mail, which includes receiving a postcard sent by mail that contains a code you can enter online for confirmation.
- Verify by phone, in which Google will call the business phone number listed and give you a code to enter online.
- Verify by email, which is only available for select businesses and allows you to receive the verification code via a business email.
Businesses who have already registered their website in the Search Console may be able to instantly verify their listings. This is not available for all industries, however.
How to Optimize Your GMB Profile
After you’ve verified your business with Google, you’ll have full control over your profile, allowing you to optimize it fully. The goal of optimization will be to provide users with enough information that they’re enticed to click while making sure that you’re taking the necessary steps to increase your listing’s visibility in the SERPs.
Let’s take a look at four different steps you should always take when optimizing your profile.
1. Complete your full profile
A lot of local Google listings will just fill out the basic information asked during registration and then never go back and complete their profile.
This is the last thing that you want to do.
You want your profile to be as fleshed-out as possible. This will offer value to your audience, as they’ll be able to see a quick but thorough snapshot of what your business can offer them and how they can get in touch. It will also give you more opportunities to place potential keywords in your descriptions, helping you to rank in more searches and maximize your visibility.Ideally, your profile should contain the following:
- Descriptions of your business and basic information about the types of products or services that you offer.
- Information about your unique selling proposition (USP) in order to help you stand out.
- Photos of your products, service, or location.
- Full location, contact, and operational hours information.
- Answers to any questions that your audience has asked.
2. Get reviews
Reviews are important because they’ll increase your priority in the algorithm, boosting your ranking potential, and they’ll also help draw potential customers’ attention and trust quickly.Up to 88 percent of consumers trust online testimonials as much as they trust a recommendation from someone they know personally, and 72 percent of consumers are more willing to take action after reading a positive review. Considering that 92 percent of consumers regularly or sometimes take online reviews under advisement before making a purchase, it only makes sense that a big review count and a nice four- or five-star rating will make an impact on your Google listing. Therefore, driving Google My Business reviews ethically but intentionally should be a key part of your marketing strategy. Reach out to past customers a few weeks after their purchase, and ask if they’d help your business grow by leaving a review. You can also use a number of different Shopify review apps to automatically generate review requests and increase the likelihood that users will write them.
As the reviews come pouring in, you’ll want to make sure that you’re actively responding to them. Google has actually found that businesses who respond to reviews are considered to be 1.7 times more trustworthy than businesses who don’t. Take a few minutes and respond with a “thank you” to positive reviews, and address potential criticism with an offer to resolve the issue through private messaging.
3. Use a variety of keywords
It’s a good idea to have a primary keyword in mind when writing your business’ description, but while you want to avoid keyword stuffing, there’s no reason to limit yourself to just one.
Do your research using keyword tools (including free ones like Google’s Keyword Planner) to find out what terms your audience is using to search. Make sure to include the most high-volume and relevant keywords in your listing.
In the example below, there’s a good chance that this florist’s customers are regularly searching for terms like “corsages and boutonnieres” or “florist with live plants.” Having these listed will allow viewers to immediately know what this business offers, but it could also help ensure that this listing shows up at the top of the list for these search terms.In many cases, it’s a good call to include a mix of location-based and non-location-based keywords, giving you the best chance to maximize local search visibility without limiting yourself.
4. Choose a Niche Category
When you first list your business on Google, you’re asked to choose a category that defines your business. There are some categories that are fairly general and a little vague, like “jeweler,” and others that are much more specific, like “jewelry engraver,” “costume jewelry,” and “jewelry designer.”When you’re choosing a category, make sure that you’re as specific as possible. If you go too broad, you’ll end up with more competition and might not connect with people looking for the exact products that you offer.