When businesses begin SEO, one of the first things they should do is claim and verify their business’ Google My Business (GMB) listing. Google has the market share when it comes to searching, meaning it’s the main target when it comes to ranking for keywords. A GMB listing not only increases your SEO ranking, it’s also how a lot of users will first interact with your business.
Google is constantly rolling out updates and lately, they’ve added some great features to Google My Business that businesses should really take advantage of. Optimizing a Google My Business listing is easy, but not everyone knows how so here are a few simple ways you can use these features to dominate local search results.
1. Claim and Verify
The first step to optimizing a Google My Business listing is to claim and verify it! Google makes it really easy for businesses to sign up and manage their business. Google is all about user satisfaction, and they strive for this by pushing businesses to provide the information that users are looking for.
2. Basic Info
There are a few basic questions Google asks when businesses first set up their Google My Business profile. This information might be basic but it’s also valuable to users and makes it easier for them to find you. This information includes things like the business’ street address, phone number, business hours, and website.
One thing businesses don’t realize is that if you don’t fill out that information, someone else still can. There has been an increase in competitors editing GMB listings or spamming them with fake reviews. These edits are live, so businesses need to constantly monitor this. Anyone can edit a listing at any time, but leaving it blank is just asking for trouble.
There’s a feature on GMB that asks users to ask and answer questions about the business. Google does this so they can learn more information about a company. Competitors have been known to maliciously use these, but typically its good-natured users answering. By answering these questions yourself you can put the current information out there for users to see. It also allows a business to answer any FAQ people have about their business or services.
Google Posts are one of the newer features. They’re essentially little ads or social media posts that show up in your GMB listing. This is a great place to post updates, information about events, or any recent blog posts. Google even includes images, a call to action button, lets you link it to another website. Google will even send you reminders about posts about to expire so you know when to update them. Google Posts are also heavily featured on mobile searching, which is used more than desktop searching these days, making them a great place to attract new customers.
If your business provides a service then you know how valuable online booking is. Google’s booking button feature allows users to directly book through your Google My Business listing if you’re using integrated scheduling software. This makes it really easy to get new customers. They don’t even have to leave Google!
Yup, that’s right. Customers can now send messages to a business through Google. This type of direct communication is so important these days. Once a business has set up messenger they can pick what message they want users to see and put in their phone number so that they can receive the messages right on their phone. If you don’t want to use text messages don’t worry, you can just download Google’s Allo app, which does the same thing but without using your personal cell phone number.
Online reviews hold a ton of power these days. Users trust them as much or more than personal recommendations. Unlike Yelp, which discourages business owners from asking for reviews, Google is okay with owners ethically asking customers to leave online reviews. Businesses can’t offer incentives and shouldn’t use fake reviews, but asking real customers to leave their feedback is great.
Online reviews are known to impact search results and influence customer trust. Make sure you respond to reviews, whether they’re negative or positive in a professional manner.
The days of the Internet being all about text and information are gone. Today it’s all about visual media like photos and videos. That’s why it’s important to post media to your GMB listing. It lets users get a glimpse of what to expect before they come in and it provides you an opportunity to entice them. The media doesn’t have to be professional either. As long as the videos and pictures are visually pleasing and accurate they will be fine!
No online listing is complete without a short description. This is a business’ opportunity to let customers know who they are and what they do. They should be accurate, concise, but also show off the business’ personality. You’re allowed 750 characters, but only 250 will show up before getting cut off so keep that in mind. Google has some guidelines around descriptions to ensure businesses aren’t spammy so give them a read beforehand.
Taking the time to do a few small things can really optimize a business’ Google My Business listing. Doing so is a great way to dominate SEO and attract users. Google is constantly rolling out new features to help businesses even more. Like with all things online, monitoring and regularly updating the listing is important. With more competitor’s using GMB maliciously, it’s even more vital to keep an eye on it. Feel free to contact us if you need help with your online reputation or digital marketing!