If you’re serious about targeting local consumers and increasing the visibility of your local search, it will take some time to optimize your Google My Business (GMB) listings.
Recently, Google has introduced many new Google My Business features, so you missed one or two wells and no longer use your Google My Business profile as effectively as you might think.
A quick way to conduct a full audit of Google My Business, there are several ways to improve your list – here are 10 ways to get you started.
But before we can show you how to optimize your Google My Business profile, you need to quickly focus on why you need it.
Simply put, each company requires Google My Business listings. It provides business information to Google and local consumers and provides rich local searches. The data that you provide in your Google My Business profile is used by search engines in various ways to fill the well-visible knowledge panel that appears to the right of the search results and allows Google Maps: Fills in local packages for filling, providing voice search results and helping with the results Google app search.
Setting up your Google My Business list is free, quick, and easy, and after you do this, you can start the Google My Business optimization process to improve your presence in local search.
Optimizing your GMB profile is both updating and using GMB to notify Google in order to correctly list your company at the right time (in local packages and on Google Maps) in the right places. You need to know and impress any potential customer who visits your GMB. Your company profile that meets the requirements defined in your local search query.
The Google My Business signal is critical to local search, and its impact is growing year by year. Currently, they are one of the determining factors for success in local search, so you need to study the specifics of your local business in order to learn how to optimize Google My Business.
The diagram below shows the effect of Google My Business signals on local ranking factors in an uncultured state of health (extracted from data originally published in Moz’s series of local ranking factors surveys.
Step 1: Make sure your NAP is accurate
The first step in knowing how to optimize Google My Business for the success of your local search is to make sure that the basics are good. For GMB, this means that your company name, address, and phone number (NAP) are correct, completely up-to-date, and correspond to other local business links.
Citations assist with business finding, they can help users to find your business, and they provide Google the information it requires to help rank your business. If your NAP is wrong on your Google My Business profile, you potentially achieve the overall accuracy of local searches and complicate the search process by people.
The Moz Local Search Ranking Factors Study places Google My Business signals as number one on its list, with on-page signals involving NAP in position five. Dan Taylor, from Search Engine Journal, puts this all into context, explaining,
“NAP consistency is an important part of Google’s local and Local Pack algorithms, and building citations with a consistent NAP to your Google My Business listing and listed online addresses can influence your local rankings. However, having a consistent NAP is also important to the user journey as online directories and social bookmarking sites aren’t just used by Google, they’re used by humans too.”
To test your NAP, just go to the Google My Business control panel, click the ‘Info’ icon on the left and make sure all the information is correct.
Step 2: Claim your Google My Business short name
After you verify your Google My Business account, the next task on the Google My Business optimization list is to request a short name. This is a short or custom name, designed to make it easier for local search users to find your business. Google should have something for your acronym related to the name of your company or the name that customers usually use to denote your company.
The search engine explains,
“When you share your short name, customers can enter the short name URL in the browser’s address bar, like “g.page/[yourcustomname]”, to go directly to your Business Profile… We recommend including your location to make the short name more distinct. For example, you can use your business name with your location, like your city or neighbourhood. Keep your short name simple so that you can easily promote it, and customers can remember it. If you have a short name, you’ll get a short URL to request reviews from your customers.”
If your businesses have multiple locations, and are wondering how to optimize Google My Business for each of them, you can still request a shortened URL for each, but you should also add the location suggested by Google.
You must follow [companyname] [branchlocation] as the abbreviation format and maintain it unchanged. For example, Starbucks may require ‘starbucksbeachstreetsanfrancisco’ as its GMB short URL for its Beach Street, SF store and ‘starbuckscanalandcentralny’ for its Canal & Central store in Manhattan, NY.
Claiming your abbreviation is easy. Just log in to Google My Business, click the ‘Info’ button on the left, and scroll down to the name ‘claim short name’. Your abbreviation can be up to 32 characters long. You can change this a maximum of three times a year by returning to the same menu item and selecting Edit.
Step 3: Write the perfect business description
You can add a 750-character description to your GMB profile as part of your Google My Business optimization work. This description should describe your business in an engaging, authentic way, but should not reference things like sales or promotions.
This text box is intended to tell local users about your USP story and brand, your mission and story. It is worth noting that the Google guidelines prohibit advertising material and links in this space. You can specify a phone number and email address.
It may take some of tries to write an optimized GMB business description, but you should follow the basic rules of optimized content with each draft. That is to say, pick one or two keywords to build your description around and make sure that the search phrase display early in the text. As we’re targeting on how to optimize Google My Business for local search, you need to include a location keyword as part of this process.
If you are satisfied with your description, return to the Information tab and go to approx. Then copy and paste the text in the ‘add business description’ section. You can go back and edit it as many times as you like until you click on the correct customized text.
Step 4: Choose an appropriate category and sub-category
As you would expect, the category you select plays a very important role in the local search ranking when optimizing your Google My Business listings, as it tells Google which searches may be relevant to your business.
The search engine says,
“Categories are used to describe your business and connect you to customers searching for the services you offer. For example, if your primary category is “Pizza restaurant”, Google may show your business in local search results to people who search for “Restaurants”, “Italian restaurants” or “Pizza” in their area.”
A recent study by the Moz Search Ranking Factors also shows that category and subcategory are an important component of strong local ranking, with the ‘Proper GMB category associations’ ranking fourth in the top 50 local ranking factors and “The primary GMB category generally corresponds to the search category and is ranked 8 place on the list.
Now, in Google’s example, selecting the right GMB category as a pizza restaurant owner was straightforward, but that’s not always the case for local businesses.
In many cases, there is no single option; For example, a law firm can practice in many areas of law, from corporate to environmental and family. As a general rule of thumb, if there is uncertainty or several possible choices, the main category should be the choice of the category that is most important for your business.
This category should also be specific. Google has a good example of this, on its support page it says that if you have a nail salon, your main category should be “nail salon”, and not just a salon – it’s more specialized, therefore it’s better from the point of view of optimization And it’s very useful for local consumers.
The secondary category is also crucial while planning how to optimize your Google My Business listing as it provides additional valuable information to Google and local consumers.
Secondary categories may outline the additional services that you provide. Again, Google has a good example of how Google My Business optimizes secondary categories, saying that if you run a supermarket with a pharmacy and a snack bar, “supermarket” is your main category and “Pharmacy” and ‘deli’ should be added as secondary categories.
To select your category and subcategory in Google My Business click the pencil icon under the name of your business.
Step 5: Upload amazing photos
A picture can be worth a thousand words, but it can also cost a few extra points when optimizing your GMB list. We already examined the importance of images in search results in 2011, when 60% of consumers said that local search results with good images caught their attention.
Another study also found that photos give posts 3 times more sharing opportunities. Ultimately, good photos on the Internet come down to a careful selection of the right images – we’ve learned about this in our guide, especially for Google My Business.
GMB provides you with many imaging options, so it’s important that you really make the most of this opportunity to get your local search attention. You can add pictures of the interior and exterior, 360-degree images (if you really have a quiet brick or mortar place or hotel, wedding venue, restaurant, etc. in this place) and even a video, find out how many photos your average business in our Google My Business Insights Study.
Google tells that you upload;
Google announced that you will be able to add captions to your images soon. While this feature has not yet been launched, write it down to return to loading the image when adding captions to the rolls to provide a meaningful link to the photos uploaded to your GMB profile.
Your customers can also upload pictures of your business, its staff and services to Google. Image reviews are a ranking factor in local search, as well as a plan to optimize Google My Business ads for successful searches; you should also encourage your customers to leave reviews with images in their feedback.
Step 6: Generate, monitor, and respond to reviews
Before we go further to discuss that how to generate, monitor and respond to reviews to further your GMB optimization efforts, let’s quickly recap the overall importance of reviews.
For local businesses, the beauty of reviews lies in their impact on the buying process. A recent BrightLocal Local Consumer Review study found that local consumers read an average of 10 online reviews before they realize they can trust local businesses, so creating a positive review directly affects sales.
We also found that more than half of consumers will use a business only if it has four or more stars – more often this means that you need feedback to attract customers. As a rule, 50% of consumers visit the local business website after reading positive reviews, 15% visit enterprises, and 13% go directly to the business.
We also know that thanks to Moz’s Local Search Ranking Factors study, that these test signals, which include volume, speed, and variety, are the first three factors for ranking locally. The way Google reviews work means you’re more likely to rank 1-3 if you have Google reviews related to your business profile.
So, with all this you’ve learned how to optimize Google My Business, where to start reviewing? Some consumers, of course, will leave without verification, but for those who do not, you will need a consistent process for requesting an online review (our post is here to not misunderstand Google’s policy regarding review requests).
There are many tools available to automate the review request process. You can do this directly on the site when placing an order or by e-mail a few days after completing service or sending products. It will be necessary to develop some methods of communication with users, because not all of your customers will react the same or take the necessary actions. A subsequent phone call a few days after the request by e-mail may be appropriate, for example, in some cases.
However, you ask your customers for a review, always making sure that you provide a quick step-by-step guide that describes exactly how they can leave feedback on Google. What to say in your verification request email? Check out these 5 free review request email templates to get started.
Once the checks begin, you will need a designated person or persons in your organization to track them and provide feedback. The speed of the reaction is important, so ideally it would be daily activity. In some cases, a simple “thank you” is enough, but in others you may need a more detailed answer. Our post here provides more information on how to deal with negative reviews.
Step 7: Use Google Posts to boost conversions and showcase brand personality
GMB has a Post feature that is critical to your Google My Business optimization efforts. Posts are necessarily short blog posts that can be used to receive short news share an offer, publish information about an upcoming event, or showcase a product.
Ben Fisher , Google My Business Gold Product Specialist, says the Google Post is a great way to optimize your business on Google Business and also improve the visibility of your local search:
“The great thing about Google Posts is that when a potential customer searches for a particular business on Google, the Post shows up front-and-center in the business’ Knowledge Panel… And when a searcher clicks on the Post, it expands into an amazing ad-like box that grabs visitors’ attention.”
Recent developments at Google have also shown that search engines make offer-style posts more visible. After the search results marked as “search related”, posts also started appearing in the local search section.
With as many as three relevant posts being pulled from GMB into the knowledge panel on local search, it’s clear that there is notable additional search exposure up for grabs. Whether this is just a test or not, this use of Posts also hints that Google is a big fan of this content type, making it an important piece to consider when looking at how to optimize Google My Business.
To create a Post:
Step 8: Build up a good database of information on Google Q&A
As the name suggests, Google Q & A is a Q & A feature. This gives consumers the opportunity to ask questions about local business, and these question and answers are displayed in the knowledge column.
Q & A’s goal is to provide additional business information to search users and local consumers – this is a great way to get additional information locally and create your GMB profile as part of your optimization efforts.
As the business owner, you are allowed to ask and answer questions about your location, this is the good thing regarding Q&A. That means you can make a store of helpful information to assist search users considering your business before they’ve even come through to your website, let alone your dedicated FAQ page.
Creating questions and answers about the services you offer, the brands for which you charge, the average cost, etc. can be creative and useful helping the local consumer search in finding local businesses.
Local search expert Mike Blumenthal advises,
“Google expects that the business will be engaged in the Q&A process… Don’t get carried away with too many questions and don’t be thinking of these questions as an opportunity for keyword stuffing. They should be free of marketing speak and reflect the voice of the consumer.”
It goes without saying that when a consumer asks a question, you should always answer immediately with the answer and be helpful, precise and accurate in your answer.
Step 9: Add your social media profiles to your Google My Business profile
An integral part of optimizing a GMB profile is making sure that it is as complete and up-to-date as possible. As we have seen, there are some serious search visibility benefits to be had if you complete your profile information, update often and make the most of the myriad GMB features.
In a few knowledge panel search results, social media profiles will appear along with local business information. Google explains
“When people search for your business on Google, they may see links to your business’s social profiles included with your other business information in the knowledge panel in Search. Google gathers business information from a variety of sources and may include it to give customers a more detailed overview of your business. Social profile information is automatically added to listings for eligible businesses.”
To ensure that your links on social networks are visible, Google states that you must use consistent, verified and structured data. Regarding compatibility, make sure that the business name used on your social media profile matches your Google My Business profile.
Where social networking sites require verification, be sure to complete the process. This signals Google that the profile is genuine and associated with your business. On your business website, you can also add structured markup of social profiles to tell search engines which social media profiles you would like to show.
To make the most of this opportunity, it is imperative that your profiles on social networks are updated frequently, their messages and comments are tracked and connected with your community.
Step 10: Investigate GMB features specific to your industry and use them
As the center of local Google search and local business efforts, GMB is fully loaded with features. Many functions and tools belong to different industries. Our guide provides a comprehensive overview of how to optimize Google My Business for your brand, constantly adding new features and many niche features. Which are related to your business type but may not be covered here.
To make sure your GMB list is fully optimized, find out what special features GMB offers you. eg;
Service-area businesses can hide their addresses on Google My Business and set a service area instead
At Syndiket, we believe four types of SEO exist – and we have an acronym to represent those 4 types of SEO. The acronym is T.R.A.P.
“T” stands for Technical, “R” stands for Relevancy, “A” stands for Authority, and “P” stands for popularity. Search engine optimization has many smaller divisions within the 4 types, but all of them can be placed into one of these 4 buckets.
Generally, technical SEO for local businesses carry the least importance for ranking. Technical SEO has a bare minimum that is required and this usually includes things like site speed, indexation issues, crawlability, and schema. Once the core technical parts are done, minimal upkeep is required.
Relevancy is one of trivium elements of SEO. It has equal importance with popularity signals and authority signals. Relevancy signals are based on algorithmic learning principles. Bots crawl the internet every time a searcher has a search. Each search is given a relevancy score and the URLs that pop up for a query. The higher the relevancy score you attain, the greater your aggregated rating becomes in Google’s eyes. Digital marketing is a strange thing in 2020, and ranking a website requires the website to be relevant on many fronts.
Google’s Co-creator, Larry Page, had a unique idea in 1998 which has led to the modern-day Google Empire. “Page Rank”, named after Larry Page himself, was the algorithm that established Google as a search engine giant. The algorithm ranked websites by authority.
Every page of a website has authority and the sum of all pages has another authority metric. The authority metric is largely determined by how many people link to them (backlinks). The aggregate score of all pages pointing to a domain creates the domain score, which is what Syndiket calls “Domain Rating”, per Ahrefs metrics. The more a site is referenced, the more authority it has. But, the real improvement to the algorithm came when Google began to classify authority weight.
If Tony Hawk endorsed Syndiket for skateboarding, it would carry a lot more authority than 5 random high school kids endorsing Syndiket. This differentiation in authority happened in 2012 with the Penguin update. Authority SEO is complicated but VERY important.
Popularity signals are especially strong for GMB or local SEO, but popularity and engagement are used for all rankings. The goal of this signal is for Google to verify its own algorithm. You can check off all the boxes, but if your content is something real people hate, Google has ways to measure that. Syndiket has proprietary methods of controlling CTR (click-through rate) but we also infuse CRO methods into our work to make sure people actually like the content. Social shares and likes are also included in this bucket.
Google is constantly improving its tools and functions – you need to actively update your profile and make the necessary changes as you deploy new developments.
Monitoring GMB performance is also important and can be done using GMB Insight. This will give you a good idea of the impact of your actions and how much traffic and visibility your efforts provide.
Auditing your profile regularly through the Google My Business audit from BrightLocal will help you identify further opportunities for improvement and refinement.
Having awareness of how to optimize Google My Business packs will provide the plenty of benefits in for local business owners – with an assurance of greater local search visibility, more reviews, and enhanced information for local consumers.
However there are some actions, such as filling out your profile with opening hours and choosing a category that only needed to be done once, whereas others, such as uploading recent images and publishing Posts, need to occur on a regular basis if want to unlock the power of GMB.