When online searchers come across your business online, it’s likely they’ll see your Google My Business (GMB) Profile before anything else. GMB is a free tool that allows you to optimise your local business presence across Google products, including Google search results and maps.
At first glance, a Google Business Profile includes business info, pictures, reviews and a Q&A section. Underneath this simple exterior, GMB plays a huge role in local SEO for your business. And this is one optimisation step that you can’t ignore. If you want to learn more about SEO in general, check out our blog to learn How to Go from Hero to Zero.
With many businesses putting more emphasis on their online presence the past year, Google has made tremendous improvements to ultimately help business owners be found when consumers are searching. One major update is the GMB new attributes introduced. However, with more people utilising the web and these new features, you might have noticed that your business isn’t getting as much online traffic as it once was.
Think about it — are your GMB impressions down? If you said yes, you aren’t the only one. GMB impressions are down roughly 59% compared to where they previously were. You can learn all about this in Search Engine Journal’s article.
Keep in mind, though, you don’t have to settle for less traffic. In this blog, we’ll discuss tactics that will help you optimise GMB listing for local SEO as well as go over GMB tools to manage reviews. Once you implement these optimisation strategies, your GMB will be ready to go!
Tactic 1: Create or Claim Your GMB Profile
For new business owners or anyone who has yet to dive into the Google My Business world, this tip is for you! Before you begin the optimisation process, you need to make sure you have a profile created or you claim an existing profile. Just because your business has never utilised GMB before, does NOT mean a profile doesn’t exist.
To get started, you’ll want to head to google.com/business, click the “Manage Now” button, and log in with your Google credentials. If you already have your Google Business Profile claimed, great! You will see a dashboard appear with your business information. If you don’t have a profile claimed, you will have the option to find/manage your listing. Simply walk through the guided steps and claim or create your profile.
As a business owner, you must follow the rules that Google has in place. It is easy to have your Business Profile suspended, which is not good for you or searchers. One of the biggest issues we see is when it comes to naming your Business Profile. Of course, you want consumers to find your business, but you can’t keyword stuff to make your business seem more relevant. When naming your Business Profile, stick with the legal name of your business. If you’d like to learn more about the guidelines that Google has in place, check out their help article.
Tactic 2: Choose an Accurate Business Category
When it comes to choosing a category for your business, you need to be as specific as possible. When making your selection, you are allowed to choose one primary category and ten secondary categories for your listing. However, it may seem a little daunting, as there are currently 4,000 category options to choose from. This is where being specific about your business can help narrow down your options.
You will want to choose a primary category that describes your business as a whole. Do not focus on your specific products or services. If you’re a pizza shop, but you sell other food items, your primary category should be pizza restaurant. You can then utilise your secondary categories for additional products or services you sell.
Another great example is the legal industry. Some attorneys specialize in specific areas, such as personal injury, divorce, criminal, etc. As a law office, you want to choose a category that is specific to what you do. When you do this, your business will appear when consumers are searching for that specific type of attorney. Your secondary categories allow you to add other types of legal services you offer.
Tactic 3: Choose Business Type
The world is changing, and many businesses don’t have a traditional brick-and-mortar location anymore. This means that choosing your type of business is a crucial part of the GMB optimisation process. To break it down, there are three types of businesses to choose from:
- Storefront (Retail establishments, restaurants, laundry mats, etc.)
- Service Area (Roof plumbers, electricians, landscapers, etc.)
- Hybrid (Includes both a storefront and service area component)
As a business, you need to choose the most accurate option for your business. The most confusing part is the hybrid option. Most times, we see hybrid options appear for service-based businesses. While they don’t have a storefront for consumers to visit, they do occupy a space for their employees to convene or to store products.
Choosing an accurate option provides consumers with the info they need about your business. The worst thing to do choose an option and not follow through with the appropriate information. If you’re a business with a storefront, be sure to add your business address. On the flip side, if you’re a service area business, add your business phone number or web address so people can give you a call or book an appointment online.
Tactic 4: Fill in Business Hours
On your GMB profile, you want to make sure your business hours are up to date. If you’re a seasonal business, this is an especially important step for you. Consumers need to know when your business is open. If your hours aren’t accurate, and they attempt to visit your establishment, but you’re actually closed, it could lead to some very unhappy people.
Don’t worry, it’s really easy to add your business hours. All you need to do is log in and go to Dashboard > Info > Add hours. You can select the days you’re open and input the hours for each individual day. Is there a day when you close and reopen? You can add another row of hours to show the split time of when your business is open.
Do you offer curbside pickup or have a drive-thru that operates at different hours than your lobby? Good news! Within the last year, Google added an option to list different hour options for different parts of your business. You are able to list your curbside hours separately from your normal hours. This is a great improvement for the restaurant and retail industries!
While we’re talking about setting your business hours, let’s bring up holiday hours. You will always want to update your hours if you will be closed or offer shortened hours on holidays. All you need to do is go to Dashboard > Info > Add special hours. On the other hand, if your business is staying open on holidays, you will want to go in and confirm your hours for holidays. If you don’t confirm your hours, a message will appear on your GMB listing that says “Holiday might affect these hours.”
When in doubt, always make sure your business hours are accurate. Whether it’s a normal workweek or a holiday is coming up, monitor your business hours so you know you are providing consumers with up to date info. Business hours are an essential part of your listing, but we see many business owners overlook this info.
Tactic 5: Gather Reviews
Word of mouth recommendations are great, but many people rely on reading online reviews before choosing a business. Having reviews, whether good, mediocre or bad, can help improve your visibility online. Of course, you want to have good reviews that reflect your business practice and show that you provide the best service.
What’s interesting about reviews on your GMB listing is that each review is a unique piece of content that can help your business rank higher in search results. Reviews give consumers the opportunity to use keywords relating to your business. However, people reviewing your business don’t think of it in terms of keywords. Instead, they are simply leaving a review about your business.
Let’s analyse a fake review: “This was the best pizza I’ve ever had in Melbourne. The sauce was the perfect level of sweet and the sausage gave it the kick to balance it out. I will definitely be back to Marco’s Pizza!” There are three main keywords used in this review: best pizza, Melbourne and Marco’s Pizza. When another consumer searches for pizza in Melbourne or best pizza near me, it’s highly likely Marco’s Pizza will appear, thanks to this review. The detailed description is also a game-changer. It explains what was so great about that pizza.
So, what can you do to gather reviews to improve your GMB listing? It’s simple – just ask. Whether you’re asking them during checkout, sending a follow-up email or making a social post with a review link, people typically won’t leave good reviews without you asking. Many times, consumers will leave bad reviews more often than good reviews, especially if they’ve had a bad experience. Bad reviews happen, you are not perfect. However, you do need to balance the bad and mediocre reviews with good reviews. With the help of the Google Local Guide program, more consumers are making an effort to leave reviews and support local businesses. While an influx of good reviews can happen, make sure to monitor your reviews and respond to them (consumers love seeing your replies).
Keep in mind, though, that it is against Google’s policy to offer incentives for leaving a review. This means you can’t offer a discount or freebie in exchange for a review. Read more about the policy on this Google help article.
Tactic 6: Add Photos
Regardless of your industry, consumers want to see photos of your work. Whether you own a restaurant, contracting business or retail establishment, post photos to your GMB listing. Images also make a huge impact on your SEO ranking.
When adding photos, there are a few essential photos to include, such as your logo, interior and exterior photos of your business, product photos and employee photos. You want consumers to be able to recognise your brand, store location, products and employees. There is no limit to how many photos you can add to your GMB listing. You can add new photos whenever you have a new product, introduce a new dish or when a new employee joins your company.
Also, it’s important to note that you don’t always have to do all the legwork. Think back to the reviews section. When consumers leave reviews, they also have the option to add photos to the review. This is huge for restaurants, as many people take photos of the meals they order. Many times, people will do the work for you, especially with the Google Local Guide program. Just make sure that you promote having people leave reviews and the photos will come as well.
Bonus Tip: If you own a business that isn’t super photo-worthy, create an area in your business specifically for people to take photos. You could even come up with a branded hashtag that they could use on social media. If you notice people aren’t posting photos with their reviews, utilising a branded hashtag allows you to look up photos on social that you could add to your GMB listing. Just make sure to ask permission before using their photo (most times, people will say yes).
Let Us Help With Optimising
If you aren’t already utilising Google My Business, now is the time to start. This free tool helps your business improve its local SEO while giving consumers the information they need about your business. At Zeidan Digital Marketing, our team is here to help with any and all of your search engine optimisation and marketing needs. Take a look at our variety of services to see how we can help improve your online presence. Once you’re ready, contact us to discuss the next steps for your business. We look forward to hearing from you!