It’s easy to see why local search has become such an important topic — people want their business to be found online! To maintain visibility in the crowded digital landscape, businesses must try to keep up with the many Google My Business (GMB) strategy updates. They also need to find new ways to optimize for local search as SEO best practices are always changing. Local search tools and platforms like GMB have made numerous updates in the last few years to improve their services, and our Google My Business optimization checklist will provide details you need to succeed in local search results.
At Blue Compass, we work with businesses to improve their local SEO with strategic keywords and tactics. The nuances that surround local SEO and Google My Business strategies can be a bit overwhelming to small business owners with so many other important tasks to accomplish, but our SEO experts encourage businesses to make it a priority! Optimizing your GMB profile is one of the easiest ways you can start appearing in local search results.
In this blog post, we’re sharing GMB tips to help optimize your Google My Business listing and get to the top of search engine result pages (SEPRs). We’ll even throw in some other local SEO and SEM best practices for good measure.
First, why is Google My Business important for SEO?
When you create a GMB profile for your business you’ll significantly increase your chances of showing up for local searches. GMB provides Google with more information about what your business does and how it helps customers, both of which can boost your brand’s credibility and traffic to your site.
Okay, now how do I optimize my Google My Business Listing?
Providing all basic business information and filling in any additional sections helps Google understand more about your business and how you serve customers. Being thorough and giving them as many details as you can makes it easier for users to find your business in search and learn more about you.
Google and search engines are constantly evolving and updates happen frequently. Keeping up with GMB updates is key to being successful. To help, our experts have put together 9 powerful GMB tips that will help you set up and optimize your GMB listing and be on your way to the top of SERPs.
GMB Tip #1: Be Thorough With Your Basic Google My Business Profile Information
Right away, Google needs to know the most basic information about your brand - these are the most critical pieces to have associated with your GMB profile. In the digital world, we commonly refer to this with the acronym NAP; Name, Address, Phone. After verifying this information is correct, it will help establish your business’ credibility with Google.
But don’t stop with just the basics, because any additional details help tell Google what sort of business you are and makes your listing more valuable in search. Think through every aspect of your business’ digital profile and expand upon the information you can provide to help a user learn more. Some additional information you can include:
- Business category
- Business description
- Business hours
- Service area
- Products or services
- Types of payment accepted
Bonus GMB Optimization Advice:
Include keywords in your business description and be specific with your business category to show up for the most relevant searches.
GMB Tip #2: Include Your Own Photos
Businesses with over 100 images get 1,065% more website clicks than the average business.
That's right, 1,065%!
Visual content is simply more compelling and catches a user's attention far better than text. By using your own photos, you have more control over the look of your GMB listing. It’s common to see user-generated content from customers as the default images for listings, and as much as we appreciate aspiring Instagram stars, they generally result in lower quality images you may or may not want representing your brand. Avoid customers controlling your online image by providing your own photos.
Google recognizes the benefit of photos and encourages businesses to categorize the photos and videos they upload. Especially if you’re an organization that people will be visiting, it’s helpful to specify whether people are looking at your storefront, something inside or photos of employees. This helps customers find what they’re looking for and gives them a better idea of the experience they can expect. We encourage you to take photos of your business, your staff and your products. Even entertain the idea of investing in a photoshoot for your company if you can. Professional pictures can be used on other marketing materials outside of your GMB page as well so you get more bang for your buck.
GMB Tip #3: Keep Your Profile Relevant with Google Posts
Over the years, Google has done a lot to revamp GMB, and one of the coolest updates we’ve seen is the addition of Posts to listings.
Google Posts are like free ads that allow you to share a variety of news with people searching for your product or service. There are a few different types of Google Posts which we’ve listed below:
- COVID-19 Update: When the pandemic hit in the beginning of 2020, Google went to work finding many ways businesses could keep their customers informed, and GMB Post updates was a helpful way to get that information out there when someone was looking for your business.
- Offer: If you’re running a special discount or campaign, the Offer Post signals this is a time-sensitive deal. You can set the date range, title and choose your photo or video to include in the post. Options to include a coupon code, link to redeem the offer and terms and exclusions are also available.
- What’s New: This is the type of Google Post we use most often, and it’s similar to a social post where you can tell your customers about anything related to your business. You can post a blog, a service page and more through this option. Our experts also love that this type of post has the option to add a CTA button.
- Event: Announcing your upcoming event became easier with this sort of post. This is very similar to the Offer Post where you set the date range, include a title and image, with the option to include a button for sign-ups.
- Product: Showcase your products in Google Posts by setting a price range, including an image and writing the category and description. This is just one more way to get essential information out on Google’s platform.
Posts allow you to directly talk to your consumers and it’s a great way to advertise to those who are already looking at your listing. Posts should be short and to the point - you only have about 120 characters before you get cut off. Unlike social media best practices, these posts can be 100% promotional because the people that see them might not be familiar with your brand yet and you’re trying to convince them to click.
Again and again, Google shows preference to websites using Google’s services. Regular updates are not only good for your customers; they’re good for your listing’s rankings.
Bonus GMB Optimization Advice:
Google Posts have a shelf life of about 7 days, so we recommend posting once a week. However, according to findings from the 2021 Local SEO Summit, it doesn’t help to have multiple posts competing against each other either, so one Google Post a week is what we typically recommend.
GMB Tip #4: Check Out Your Competition
Want to outrank your competitors in search? Start by taking a look at their GMB listings to see what they do differently.
We recommend performing a Google Search for your target keywords or a category you want to rank for and then see what’s at the top of SERPs. Are you in the Local Pack or one of the first three businesses listed? Are you showing up at all? If not, what information do your competitors provide that you’re missing?
Competitor analysis serves as an excellent baseline when looking for a place to start building a local search optimization plan. If a competitor is ranking highly for a term, they’re doing something right. Take a look at their listing information and see what you can do to outrank them for this keyword.
GMB Tip #5: Check and Respond to Your Google Reviews
It’s important to check your reviews and respond in a timely manner. We especially recommend that you respond amicably to negative reviews - nothing looks worse to a potential customer than a poor review with no visible response by the company to reach a resolution with that reviewer.
Think about it, have you ever seen a one-star review, read the review, then seen a response from the company that appropriately addresses the complaint? We bet you feel a lot better about the business addressing complaints than a business ignoring them. Need help? Learn how to respond to Google reviews now.
Google has openly noted that high-quality, positive reviews from your customers will improve your business’s visibility. This also implies the opposite, that poor-quality, negative reviews will affect your visibility as well. Keep in mind, reviews are based on averages, so it takes multiple positive reviews to outweigh one negative review. If you don’t have a review strategy in place before you deal with the unhappy customer, your business will suffer from that one negative review.
Bonus Review Tip:
Don’t be afraid to ask your customers for reviews. If you only get 10% of them to leave a review, that’s 10% more than you had before!
GMB Tip #6: Use Google My Business Features to Your Advantage
After reviews, some of the features that take up prime real estate in your Local Listing Profile are the product and services sections. These are additional opportunities that can take your GMB listing to the next level.
In the product section, you can include pictures and prices, and even group your products into categories. This can be especially helpful for companies whose products use industry jargon or numbers, because you can include a description that tells people about your merchandise before people ever get to your website. Services work similarly, and together they both reveal a lot of useful information to your potential customers.
Be sure to fill out all of the options Google has available if you’re able. Doing so will give your business the best chance possible to rank above your competition and be found by users.
GMB Tip #7 Don’t Ignore the Question & Answer Section of Your Google My Business Profile
Many businesses don’t know that customers can ask you questions directly through Google! You’ll want to make sure you’re checking this regularly so your business can answer instead of a random user. If not, existing and potential customers may be getting wrong answers to their questions, and whoever is responding might be representing your business poorly.
Be sure to stay on top of any questions you receive through Google, and respond in a personal, friendly way. Doing so will make customers feel valued and encourage them to choose your products or services.
In addition, the questions people are asking can be used as potential content opportunities to use later on. They give your business an idea of what users want to know about your products, services, or industry and tell you what users are searching to try and find that information. Put the two together and you’ll have a valuable content piece that benefits the overall SEO for your website.
GMB Tip #8: Check Google My Business Insights
Insights is a fairly new analytics portion of GMB that directly addresses any and all questions you might have when it comes to how people find your business online and how they interact with your listing. Google has recently been making some changes, but here’s an example of what you can expect:
- How people search for your business - Google breaks down the context of the search into 3 categories: Direct, Discovery and Branded. A Direct search is when someone searches for your brand name, Discovery is a search related to your product or service and Branded search is a profile that pops up if you have a brand you’re associated with.
- Where customers view your business on Google - This is a comparison of the number of users that find you through a regular search listing or on a map, like in the Google Pack. In the newest version of Insights, Google can actually divide this information into whether they found you at one of these points from their desktop or mobile device.
The Insights function is overflowing with information. Take the time to analyze what Google has to offer and you may be surprised how one keen insight can impact your entire digital marketing strategy.
How to Use Google My Business for Local SEO
Three significant factors rule local search, local SEO and Google My Business listings. Think of them as the rules for your overarching local SEO strategy. These three factors are going to take priority over any other tips you’ve read in this post, and should be the first things considered when reviewing your Google My Business listing.
Relevance: Just like with any other search, the relevance of your listing drives Google’s ranking. Does your website fit the search intent?
Distance: When you type “tapas” into the search bar, Google will treat it as the phrase “tapas near me.” Part of it feeds back to the relevance portion mentioned above — the other part is common sense. Don’t expect to have your listing show if you’re miles away from someone searching. When thinking through your search terms, add, “near me,” “in Des Moines” or where your business is located to the end of the phrase — this is how Google operates nowadays. Not to mention, the various “near me” queries have grown over 200% in the last 2 years, and over 50% of those queries result in a physical store visit.
Reviews: We can’t stress enough that positive reviews weigh heavily in local search rankings and should be a priority. Google aspired to command the same word-of-mouth power as a friend’s recommendation, and if your friend tells you to check out a new brunch spot — one they swear serves the best brunch in the world — you’re probably going to check it out, right?
Conquer Local SEO with a Google My Business Strategy
There you have it: a complete guide to optimizing your Google My Business listing and begin ranking number one in local search. Pay attention to your analytics and you are on your way to beating the competition. If you need help implementing these tactics in your own GMB strategy, or just want to talk about local search and SEO strategy, reach out! We're not just Des Moines SEO experts, Blue Compass can tackle any local SEO challenge and would love to discuss how we can help your business start outranking and dominating your local competition.