If you’ve spent any time at all thinking about local SEO for your business, chances are you have claimed your free Google My Business listing.
If not, a GMB listing is essential to building local search visibility. It gives Google key information about your business, including what you do, where you’re located and when you’re opening. This puts you in the running for a spot in the local search results when Google users in your local area are searching for your products or services via Google search or Maps.
Google My Business information makes up a number of local SEO ranking signals. Given almost half of all searches on Google have a local intent, it pays to optimise your GMB listing to increase your chances of being visible to local traffic.
Verify your basic profile information
When you first claim your GMB listing, you’ll be asked to supply some basic information such as your business name, address and phone number. If you’re one of the millions of businesses that have suffered from COVID-19 disruption, we recommend that you verify this information is still accurate and up-to-date before proceeding to other optimisation activities.
Create an optimised business description
With just 750 characters, the business description element of your GMB profile is relatively short but it’s still vital to ensure you build this text around a primary keyword. Google has strict guidelines covering what you can and can’t say in this space. Essentially, you need to stick to an overview of your business without links or promotions. The content must be relevant to your business. Aim to include your primary keyword early on in the description and work in a location-related keyword where possible.
Ensure you have the most appropriate category and sub-category selected
When setting up your listing, you can choose both a category and a sub-category. Category is considered to be a ranking signal so you’ll want to confirm that you have selected the most relevant option for your business. Google says, “Categories help your customers to find accurate, specific results for services that they’re interested in”.
To optimize your listing, your main category should be the closest match for your overall business. You can then select a secondary category if required which reflects other areas of your business (if for example you offer a secondary service within the same location).
Upload a wide selection of images
Images make your listing stand out and are another piece in the optimisation puzzle. Google itself recommends that you upload a series of business-specific images. Its guidelines include uploading a minimum of three images showing the exterior of your business, the interior of your business, your products and team members.
Create a Posts schedule
You can use Posts to share your latest business news, events and offers. Aim to add new Posts at least a couple of times a week. If you can factor in a Post each time you publish a Facebook or Twitter post, you’ll soon have a steady stream of new content which serves to enhance your overall GMB optimisation levels.
Stay on top of reviews
It’s no secret that online reviews are a vital tool for local businesses. They act as social proof and can push a consumer who is on the fence about doing business with you to get in touch or visit your location. They also play a not inconsiderable role in local search engine optimisation.
Google doesn’t permit you to incentivise customers to leave positive reviews (and it goes without saying reviewing your own business or paying others to do the same is out of bounds too), but it does give a link you can share so genuine customers can review you. Don’t be scared of asking for reviews. They offer useful feedback if there are areas where you can do better and an opportunity to emphasise all of the things your business does well.
Online reviews are the digital era equivalent of word of mouth so whether you embrace them or not, shoppers will still share their opinions of your business online. Staying on top of the reviews submitted allows you to respond and keeps you firmly switched on to how your products and services are being received.
The number of reviews you get is a ranking factor, along with the proportion of negative reviews, whether keywords and images are included and how long it takes you to respond to reviews. You’ll need to respond to both good and bad in order to fully optimise your GMB listing.
Need more help? Speak to us about our local SEO and Google My Business marketing solutions.