What it is, How it Affects Your Website in Search Results and How to Set up Yours
NOTICE: Due to the Covid-19 outbreak, Google has temporarily restricted service and has altered or removed certain features mentioned in the following post.
Ever wondered how to use Google My Business to grow YOUR business? This thought occurs to many business owners as they ponder “how to get my business on top of Google Search.” The best way–at least organically–is search engine optimization (SEO), which helps drive more traffic to your website.
Undeniably, SEO is complex and competitive. Apart from being expensive, the organic process often takes months to show results. But, despite all the factors involved in SEO, it is the most powerful and effective way to get your business found online.
Fortunately Google, the world’s biggest search engine, offers a key foundational piece of an effective local SEO strategy–Google My Business.
What is Google My Business (GMB)?
A cost-effective, easy and free tool, Google My Business (GMB) is essential for marketing for any business with brick and mortar locations. It helps business owners mark their online presence across Google and manage their appearance on Google Search and Maps. It offers a great impact on local brands seeking exposure and helps improve your local ranking on Google.
Whenever you run a search on Google for local services or products, it displays three businesses related to the query. These are referred to as the Local Google 3-Pack, and they are an important part of local SEO and Google My Business.
Why is Google My Business Important?
Let’s discuss some of the important reasons for needing a GMB profile for your business.
Your business display in Google Map searches
Today, most of the people use Google Maps to search for nearby businesses. Whether you are searching for local pest control services or plumbers, Google Maps quickly shows dozens of local businesses meeting your search criteria. With Google My business your business’s physical address can begin to appear. This will allow your potential customers to instantly see how nearby your business is and increases the likelihood of paying you a visit.
Your business display in Google’s Local 3-Pack
Most people wonder how to rank in Google’s local 3 pack. The answer is simple: by creating Google My Business listing. It not only shows customers the location of your business on Google Maps but it will be displayed before organic results, highly increasing your visibility. Businesses displaying in Google 3-Pack have been proven to gain a high boost in clicks over businesses that don’t.
Shows credibility to your customers
Modern customers place inherent confidence and trust in Google, and your business benefits when it shows up in the local search. It will automatically make your brand more trustworthy and add credibility to your business. The reason behind this is Google executes a thorough process for a business to get listed on GMB.
Get more insights about your business
Regardless of the services and products you are selling, the more you know about the needs and demand of your client, the better. From the GMB account, you can navigate the insights section. This data helps you understand how visible your business is, your potential customers and how they are engaging with you.
How to Set Up a Google My Business Page
The next thing that comes to mind is how to get your Google My Business page set up. Let’s have a look.
Being the core element of local SEO, Google My Business requires the full accurate and up-to-date details of your business. Moreover setting up a Google My Business listing is totally free!
Get started: Access your GMB login if you already have a Google account or create a new one. Then, go google.com/business and click on ‘Manage Now’.
Add information: After that, add the full information about your business that is Name, Physical Address, and Phone Number along with your website URL.
Specify business areas: Specify the particular areas your business serves in case you have a business in multiple locations. This will help Google to precisely list your business for searches in those areas even without a physical business address.
Select an appropriate business category: It is one of the most important steps which help to influence the search terms your business appears in Google and your GMB profile. It informs Google for which searches your business is relevant.
Complete GMB Verification: Google needs to authenticate the physical presence of your business as it is where you claimed it to be. If your business profile is entirely new, then you have the following three options to get your GMB account verified:
Postcard verification- In this process, a verification postcard is sent to your business address entered by you earlier with a code to verify your GMB account. Enter the code on your GMB account to verify your business.
Telephone verification- Some business categories can verify their listing over the telephone. You will receive an automated message on your given phone number with a verification code that you need to enter in the GMB account.
Email verification- This option is available to only some categories of business. This verification code is sent through email which is needed to be entered in your GMB account.
However, there is another option ‘Instant verification’ for businesses that have already got their website verified with Google Search Console.
Once your listing is officially verified, then it’s time to optimize the Google My Business page.
How to Optimize Your Google My Business Listing
Optimizing a GMB listing is all about updating the information and letting Google know that everything it needs to accurately list your business is in place at the right times (Google Maps and Google local 3-Pack). You need to assure that all the details required to impress your potential customers that your business is the best and meets all the requirements according to their search term
Let’s see steps to optimize GMB listing:
Ensure accurate NAP (Name, Address, Phone number)
The very first step of how to optimize GMB for success in local search is to ensure the basics are correct. It means to check that your GMB account has a correct business name, physical address, and phone number. They should be up to date and consistent with your other local business citations.
Citations are very important for your business as they help customers to discover your business. It solves the query on how to rank higher on Google maps by feeding all the relevant information required by Google to do the same. With wrong or incorrect NAP, your potential customers will find it really hard to discover you.
Claim your GMB short name
After verifying your GMB account, claim your profile short name. This is a custom name created to make it easier to find your business by local search users. It should either be related to your business name or the name your customers use to refer to your business.
In the case of multiple location businesses, you can still claim a short name along with the location as is suggested by Google. The short name format should be (company name)(branch location) and follow this consistently across all locations.
Write an ideal business description
Add a business description to your Google My Business account as part of the optimization process. You need to describe your business in an authentic and engaging manner avoiding any promotions or sales. It may include your brand story, USP, your business history and mission.
While writing the description, follow the Google guidelines along with the basic rules of writing optimized content. You can add a couple of keywords in the description. Moreover, as for local search, it will be favorable to add location keywords to the text as well.
Add (hopefully amazing) photographs
A high resolution, relevant and amazing pictures could be worth extra brownie points while optimizing your GMB listing. Your page is a great place to showcase photos that capture the attention of the users. Businesses with pictures receive 35% more clicks to their websites than a business without photos.
Optimize your Google My Business listing by adding a profile photo, cover photo and most importantly other general images. Your photos should focus on brand recognition. For instance, including a logo and the cover photo should shed some light about the culture and personality of your business.
Google maximizes this feature to its leverage. You can add interior and exterior pictures, 360-degree photos or a video as well.
Generate. Observe and Respond to Customer Reviews
Local businesses listed in the map have star ratings next to their name. Google wants to offer enhanced user-experience and helps them to find the best nearby business. Most of the users refer to online reviews before they trust a local business for its services or products. Reviews can highly influence the purchase process for any business.
While knowing the process of how to use Google my Business account, it is important to know how to generate reviews as well. Some customers will leave a review by themselves but for those who don’t a consistent online process is required to prompt them. You can reach out to the customers through emails, phone messages, calls or at website checkout.
After the reviews start to pour in, you need to respond to them. The speed of response is crucial so it needs to be considered as a daily activity.
Utilize Google My Business Posts
Another feature that is GMB posts is a crucial step in your optimization process which can immensely increase your visibility. Google My Business Posts are essentially short blogs which can be utilized for news updates, sharing offers, events, services or products directly on Google Search and Map through GMB.
In addition, you can add a CTA (Call to Action) button to the GMB post. It also allows you to choose among an image or video to add along with your content. Once the post has been created, Google gives you the option to share it on your social media accounts which fetches extra exposure to your business.
Build up a good database on Google Q&A
Google’s Q&A feature offers customers the opportunity to ask a question about your local business. The main purpose of this feature is to provide users with additional information about the business. It is also a great way to gain extra local exposure. As a business owner, it is helpful for you to create a database of relevant and useful information to help users consider your business for their search terms.
For instance, you can create questions and answers about your brands, offers, costs and other similar constructive information for the local users looking for local businesses.
Ensure your information is consistent
As a part of optimizing Google My Business listing, you need to make sure to maintain consistency in the information added across different websites. Your address, name and phone number should be the same everywhere. For example, you wrote the Street part of the address one time and shortened it for St another citation.
Therefore, pick a standard and consistent way to write your NAP and assure that your listings match each other and on your website as well.
In order to achieve success in digital marketing by utilizing the location-based strategy, most expert Santa Rosa SEO companies begin at the same point: creating a Google My Business listing. On your local marketing journey, you will experience high competition, regardless of which niche your local business belongs to, it is essential to have various local SEO tools in hand to help you realize your online presence.
Tim Smith is a marketing consultant who specializes in website design and helps clients generate leads using both online and traditional channels. He regularly blogs on website and marketing-related topics, such as website strategy, design, content, security and maintenance.