With everyone struggling to stand out in the midst of ever-swelling competition online, finding new ways to give yourself an edge by ranking higher is key for growing businesses. Google My Business can be just the solution that they need.
Think about it. If your brand is trying to rank for “furniture store” in traditional organic search, you will have to compete with enormous corporations like Havertys and Ashley’s home furniture. Having an optimized profile on Google My Business, however, allows small and medium businesses to rank high in the results based on factors like keyword relevance and customer ratings.
Google My Business puts businesses of all sizes on equal ground, allowing them to share key information that their audience needs in an easy-to-scan format that will increase clicks and hopefully conversions.
In this post, we’ll go over why you need Google My Business, how to get your GMB profile up and running, and how to best optimize it to connect with your target audience and drive sales.
- What Is Google My Business?
- Why Do I Need Google My Business?
- How to Add Your Business to Google
- How to Verify Your Google My Business Listing
- How to Optimize Your GMB Profile
- Want to learn more?
What Is Google My Business?
Google My Business (GMB) is a free tool for businesses that allow them to create profiles of key information like locations, operating hours, websites, and products or services offered. This information appears in a small, designated section at the very top of the results pages.
Why Do I Need Google My Business?
GMB is free for businesses to use, and it offers an enormous range of benefits. The most significant of these benefits is easily the potential for heightened visibility with a profile that contains easy-to-digest information that your audience is searching for.
Your Google business listing will give you an opportunity to rank higher in Google’s search engine results pages, or SERPs, especially since a 2016 study found that more that 56 percent of local businesses hadn’t actually claimed their GMB listing. If you’re in the minority of businesses that do claim and optimize your profile, it’s an immediate chance to stand out.
In the search for “antique clocks,” for example, many users are looking to see what their buying options are. The GMB listings have a better chance of showing stores that either don’t have internationally recognized names or aren’t paying a ton for sponsored product listings.
This platform also gives you the opportunity to provide multiple options for users to get in touch from the listing, including a phone number they can call directly on mobile, a “contact” call to action (CTA) that can be used to drive text messages, or a link to a contact form.
When they do, you can use the app to see, review, and manage all of these messages, alongside posting offers and responding to reviews, making engaging with your audience a much simpler task. You can get the app here on iTunes and here on Google Play.
How to Add Your Business to Google
Registering businesses on Google is an exceptionally easy process.
Start here, and then add in the name of your business. This should be the name your customers know (like “Matt’s Piping Hot Popcorn”) and not the official business license (“MPHP LLC”).
Note that you can choose areas that you serve customers even if you don’t set a location for your business. This, you guessed it, can again help you come up in those searches.
How to Verify Your Google My Business Listing
You need to verify your business on Google once the listing has been created in order to manage its information and have it prioritized in search and on local maps. This helps Google ensure that you’re the actual owner of the business you’re claiming.
Immediately after you originally claim your listing, you’ll be asked to verify your business. The Google business verification process is pretty simple and plenty fast.
- Verify by mail, which includes receiving a postcard sent by mail that contains a code you can enter online for confirmation.
- Verify by phone, in which Google will call the business phone number listed and give you a code to enter online.
- Verify by email, which is only available for select businesses and allows you to receive the verification code via a business email.
Businesses who have already registered their website in the Search Console may be able to instantly verify their listings. This is not available for all industries, however.
How to Optimize Your GMB Profile
After you’ve verified your business with Google, you’ll have full control over your profile, allowing you to optimize it fully. The goal of optimization will be to provide users with enough information that they’re enticed to click while making sure that you’re taking the necessary steps to increase your listing’s visibility in the SERPs.
Let’s take a look at four different steps you should always take when optimizing your profile.
1. Complete your full profile
A lot of local Google listings will just fill out the basic information asked during registration and then never go back and complete their profile.
This is the last thing that you want to do.
You want your profile to be as fleshed-out as possible. This will offer value to your audience, as they’ll be able to see a quick but thorough snapshot of what your business can offer them and how they can get in touch. It will also give you more opportunities to place potential keywords in your descriptions, helping you to rank in more searches and maximize your visibility.
- Descriptions of your business and basic information about the types of products or services that you offer.
- Information about your unique selling proposition (USP) in order to help you stand out.
- Photos of your products, service, or location.
- Full location, contact, and operational hours information.
- Answers to any questions that your audience has asked.
2. Get reviews
Reviews are important because they’ll increase your priority in the algorithm, boosting your ranking potential, and they’ll also help draw potential customers’ attention and trust quickly.
As the reviews come pouring in, you’ll want to make sure that you’re actively responding to them. Google has actually found that businesses who respond to reviews are considered to be 1.7 times more trustworthy than businesses who don’t. Take a few minutes and respond with a “thank you” to positive reviews, and address potential criticism with an offer to resolve the issue through private messaging.
3. Use a variety of keywords
It’s a good idea to have a primary keyword in mind when writing your business’ description, but while you want to avoid keyword stuffing, there’s no reason to limit yourself to just one.
Do your research using keyword tools (including free ones like Google’s Keyword Planner) to find out what terms your audience is using to search. Make sure to include the most high-volume and relevant keywords in your listing.
In the example below, there’s a good chance that this florist’s customers are regularly searching for terms like “corsages and boutonnieres” or “florist with live plants.” Having these listed will allow viewers to immediately know what this business offers, but it could also help ensure that this listing shows up at the top of the list for these search terms.
4. Choose a Niche Category
When you first list your business on Google, you’re asked to choose a category that defines your business. There are some categories that are fairly general and a little vague, like “jeweler,” and others that are much more specific, like “jewelry engraver,” “costume jewelry,” and “jewelry designer.”
Google My Business is an excellent opportunity for brands to put themselves on the map – literally. If you’ve wondered whether to take advantage of Google’s local listings and business features, go ahead and sign up. It doesn’t take much time to sign up, verify the listing, and optimize it for success, getting you a little closer to connecting with more members of your target audience.