There is no denying the fact that digital marketing has leveled the playing field for big and small businesses somewhat, if not all the way. Today, a small local bakery can try and establish a solid online presence to bring in more traffic and boost its revenues, despite the presence of giant competitors. And local search has a significant role to play in this. For instance, did you know that close to 90% of those who conduct local mobile searches visit or call the store the same day? Plus, if you are a forward-thinking business, you already know why Google My Business or GMB listing is essential to empower your local SEO strategy.
Local SEO and Google My Business
Like we said before, modern businesses who are even a little aware of digital marketing, know what SEO is. Basically, your website needs to be optimized with the right keywords so that its visibility increases or it earns a better rank on the search results page.
Local SEO follows a similar logic. The only difference is it helps businesses with a physical presence to attract local customers. So, imagine, a potential customer is searching for chocolate cakes near him, and your business shows up on the first page! There is a high probability that he will call you or visit you to place an order. And this is where a Google My Business listing becomes important.
You see, a GMB listing tells your customers where you are located, what directions to follow and also shares a short story about your brand, product and service. These days, it is even possible to include special promotions and discount announcements in these listings.
Now, if your GMB listing is optimized well, a generic keyword search will help the customer to land on your listing on the very first page of search results. In other words, if you get this listing right, you can make the most of local organic searches or discovery searches. In fact, according to a Bright Local survey, every month, an average business gets around 1009 customer searches. And discovery searches account for 84% of these.
So, here’s the GMB checklist you need to follow to make sure that your listing is as perfect as possible.
Ensure correct information and remove duplicates
If you are wondering how to set up Google My Business, just visit and follow some simple instructions. If you already have a listing, make sure that the basics are right. Like, your business name should be the one that appears on your storefront, website and other marketing materials. The address should be correct too, and same as on other directory listings, website and social media pages. A working phone number with local area code should be included, so that Google can match it with the address. Avoid toll-free numbers. And do make sure that there are no duplicate listings.
Categorize your business right
It might interest you to know that more than 300 popular categories are listed on Google to help you categorize your business easily. Though it is obvious, note that the first category you pick is your main category and should represent your business as correctly as possible.
Like, if you are a ‘Pizza Restaurant’, it may show your local business listing to those searching for ‘Restaurants’, ‘Pizza’, or ‘Italian Restaurants’. In case your exact category isn’t available, choose the most relevant category. If you are selecting additional categories, make sure they complement your main category.
Your introduction should do the talking
To get Google My Business optimization right, make sure your introduction is crisp, informative and engaging, apart from being keyword-rich for local SEO. Short paragraphs, bullet points and subheads can make it more readable and attractive. Focus on your business’s USPs. Remember that the “user intent” is very high during a mobile search, and hence, the description should be mobile-friendly and formatted accordingly.
Photos, videos and virtual tours can help
The GMB checklist for local businesses is incomplete without this tip. Nothing beats visual marketing, even if you have a compelling description to hook searchers. High-quality photos of your store, products and even staff can be helpful. Photos based on facilities or even customers being helped can be useful. Good photos can boost your ROI, and so, try and hire a professional photographer.
Short videos are a great idea too and can ensure better recall. Or, go for a 360 degree virtual tour, especially if you have a restaurant, café, hotel, spa, gym etc. This will be immensely engaging for your potential customers as they will get to assess your store or outlet before paying a visit. Click Google Virtual Tour of your business to get started.
A bit of extra info can seal the deal
While creating or updating your GMB listing, think from a customer’s perspective. For instance, if you run an IELTS coaching centre, stating the correct business hours, prices, and payment modes will help. Remember to include special offers and events as well, to attract more visitors. You can also include CTAs or call to action buttons like “Request a Quote” to prompt searchers to contact you. If you are a hotel or eatery, an option to make a reservation online can help immensely.
Get and manage reviews smartly
Reviews can make or break your venture, especially in the digital world, where it takes a few seconds to write a review on social media platforms. While an exceptionally good service or product can earn you a glowing Google My Business review, poor service can irk a customer quickly. So, when you do something good, consciously, request reviews from your customers. If you are a café, ask how the dishes look and taste, or if you are a spa, ask if the massage offered relaxation. Then thank your customers by offering a discount on their next visit or a complimentary product or service.
Tackle negative reviews intelligently as well. Respond to them at the earliest, show that you understand the customer’s concern, and offer a solution proactively. Try and channel the conversation to a private messenger. Post resolution, a customer might change how he rated you too.
Business verification and URL linking
It is not enough to power up your Google My Business listing with all the necessary information. You should remember to verify your business too. Only then will your photos, contact number and description appear on Google Maps. Once done, a badge called Verified will show up next to your business name.
Now, when it comes to linking URLs, if you have a single store location and single website, the task is easy. In case you have multiple locations, a separate page will be needed for each. And each of those pages should be linked to the concerned landing page. You can also link your listing to social media profiles to increase engagement.
So, the above GMB optimization checklist is your best bet if you wish to stay updated with Google My Business listings. For more information on how you can optimize your listing, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.