Optimizing for local search using your Google My Business listing is one of the lowest hanging fruits that one can use to pull up your SEO. With the amount of products Google churns out, it is likely that several small businesses are yet to claim their listing (around 49% haven’t done so yet).
After all, with Google+, Google Maps and Google Search, how will local business owners have the time to stay optimized everywhere?
Luckily for us, Google+ made a transition to Google My Business in 2014 and made things a bit easy. Google+ is still around and kicking and can help with your SEO. We’ll get back to that in a bit.
So what’s the big advantage of getting listed on Google My Business?
It is a binding factor across two other very useful products – Search and Maps – both of which customers may be using to find you. In a way, the My Business listing not only tells your customers where you are located but also a little story behind your product / service and how good you are.
It is clearly and easily visible during a direct search for your brand name and it gives you an edge in generic keyword searches too. If your listing is good, this edge translates to your listing being visible even above the best page 1 search results for that keyword!
And most importantly, it is easier than other SEO tactics! According to Hubspot, 84% smartphone users use a search engine at least once a day (and by ‘a search engine’ you know what we mean) and 18% of those users become paid customers within a day!
If these stats have got you interested, you too can work to get a stalwart GMB listing. All you need to do is pay attention and get it right. Here’s how it can be done.
1. Get a Google My Business listing
This seems like a no-brainer but if you are on this side of the 49% who haven’t had the time to look up local optimization. Well, now is the best time to start. Old-timers may be confused between Google Local Business, Google+, Google Places and Google My Business and what’s happened to their earlier listings. To clarify, it is GMB where your listing needs to be, as of today.
To get GMB listing, visit https://www.google.com/business/ and follow the simple instructions on getting started with your listing.
2. Keep your address and phone number consistent
Whether you are a new listing or have an existing one, it is important to ensure that your address and phone number are up to date and exactly as mentioned on your website. Match even Road to Rd or Street to St. What happens if it doesn’t? You’ll end up leaving Google confused on which information is right. And Google being confused is never good, as it may just eliminate you all together rather than showing the ‘wrong’ information.
Also, since some businesses don’t have a company address, there are additional instructions on how to create their local listing here
3. Select the right category for your business
This is the core part of the business listing that you need to get right. Google cites an example that if you are are a ‘Pizza Restaurant’, it may show your local business listing to people searching for ‘Pizza’, ‘Restaurants’ or even ‘Italian Restaurants’. Google asks you to be as specific as possible within the give options – For example, ‘Ayurvedic Spa’ instead of just ‘Spa’. If your category isn’t present, then you’ll have to choose the nearest relevant category. Your additional category should be in line with your main category and not something different that you sell.
Also, if you edit your categories in the future, you’ll be asked to re-verify your listing. So choose wisely. Here’s some more info that can help
4. Add photos and videos
With Instagram and iPhones, we are in the age of visual marketing. Which means, even local businesses can have no excuse for blurry or bad photos. Good photos can translate to great ROI, so it is best you hire a good professional to do a photo shoot for you. Photos of founders, key staff, exterior and main interior of your business, and your main product will probably sum it up best.
GMB also allows you to create a Google Virtual Tour of your business. This is essentially a 360-degree photograph of your business which is similar to Google’s Street View. The indoor street view shows up both in search and maps which makes it a valuable asset.
To create a virtual tour for your business, you can choose to hire one of Google’s trusted photographers to do the job!
5. Optimise your introduction for the search engines
This is where you’ll be telling people about your business and star products. More importantly from a local business view, you’ll be telling them why they should visit. Since the “user intent” is very high during a smartphone search, make sure you add your prized keywords here and also keep it interesting. If it is slightly longer, make it easier to read on mobile with bulleted lists.
6. Add additional information
This is where most people stop and stalwart GMB listings continue. Time to think from a customer’s perspective. Imagine that you are a spa offering specific massage services. The customer will be happy to know details like the types of spa massages, the price, additional facilities sauna, acceptable payment methods, offers, events and special notes to visitors.
7. Get reviews
After you’ve laid down the red carpet, it is time to execute the most important part of a GMB listing – reviews. It generally takes something extra good or extra bad for a customer to go back, find you online and rate you. The extra good is something you can create consciously. And when you do, you can request a review from your customers. Time it right when the store isn’t too crowded and the customer seems really pleased. And don’t forget to show your gratitude with a thank you note or even a discount for their next visit.
8. Respond to reviews
Not all ratings and reviews are good. But negative reviews can be turned around to your advantage too. The first rule is to ensure you respond to all reviews promptly. Just being acknowledged will take the edge off to an extent if the review is negative. The next thing to do is to reply politely and offer to take the grievance offline or over email. If all goes well, you can always ask them to come back and change their rating.
9. Keep updating G+
You’ll wonder where this came up. Digital marketers are on the edge with this social platform. It makes us wonder that will G+ soon meet the fate of Google’s three previous social platforms Google Buzz, Friendster, Latitude, Orkut and many others. For now, G+ is said to have an impact from an SEO perspective so posting updates at least once a week here will be beneficial for your GMB listing too.
To know more about how you can optimize your GMB listing, drop us an email here. firstname.lastname@example.org