Google has changed the way that buyers and consumers find what they are looking for. Google My Business is a free tool that lets you manage how your business appears on Google Search and Google Maps. By verifying and claiming your local business via Google My Business, you are optimizing your local SEO strategy.
Did you know that 60% of Americans use smartphones and tablets to search for local products and services?
Why would you take the time to look up a company phone number when you can find it instantly with a Google search? Additionally, when you claim your free listing on Google, you have the ability to include information such as your company address, business hours, and types of payments accepted.
To put it simply, all the necessary information is easily found without having to visit a company website. Although it is still extremely important to include this information on your company website, it is beneficial to portray it via your Google My Business listing as well.
With all that being said, we highly recommend optimizing your existing Google My Business listing or if you haven’t already, start your Google My Business listing.
Setting up your Google My Business listing
If you haven’t already, we highly recommend setting up your Google My Business listing or claiming it via Google. To start, conduct a Google search to ensure your business does not already have a Google My Business listing. If your business does not exist on Google My Business, you can simply go to Google My Business’s page and click ‘Start Now’ in the upper left corner.
The next step is to fill in all the relevant information that Google requests, such as company address, phone number, etc. Last but not least, you will want to triple check the information and ensure that everything is accurate.
Choose a relevant, specific category to represent your business
After you have created your Google My Business listing, Google will ask you to select a category that best represents your business. The category you choose will help Google decide which searches your local listing belongs in. Unfortunately, you do not have the option to create your own category. You will have to choose from the list of available categories that Google provides. If there is not a specific category that matches your business, we suggest settling on a more general one that is a close representation.
If possible, you will want to go for a more specific category. For example ‘Grocery Store’ is a more competitive term compared to ‘Gourmet Grocery Store’ or ‘Indian Grocery Store’. The latter category examples are more likely to land you in the top three for relevant searches, especially if you are in a city with numerous grocery stores.
Load high-resolution images with quality
Having high-quality and high-resolution photos will help your Google My Business listing stand out and provide potential customers a glimpse of your business. Make sure you use high-quality images that make your business look good. Additionally, do not be afraid to show off your product or service. If you sell physical products, display high-quality images of your products. If you sell a service, display high-quality images of your qualified team members providing a customer with your service.
Consider hiring a Google-approved photographer to create a 360-view virtual tour of your business for customers. According to Google, listings that have a virtual tour and photos generate twice as much interest as those without.
Ensure your Google My Business information matches everywhere else
Google will utilize its algorithm to verify the legitimacy of your Google My Business listing. Ensure your listing is consistent across all other existing websites. While that seems self-explanatory, it is easy for little differences to slip in. Maybe you wrote out the Road part of the street name one time and shortened it to Rd another time. Those subtle differences do have an impact on your Google My Business listing.
Pick a standard way to write out your company address and stick to it. Keep a consistent phone number to use, and make sure all your listings match both each other and the information you provide on your website. Additionally, work on getting your website linked in as many relevant directories as possible. This will help optimize your Google My Business listing and provide you with a better local SEO strategy.
Use a local number
While it is important to keep your phone number consistent between your different listings, it is equally as important to use a phone number with a local area code. Utilizing a local area code signals to Google that you are actually local. Additionally, make sure that the phone number on your Google My Business listing is also displayed somewhere on our homepage or whatever landing page you link to from your Google My Business listing.
Avoid penalty inducing offenses
When optimizing your Google My Business listing, you must avoid penalty inducing offenses. Google suspends business listings for a range of offenses, and it is stressful, confusing as well as bad for business. Therefore, it is best to avoid doing anything that will put you at risk.
Read through Google’s guidelines for Google My Business listings do you have a full understanding of what not to do.
Here are some of the main things to avoid:
- Using a URL that redirects to your website’s URL, rather than the actual URL itself.
- Trying to awkwardly add keywords into your business name field.
- Having multiple local listings for the same business location.
- Using any address for your business that isn’t a physical storefront or office space where you meet your customers.
While it is not difficult to avoid a penalty, we highly recommend using common sense and avoid playing the system. Staying on Google’s good side will benefit you in the long run.
Google has made it their mission to provide users with the most useful information, which includes reviews. When you view a local listing in the map snippet of a local search, you will see a star rating next to the company name. Ultimately, it benefits your business to have a high star rating. However, it benefits the user regardless of your company star rating. A high star rating could be the deciding factor for a buyer or consumer to choose your product or service over a competitor.
When you have a happy customer, ask them to take a few minutes to give you a review on Google. It helps to include an incentive, such as a promotional material that you hand out or put up in the store. A gentle nudge or a reminder of how much it means for your business can make your local customers that much more likely to take the time to say a few kind words about you and your business.
Make sure your website and content is optimized for search
As previously mentioned, we highly recommend optimizing your website and content in addition to your Google My Business listing. This will help to strengthen the authority of your website in the eyes of Google, which will make a huge difference. Do not focus on optimizing your local listing to the exclusion of optimizing your website as well.
Here is what you should do:
- Incorporate relevant keywords into the meta tags and copy on each page, where you can do so naturally.
- Add schema markup to your website.
- Create content with a local focus.
- Look for local linking opportunities.
If you have a strong and optimized website, both your customers and search engines will be that much more likely to find your local listing when doing a Google search. Of course, local SEO takes time and work, but the payoff is worth it.
Make your business easy to find when someone in your city is looking for a suggestion with your company category. Google is the best way to get in front of your customers and explain to them what you sell, at the exact moment. Do not let the opportunity slip by because you did not take the time to properly optimize your Google My Business listing.