Looking to attract more customers to your local shop? If so, then you need to optimize your Google My Business page.
In this article, Chrystal Lenardson, Director of Strategy here at Ignite Visibility, goes over how to optimize google my business for Local SEO.
In fact, you could make a strong argument that the very first step of any great Local SEO effort involves optimizing your GMB page.
Fortunately, Google has made it easy to get the word out about your brand by adding lots of great features to Google My Business. That’s why you should go well beyond just claiming your listing and forgetting about it.
It’s also why you should do much more than just complete all your business info.
Make Sure You Match Your Google My Business Page Across the Board
This first step is also a pro tip: make sure that your business name, address, and phone number match exactly on all of your properties.
For example, if your business name is “John’s Shoes, Inc.” on your website but it’s just “John’s Shoes” on your Google My Business page, then you’re in trouble.
You’re creating confusion for Google that could limit your reach online.
Likewise, your address should be spelled out exactly the same as well.
For example, if you’re using “123 Maple St.” as your address on your website, don’t use “123 Maple Street” on your GMB page. One is abbreviated, the other one isn’t.
Those little differences are actually big differences in terms of Local SEO.
You’ll find that it’s less likely that your business will appear in the local pack when there are discrepancies in your business address.
Also, the format of your phone number should be identical across all properties. If you put the area code in parentheses in one place, make sure you put it in parentheses everywhere.
Unfortunately, your business name, address, and phone number (NAP) could be listed on multiple web properties and directories all over cyberspace. You might have trouble tracking them all down.
Good news, though: there are companies that perform NAP audits. They’ll find every place your NAP is listed online and let you know where there are inconsistencies.
Usually, companies that are Local SEO experts can help you out with that. Just reach out to a firm that you trust and ask them about NAP audits.
Pick the Most Relevant Category for Your Google My Business Page
GMB has an exhaustive list of business categories. In it, you’ll find everything from “ATM” to “Zoo.”
Whatever business model you’re practicing, you’ll almost certainly find it in that list.
That’s why you should go through the list and pick the category that best describes your business.
Choose your category by completing the following sentence: “My business is a…”
Don’t choose a category by completing this sentence: “My business has a…”
So even though you might have an ATM at your convenience store business, you shouldn’t select “ATM” as the business category. Instead, select “Convenience Store.”
Also, go with the most specific category for your business. Google is smart enough to infer related categories.
For example, let’s say you run a golf resort. Choose “Golf Resort” for your category and Google will associate your business with more general categories like “Hotel,” “Golf Course,” and “Resort Hotel.”
If you’ve got a super unique business model and you can’t find any specific category in the list that describes it, go with something more general. That’s probably the best that you can do in that case.
If you’re running a business where other businesses operate on your premises, only include the category relevant to your own business.
For example, let’s say you’re running a bookstore like Barnes & Noble and you have a coffee shop on the premises. In that case, just use “Book Store” as your business category and skip “Coffee Shop.”
Keep in mind: you can select multiple categories. But that’s only something you should do if your business caters to multiple markets.
For example, let’s say you run a clothing store that sells both men’s and women’s clothing. Select both “Men’s Clothing Store” and “Women’s Clothing Store” from the category list.
Linking for Single Location Businesses on Your Google My Business Page
GMB gives you the opportunity to link to your business website. Obviously, that’s digital gold.
However, you need to make sure that you get your linking strategy right.
For starters, link to your homepage.
Although you might think that the “About Us” page is what people are looking for, it’s probably not. They’d much rather see how you brag about your brand on your front page.
If you’re using SSL (and you should be if you aren’t), make sure that you link to the HTTPS version of your home page and not the HTTP version.
Again, be certain that your linking strategy is consistent on every web property.
Also, if you’re using canonicals, be certain that they’re using HTTPS instead of HTTP as well.
Linking Your Google My Business Page for Multi-Location Businesses
If you’ve been blessed with a business that has multiple locations, your linking strategy will look a little different.
First, set up a separate Google My Business page for each location. That’s not “cheating” because you do in fact have individual, separate businesses in different locations.
Google wants to know about all those businesses.
Next, create different web pages on your website for each business. Be sure to optimize each page for Local SEO.
Then, within each GMB property, link back to the corresponding web page.
Enter a Description for Your Business
Google doesn’t stop at allowing you to enter a category for your business, you can also enter a description of your business.
That’s a marketer’s dream.
You get 750 characters to tell potential customers why they should visit your shop. Use that space wisely.
Keep in mind, though, that only the first 250 characters show up in the Knowledge Panel. That’s the spot where people see a synopsis of your business in the search results.
In other words, you should put the clickbait somewhere in the first 250 characters. That way, people will be tempted to visit your website and learn more.
Also, for SEO purposes, make sure that you put relevant keywords about your business in the description.
Note that the phrase “relevant keywords” doesn’t just include info about the nature of your business, but also its location. Include your city or town name. Mention nearby communities. Write about landmarks and major intersections nearby.
For whatever reason, Google puts your description at the bottom of the Knowledge Panel, below the reviews. That’s not the best place for a description of a business, so let’s hope that Google moves it up towards the top sooner rather than later.
Finally, make sure that you follow the Google guidelines when describing your business in GMB.
Add Images and Videos to Your Google My Business Page
Pictures are worth a thousand words, right?
That’s why you should use several images to promote your business.
Fortunately, GMB makes it easy to do that.
Start by adding five pictures to your Google My Business page. Then, add more images weekly or monthly.
Also, Google enables you to add video to your business profile as well. That’s an even better way to promote your brand.
Videos can be up to 30 seconds long. They can’t exceed 100MB and they must use 720p resolution or higher.
If you add two or more videos to your Google My Business page, you’ll get a video subtab that mobile users will see.
And remember: use pictures and videos that sell your brand. The highest quality media won’t matter if it doesn’t convince people that they should visit your place of business.
Use Booking Integrations on Your Google My Business Page
If you run a service-oriented business, such as a restaurant, dentist, or nail salon, you can enable customers to make an appointment right from your Google My Business page.
That’s one of the best ways to stand out from the competition.
Here’s how it works: first, you’ll need to sign on with one of GMB’s supported scheduling providers.
Then, GMB will automatically add the booking button to your page. That’s it.
Think about how convenient it will be for mobile users to search for your business, find it, and schedule an appointment without ever making a phone call. They’ll love it and you’ll love the additional business that you attract.
Brag About Social Responsibility on Your Google My Business Page
Are you running a woman-led business? Do you go out of your way to hire disabled vets? Do you have a handicap-accessible entrance?
If so, mention all of that on your GMB profile.
Why? Because you’ll attract business from people who are socially conscious. And you’ll alienate absolutely nobody.
Think about what you’re doing to make the world a better place and give back to your community. Then, brag about it online.
Get Some Reviews For Your Google My Business Page
Positive reviews will help you with search rankings. They’ll also bring in new customers.
Consider these stats:
- 85% of shoppers trust online reviews as much as they trust recommendations from a personal acquaintance
- 73% of people trust a business more after reading positive reviews about it
- Almost half (49%) of consumers want to see a 4-star rating or higher on a business before they use that business
- 30% say that they look at review responses when judging a local business
- 97% of shoppers read online reviews for local businesses
Unlike Yelp, GMB actually encourages you to solicit reviews for your business. That’s because Google will use those reviews to determine where your listing belongs in the search results.
However, you still have to follow certain guidelines when asking for reviews.
For starters, you shouldn’t offer anyone an “incentive” to give your business a positive review. That’s a conflict of interest.
Second, don’t solicit fake reviews. Google will find out about that and you’ll make things much worse for your brand. In fact, if they see more than a couple reviews a month, the excess may get filtered out.
Finally, don’t attribute your own content to somebody else.
Still, you should politely ask for reviews. Just make sure you’re not spamming your own customers or you might lose them to competitors.
Pro tip: Use one of these review generation platforms to help you do it.
Here’s another eye-opening stat: 68% of local business users left a review when they were asked to do so.
That’s more than two-thirds. You stand a pretty good chance at landing some positive press if you just ask your loyal customers to leave a review.
Use Posts on Your Google My Business Page
You probably already know how to promote your brand by posting content on social media. You should post similar content on your Google My Business page.
Why? Because it shows up in the Knowledge Panel!
When people search for your business, they’ll see your awesome content as part of the overall synopsis of your company.
Even better: posts can include an image, a link to your website, and even a call to action (CTA).
Here are a few ideas for using posts:
- Advertise an event such as an upcoming webinar
- Promote a sale during a specific time, like Labor Day weekend or Memorial Day weekend
- Describe some awesome content you’ve recently published on your blog and include a link to it
- Highlight a new product or service
- Wish your customers well during a holiday season
Oh, by the way: you can also add emojis to your posts. That’s a great way to get people’s attention.
Wrapping It Up
If you’re struggling with attracting local business, that’s probably a good sign that you need to optimize your Google My Business page.
Pick some of the easiest pieces of advice that you’ve read in this article and make the necessary changes as soon as possible. After that, move on to some of the more time-consuming action items.
Then, watch your local business grow!