Being found online is getting tougher every day and there are a few things that businesses can do to help with their search engine visibility. Today we will take a look at Google My Business - or as it's often called - GMB.
GMB listings are a great way of bringing more search engine traffic to your website which can help you dominate your local area in which your business presides.
Setting up a GMB listing can seem simple enough but there are many things you need to take into consideration so your business can be found when someone searches for the products or services you sell.
Why bother with Google my business at all?
Over 26% of search clicks are local searches so missing out on this could mean you are losing out on potential customers to your competitors and with over 2.5 billion searches made per day that could be potentially a lot of business.
Not only can an optimised listing send targeted website traffic to your business but it can also convert those visitors into customers if your profile and business look legitimate.
Hopefully, you understand the importance of setting up and optimising a profile at this point so let's get started.
1) Setting up a GMB profile
If you don't have a GMB profile you will need to go to Google.com/Business and set one up.
Applying for a GMB listing is simple enough but if you do need help setting up a profile here is a guide that can help.
Once you have applied for an account you will need to verify it before we can do any optimisations. Different options will be available to those who live in different countries but for most of us, a postcard verification will be used.
Google will take a few days to send out a verification card and when you get it you will need to enter the digits on the card and your profile will then be verified.
2) Optimising your profile
The best tip that you can have when it comes to GMB optimisation is to make sure you fill out everything you possibly can. You also want to make sure that all of the information that you fill out is correct and is consistent with the information on your website and other websites. If any of this data doesn't match it makes ranking your website in the map pack very difficult.
The map pack for those who don’t know is a group of results that are shown to someone who is making a local search.
For an optimised GMB profile you will need to fill out:
- The name of the business.
- The address.
- Phone number.
- Email address.
- Business category.
- Opening hours.
- Products and services you provide.
- Business photos.
These are the most important parts of a GMB listing and if you fill these out correctly you are on your way to having an optimised profile.
When it comes to entering your business name make sure to enter your actual business name.
This may seem obvious but many businesses spam their GMB listing by putting keywords into their business name.
An example of this would look like the following:
"AJ's Recovery Service" would turn into "AJ's Recovery Service London."
The second variation of the title is actually very powerful and can rank your GMB listing quickly. However, it's against Google's terms and conditions.
If your business name includes keywords that aren't your business name, this is a good way of getting your business removed or blocked from GMB listings.
Tip: If you see any of your competitors doing this, feel free to report the listing as you can get them thrown off the searches and it makes your job of ranking easier.
When filling out the above information make sure that it's consistent across your GMB profile, your website and any citations or links that you make back to your website. Your NAP data or name, address and phone number are very important for ranking in the map pack so if you don't have these consistent you are going to have trouble ranking.
Small changes can have a big effect too, the following example would result in inconsistent NAP data and would make your job of ranking in the search engines difficult.
AJ's Recovery Service
Unit 5 Walton Street
AJ's Recovery Service
Unit 5 Walton ST
Can you spot the difference?
Notice how in the first example "street" is spelt fully while abbreviated in the second. Small inconsistencies such as this can hurt the chance of ranking. Now if you had this same business but it had moved address and had different NAP data all around the internet, you would be in big trouble.
If you do have inconsistent NAP data you should clear this up, there are many services out there that will do this for you most of them only costing a few dollars per citation.
A citation if you don't know is a website that contains your business information. This could be a website such as Yelp.com.
3. Choosing the right business category
To optimise your business you should show up in the same categories as your competitors. If you have an IT support company you may think your business could come under the computer repair category but a quick search for IT support + Location will show that most businesses will have chosen the "IT services and Support" category.
Choosing the right category for your business is vital if you want your website to show up when someone searches for your business.
Google's algorithm is very strict so following what's already being shown to work on the search results page is a great way of optimising your GMB listing.
4. Making your business stand out
Photos are a great way of making your GMB listing stand out and if you can provide potential customers with a way of seeing who works at your business, where your business is located and any other relevant business photos. Having these photos inspires confidence in your business and people are far more likely to click on your website than your competitors if you have them.
Adding photos to your business listing also allows you to upload photos with EXIF data inside of them. EXIF data shows where a photo is taken, if you own a business in London you can take some photos around London and upload them to your profile. This gives your business geographical relevance and may give you a small ranking increase.
For some businesses, you can apply to have a Google certified photographer come to your office and record a 3D view of your office or business location. This may not be accessible to all businesses but if it is you will have the option to request this within your GMB profile.
5. Request reviews from your happy customers
Getting reviews to your GMB listing is a great way of increasing your search engine rankings and increasing your website's click-through rate. All of which are going to increase your businesses overall sales.
Getting reviews to your business, however, is difficult. The easiest way of getting reviews is to request them from customers and suppliers that have had a good experience with you in the past and simply send them a link to your GMB profile.
You can get the link to your GMB profile by going to Google maps, typing in your business name and then click on "write a review." Before writing a review yourself though you will need to copy the address in the URL bar which should look something similar to this:
The above is for the burger chain Five Guys in London. Your listing will look slightly different.
From the address above you can see it's not user friendly as no one could remember that, so you will need to shorten the URL. Thankfully there are URL shorteners out there that can help with this.
One that you can use is Bitly.com
When shortening your code from above you will now end up with something that looks like this:
You can now share this link on social media, through emails or even have business cards printed out with this link on there. You can then send this to customers that have had a good experience in working with your company.
Getting reviews to your GMB listing will help improve your search engine rankings and increase overall trust which will make converting website visitors into customers.
6. Tracking and testing
Tracking and testing changes are vital if you want to grow your organic website traffic. Google's algorithms change often so what works one month may not work the next.
To track your local rankings there are many paid and free versions of software out there. Free versions of rank tracking software will require you to manually check your rankings every so often while paid versions will offer more flexibility and track your rankings in multiple locations automatically.
Local rank tracking software shouldn't cost too much especially if you are a small business and only have one location. As you track more locations your fees will go up but optimising your listings should also increase your sales which will cover these costs.
If you are going to optimise your listing you should test how different parts of your GMB listing affect your website's rank in the map pack.
Adding a new service or posting more through your GMB listing could have a positive impact but it could also be the case that you are investing too much time in posting regularly on your GMB listing and your effort doesn't justify your return on investment.
Only through tracking your search rankings and then testing will you know if the changes you are making are having a positive effect on your businesses search engine ranking.
If you are a local business and don't have an optimised GMB listing you are missing out on free website traffic that is highly likely to convert into paying customers.
With the tips above you now know how to optimise your profile to give you every chance of showing up when someone in your area searches for the products and services you sell.