Your Google My Business listing tells people a lot about your business: what you do, where you’re located, what people think about your services or products, and much more. While it helps people physically find you, your listing on Google My Business can also impact your rankings in both Google Maps and Google searches.
Businesses with a complete and accurate Google My Business listing:
- Are 2.7x more likely to be considered reputable.
- Get 7x more clicks.
Complete and accurate Google My Business listings:
- Are 70% more likely to attract location visits.
- Are 50% more likely to lead to a purchase.
Below are a few steps to optimize and take full advantage of your Google My Business listing.
Set up your Google Business listing.
The first step is to set up (or claim) your Google My Business Listing. Go to Google My Business page and click “Start Now” in the upper left corner.
Did you know that anyone can list your business on Google? That fact may seem a little scary, but fear not—you as the owner can claim your listing. After doing so, you’ll have access to edit and update your information, post timely information, and manage reviews. The claiming process requires a few steps, but it is a must in today’s marketing world.
Complete your listing.
Fill in every relevant field that Google offers. You want to make sure the profile is as complete as possible and that every piece of information is accurate.
The impact of inaccurate or inconsistent listings is not one you can afford. A complete Google My Business listing includes:
- Business name: The legal / official name of your business.
- Address: Full address of your business.
- Phone number: A number with a local area code is recommended. That’s one extra signal to Google that you are actually local. Make sure the number you use for your Google My Business listing is also displayed on your website.
- Category: Choose a relevant category. This will help Google decide which searches your local listing belongs in.
- Website: Your website URL.
- Hours of Operation: The hours your business is open. For days when you have unusual hours, like holidays or special events, you can set special hours.
- Description: What you offer, what sets you apart, your history, or anything else that’s helpful for customers to know. Allowable limit is 750 characters. Keep in mind that only the first 250 characters show up in the Knowledge Panel, so prioritize your information. Finally, no links or HTML.
- Photos: Showcase your products and services to people who are looking for what you offer. 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.
Depending on your industry, there may be additional fields such as menus for restaurants.
A complete listing makes it as easy as possible for potential customers to find and contact your business. In addition, the more complete your listing is, the more favor you will receive from Google when ranking you in results.
Make sure your information matches everywhere.
One thing Google’s algorithm looks at to verify the legitimacy of a listing is a consistency in how it’s listed across different websites. While that seems simple enough – your address is the same each time you enter it somewhere – it’s 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, for instance.
Pick a standard way to write out your address, a consistent phone number to use, and make sure all your listings match both each other and the information you provide on your website. And work on getting your website listed in as many relevant directories as possible.
Avoid penalty-inducing offenses.
Any work you do to optimize your website or local listing will be for naught if you incur a penalty. Google suspends business listings for a range of offenses. Getting suspended is stressful, confusing, and bad for business, so it’s best to avoid doing anything that puts you at risk of it.
Read through Google’s guidelines for Google My Business listings so you have a full understanding of what not to do. Some of the main things to avoid are:
- 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 with customers.
It’s all about common sense. Avoid trying to play the system or getting extra listings, and you’ll probably stay on the right side of Google.
You’ll notice that the local businesses listed in the map snippet of a local search usually have star ratings next to their name. Google wants to provide the most useful information to its users, and users want to find the nearby business that seems the best. In both cases, it benefits your business to have a high star rating.
Ask your happy customers to take a few minutes to give you a review on Google. Include an encouragement on promotional materials you hand out or put up in your store. A gentle nudge or a reminder of how much it means for your business can make your loyal customers that much more likely to take the time to say a few kind words about you.
Utilize our proprietary Dashboard Review Widget as well as our Survey Module to get positive reviews for your business listing on Google and Yelp.
Make sure your website and content are optimized for search.
All the usual SEO advice that helps strengthen the authority of your website in the eyes of Google matters here too. So don’t focus on optimizing just your local listing. Optimize your website as well.
Make sure that you:
- 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 i.e. locally relevant landing pages.
- Look for local linking opportunities.
A strong website that’s optimized for both your customers and search engines will be that much more likely to make it into the list of the top three in a local Google search.
If you’re interested in using Google My Business and its other resources to better market your company, feel free to call Envoca today.Stay tuned for Part II of this article.