If your business has a specific location (or locations), then ranking in local search results should be a priority, especially on Google.
About 46 percent of all Google searches are looking for local information, while 88 percent of searches for local businesses on a mobile device either call or visit the business within 24 hours.
The good news is that there is a lot you can do to boost your local SEO without spending a ton of money, including optimizing your Google My Business profile.
Google My Business is a powerful free listing that acts as a dynamic snapshot of your business that highlights key information and helps internet users learn more about (and engage with) you within Google search results.
Check out our 11 local SEO tips, then review the following 12 ways you can optimize your Google My Business profile, which is commonly underutilized by local businesses. Optimizing your profile will give you a leg up on your competition.
Create your Google My Business account
Of course, if you know you’ve already created your Google My Business account, feel free to skip this tip.
Although it is imperative to mention that your Google My Business account is different from your Google Business Profile. One is used to access and optimize the other. Therefore, confirm that you have a Google My Business account and then tell Google to connect it with your Google Business Profile.
You’ll want to navigate to the Google.com Business page and log in with your regular Google/Gmail account that you use for your business. Do not log in with a personal account.
Fill out every section of your profile
Be sure to fill out all sections of your Google Business Profile, which will help your business both rank higher in local search results and increase the number of ways potential customers can engage with your profile.
The key fields include:
- Business name
- Location address
- Phone number
- Website URL
- Hours of operation
There also are a few sections that you’ll want to put some thought into:
- Products and services
- Category and attributes
- From the business, which is your business description that appears lower than the auto-generated description that Google provides for you
- FAQs that you create and publish
In the “from the business” field, you can definitely repurpose a description from your “About Us” page or your mission statement. Just be sure to use all available 750 characters, with the most important details in the first 250 characters. (Avoid including any links.) While you do want to include relevant keywords, don’t repeat any information that’s already in the other sections of your Google Business Profile. Instead, focus on what sets your business apart and what customers like the most.
Then, there are a few sections that are ongoing:
- Questions and answers that are generated by internet users
Take the necessary time to fill out all of these sections, and consider what will be the most useful information for someone to know who is coming across your business for the first time.
Be specific with your information
It’s very important that your business name is identical not only to the one you use on your store signage but also to your other listings across the internet.
This can come down to slight differences like “company” versus “co.”
Pay attention to these details so that your credibility isn’t questioned by Google.
Also consider your regular hours of operation and your holiday hours of operation. These likely will be different and will help avoid any confusion (and potential negative review) from a customer who went to your business when you were actually closed.
Choose the category of your business
About 84 percent of Google Business Profile views originate from search queries of a related product, service or categorical term, where that business’s profile appeared.
A big part of this is setting your business category on your profile. By doing so, you’ll also be able to access category-specific features that can make your profile more effective, such as restaurants including a “menu” button.
When choosing from available categories, be as specific as possible and choose any relevant secondary categories (since many businesses span multiple categories). Just make sure that you’re not confusing your categories with specific products or attributes you offer. There are separate sections for those.
Pick relevant attributes of your business
Once you choose a category through Google My Business, you get a list of attributes that allow you to further describe your business.
Attributes are not unique to Google. You’ll find them on various listing websites. They are the features that might interest potential customers, such as “free WiFi,” “public restroom,” “pets welcome” and more.
Select everything that is relevant to your business.
Add photos that showcase your business
Because anyone can add photos to your Business Profile, you definitely want to upload your own photos to help your profile look its best to potential customers.
Uploading photos to your profile also shows Google that you are actively on your profile, which can boost your local SEO as well. Customers are about 42 percent more likely to request driving directions to a business if its profile has photos and about 35 percent more likely to click through to its website.
And the more the better. Businesses with more than 100 photos get about 520 percent more calls, 2,717 percent more direction requests and 1,065 percent more website clicks than the average business.
But don’t take that as encouragement to spam your own profile with photos. When it comes to photos on your Google Business Profile:
- Upload your logo for your thumbnail photo
- Use an image that represents your brand as your cover photo
- Only include photos that are authentic and reflect how your business is in real life, avoiding anything that could be viewed as a stock image or has special effects
- Geo-tag your photos
- Upload any relevant videos as well
- Strive to upload at least one new photo every week
Get additional photo guidance from Google itself.
Seek out Google reviews
Reviews are a top influence on consumer purchases, so it’s important to seek out reviews for your Google Business Profile. Plus, local businesses with multiple positive reviews get a boost in their relevant search rankings.
To get more reviews on your profile:
- Request reviews directly from your long-time and loyal customers
- Create a review shortcut link to make it easy to submit a Google review for your business
- Ask all customers to write a review because about 62 percent will do so when asked
- Include a call-to-action on your website that links to your reviews
- Respond to all reviews, whether they are positive or negative
- Remind customers that reviews aren’t just for your benefit. They can serve other consumers who are seeking a solution to a need or problem they have
Just remember that you should not incentivize reviews with discounts, gifts or anything else.
Regularly post to your Google Business Profile
Consider your Google Business Profile just as you would your social media accounts. Regular posts about announcements, offers, events and more should be published consistently.
These posts are created through the Google My Business dashboard and appear in the “Updates” section of your Google Business Profile.
Posting sends positive ranking signals to Google similar to how uploading photos would, and posts increase engagement opportunities with potential customers.
Consumers also can follow your profile and get notified of any new posts you publish.
Embrace questions and answers
Similar to Amazon, Google Business Profile features a section for questions and answers. Because anyone can ask and answer questions about your business, it’s important to optimize this section to promote accurate information over any inaccurate information.
You can’t turn off this section, so make a commitment to make it work for you:
- Set up alerts so that you’re notified when new questions are posted on your profile
- Fill out your own question-and-answer section with the top FAQs about your business
- Use relevant keywords wherever appropriate without overusing
You can definitely make the question-and-answer section work for your business by staying on top of it.
Add available products and services
When the products or services are not obvious in your business name, be sure to add them in this section of your Google Business Profile through your Google My Business account.
You should include the name, description and price of your products and/or services. The more information you can provide, the better.
Remember, filling out this section provides more content that could potentially be relevant to a local search query.
Set up direct messaging
You can set up an available feature in your Google Business Profile where searchers can send a text message to your phone directly from your search profile.
Select the “Messaging” tab in your Google My Business dashboard. Then, you can install Google’s Allo app via Google Play or the Apple App Store, depending on your mobile device.
Remember to set up alerts for messages in your dashboard by navigating to settings and then checking “customer messages.”
Pulling it all together with a Google My Business strategy
Google My Business is not a “set it and forget it” platform. Staying on top of the features it offers is one of the best ways to improve your local SEO (and ultimately the overall success of your business).
Plan out how often you’ll publish new information, what type of information and when. You can create a separate content calendar if that will help you stay organized.
See our six best practices for mobile SEO as well.
While you’re optimizing your Google My Business, think about your digital marketing process. Consider DailyStory. Our application features automation, dynamic audience segmentation and more. Schedule your free demo with us today.