Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) touches every part of your business online.
Google is the main search engine considered when you’re optimising your web presence. With that in mind, it can sometimes feel unnecessary to think about Google My Business (GMB). The assumption is that if you’re showing up well in Google search results, you’ll also be doing well in GMB.
This is a false assumption that could be harming your business.
As much as they’re connected, Google search and GMB are distinct, with each requiring a different type of SEO.
Whereas Google search mixes both local and global results for most queries, GMB has a hyperlocal focus.
If you want people to be able to find you easily on GMB or if you want your GMB to help improve your overall ranking, you need to optimise your GMB listing. There are a few specific things you can do to get the best results.
Verifying Your Listing
The very first thing you need to do to get any SEO benefits from Google My Business is to verify your business listing. Every business is asked to verify their listing on GMB. This has two main benefits for you:
- Creating a Reputable Listing
- Protecting Your Listing Information
Users are far more likely to trust a business listing when it’s verified. Unverified listings mention that they’ve not been verified by the business owner, so everyone viewing the listing can see.
According to Google, people viewing business listings are twice as likely to consider a business reputable if the listing is verified than if it’s unverified.
Beyond the boost to your reputation, verifying your business on GMB prevents other people from modifying your listing. If you’re not verified, you cannot edit the information on your listing. This leaves you open to the threat of other people posing as representatives for your business. By verifying your listing, you remove the possibility of others messing with your information.
Completing Your Profile
The quickest way to make your Google My Business listing easy to find is to fill out all the information you can. By filling out more information about your business, you’re aligning your listing to more search terms.
Having a complete Google My Business listing will help you show up in more searches because it gives Google context about what your business does, where you’re located, who you serve, and more.
Your listing includes basic information, including:
- Hours of Operation
- Physical Address
- Phone Number
- Email Address
- Category of Services
- Short Business Description
- Location Photos
Fill out as much information as you’re allowed to add. Complete listings are seen as more trustworthy than sparsely filled listings. Give Google more opportunities to show your business listing to users with relevant local searches.
Tip: Google My Business asks people familiar with the business to answer simple questions to help inform others. Go to your listing and look for an option that says “Know this place? Answer quick questions”. Answer these questions to add some extra insights about your business.
Making the Most of Keywords
Whatever type of business you operate, search common keywords associated with that industry and look at other similar terms used to point to local businesses.
The goal is to have as many search terms as possible pointing to your local business. Using the right keywords improves your relevance in related user searches.
Find keywords with higher search volumes in local searches and make sure your GMB listing features any that are relevant to you.
With keywords you need to be smart about how you use them. You can’t fill your entire business description with a list of keywords. This looks spammy and unprofessional, turning users away from your business rather than drawing them in. Instead, use keywords where they fit appropriately in your listing information.
For example, you can use keywords like family friendly, open air, or fine dining to describe the attributes of a restaurant.
Once you’ve used a keyword, you don’t have to repeat it in your description or services unless it’s a point you want to emphasise.
Images and videos can be attached to your Google My Business listing.
You can post your own media, but customers leaving reviews are also allowed to attach photos and videos to your listing. You cannot control user-posted media, but you can make sure you’ve posted a few attractive, accurate pictures or videos of your business itself.
Media is inspected by Google. You cannot post pictures or videos that are not directly relevant to a specific business location. The purpose of media attached to a listing is to give prospective customers an idea of what to expect at that location, so you do need to strictly follow this rule.
However, you still have the opportunity to put your best foot forward in your listing. A great picture goes a long way towards making your business location more appealing to users.
Good media tends to make your listing appear more professional and trustworthy, drawing positive attention to you and pushing you further up the list in both relevance and prominence (two measures for SEO).
Whenever possible, encourage customers to post pictures and videos on your listing as well. User media is seen as more honest than media posted by your business. People looking through listings love to see pictures posted by your customers or videos that give some idea of what your business looks like and what they can expect going there.
Actively Managing Google My Business
Google pays attention to how often both users and businesses are interacting with listings. If you aren’t actively managing your listing, your ranking can suffer.
This doesn’t mean logging in constantly to check for changes. However, you need to keep an eye on your listing, ensuring the information is always up to date, relevant, and useful to prospective customers. New features are released regularly, so you also need to try to utilise these as they appear.
When anything changes with your business, especially your location or operating hours, update your listing as soon as possible. Changes take time to go live on your listing, so it’s important that you submit them quickly to reduce lag time.
Any time people expect something based on your listing and your business doesn’t meet their expectations, you’re losing customers.
If you have temporary updates, such as temporary closing or events, these changes can also be made to your business listing. GMB allows temporary closing information to be stated without becoming part of the listing permanently. For events or other announcements, use Posts.
Content Marketing on Google My Business
You have four different options to make posts on your GMB listing:
- Product Updates
Posts on your listing allow you to give users information about things happening at your business in the same space as they see location information. This isn’t a place for blog posts, whitepapers, and long articles. GMB Posts are better geared towards short-term content rather than evergreen and high-quality content.
With event posts and announcements, you can let people know about things happening at your business location. They can get relevant information about reservations, holiday availability, temporary closures, special events, and more.
Product updates and offers allow you to talk about your products and services. Rather than giving information that’s available in your dedicated services section, these posts are meant to inform people of changes, new additions, or temporary sales.
Posts are a good outlet for information that might be immediately relevant to someone looking at interacting with your business. Whatever you post can also be shared on social media, but posts are visible directly on your listing, making them a lot more useful to new customers.
For all posts, GMB allows a call to action to be included at the end. Choose from a pre-set option that leads to a hyperlink of your choice. You can call for visitors to order, buy, book, contact, or find out more. This is a powerful way to get a specific response from every post.
Whatever you’re posting, take your time to find a good quality picture. The featured image is your chance to grab people’s attention. Don’t waste the opportunity!
Optimising Reviews the Right Way
Good reviews do a lot for your business listing.
Having reviews helps people see that your business is legitimate, but a healthy amount of good reviews with only a few bad or neutral reviews is the ideal mix. Negative reviews add to the sense of honesty users experience reading about your business. However, any number of negative reviews can be harmful, especially if you’re dealing with fake reviews.
Fake reviews are always detrimental, no matter how they rank your business. They can come from competitors, trolls, or any random people. If you receive any bad reviews, always check for authenticity first, especially if the review feels “off” in any way. Look closely at the profile, the language of the review, and your business records related to the person.
If you’re certain a review is fake, flag it and report the review to Google. If you’re not certain it’s fake or if it’s a legitimate bad review, respond to the commenter.
Responding to negative reviews puts your business in a good light.
Even if you can’t please that specific reviewer, you’re showing other prospective customers that you’re paying attention and you care about their feedback. This is a good look for your business, as long as you’re polite, professional, and open to providing a solution.
Whenever possible, respond to all reviews you receive on your listing, even positive or neutral reviews. Personalise each response as much as possible.
Unlike most other third party review platforms, Google allows businesses to ask their customers to leave reviews. However, you are not allowed to offer incentives in exchange for a review and you cannot specifically ask for positive reviews.
It’s a great idea to ask customers to leave reviews so you can count on a better balance of realistic opinions. Just be careful not to insinuate that the customer will receive any benefit for their review!
Connect to Insights
As the manager of a verified Google My Business listing, you have access to the tremendous asset that is Insights.
Insights is an analytics tool that’s connected to your GMB listing. It’s a Google product, so it helps you track a lot of information related to search and customer interactions.
The main information you get from Insights includes:
- How your listing was discovered
- Where you appear in search results
- How users interacted with your listing
- How many users requested directions to your location
- Number of calls to your business from your listing
- Views on photos from your listing
The data you receive from these different selections gives you a good idea about how effective your listing is. You can track changes, observe the impact of your listing, and view important trends.
Since data can be viewed in total or broken down to specific times and dates, Insights is a great resource to understand the true impact of your Google My Business listing.
Note: Insights can be connected to your Google Analytics account. This way you’ll get all your relevant analytics information in one place without having to jump around too much.
GMB listings can be better optimised when you integrate them with other existing services you use.
One of the most useful things you can do is to integrate your scheduling software with the booking call to action buttons, allowing people to book your services directly from your listing.
While this particular integration option doesn’t impact your SEO much, it helps make your listing more effective. When people can book immediately, it reduces the risk of them abandoning their order before completing it.
There are thousands of apps that can integrate into Google My Business.
Most third party analytics services, as well as automation and email marketing software are able to integrate smoothly with GMB.
These integrations help feed more data into existing apps while giving automation programs access to update posts and information on your GMB listing.
Integration makes it easier to share posts and information across multiple platforms simultaneously. For instance, most of the document collaboration software recommended by GetVoIP can integrate into the same automation services as GMB.
You can move straight from creating documents and posts to sharing them across all your platforms in customised templates, including on GMB posts.
Note: App developers also have access to the Google My Business API for more direct integrations with GMB accounts and location data.
Optimising Google My Business for SEO is helpful to make both your GMB listing and your overall ranking better. This indirectly means your business is making more money online as well.
Your GMB listing plays a role in bringing people to your site, but if you set it up right it can also be a direct source of conversion.
It’s worth taking the time to verify, fill out, and update your GMB listing.
Local search itself is important, but there are also tangible benefits for your overall SEO when you actively manage your presence on Google My Business.
Want more SEO marketing advice and strategies? Check out:
- Google Chrome Extensions For Marketers
- How to Consolidate Your Website Content For Solid SEO Growth
- A Complete Guide To Inbound Marketing
- 3 Tried, Tested and Proven Link Building Techniques to Land Backlinks Fast