A well-optimized Google My Business (GMB) listing is an essential component of local search optimization. Using this free service listing service, local business owners can increase their exposure and visibility in the search engines while attracting new customers to their establishment in the process.
You’ll need more than just a generic, nondescript listing to achieve any notable level of success on GMB, however. With tens of thousands of local businesses already listed here, you should optimize your listing to make it stand out.
Claim and Your Listing
You should first claim and verify your business’s listing on GMB. Keep in mind that anyone can create new listings, regardless of whether they represent the local business or not. This means your business may already be listed on GMB, assuming someone else added it.
But even if your business is already listed on GMB, you should still claim and verify your listing. Doing so gives you special administrative privileges while preventing non-authorized users from changing your business’s information. Failure to claim and verify your listing could result in someone changing your business’s address and/or phone number — or deleting your listing altogether.
Click here for step-by-step instructions on how to verify your GMB listing.
Choose a Specific Category
Place your business in specific GMB categories that best represents its niche. Using a generic category will only hurt your efforts to achieve a top local search ranking. This is because it’s easier to rank for long-tail keywords like “extended stay hotel,” as opposed to just “hotel.”
You can only place your business in a single primary GMB category, but you can still have several other sub-categories. By default, the first category you select is the primary category.
Use a Local Phone Number
When creating your GMB listing, include business phone number with a local area code. If your local business is located in Minneapolis, for instance, you should stick with a 612 area code number. But if your business is located in St. Paul — Minnesota’s second largest city by population — you should use a phone number with a 651 area code in your GMB listing.
The phone number used in your GMB listing should also be the same number used on your business website, social media accounts and other web properties.
Add Complete and Accurate Business Information
Of course, you should also complete your GMB listing by adding relevant information about your business.
Here’s a list of information to include in your GMB listing:
- Business name
- Street address
- Phone number
- Email address
- Hours of operation (and special hours like the holidays)
- Accepted forms of payment
- Official website
- Social media network pages and profiles (include as additional links)
Encourage Social Check-Ins
What is a “social check-in” and how can it enhance your GMB listing? It’s exactly what it sounds like: a social media networking feature that allows customers to check into local businesses. When someone visits a restaurant, for instance, they may check into the restaurant on their Facebook profile, revealing to their location to their friends and followers. Google’s algorithm plays close attention to this data, using it to determine search rankings for local businesses.
You can allow customers to check into your business on Facebook by logging into your Facebook Page and clicking About > Page Info > Address > enter your business’s address > click the map > and check the box labeled “Show map and check-ins on the Page.”
Google+ has a similar feature known as “location sharing.” Users can share their information with friends, family and other users in their preferred circles by opening the Google+ app on their smartphone and clicking the menu button > Settings > select your account > and turning on Location Sharing.
Upload an Engaging Profile Pic
If a picture is worth a thousand words, your GMB profile pic is worth a million words. According to Google’s own research, listings with profile pics receive 42% more direct requests and 35% more clicks to website.
Because GMB listings are viewed on a variety of devices (e.g. PCs, Macs, smartphones, tablets, wearable electronics, etc.), you should stick with a small-sized image for your profile pic.
Profile pics aren’t just used in your actual GMB listing; they are also displayed in Google’s Local 3-Pack. So by including a profile pic, you’ll draw attention to your local Google search listing.
In addition to a profile pic, you should also upload photos of your business to your GMB listing. Steer clear of cheesy stock photos, and instead use actual photos of your business, its employees, and its products.
If your budget allows, you may want to invest in an Indoor Street View of your business. A Google-certified photographer will take photos of inside your business, uploading them to your GMB listing. If a prospective customer wants to learn more about your business, he or she can access these Indoor Street View photos.
Encourage Customer Reviews
Reviews are another component of a well-optimized GMB listing. If a significant number of customers leave positive reviews about your business and its respective products or services, Google will take notice by giving your listing additional exposure.
Many local search marketing experts recommend asking for local reviews. For instance, you could ask customers to visit your business’s GMB listing and post a review. Because these reviews are local, they have a greater influence over the ranking and overall visibility of your GMB listing than other reviews.
For more GMB and local search optimization tips, contact us today.