Use Your Google My Business (GMB) Page to Boost Your Online Presence
A recent study showed that less than half of all Google searches actually lead to a click to another site. Google's goal is to keep more and more searchers within the Google environment. With this in mind, it makes sense that Google is rewarding businesses that put more and more of their information in the Google representation of their business, known as your Google My Business page. This is where people go to leave Google reviews and ask questions, as well as learn important facts about your business such as your business hours or address for directions. This is all with the goal of giving your potential customers all of the information they need without even clicking through to your website.
It only makes sense that you take advantage of this free opportunity and optimize your listing as much as possible. As a small business SEO consultant for over a decade I often try to fill in the gaps and help businesses where they can't help themselves. Your Google My Business page is an easy way to help your own presence with a relatively low level of effort. Follow the steps below to take control of your business listing and fill it with the right information to get you a far better ranking in local searches.
Claim Your Listing
If you don't already have control of your listing, you should make sure to claim it or create it. In many cases Google has already figured out that you exist and created the page for you, but if you are brand new, you may have to tell them about your business. In either case, you simply go to business.google.com and follow the steps to either create your listing or find and claim it. You can typically prove ownership with a pin number either given to the owner by phone or sent in a postcard to the business address. In some cases, more information is necessary to prove you own the business and that the business legitimately exists. Many people try to cheat the system so Google puts some safeguards in place.
Fill Your GMB With Information
The more information you give Google about your business, the more it can relate your business to searches. Don't get lazy here. List all of your individual services (you don't have to list price, even though there is a field for it) and a description of your overall business. Make sure your name, address, and phone (NAP) are accurate and consistent anywhere you fill them out online. Google gains confidence in your business information when it sees consistency with this NAP around the internet. Make sure you fill out your hours and any other relevant field you see them offer. Different industries sometimes have different options. Fill out as much as you can. Fill in as many business categories as are relevant to your business but make sure the primary category is the one that is most important to you.
Service Area Businesses
Make sure you fill out your service area. If you are business that serves customers at their location, this is especially important. These businesses won't even necessarily list the address, but the service area is what makes them relevant to the search.
Load your listing with photos. Recent studies have shown a high correlation between the number of images on these pages and their presence in local searches. Shoot for at least 50 to over 100 images to maximize here.
Ask for Reviews
Reviews are an important factor in local search and also tell Google about your business. Google even uses words from reviews to find relevance to searches. For example, a restaurant that has many reviews talking about wings may show up for a local “best wings” search, even though wings is not a business category. Reviews not only help your ranking but tell searchers more about your business and what you offer.
Google has a feature called “Posts”. These are similar to social media posts, but in GMB they only last for seven days. These are yet another opportunity to tell the world and Google more about your business. Make sure to post at least once a week. Google rewards businesses that are interactive and paying attention to their GMB pages, so keep fueling it with more posts. You can simply outline one of your services and then link to that page on your site.
Answer Questions and Respond to Reviews
As I mentioned previously, interacting with searchers is rewarded with rankings. When people ask you questions through your GMB or leave a review, respond with an answer or a thank you. This shows that you are paying attention and will help your search presence.
Though this seems like a lot of activity to do, once your page is set up it takes relatively little time to stay on top of things. You can set up notifications to tell you when someone has left a review and you can typically plan a time each week for your posts. Make a point of using GMB as a tool for new business. It will be quite rewarding.