How to Optimize Your Google My Business Profile

This article will help you understand the way Google My Business posts work, the benefits they offer your business, and how you can use them to increase your visibility online.

Google has revolutionized the way search works. Your business website is still a crucial ingredient in your marketing mix, but Google is making it easier every day for users to get what they’re looking for directly from a search results page, without even having to visit a website. Google My Business is enabling this experience when it comes to local searches. That’s why it’s more important than ever to create, claim, and optimize your Google My Business Listing. Read on to learn how to align your business with Google and leverage its power to grow your business.

The Short Version: Google Profile Optimization Checklist

We’ll go into the details for everything below, but here’s the quick checklist for those of you in a hurry:

  • Claim your listing

  • Complete every field of your profile

  • Add keywords to your description

  • Choose a category

  • Publish Google posts

  • Collect Google reviews

  • Ask and answer questions

  • Add photos

Read on to understand why your Google My Business listing is so important and how exactly to execute each of the steps above.

What’s So Important About Your Google My Business Listing?

Google My Business itself is not a public-facing, searchable directory (such as Yelp), but your listing on Google My Business is what many other public-facing, searchable directories pull from. This includes Google Maps, which has become its own hybrid form of a review site/business directory/navigation service.

Your Google My Business listing can also impact your rankings in search results on both Google Maps and regular Google searches.

If that’s not enough to convince you, here are some compelling stats that highlight the importance of not just a Google My Business Listing, but an accurate and complete one.

Businesses with a Complete and Accurate Google Listing:

• Are 2.7x more likely to be considered reputable
• Get 7x more clicks

Complete and Accurate GMB Listings:

• Are 70% more likely to attract location visits
• Are 50% more likely to lead to a purchase

7 Ways to Improve Your Google Business Profile

There are a number of changes you can make to your Google My Business listing to help it rank higher in search results, stand out above your competitors, and attract more customers. Let’s take a look:

Claim Your Google Business Listing

The first step in optimizing your business listing is to claim it. Did you know that anyone can list your business on Google? That’s a little scary, but fear not—you as the owner can claim your listing which grants you the access to edit and update your information, to post timely information, and to manage reviews. The claiming process requires a few steps, but it is a must. Google is always evolving, and you need to be able to make adjustments to your listing to continue benefiting from it.

Complete Your Google Business Profile

This step is simple but potentially the most important: make sure you fill out every field in your Google My Business listing. This is important for Google but for optimizing your online listings in general. The impact of inaccurate or inconsistent listings is not one you can afford. A complete Google My Business listing includes:

Business name
Phone number
Hours of Operation
Questions & Answers
Depending on your industry, there may be additional fields, such as menus for restaurants.

Don’t just stand up a bare minimum Google Business profile. Optimize it by going through each field. 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.

Optimize Your Description

The description in your Google business profile should be used to add color to your listing. Optimizing the description means including important keywords, capturing the overall gist of your business, and highlighting the features o that attract customers most and set you apart from competitors. You only get 750 characters here, so don’t repeat information that is already seen in other fields. Also keep in mind that only the first 250 characters show up in the Knowledge Panel, so prioritize your information. Finally, no links or HTML.

Does your Google business profile need some help?

Run your Google business page through our free grader to see what’s missing and how to improve it—in 30 seconds or less.

Choose a Category

Getting your business listed under a specific category helps users to find your business in non-branded searches. This is particularly important if your business name doesn’t indicate your service. For example, if you’re a clothing boutique named Rosy Jeeks. Categories are also important because Google has unique attribute listings for each category. Restaurants can mark off whether they accept credit card or include a booking CTA in their listing. Banks can indiciate that they have an ATM.  Do not ignore this section of your Google My Business profile when optimizing it to get found in search.

Upload Photos with Purpose

Customers are 42% more likely to request driving directions to a business if its listing has photos, and 35% more likely to click through to its website [Source: Google]. That being said, be sure to optimize your Google business listing with a profile photo, cover photo, and general photos—and to do so with purpose.

While your Google profile photo should focus on brand recognition, your cover photo should shed some light on your brand’s personality and culture. As for the general photos, keep in mind that the goal of Google My Business is to make the physical world visible online. Your photos should not be embellished with logos, text, filters, or other graphics. They should collectively give people an idea of what it’s like to actually go to your business—what it looks like, what products and services they can expect, and what the general atmosphere is like. The more a potential customer is able to envision going to your business, the more likely they are to do so. Head to this post for more help with adding photos to Google My Business.

Collect Google Business Reviews

Have you ever noticed that when you search for products or services on Google, business results in both Maps and Search have stars next to them? Perhaps the most effective measure you can take in optimizing your Google My Business listing is to get more reviews.

Not only do star ratings impact which listings a user clicks, but they also affect how high you rank in results. Having positive reviews about your business makes it more likely to show up in the coveted local pack of results:

optimize your google my business listing local pack

Google is a trusted source because it seeks to display only the most accurate information, and there’s no better depiction of a business than actual customer reviews. To collect more Google reviews, start with these simple steps:

  • Ask some of your loyal customers to write a review to get the momentum going.
  • Respond to reviews. Knowing that they will be heard adds extra incentive for customers to leave their feedback.
  • Go above and beyond to provide a noteworthy experience for customers. “Playing it cool” is not the approach to take here. Customers appreciate good service, and they appreciate it even more when they can see the effort and intention behind it.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask specifically for 5-star reviews.
  • Generate a review shortcut link (which you can learn how to do here)
  • Emphasize that reviews help others to make informed decisions. They help people who need your services to find your business.

Because consumers trust what other customers have to say about businesses, online reviews are an excellent way to improve and optimize your Google My Business listing. If you get a bad review, you may not be able to delete it, but there are measures you can take to ensure you mitigate any damage it may cause.

Post to Google My Business

Just like with other social media platforms, you can now post directly to Google My Business. Your posts show up on the “Posts” tab of your listing, but might also become visible on your Google Maps or Google Search result, depending on relevance.

Through Google posts you can make announcements, create events, highlight products, and run promotions. The information in these posts is that which customers need in order to stay engaged with you, which is ultimately what leads them to choose you over competitors. In addition, each post type has a call to action button, making the experience from discovery to engagement seamless.

Optimize your Google My Business profile by posting weekly. We’ve got more info about posting in our Complete Guide to Posting on Google My Business.

Ask and Answer Questions

Have you noticed on Amazon that in addition to the product description and customer reviews, there is a section for questions? Google Maps now offers the same for businesses. Anyone can ask a question about a business on their listing, and anyone can answer those questions. Frequent answerers become “Guides”, with different badges and milestones depending on how many questions they answer and useful information they provide.

Did you know that you can also preemptively post and answer questions to your own Google business listing? These FAQs will show up in your Google My Business listing, and potentially even your Maps and Search results. For example, if you answer that your cleaning service uses eco-friendly products, you’re more likely to appear in a search result for “eco-friendly cleaners near me”.

Populate the Q&A section of your Google business profile with questions that create barriers to entry for potential customers to your business. Clearing up any confusion or uncertainty related to your business is a surefire way to improve the effectiveness of your Google My Business listing.

Not sure what questions are most common for your business? Check out our Google My Business Q&A tool!

Google My Business is striving to bring the physical world online, where it can be searched and accessed even more easily. Taking these steps to create, optimize, and maintain your listing will help Google to help your business get found by more of the right people.

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