Did you know that searches for mobile queries for “near me” or “where to buy” have increased by 200% in the past two years? Moreover, over 50% of the “near me” searches result in a physical visit to a store.
A lot of consumers nowadays prefer shopping from locally owned businesses as a way to support the local economy, reduce their environmental impact, and get unique and personalised items. But, how do you put your local business in front of potential customers?
Enter Google My Business, a free tool that can elevate your local SEO efforts and put your business at the top of the search engine results.
In this article, we’ll talk about what Google My Business is, how it can help, and how to create and optimise your Google My Business account.
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What Is Google My Business?
Google My Business (GMB) is a free tool that allows you to manage your Business Profile on Google. If you are not familiar with the concept of “business profiles,” then you should know that this is a term Google uses for your Google Business listing. These profiles appear in the local results of Google Search and on Google Maps and almost anyone can create one. That’s because you don’t need detailed information to create one. The name, location, and business category are enough to create your Business Profile where consumers can add photos, write reviews about your products and services, and so on.
Google My Business can help you regain some control of the information that is put out there about your business. People can still leave reviews and add photos, but you can also get a chance to update the information, offer more details, and generally manage and optimise your Google My Business profile.
It’s important to note, though, that your GMB listings are not a replacement of your website but an extension of it. It’s a way of enhancing your online presence with a listing on Google.
How Google My Business Works?
Google My Business used different ranking factors to determine which businesses it will rank at the top of the search engine results, but the most important ones are: relevance, distance, and prominence.
Relevance determines if your Google My Business listing fits the search intent of users. That’s why it’s important to set clear keywords when optimising your listing.
Distance determines your proximity to potential customers. You won’t rank in a local search for “chiropractor in Newcastle” if your business is located in Sydney.
Lastly, prominence focuses on how active your listing is and looks at the content you create, how many customer reviews you got, as well as the quality of the links that point to your site. That’s why it’s important to keep your Google My Business profile active and regularly add content and photos, answer to reviews, and so on.
Now, let’s imagine that you own a small car repair shop in Surry Hills. You probably want your business to appear in local searches like “car repair near me” or “auto repair shop in surry hills.” By optimising your Google My Business listing, the search engine will place your listing in the Google local pack or Google Maps. The local SEO pack refers to the three listings that appear at the top of the search engine results below the map when someone performs a local search (such as “dentist in Sydney.)
The amount of information Google will display about your business depends on when the potential customers are searching for your services. If a user opens Google Maps and looks for ” car repair shops,) then Google will only show a bit of information from your GMB listing. If they search on Google, on the other hand, then the listing is richer and provides contact details, photos, and even a snippet of a Google review.
Another great benefit of creating and optimising your Google My Business profile is that you will get access to insights regarding where consumers have searched for your business, how far away they are when they are looking for directions, and so on.
How to Optimise Your Google My Business Profile?
The first step you need to take is to perform a Google search and ensure that you don’t have a GMB listing already. If you have one, then you will need to claim it (you will get to this step later.) If you don’t have a listing, then it’s time to add your business through GMB.
Go to Google My Business and click on Add your business to Google. Make sure to sign up with your business email to make it easier to claim and manage it. Carefully fill in all the required details, such as:
- Your official business name;
- Business category;
- If you want to add a location customers can visit, like a store or an office;
- Where you serve your customers (e.g. Sydney, Newcastle, etc.)
- Contact details, such as phone number, email address, current website URL;
- Business hours;
- How far you are willing to physically go to deliver your products and services;
Once you are done filling in all the details and click the Finish button, you will receive a Postcard by mail that you can use to claim and verify your Google My Business account. It usually takes about five business days to get it and it’s the only proof business owners have that the business listed at the address is theirs.
Verifying your business is an essential step in setting up your GMB listing. Google won’t display your listing or any edits and won’t give you access to insights until you’ve verified your business.
Now that your GMB profile is up and ready, you can start optimising it. Here are some tips that you should follow:
- Offer As Much Information As Possible
Google favours listings that are complete as it makes it easier to match them with the search intent of the users. Make sure you include as many details about your business as possible. Users that go through your listing should be able to quickly understand what your business does, where it is, and how they can purchase your products or services.
- Use Keywords
Google uses various factors when deciding which listings to rank high, such as proximity, relevance, prominence, and, of course, keywords. Make sure to include relevant keywords in the business description or the posts you publish. Think about the keywords your audience may use when searching for products or services related to your business and try to include them naturally in your GMB content.
- Add Photos
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that GMB listings that contain photos perform better than those that don’t, but the difference is quite striking. One Google report found that businesses that include photos in their listings get 35% more click-throughs to their website and 42% more requests for driving directions than businesses without photos in their listings.
Use high-quality photos to help potential customers get an idea of how your store or office looks like and how the experience may feel like when visiting your business.
- Respond to Customer Reviews
According to a 2016 report, 90% of consumers said that they read at least one review before deciding to visit a business. Not only should you answer to the customer reviews you are getting (even the negative ones,) but you should encourage people to comment and leave a review by creating a link that they can click on to write a review.
- Publish Content
Fresh, quality content is one of the ranking factors Google uses when deciding what to rank high as it shows which listings are active and which not. Use your GMB listing as a platform for publishing relevant local content, such as offers or information about upcoming events.
- Leverage the Special Attributes
Use the special attributes to tell potential customers what makes your business different – you are a woman-led business, you offer outdoor seating or free Wi-Fi.
We Can Help You Optimise Your Google My Business Listing
Just as with any other SEO endeavour, optimising and managing your Google My Business listing takes time. Setting up your account and claiming your listing is not enough if you want to rank high in local searches. You also need to publish local posts regularly, interact with your customers, answer to their reviews, and update your listing as needed.
Here at Australian Internet Advertising, we can do all that for you and then some more.
Our SEO experts have tremendous experience and understand very well that SEO is rarely a one-size-fits-all scenario. We will work closely with you to create the right strategy for your business and help you get more customers through the door.