12 Essential Google My Business Optimizations to Rank Higher in Local Search
Targeted visibility on Google is everybody’s dream, but to achieve that, you also need to focus on optimizing your Google My Business profile apart from ads and websites. People often refer to it as a business profile on Google, but it is much more than that.
It is a dynamic snapshot of your business that highlights your best features, current promotions, product descriptions, and so on. Since it is your top profile on Google that is easily accessible through SERPs, it provides you the best opportunity to allow people to find you, engage with you and learn about you.
So, in a nutshell, it fulfills most of your marketing objectives, such as awareness, branding, and advertising. Last but not least, it is entirely free, making it indispensable for marketers.
Despite an astronomical number of searches performed on Google, the number of views on a business profile is very low. According to a BrightLocal research report, a typical business profile attracts 1,260 views out of 167 billion searches performed on Google every month.
The problem is not that Google My Business is not a good platform, but very few people know how to effectively use it for the best results. This platform offers an excellent range of features that can transform your marketing.
Why Do you Need a Google My Business Account?
Here are the three primary reasons you need a GMB account:-
- Be discoverable in digital search (How to show up on Google search)
- Keep customers informed about your products and services
- Build trust and boost consumer confidence
The Benefits of Optimizing Your Google My Business Profile
A significant benefit of optimizing your Google My Business profile is that it provides you an edge over your competitors in terms of visibility on Google. Google delivers you through your GMB profile without spending even a single penny, and it is an unfair advantage. The slightest benefit you get in terms of visibility on Google pays you back many times over as brand awareness, traffic, and revenue generation.
However, optimizing Google My Business profile benefits aren’t limited to increased visibility; they go beyond it to increased engagement, higher local rankings, and improved lead generation. Here are a few benefits of optimizing your GMB profile:-
1. Improves Local Rankings
Do you know how to rank higher on Google in local or “Near Me” searches?
The more optimized our GMB profile is, the better local rankings you are likely to achieve. Apart from proximity and relevance, a better GMB profile corresponds to improved local rankings as Google’s algorithm favors activity and quality of information. It increases engagement and visibility.
2. Improves Engagement
Google is constantly upgrading, and its new feature, “zero-click searches,” is even more formidable. It is part of Google’s initiative to provide most of the information related to a query on its SERP itself. “People Also Ask” and “Local Search Results (with Google Maps“) are some of the features that help you to get your answers on the SERP itself.
So, suppose you have a well-optimized Google My Business profile with pictures and the latest posts. In that case, you will drive more engagement and conversions as more and more people try to interact with you through your dynamic profile details.
3. Drives Conversions
Regular GMB profile doesn’t help drive conversions, but users can locate you through keyword searches, directly call you from your business profile, and view FAQs when you optimize it. They can also make a reservation, book an appointment, request a quote and perform many other activities directly from your GMB profile.
How to Optimize Your Google Business Profile?
This article is entirely dedicated to educating and guiding marketers to use this platform and optimize their business profiles to get the best results. It helps you in the following three ways:
- To increase your prominence in local searches
- To attain better online visibility than your competitors
- To contact and acquire customers online through features such as booking a reservation, making an appointment, requesting a quote, etc.
Here are the ten marketing tactics that you can use to optimize your Google My Business profile.
1. First, Create a Google Business account
For making a GMB profile, creating a Google My Business account is a prerequisite. Later on, you can connect it with your GMB profile. You can straightaway visit the URL https://www.google.com/business/ to create a business account and sign in using the Google ID you use for business purposes. Don’t use your personal Google ID to start a business account.
2. Fill Out Every Section
Google has added many elements and categories to the Google Business profile that appears on the first page of SERPs. They keep on doing it to help you create a profile that can attract your potential customers and answer their queries before they decide to buy from you.
So, beginning from the essential details such as name, address, phone, website, and opening hours, you can move on to the following sections that might be a bit time consuming, such:
- Category and attributes
- Products and services
- Questions and answers (Generated by the business owner)
After that, there is a dynamic section where you can keep on posting and adding:
- Posts (To engage users and announce promotions/discounts etc.)
- Reviews (For reputation management and branding)
- Questions and answers (User-generated)
Local SEO ranking factors
Google considers the following three factors to determine local rankings.
- Relevance: How closely your business profile matches a search query
- Distance: What’s the distance between the searcher and your business location
- Prominence: How popular and well-recognized is a business (Google uses many factors to determine it.)
3. Add Contact Information
Make sure that the business name in your profile is the same as you use it in your store, visiting card, or signage. Google considers adding location-based keywords a spam activity, so stay away from any such practice.
Keep your business name and address the same across the web, including listing sites. Google algorithms may perceive small things such as using “st” instead of “street” as an inconsistency, affecting your credibility.
Mention both regular and holiday hours in the “Hours” section. Otherwise, customers might visit you when your premises are closed and may post negative reviews.
4. Write Your Business Description
The important thing is that the brief business description that you see below your business name is not written by you but by Google. The good news is that Google does a pretty good job writing an editorial summary and keeping it consistent across the platform.
However, you can exercise a bit of control on the “From the Business” section in your Google My Business account dashboard. To find this section, scroll down your profile and see it under the reviews section.
Here is how you can optimize this section of your profile:
- Use all the 750 characters for a better description, with vital info in the first 200-300 characters.
- Don’t forget to use popular keywords, especially those your target audience uses to find businesses similar to yours.
- Avoid repetition of information from other sections. Instead, describe your USP, what differentiates you from competitors and what customers appreciate about your business.
- Avoid including links or markup language.
5. Choose a Category
Most Google Business profile visitors come from discovery searches, which means they land on your website looking for something using the specific keywords. Only 16% come from direct searches, i.e., the search bar uses the business name, product name, or address. It, therefore, becomes inevitable to include the relevant keywords in your GMB profile that ordinary searchers use to search your business type.
If you choose a category, Google offers category-specific features for your Google Business profile. For example, Ocala Yoga Center, Florida, mentions its type as a Yoga studio.
However, try to be specific while choosing your business category. For example, using “Tibetan Meditation Center” instead of just “Meditation Center” will attract more eyeballs.
Here is a complete list of categories you can use to choose the most specific one for you.
Product categories shouldn’t be confused with products or attributes. You can talk about them in a different section. Also, don’t add unnecessary categories as it might confuse Google.
6. Select Appropriate Attributes
Once you choose the right category, Google will prompt you to select the appropriate attributes. These attributes don’t exist exclusively on Google—you can find them on Yelp as well. However, Google is known to use granular and exciting attributes.
Click this link to see an exhaustive list of attributes you can choose from.
7. Attract Eyeballs through Stunning Photographs
Adding pictures to your business profile shouldn’t be a one-time activity. Be active and keep your GMB profile lively and up-to-date. Soon, Google might show these pictures in the local search, giving you added visibility.
Pictures are directly linked with engagement. According to a BrightLocal study, businesses with more than 100 photos get five times more calls than average businesses. However, don’t try posting 100 images in one go.
- Post at least one new picture every week.
- The logo should be placed as a thumbnail photo.
- Your brand should inspire your cover photo. However, Google displays different pictures as your cover photo based on the search query.
- You can add photos of happy customers, views of business premises, and team photos as a general rule. Adhere to Google’s photo guidelines for specifications.
- Avoid stock photos and special effects. Upload genuine pictures of your business.
- Use high-quality images with clear depictions.
Google selects a photo from a Business Profile and displays it directly in local results based on the keywords used.
- You can geo-tag your photos to showcase your expertise in your area
- Adding videos is also a great way to highlight your business profile
- You can also add a 360º view of your organization/products to your profile
8. Encourage Users to Post Google Reviews
Believe it or not, the bright yellow stars of Google reviews in search results influence a user’s buying decision. At least these star ratings compel them to visit the seller’s website or contact them through call buttons.
Note: You can also add “Call Now” buttons to posts created in Google My Business.
These gleaming star ratings make other entries look duller, giving you an edge over your competitors.
It is one of the most prominent reasons why Google considers star ratings as a ranking signal. Have a look above at the screenshot of search results on Google. The entries without star ratings appear below the ones with them.
Pro tip: Keywords used in the reviews also help you rank higher and appear in top search results.
You can easily see that the relevant keywords are encouraged by Google.
- Ask, incentivize and encourage your loyal and new customers to post their reviews using free tools like a review shortcut link.
- Ask your customers through email, social media, text, and in-person conversations to post their reviews, and they will more likely do it.
- Don’t forget to respond to reviews; it encourages even more reviews.
9. Post to Your Google Business Profile
You can use your GMB profile as social media and regularly post on it. Google encourages you to share your announcements, events, offers, and products on your GMB profile. You can easily create posts in the GMB dashboard, and they will appear at the bottom in the “Updates” section.
Posts increase engagement and, therefore, the overall activities performed by the user on your GMB profile. Similarly, regular posts will soon catch Google’s attention and will help you improve your rankings.
Note: People on search engines have a higher buying intent than social media platforms, so posting on your GMB profile will also boost your conversion.
If users follow your business profile, they will get notifications for your posts, and you will get loyal and regular visitors to your business profile free of cost.
Pro Tip: Regularly post on your Business Profile to increase your digital footprint. You shouldn’t do it to send signals to Google, but for the users. You can use it to enhance customer experience, announce events and offers and add links and CTAs. Specific posts have a timeline and are deleted when they are expired, so post frequently and update the customers about what’s happening.
10. Ask and Answer Questions
Similar to Amazon, Google also features a section that includes questions and answers in your business profile. These questions and answers address relevant queries of the customers to push them down in the sales funnel. These answers are meant to help customers to decide to choose your business. Anyone can ask these questions, and anyone can answer them.
However, when someone else answers a question, it can also lead to inaccurate answers. To avoid this, you can set up alerts, so whenever someone posts a solution or a question, you can quickly have a look.
Pro Tip: You can also seed your FAQ section and upvote your answers so that the customers can refer to them first. It doesn’t violate Google guidelines. Since Google picks up the keywords included in the answers in the Q&A section, write answers with the focused keywords in mind. You can naturally follow your keyword strategy without stuffing keywords.
With proper monitoring and management of your Q&A section, you can address the doubts of the customers, highlight your USPs, and clear hurdles of their buying process.
11. Add Products and Services
When your offerings are not clear from your business name, it’s time to add products to your business profile. It will give your products even more visibility and allow people to have a look at them without even visiting your website. Adding such content enriches your profile and helps it rank for relevant searches.
While mentioning your product or services, you may also add their description and price. When the user clicks on it, the full description will appear. Google may also link your products from the category section, giving them even more visibility.
12. Set Up Messaging
Google enables searchers to contact you directly from your Google Business Profile through its text messaging option. With more than 82% of smartphone users using local searches for shopping, Google provides one of the most valuable features. To enable this feature, go to Google My Business dashboard and choose the “Messaging” tab. You can install this from Google Play. You can easily set up message alerts from your GMB dashboard.
As a proven and dynamic marketing tool, setting up Google My Business isn’t a one-time activity. Instead, it’s an ongoing activity that periodically requires inputs from the business owner to grab users’ attention and provide them updates about their products and brand.
It increases your online presence and helps you to be in the spotlight without spending anything on it. You should update even the minor changes in your business.
Publish posts, photos, and upload videos. Use different strategies to get reviews and keep on responding to them. Use as many GMB features as you can to increase your visibility on search engines. Apart from that, you can add quality content and information to your GMB profile and your website, social media, and review sites.
Google’s ultimate objective is to connect its users with the best business solutions. Make a Google My Business strategy to thoroughly and accurately maintain your business information through your GMB dashboard and regularly post fresh content to reap its rewards.