How Does Google My Business Work for Local SEO?Josh Astete
Imagine being given a free tool to give your company more visibility, better search results, and a pathway to more sales.
You’d be crazy not to use it, right?
Well, such a tool exists: Google My Business.
But shockingly, many businesses don’t take advantage. Only 44% of local companies have claimed their Google My Business website.
So how does Google My Business work, and how can you optimize it for the best results? We’ll teach you here.
How Does Google My Business Work?
So, what is Google My Business?
GMB is a free feature offered to businesses by Google. It’s a one-stop hub for information about a company that Google displays directly on the results page.
When somebody searches for a company on Google, their GMB info box appears on the right next to the standard search results.
Rather than needing to load another website and search through various tabs, a company’s Google My Business website is a quick and easy way for a potential customer to get any vital information they need – address, phone number, open hours, and other useful tidbits.
(Example GMB listing)
Why You Need a Google My Business Website
A Google My Business website can provide many advantages to a company.
For starters, it makes things easier for your potential customers. They need info fast; using GMB gives it to them. The faster a customer can access your information, the sooner you can start earning their business.
GMB also boosts your search engine optimization, especially in regards to local SEO. Naturally, loading information directly to the world’s largest search engine is going to pay some dividends.
For example, the info you upload to your claimed Google My Business Website ties into Google Maps. GMB also opens the door for your business to appear in the coveted local 3-pack, prime real estate on the front page of Google.
Using your location in conjunction with GPS technology in your computers and mobile phones, Google is able to put your local business in front of the eyes closest to you.
Optimizing Your Google My Business Website
Now that you have asked yourself “how does Google My Business work,” you will want to begin optimizing your listing. GMB is free and easy to use. Sign up and make a claim as the owner of the business. Google will send you a postcard to your physical address to verify. Once you’re approved, you can edit and update your business page.
Once you have control over your business page, it’s time to optimize it. Follow these steps to get the most out of your Google My Business website.
Fill Out Your Details
When it comes to filling out the details on your Google My Business website, the more, the better.
It all starts with your most important information, your NAP – Name, Address, and Phone.
It’s important that you claim your real business name. You also need to make sure your address and phone number are correct. All this information should also be on your own website, and what’s listed on GMB needs to match your site.
Having your NAP cited on your website, Google, and other sites like Yelp, Facebook, and Foursquare all contribute to your local SEO. The more NAP citations you have, the bigger your digital footprint is and the more resources the search algorithms have to verify data about your company.
In order for you to see the fruits of that, however, all those listings need to be consistent and correct.
Next, you need to write out a brief description of your company.
The ability to add a company description was originally part of GMB, but was removed a few years ago due to concerns about keyword stuffing. However, a recent update has brought the feature back.
You have 750 characters to let people know about your business. So what things might you want to include?
- Your industry/specialization
- Your community/location
- When you were founded
- Rewards and accolades
- What makes you unique
- Keywords (but don’t overstuff)
You’re better off using the description for information about your company that doesn’t change. Avoid talking about sales and offers – saves those for GMB posts (more on those later). Stick with info that will always be relevant.
GMB allows you to categorize your business page. You’ll have one primary category and up to nine additional categories to label your company.
Your primary category should be specific while still representing your company as a whole. For example, “grocery store” is better than “store,” but “fresh food market” is even more appropriate.
Your secondary categories can dive even deeper into particular parts of your business. If your primary category is “athletic shoe store”, your additional categorize might call out specific brands you carry, like Nike or Adidas.
One final key piece of information to list is your company’s hours of operation.
Your Google My Business website makes it incredibly easy to know when you’re open and closed. It helps potential customers know the right time to call the office or stop in for a bite to eat.
If you have a consistent company policy about being off on certain holidays, you can include that information as well.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, it’s probably smart to upload some of them to your company’s Google My Business website.
Photos are incredibly insightful for anybody who may be investigating your business.
They can show off your products, providing some verification and another context in conjunction with how they are described through text.
Think about when you’re going out to a restaurant. You want to see pictures of the different dishes so you can get a feel of what it may taste and smell like, how much food you’ll be getting, and other things such as cleanliness and attention to detail in presentation.
Photos can also make your brick-and-mortar location easier for visitors to find. Upload a photo of the storefront, the street sign, or other nearby landmarks to help customers find their way to your shop.
If you have previously created a GMB profile that’s a few years old, consider uploading some newer photos. Camera technology in smartphones has improved tremendously, and a crisp, hi-res photo will leave a better impression.
Respond to Reviews
Online reviews can be highly influential. 84% of people say they give online reviews as much trust as a personal recommendation.
Because of their influence on purchase decisions, Google looks at reviews as one of its many ranking factors. Highly-rated businesses are more likely to appear in the most visible locations, such as the local 3-pack.
Google My Business gives customers the opportunity to leave ratings and comments about your business right on your GMB page. Positive ratings can give your online reputation a boost, while a negative review can obviously do the inverse.
As the brand manager, it’s a good idea to respond to any reviews. It’s always smart to take advantage of a chance to talk directly to your customers and establish a personal relationship. And since the reviews and your responses are all public, you can make an impact other observers as well.
Thank the people who left a high rating for shopping with you and for taking the time to leave a nice note. Doing this will show any future people looking at the reviews that you appreciate your customers.
Even more important is responding to criticism. If a person had a bad experience with your company, this is your opportunity to rectify the situation. Apologize, explain what the problem might have been, and offer a solution.
Create GMB Posts
One of the newest features of GMB is the ability to publish posts directly on Google through your business page.
These posts work in much the same way that a tweet or a status update on Facebook would. They’re a way to send out a short message about new products, limited-time special offers, or any other company news.
Each GMB post has a 300-word limit, although only the first 100 characters or so appear “above the fold” on the knowledge panel. You can also include a photo, URL, and call-to-action on your posts.
(Post creator within GMB)
It’s a great way to make sure your potential customers have the latest information. It’s especially impactful for people who just discovered your business and haven’t followed you on social media yet.
As time passes, some things about your business will change.
Maybe you switch up your restaurant menu or adjust your work hours. Maybe you rebrand and come up with a new logo and color scheme.
Whatever changes may come your way down the road, its vital to keep your Google My Business website updated.
Many people use your Google My Business website as their primary source of information – even more so than your actual website. Outdated information on GMB could cause somebody massive inconvenience.
On top of the practical application to your customers, you also hurt your local SEO by being out-of-date on GMB. If the information on your website and on GMB don’t sync up, search engines will get confused about the status of your business and might drop you down their rankings.
More Help with SEO
Finding out how does Google My Business work and optimizing your page is an important part of local SEO.
However, it’s only one piece of the SEO puzzle. Search engine optimization requires work on both your own website and at other locations around the web.
We can help you make your digital presence as strong as possible. Get started by using our free SEO audit today.