Optimizing your Google my Business (GMB) profile is the best thing you could do to boost your local SEO. It’s the starting point to having a local search strategy, so you can’t skip it.
GMB gives you a place on Google Maps so that every time someone searches you on Google, they can easily navigate to your place. It shows basic information about your business (working hours, products, etc.), and your contact information (phone number, website, etc.) so that people can reach out easily. And most importantly, it showcases people’s experience with you in the form of customer reviews and the stars they gave you.
And it does this all for free.
Let’s see how you can optimize your Google my Business (GMB) profile and get more customers.
What is a Google business profile and why it’s important
Google My Business is a free listing platform where business owners share information about their businesses. Creating or claiming a Google Business Profile is a critical step for growing businesses to get visibility and ultimately customer Google reviews.
Your Business Profile shows customer reviews as well as the information you add:
- A description of your products or services
- Your business hours
- Contact information including your website URL
- Visuals of your products, services, and store
- Snippets from Google Street View and Google Maps
Usually the information above is spread across several places including your website. But it has certain advantages to have it wrapped up in a Google Business Profile.
Increasing your brand’s visibility
When customers search for your business name, it’s called direct research. When they search for a product, a category, or a service you offer, it’s a discovery search.
BrightLocal’s Google My Business study found that 84% of searches an average business receives is discovery. This means that having a strong online presence is the key to expanding your business’s reach. An optimized Google My Business restaurant profile, for example, can allow customers to find the restaurant when using discovery keywords like “Italian food in my area”.
The GMB profile can directly link to your own website so it can drive some traffic to it and allow you to capture new leads and use email list building tools to follow up and retarget them.
When optimized, your Google Business Profile becomes visible to prospective customers in Google Search, Google Maps, and Google Shopping.
Think of a refurbished Apple store based in Sacramento. With an optimized profile it can attract Sacramento customers who Google ‘refurbished iPad deals’.
It even can get listed in the Local Map Pack. Google Map Pack is a section in the search results that displays top local listings for the search location. We learned in our post about business to start with 100k how important it is to leverage GMB correctly!
Providing accurate online information for customers
Life-long customer relationships are built on trust. The stepping stone of building trust-based relationships is being able to provide accurate information when customers need it.
For instance Google has seen a trend in 2021 where the searches for gift shops near me’ have grown globally by over 60%. Even when heading off to a local store, consumers don’t want to drive around to find one. They look for online information.
And Google My Business allows you to offer customers up-to-date online information. Alexandra Marks, for instance, makes known that they have delivery and curbside pickup options. This piece of information is specifically appealing to last-minute holiday shoppers.
All these stores post logistical and operational information, such as a business phone number. Or when they expand services or business hours, they let customers know of it.
So when customers look for a nearby store, they get accurate information from your Business Profile. They don’t show up in off-hours nor have a problem locating your store.
Experts suggest the ‘loyalty shake-up’ continues in 2022. Loyalty shake-up is a trend that appeared after the COVID-19 breakout. Consumer behavior research found that with the impact of COVID, consumers are increasingly switching brands or retailers.
This trend is an opportunity for small businesses. Get inspired by consumers’ willingness to try new brands to grow your audience and build customer loyalty.
Collect more reviews for your Google Business Profile for starters. Reviews are a key factor for both consumers and Google’s local SEO algorithm in their assessment of a local business. Google Business Profile signals and reviews account for a combined 65% of ranking importance.
And they’re a great tool to gain people’s trust. Google’s rating system and the room it gives to detailed reviews help shoppers make informed decisions.
Once your business gets exposure, you’ll have to spend time responding to customers’ reviews in your GMB profile. It’s amazingly effective in building relationships with customers. Over time it has a huge impact on how consumers perceive a brand. It’s not about getting positive reviews all the time. It’s more about how your attitude and actions are being helpful to customers.
The bottom line is, having a Google Business Profile will help you navigate through these 3 phases of growing a successful brand:
- Expand your reach to brand new audiences
- Gain control over your online information for better communication
- Build trust and brand loyalty over time
So how do you set up or claim your profile on Google?
Set up a Google Business Profile
Step 1: Create your Google My Business account
As a first step, create a Google My Business account. Google My Business is a suite of tools that’ll help you optimize your Google Business Profile.
Go to ‘google.com/business/’ to create your profile with your business Gmail.
Step 2: Claim your business
The next step is claiming your business or adding it to the platform if it doesn’t exist.
Head to ‘business.google.com/create/new’ and type your business name.
If it isn’t listed, add it yourself to Google.
Step 3: Enter location and contact information
If you have a physical location customers can visit, answer yes in the next page:
If you don’t offer in-store shopping but deliver to certain areas, list your service areas.
Next, add your business phone number and website address. In a few minutes Google will verify your Business Profile.
Now, claiming your business on Google was the easy part. To attract customers you’ll have to optimize your profile.
Tips to optimize Google My Business
Go heavy on visuals
Any successful company in 2022 acknowledges that they have to captivate a visual-forward audience. In 2017, Google introduced image search with Lens. Later came the ‘multisearch’ which lets you use image and text simultaneously.
With multisearch, you can take a picture or use a screenshot and then add text to it. Multisearch is available in English globally. It’ll be available in 70 languages in the next few months.
At this year’s Search On event, the company took further steps toward making visual search work more naturally for consumers. In the near future, consumers will be able to use ‘multisearch near me’.
They’ll be able to upload a picture or screenshot of something and explore local places that sell it. ‘Multisearch near me’ will start rolling out in English in the U.S. later this fall.
Say for instance, someone craves a French dessert they’ve seen on a friend’s Instagram post. They’ll be able to find it at a local patisserie nearby.
Google also announced that people click on 3D images nearly 50% more than static ones. The tech giant acknowledges that creating 3D assets can be challenging for small businesses.
That’s why they’ll give you a hand. Users will soon be able to apply Google’s 3D mapping and ML to generate 360-degree scans. And you’ll be able to generate them with a handful of product photos.
Follow search trends closely. Upload high-resolution videos and pictures to your Google Business Profile. You can start by creating killer visuals for the most popular products or services. Your store will rank higher and more people who visited your profile will shop from you.
Have informed conversations with Business Messages
Verint found that in 2020, 69% of consumers used private messaging to engage with a brand. And you need to be where your customers are.
Google Search, Search ads and Maps can help your customers reach you. By adding Business Messages on Search, you can handle a few things at once.
For one, Google’s Business Messages allow you to answer customer questions that would’ve turned into calls. A big time-saver. If they need further help, you can connect them to live help.
With a growing audience, you’ll need some level of automation in customer interactions.
Remember, consumers want their preferences and needs to be recognized. And they want you to offer relevant recommendations and deals.
Use Business Messages to have ongoing conversations with customers. Offer them personalized recommendations, solutions and discounts at the right time.
Plus, you can show generic information like the expected wait times, or your return policy. It’s a great way to avoid confusion and the dissatisfaction that follows it. Having this kind of information at the storefront will help you develop successful relationships over time.
Use Google posts actively
Google posts is a free tool that lets you post short-form content. Your posts can include 300 words, photos, and videos. And you can even add a CTA. Sharing Google posts on a regular basis could be a strong local SEO factor. Have your posts’ content optimized for proper keywords to get the most out of them
Using Google posts, you can share announcements, offers, events, and product updates. Look how enthusiastically Alfred Coffee announces their developments.
More importantly, they added a call to action. It’s a great way to grab shoppers’ attention before they even land on your website.
Similarly you can announce that a popular item is in stock or discounted. Online retailers can get traction just by promoting a good deal on a popular item.
Google posts can also help you build your own community. You can share moments from store visitors, winners of your loyalty program competition, or people who’ve attended your latest event.
This way, your GMB profile will resemble the genuine in-person experience they’d find in your
physical store. Of course, you need to ask for consent before sharing customers in your posts. Especially if you want to integrate it with a marketing platform like TextUs
Posts are 100% free. And the best part is, you can repurpose content to appear in your profile without hurting SEO. However, it’s still recommended to keep track of your search engine rankings with SEO automation tools.
Posts more than 6 months old get archived unless you specify a date range. This means that you can use material you’ve already created for other channels.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Google My Business is free?
Yes, Google My Business is a free tool provided by Google that enables business owners to manage their online presence across Google, including Google Search and Google Maps.
How do I access Google My Business?
Go to the Google My Business website & sign in to your Google account (or create one if you don’t have one).
What are the disadvantages of Google My Business?
Here are the main disadvantages of Google My Business:
– Limited control over how your business appears in search results
– Potential for fake reviews or spammy listings to affect your business’s reputation
– Difficulty in contacting Google support for assistance with issues or questions
Going beyond GMB:
For many potential customers, your Google my Business profile provides just the basic information they’re looking for. So they take some extra steps to find out more about you. They might go to your website, your social media profiles or review websites to take a closer look at your products and your customers’ experience. It’s important to go beyond GMB in your optimization efforts.
Make sure your website functions properly. Slow and buggy websites are among the main reasons users leave a business behind. Use performance testing software to make sure your website functions properly.
Third-party review sites such as Yelp, Amazon customer reviews, Trustpilot, TripAdvisor, etc. are extremely important. Have a strategy to get positive reviews from happy customers on these sites (maybe offer them some kind of incentive?), and respond to negative reviews properly.
And most importantly, your social media presence tells it all for so many people especially in B2C businesses. Connect your social media profiles to your GBM account. Get to know your audience, create suitable content for your audience, and engage with them. As a social media management platform, Eclicnher helps you with:
- Audience research through social listening and monitoring
- Creating content and scheduling posts
- Engaging with your audience in all social media platforms from a unified inbox
- Image libraries and content suggestions
- Advanced analytics
- And lots of more features you can have access to through a 14-day trial.