Google My Business is a product from Google that attempts to combine their other products aimed at helping local businesses including Maps, Google+ and Local Search. Local search is increasingly becoming more important for local businesses as the smartphone revolution has completely changed the way in which people search.
Many studies have concluded that more customers these days use their mobile phones to find local businesses for buying products and services.
Also, a Google research study has concluded that local searches also lead to increase in foot traffic in brick and mortar stores. Therefore, even if you do not sell anything online or do not have an online presence, it is important for you to optimise your Google My Business listing in order to rank high in the local search engine result pages.
Benefits of Optimising Google My Business
1. Optimising your Google My Business (GMB) listing will make it very easy for your business to rank on the first page of search results for searches with local intent in your location.
2. All the essential contact information is readily available on the GMB page which means searchers can call you directly.
3. The GMB listing also provides the exact location of your business and people are increasingly relying on Google Maps which means they can easily find your business and drop by.
4. Visitors can easily check your website and find other important information about your business.
5. They can also check out the existing reviews on your Google+ profile and they can also write their own reviews.
6. It helps in increasing engagement rate as you are allowed to add images to your listing that helps in increasing click through rate as well as engagement rate.
7. It’s free to use and potential customers expect a business to be listed on GMB.
8. This tool allows you to manage your online presence across Google.
9. Potential customers can also see your business hours which means they can schedule appointments easily.
Tips for Optimising Google My Business Listing
Here are a few Google My Business Optimisation Strategies to help you stay ahead of the competition.
Claim Your Business!
First, you should search whether your business already exists on Google Maps. If it doesn’t, you have the option to add it manually. A verification pin will be sent by Google and it takes around two weeks to reach you.
You will need this pin in order to verify your listing after which it will start appearing on Google Maps and all the other Google products. In some cases, you may be allowed to verify your listing through your phone.
Fill All the Business Details!
Make sure everything is filled in correctly. You will need to provide your business name, category of the business, opening hours, phone number, website URL as well as any special hours of operation. In case your business has multiple locations, all of them should be added to your GMB profile.
Add Images and Virtual Tour Videos!
It has been observed that Google gives more priority to a business with more recent images as compared to others. So, you should add high-quality images regularly to the listing. Ideally, you should schedule at least two image additions in a month. In addition, do not forget to add a profile photo and a cover photo which will also act as your profile and cover photo for your Google+ page.
If your budget allows, you should also add a 360-degree virtual tour of your business as suggested by Google. Google has said that adding a virtual tour generates higher interest among visitors.
Google now also allows businesses to update their listing by posting events, new services, product updates as well as product discounts directly to Google Maps and Google search. The posts are removed from the default view after a period of seven days or once the event date has passed. So, make use of this feature and regularly update your listing to have an edge over your competitors.
Add Appointment URL’s!
Google now allow visitors to book an appointment directly through the GMB listing. These URLs are usually third-party booking and ordering services and in most cases, these are automatically added to the GMB listing. You can’t edit the automatically added appointment URLs but you have the option of adding appointment URLs manually.
If there isn’t an appointment URL, and you want to offer this to your visitors, you should also add it.
Google encourages businesses to get as many reviews as they can from their customers. So, you should make efforts to get as many reviews as you can from your customers. Keep in mind that more reviews usually mean higher rankings in the search results if all the other factors are same.
You should also respond to any reviews you have received, even the negative ones.
Get Attributes on Your Profile!
Earlier, business owners could write their own description that appeared on Google Maps but now this information is crowd sourced by Google. However, you can still get relevant attributes to be displayed on your listing as icons or bullet points. Addition of attributes makes the GMB listing look more complete and helps in enhancing conversions.
For this, it is recommended to sign up to the Local Guides program of Google via the Google Maps app and answer the questions you are asked on the app. Try to enlist your friends and family members to the Local Guides program. Through the local guides program, you are also allowed to contribute photos to the listing through the Maps app. After the photo is approved, a series of questions may be asked by the Maps app about the place. Try to answer as many questions as possible. These answers along with data from some third party data providers may be used for adding attributes to your listing.
Another important thing you need to keep in mind is that you won’t be notified when attributes are added to your listing. So, it is important that you regularly log into your GMB account to find out whether any attributes have been added. You will be given the option of approving or rejecting the suggestions.
Check Your Competitors!
However, this does not mean that you should unnecessarily or unethically flag listings on Google Maps. But it’s necessary to keep track of your competitors.
More people now use their mobile phones instead of desktop computers to search online. Increasingly, consumers are developing the habit of using search to find all kinds of local businesses and services.
If you still haven’t claimed your Google My Business listing or haven’t optimised it properly, you are leaving a lot of money on the table. Rest assured that your competitors are doing everything in order to rank higher in the search results.
So, claim your Google My Business listing today and use the above mentioned tips to optimise it and stay ahead of the competition.