How to really make the most of your Google My Business Account

To get your business seen in searches, a Google My Business (GMB) profile is extremely important to keep your business up to date. It can provide a huge wealth of information to anyone searching for your business, if optimised the right way. Searchability in your local area means getting customers through your door.

Your GMB profile information is used in a variety of ways by Google when people search for your business, but perhaps the most important is the very large and visible information panel that appears when your business’ name is searched. This panel very quickly and effectively provides searchers with your business’ name, location, contact information, opening and closing hours, and other important information. This makes it the first place that many searchers will look for your details. Optimising your business for this process will dramatically improve your presence and visibility in online searches.

BrightLocal reports that 97% of consumers search for local businesses online and the influence of GMB is growing every year. According to ChatMeter, in the past 2 years “near me” searches have grown by 900%, with 46% of all Google searches looking for local information reported by Nectafy.

Ensure all of your details are correct.

Do a quick check to make sure that your business address, phone number and name are all up-to-date and correct. These details are fed into Google’s algorithms to give the search engine the information that it needs in order to rank your business, so if your essential details are wrong you could be undermining your whole SEO strategy. Perhaps even more importantly, these details are not only used by the search engine but by your potential customers as well. Providing them with the wrong information can cause a significant negative impact on their search for or interaction with your business. To check that all of these details are correct, simply log into your GMB account, click the “info” icon and verify that all of the listed information is correct and up-to-date.

Google advises that, where applicable, you should try to upload at least three exterior and three interior images of your office or on-site location, as well as further images of your staff providing service to customers. This allows potential customers to recognise your business and become familiar with the area before they make contact. You can also showcase your products and services.

Put some content into Google Posts.

Something that most GMB listings aren’t doing is utilising the “Google Posts” feature. They’re easy to set up, will set you apart from the crowd of local businesses quite quickly, and are a great way to display details about upcoming events or ongoing promotions. You can add an image, write a short caption, and include a call to action. You can also add content like photos of your workplace/office, staff, or products to give people an overall sense of your business before they visit. Columnist Joy Hawkins has written about the results of a study that seems to show a correlation between more GMB posts and a greater ranking in the search engine results.

Be as specific as you can.

Customers and the search engine algorithm both like to receive details that are as specific as possible. Google gives the same advice on it’s support page, providing the example that if you were creating a GMB account for your nail salon, then the primary category of that listing should be “nail salon” as opposed to “salon”. The more specific you are, the less competition you’ll have to be at the top of the search results. This extends to secondary categories, your business descriptions, and all of the other listed information. Only the first 250 characters (smaller than a tweet!) of your business description are visible unless the user clicks to “see more”, so make sure that your first few sentences are as snappy, informative and appealing as possible!

Engage with your audience.

A lot of your customers and people searching your business online will begin to generate more and more content as your business grows. This largely comes from (but is not limited to) the “reviews” section of your listing. It’s important to be as communicative as possible on all of these channels as your GMB profile might be a potential customers’ first impression of your business. You should encourage people to leave reviews, and always leave a thank you response.

Users are also able to message your business directly or submit queries. This chat feature allows you to easily connect with your customers and provide support or more information about what you do. The more often you respond publicly, especially in an approachable manner, the more likely it is that your customers will perceive you as friendly, personable and helpful. This has a snowball effect too – responding to your customer’s questions and reviews in a positive manner will encourage other customers to post their reviews and questions too. In the BrightLocal study that we cited earlier, they also found that 30% of consumers use online reviews to judge a business.

Keep track of how it’s going and stay on top.

Taking actions like responding to reviews, particularly to any negative ones if they happen to arise, need to be done in a timely manner. Google will also provide you with some very handy data and information about how your GMB account is helping your SEO process and can inform you of new features of the GMB system that are being announced, developed and released all the time. Your GMB analytics can help you learn about how you are performing. You can see how many people have clicked “get directions” or clicked to view your website. Are most of your customers coming from online advertisements, Google searches, or Google Maps geographic listings? Insights can help you analyse what is happening. If most of your customers are coming from search engine results, what queries did they type in to find it?

Continually keeping your listing up-to-date and maintaining your GMB page is important when it comes to making your business searchable. Keeping an eye on the data provided and keeping up good communication with your customer base will help you stay ahead of your competitors. In 2020, SEO is a very important tool in the process of growing your business, and GMB is an important part of SEO. For any questions about expanding your customer base, SEO, or digital marketing, reach out to our team of experts at Planet Media today.