For local businesses, showing up on page one of Google is a must. It can mean the difference between success and failure. COVID-19’s impact on consumer behaviour has made this even more important – more on that here.
Any local business wanting to be found online needs a good local SEO strategy, and a good local SEO strategy starts with a completely optimized Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business). It’s an easy, but critical first step.
A Google Business Profile is free to set up and will help you appear in local searches on Google Maps, Local Finder, and all mobile searches.
First thing’s first. If you haven’t already claimed your listing do it now. To claim your business listing go to https://www.google.com/business.
Enter Your Complete Data
Once you’ve claimed your listing, follow the steps outlined by Google and fill in ALL the information they ask for. This is an incredibly important step to optimize your Google Business Profile, and many businesses just fill in the basics and no more.
The problem with that is, if you don’t complete all the details, Google knows elements are missing and will ask others to complete your profile for you by asking questions like in the image below.
Pro tip: When filling out your business listing try to use some useful keywords you want to rank well for in searches.
For detailed instructions on claiming your business check out this Google article.
Keep Your Hours Accurate
Keep your hours of operation up to date. If you are closing for a holiday or staying open for one, be sure to list those special hours. Your customers will appreciate the accurate information and Google will notice that your listing is being actively managed.
Manage and Respond to Reviews
Online reviews are critical to your visibility online. Those star ratings next to your company name in a search can either earn you more business or cost you potential sales. I go into more detail on managing reviews in this blog post, but I’ll touch on it briefly here.
Managing reviews comes down to asking for them and responding to the ones you get. There are a number of ways you can ask for reviews, but here’s a useful post from Google if you want to create a link where you can ask customers to leave a review directly in your Google My Business listing.
In your Google Business Profile, actively managed reviews will help with your visibility. Respond to your reviewers. When you get a negative review, try to acknowledge the reviewer and offer an explanation where possible. This can help to win this customer back, but more importantly, it shows people reading the reviews that you are responsive and professional.
A picture is worth a thousand words. Photos on your Google Business Profile not only say more to your customers, they also increase the likelihood they will act on seeing your listing. I’ve read that listings with photos receive 42% more requests for driving directions and 35% more click-throughs to their website.
Google Business Profile Posts
Once you have your listing created, take advantage of the Posts feature. This allows you to create a social media-like post that appears as part of your listing.
Use it to promote a special offer, or contest, or anything you want to highlight. And keep it current. Google will actually remind you on a weekly basis to refresh your post, which is an awesome feature for the busy among us.
You can even add call-to-action buttons like “Learn More” or “Sign Up” to your post and drive traffic to a specific landing page.
There is no definitive proof that these posts have a direct impact on SEO, but they can increase the likelihood of a potential customer clicking on your listing, which indirectly helps by signalling to Google that your listing is relevant to whatever search terms were used.
If you have more questions about managing your Google My Business listing, send me an email. If you’d like to get a better idea of whether or not yours is working, try getting one of our Total Online Presence Audits.