Google My Business Optimization
Google My Business Optimization
What is Google My Business?
As a local business, you want to stand out online by displaying an optimized profile of your business in Google’s search results.
Your Google My Business account allows you to optimize your business profile across Google Search and Maps.
Google wants to present a snapshot of your business in it’s search results and make it easy for customers to quickly contact you via your website, phone or by messaging you directly.
The better your business profile looks and functions, the better the opportunity to draw in customers from the search results.
And perhaps most importantly, a fully optimized Google My Business listing is mandatory if you want your business to show up in the 3 pack of top local businesses.
Google straight up tells you that it will improve your business’s local ranking!
Note that Google My Business was formerly known as Google Places for Business, Google Listings, and Google+ Business Pages.
Sign up here: https://www.google.com/business/ , it’s free*.
How to optimize Google My Business for success.
When you first login to your GMB dashboard, you’ll see the menu on the left.
Home: Here you’ll get an overview of your GMB listing performance, including Search views and Map views plus options for paid advertisements via Google.
Posts appear on your Google My Business profile in the search results for you GMB listing. The types of Posts that you can share are updates, events, offers and products. Include a photo or image with up to 1500 characters of text. Google suggests the ideal Post character limit is between 150-300 characters. For your photo size, here are Google’s minimum recommendations: Photos should have a minimum resolution of 400px wide by 300px tall, in JPG or PNG format.
TIP: Our Recommended size is 814 pixels wide by 610 pixels high.
The maximum size for videos is 100mb and Google accepts a number of different video formats, i.e. AVI, MP4, MOV, FLV, WMV, MPG, M4V, MKV, M2TS, and MTS.
TIP: Our recommendation is to use the MP4 format for maximum compatibility across other social channels.
With the exception of date based events, the life of a post is 7 days. This means you will need to create a new post once a week.
TIP: If you don’t hold events as such, consider creating an offer as an event and give it a long life, e.g. 1 year. This will insure that you’ll always have a Post showing. Note that prior posts, as well as events, will be visible in a clickable carousel.
TIP: Although optional, we recommend Including a Call to Action button. Clicks are hard to get but when you do, you can track them using a tracking link for your button.
To the left is a list of the types of Call to Action available. With the exception of Call now, which, when clicked, will dial your phone number listed in your GMB profile, all the other options allow you to specify a url of your preference.
Book: Allow someone to book an appointment. This can be to your scheduling software or simply to your Contact page. Don’t use any scheduling software? Consider using the free version of Calendly.
Order online: Provide a link to your product page.
Buy: Provide a link to Buy your product or service.
Learn more: Provide a link to learn more about your product, service or offer.
Sign up: Provide a link to your newsletter or email subscription.
Call now: For many service businesses, the phone call is the most desired action and this button makes that easy for your customers.
TIP: If a phone call is your goal, our recommendation is to use a call tracking number as your Primary phone number in your GMB profile and list your business phone number as an additional phone number. This will allow you to track calls from your GMB listing without affecting your business citation (name, address, phone) across the web.
This is where you manage all your business details, including your business name, categories, location (if you accept walk ins), service areas (if you’re a service area business), hours of operation, holiday hours, phone, profile short name (alias), website, appointment url, services you offer, products, handicap accessibility if relevant, amenities, highlights, offerings, payment methods and planning. Most of these are self explanatory but the most important are what’s called your business citation nap (name, address and phone number) and your primary category.
Your legal business name. Make sure it’s 100% accurate as any variation between citations could affect your maps ranking.
Picking the correct category for your business is critical to your Maps ranking. Take care to select the most appropriate category for your business and if you offer more than one service, create a separate GMB listing for each. For example, if your business offers both Plumbing and HVAC services, don’t pick one and add the other as a category. Instead, create one GMB listing for your plumbing business and a separate GMB listing for your HVAC business.
TIP: When deciding on which category to list as your Primary, first do a search for your main business keyword with a geo modifier. For example, if your goal was to be listed in the Local Box 3-Pack (see below) for the keyword phrase “ac repair tampa”, you can perform that search and make note of which category your competition is listed. You can click on more businesses to view a larger sampling.
Make sure your business address listed here is consistent across your website as well as all third party directories. Even small variations could affect your local ranking.
If you have multiple locations, each location must have their own Google My Business listings. However, you can manage them all under one login account, then choosing Manage locations.
TIP: Use a tracking link in your website field to track clicks from your GMB listing to your website. You can create your tracking link for for free here.
You can add an optional Opening Date and add photos to round out your business info.
If you’re a service area business (SAB), meaning you service customers at their location rather than yours, you can now define the service areas, including a region, city or zip code.
TIP: The majority of searchers are looking for local results, so rather than specifying a general region, use a specific city or region, e.g. incorporated or unincorporated city names that are instantly recognizable to local inhabitants.
Enter your business description up to 750 characters. Do NOT include links/urls. Do NOT use ALL CAPS. Do NOT include special offers or discounts, put those in your Post.
TIP: Include your unique selling points in the first 245 characters, the display limit before clicking More, and include your city name to emphasize local.
Insights will give you a nice pie chart breakdown of how customers search for your business (direct, discovery, branded) and the queries they use to find your business.
TIP: This is especially useful for targeting keywords and phrases that you can work into your GMB posts as well as your website for local searches.
Also included are the actions that your customers take when they find your listing and the performance of your photos.
Here you can view all your Google reviews. Google reviews are an important factor in your local search rankings.
“High-quality, positive reviews from your customers will improve your business’s visibility” source: Google
Under the Home section, you will find your Google generated link which you can send to your customers to request a review.
Note that you should never incentivize a customer in return for a review as this is against Googles guidelines. It’s also worth noting that every review, regardless of how many review stars, can actually help your business. If you get a negative review, justified or not, always respond politely and professionally. Prospects understand that no business is perfect all the time and they will appreciate your transparency and professional etiquette.
Messaging allows someone viewing your GMB profile to send you a message. Until recently, this was a text message sent to your sms app of choice, however, this has now changed and all messages will be directed to the Google My Business mobile app on either Android or IOS. Messaging is optional and your will need to turn it on to receive messages. If after turning on messaging, you don’t see the Message button on desktop, that’s because the message button will only be visible when viewing your GMB profile on mobile.
TIP: Be sure to setup a Welcome message. In the GMB mobile app, go to Customers>Messages>Edit your welcome message.
Keep in mind that you only have 120 characters, so keep your message short!
Don’t underestimate the importance of photos for your GMB profile. Photos get eyeballs on your profile. Just look at these stats.
“Your listing is a great place to showcase the photos that capture your business. Businesses with photos receive 42% more requests for driving directions to their location from users on Google, and 35% more clicks through to their websites than businesses that don’t have photos.”
Here are some real world statistics for a small HVAC business.
TIP: Google recommends a minimum photo size of 720px by 720px but you can use larger. So for example, if you create an Instagram photo 1080px by 1080px, that same photo/image can be used for a GMB photo.
This GMB feature is optional. In 2017 Google rolled out their own simple website creator. If you already have a website, you probably won’t need this feature since it’s a Google domain – .business.site – and can’t be directed to your current website.
TIP: If you already have a website listed in the Info option, be careful not to mistakenly replace your real website with this one.
This option allows you to invite others to manage part or all GMB listing, depending upon the role that has been assigned to them, either owner, manager or site manager. Below is a detailed breakdown of the capabilities of each role.
TIP: Should you outsource the management of your Google My Business listing, this is where you would assign your outsourcer permissions. Our recommendation is to NEVER assign the owner role to an outsourcer or anyone else for that matter.
Google My Business Optimization Recap
- Create and verify your Google My Business listing.
- Fill out ALL the information possible in your Google My Business dashboard.
- Use the included TIPS to boost your chances for getting in the local 3-Pack, aka local box.
- Download the TIPS Sheet below for additional tips to optimize your Google My Business listing.
If you enjoyed this post you should also check out Local SEO: Do It Yourself Part 1
*While Google My Business is currently free and may remain so, Google recently sent out a now closed survey to some local business owners asking what features current users would be willing to pay for. This could be an indication that Google is at least considering charging for Google My Business.