You may be overlooking one of the most powerful tools in your arsenal when it comes to local search engine optimization, or SEO. Do we have your attention? We’re talking, of course, about Google My Business.
Your business may already have a Business Profile to its name, whether or not you created it or have gone the extra mile to claim it. Even if both are true, you may not be getting the best possible value from your profile.
We’re here to show you seven ways to optimize your Google My Business page and attract more in-market consumers! See what makes this free tool so unique and contact us at Stream Companies when you’re ready to reap its rewards.
What is a Google Business Profile?
Businesses large and small want to get themselves seen on Google. A great tried-and-true method for doing so? Create a Google Business Profile—your business listing for the world’s most popular search engine.
Business Profiles appear in Google Maps and in the local results of Google Search. This makes your Business Profile an effective SEO and lead generation tool with a few simple tricks.
Before it can be all that, though, you’ll need management and editing power over your Business Profile. Alas, you won’t receive those capabilities just by setting up your profile. First, you must (separately) create a Google My Business account.
What is Google My Business?
Google My Business is a tool—the tool you use to access, manage, and optimize your Business Profile and promote your business information across all relevant Google applications, like Search and Maps. It allows you to:
- Connect with past and future customers online.
- Post updates to your business profile.
- See how customers interact with your business on Google—including by leaving reviews.
Whether or not a listing already exists for your business, you can create a Google My Business account. We’ll walk you through the steps to do so next.
How to create a Google My Business account
You can create a Google My Business account in just a few short steps. After that, you will be able to manage the Business Profile you set up for your business. Here is what you need to do:
1) Go to www.google.com/business
You may want to bookmark this address for speedy access in the future. You will need it to access your Google My Business (GMB) account.
If a listing for your business already exists, you can click the “Own this business?” link within the listing. It will redirect you to the same web address.
2) Log in with a Google account
Don’t have a Google account yet? You can create a free account in a few minutes from www.google.com/accounts with any email address. We’d recommend attaching this to a business account, and not just the personal account of one employee.
3) Enter your business name
Be sure to spell it correctly and capitalize the first letter of each word. Accuracy counts—after all, this may be the first impression a possible customer has of your business.
4) Enter your business address
Google must verify that your business exists. To make that happen, you will need to enter your business address. Remember, you cannot use a post office (P.O.) box—and you’re limited to one business per residence. Be sure to keep this up to date, especially if your business moves locations!
5) Choose whether you’re a storefront or service provider
Do you want customers visiting your office, or do you profile services virtually and would rather not see customers in person? Google My Business allows you to set your preferences, including a larger radius around your business if you like.
6) Choose a primary business category
This is an important decision because it directly affects SEO. Google will use your answer here to judge your business’s relevance to potential customer searches.
If a customer searches for “service center near me” but your business is listed as a dealership, it may not show up first in search results. For that reason, it may make sense to create separate business listings for sales and service centers.
7) Add your website address and phone number
Phone calls and website clicks are both tracked by Google My Business. As always when it comes to business listings, make sure your information is accurate. Customers can get confused if they see different numbers between your GMB and website.
8) Verify your local listing
Google will have you complete a verification process before you can manage your business information in Google Search and Google Maps.
The process will usually involve a postcard sent to your business address. It allows Google to make sure that (1) your business information is accurate and (2) only you, the business owner or manager, have access to the account.
9) Complete your Google My Business account
Add more information to your Google My Business account so it has everything Google and your future customers need to identify and find you.
7 Ways to Optimize Your Google My Business in 2021
The world of business has gone increasingly virtual. While this shift can be at least partially attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic, much of it was underway well before that. And even as the pandemic recedes, virtual business is here to stay.
In light of that, your business’s online presence is more important than ever. For 2021, we recommend you use these strategies to optimize your Google My Business listing.
1) Claim your page if you haven’t already
Earlier, we covered the steps you need to take to claim your Google My Business profile. With a Google or Gmail account, it only takes minutes to create a Google My Business account and claim your Business Profile.
2) Add photos
Here’s a stat for you: Businesses that use photos on their listing receive 35% more clicks through to their website than businesses that don’t. Without a doubt, visual content engages users more than words ever can.
Be deliberate when you choose photos for your Google My Business listing. You’ll want photos that cater to the brand image you want to convey—and offer a close look at your team’s personality, your work setting, and other factors.
Make virtual visitors feel like they know your business before they stop by for an in-person visit if they choose to do so.
Just how many pictures do you need? We recommend adding at least three to six photos to your Google My Business profile.
Keep in mind that the platform offers virtual tour capabilities as well. For a 360-degree look around your office space, hire a Google-approved photographer to snap some shots of your space and then submit them. If space is central to your business’s experience—like in a hotel, for instance—this tactic may be especially relevant.
3) Collect reviews
What others say about your business is so much more valuable than what you say about it. Well, Google My Business allows you to house reviews on your profile. If you have any confidence in your business, we recommend doing exactly that!
The benefits are clear, as nearly 90% of consumers trust online reviews as much as they would personal recommendations.
Reviews give people a more personal testimony of the work you do. They show people how it might look and feel to do business with you.
And the benefits don’t end there! More reviews can get your Google My Business page seen by more relevant users. If your page has at least a couple dozen reviews, for instance, Google is more likely to show it in the mapped listings.
Want more reviews for your business? Feel free to ask loyal or satisfied customers to leave a review on google—just don’t be pushy about it.
4) Set your service areas
With access to your business’s physical address, online shoppers will know where you base your operations. That doesn’t mean, however, that your services need to be limited to that same area.
So many businesses have gone virtual in recent years—and even ones that haven’t might target multiple locations. Google My Business lets you set more than one service area for your business and have them ranked equally.
You can set your service areas to the region, city, or zip code—whichever is most relevant to the reach of your business.
5) Add a business description
From your Google My Business account, you can now add a business description to let users know what you do—what products, services, and value you provide.
You’ll have to be brief. The description only allows for 750 characters of space. Blend an enticing description of your business with SEO keywords to help Google recognize when your business is relevant to search queries.
Think about how users search—what words customers would type to find your business. Use them in your business description and keep the description itself well organized and easy to follow. Do not “keyword spam” but instead keep the keywords consistent with your real-world branding and services.
6) Optimize for local
As you set up your Google My Business account, Google will ask you to search for your business. This is how you claim it as your own—and by so doing, ensures that you aren’t duplicating your pages or your locations.
As we mentioned earlier, you list a phone number on your Google My Business page. Be sure to use a local area code to appeal to local prospects who may be more willing to work with you.
Remember, keep your name, address, and phone contact information consistent (and accurate!) across all online platforms. This does more than avoid confusion—it helps optimize your page for local search.
7) Categorize your business
We mentioned this one earlier as well in the setup process. It’s worth emphasizing once more because categories will connect you with customers searching for the services and products you offer.
So, be careful to categorize your business in a way that makes sense. Google doesn’t let you create your own categories, so you’ll have to choose from the options they provide.
Choose a primary category that describes your overall business. You will be able to add more categories that home in on specific services and/or products you offer and that may be relevant to search queries.
Gain insights on local searches
As you use the above strategies to optimize your Google My Business listing, you can get key insights from your account. Use the dashboard feature to gauge your audience and local search performance. In the analytics tab, you can see:
- Search queries customers are using to find your Business Profile.
- Whether customers found you on Google Maps or Google Search.
- How your photos are performing compared to other profiles in your category.
You will also be able to see a breakdown of actions taken on your business listing. (Did users click through to your website or ask for directions to your business?) All this insight is gold when it comes to optimizing your Google My Business page and your digital marketing strategy overall.
Knowing where customers came from and what steps they took on their buyer’s journey is invaluable to businesses everywhere!
Do I need a website, or is a Google My Business page enough?
Google My Business is a vital way to make your business more visible in search results. However, as crucial as a Business Profile on Google may be, it does not serve as a replacement for a company website.
Rather, a Google My Business page works in a complementary fashion. It offers the chance to have your business information seen on Page One of the search results—and drive more eyes to your website.
So, here are some more reasons you should invest in a website in addition to your Google My Business account:
1) Shoppers expect small businesses to have a website
In 2021, a website is as crucial to your business as a phone number—and you can link to both from your Google My Business page. In fact, you could be losing up to 70 or 80 percent of consumers without a website to draw them in.
Roughly that percentage of shoppers feel it’s important to have a website. Having a customized website gives your audience a place to go for a sneak peek into your business before they walk through the doors (or buy virtually).
A website offers a way to tell your business’s story (visually and with words) as well as showcase your products and services in a way that a Google My Business listing cannot match.
In today’s world, customers expect businesses to predict their needs. A business that can’t meet the expectation of having a website will keep otherwise interested shoppers from showing up.
2) Website? More like a hub for your marketing campaigns
No doubt your digital marketing presence includes a variety of elements—Google My Business, social media like Facebook or Instagram, and other business listings. Without a central hub, however, they will all be disconnected.
Your website should be that hub. Not only can it link to and from all your various listings and social media accounts, but it’s a space you can customize and control.
In addition to powering conversions and sales, your website is a powerhouse for collecting first-party customer data. It can offer direct engagement via forms and other conversion tools:
- Appointment scheduling
- Blog subscriptions
- Direct purchases
- Job application submissions
- Newsletter signups
With the demise of third-party cookies on Google Chrome and other browsers, a robust first-party data gathering operation is more essential than ever. A website served by the latest in AdTech solutions will be indispensable in 2021 and beyond.
3) Google, not you, has full control over your Business Profile
Google My Business is an invaluable resource for your business. It’s a hub where you can gather and manage reviews, get your business seen on Search and Maps (among other Google applications), and help people learn about your business.
However, even as you leverage its potential, remember that you don’t really have full control over it. Google does, and it has a long history of sudden changes to its products and services. Ask any SEO strategist about Google’s search algorithm, and you’ll see what we mean.
Google may change what aspects of your Business Profile appear in search results. It may remove your listing if it sees something that does not follow Google’s rules, for instance.
Your website, on the other hand? It’s yours—and with full control, anything goes!
4) Not everyone uses Google My Business
Sure, Google My Business is an easy way to get information about a business fast. If you’re searching on a mobile device, it’s even more convenient. However, keep in mind that Google My Business will only ever show up on Google.
Yes, Google does eat up most of the search engine market share—but they don’t have the entire pie. Bing is still reasonably popular, and along with other search engines, there’s a niche where Google My Business is not present.
Your website will be present no matter the search engine used. While Google My Business is a great way to get on customers’ radar, so is a website.
Not either-or, but both-and
We point all this out not to dissuade you from creating a Google My Business account but to encourage you never to rely on just one element. A strong online strategy needs several prongs. Google My Business and a dedicated website are simply better together.
Reputation Management and Google My Business
You have an online image to maintain! Given that Google My Business is the number one source of trusted online reviews, and that shoppers are reading reviews before they choose to do business, your online reputation is critical.
At Stream, we know a great reputation is your best marketing tool. We offer Reputation Management services for our clients. A sizeable portion of these services involve customer engagement via Google My Business.
That isn’t surprising. After all, reviews left on Google My Business appear on Google Maps and in Google Search results. These are among the most visible reviews, and Google uses customer reviews as a ranking factor as well.
Stream’s Reputation Management Services
Yes—poorly rated businesses are less likely to show up in search results. Your reviews on Google are among the most important SEO tools in your toolbelt. Luckily, our savvy Reputation Management specialists can assist by:
- Flagging negative reviews that violate Google’s review policies for removal.
- Respond to positive and negative reviews.
- Coordinate real responses to negative reviews with your business.
Remember, anyone who leaves a review on Google has the power to change or delete that review.
By engaging with negative reviews, we can help you address any problems customers have had and work to improve your aggregate ratings. You may save a customer in the process—and earn many more!
To prompt new customers to share their feedback about your business, Stream is proud to be partners with Podium, a provider of interaction management tools.
With their capabilities, we can increase the number of reviews of your business not only on Google but on other top sites like Facebook. We believe every review should spark a conversation—one with the power to elevate your business!
Build Business Integrity with Google My Business
Google My Business may just be one tool, but it has outsize impact in the digital space. It isn’t just a good idea for local marketing but a must.
At Stream Companies, we want to help you make the best possible use of this tool. If you don’t have your Google My Business account up and running, there’s no better time than now to do so.
In the meantime, reach out to our Reputation Management team. See how we can make your Business Profile outshine your competitors and drive more digital traffic on the world’s most popular search engine!