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Optimising Your Google My Business Profile For Local SEO

June 9, 2024
Optimising Your Google My Business Profile For Local SEO

What is Google My Business?

Google My Business (GMB), formerly known as Google Places and sometimes referred to as “Google Business Profile,” is a free tool for businesses that allows you to control how your business appears on Google. This tool is perfect for small businesses as it serves as a direct gateway to managing the details that Google stores and displays about your business. Having a GMB profile allows you to connect with customers, display your services, post updates, and so much more.

All types of businesses can create an account, whether you are a local business with a storefront, a service area business such as a plumber, or a large multinational eCommerce store. All companies can benefit from this powerful tool.

When a business has an active profile, it typically appears in a prominent position on the search results page:

These profiles are growing in importance, and often a potential client searching for a product or service that you provide might make a decision to use your business based on the information provided on your GMB profile page, entirely skipping your website altogether.

So, how can we optimise our profile to help with Local SEO?

How to Optimise your Google My Business Profile for Local Search

How can a business go about optimising its profile for Local SEO? Let’s take a look. 

Make Sure All of Your Business Details Are Correct

Firstly, we need to make sure all of the information listed on our profile is up to date and correct. Let’s say, for example, A potential client has searched for a service you provide on Google, and as a result, Google has presented the user with your GMB profile in the search results as a match for the service they are looking for.  After viewing your profile, the potential client decides to give you a call to discuss the service requirements, so clicks the telephone number you have listed on your profile, only to hear then, “The number you have dialled has not been recognised“. Because your profile is not up to date, you have lost a potential customer. 

Ensuring that all the information on your GMB profile is accurate is crucial. 

Here’s a checklist to follow:

Business Name 

Ensure it matches exactly to your company name or trading name.  

Address 

List your precise trading location. This will be the location that is visible to clients and customers and will be used to locate your business when they visit. 

For service-area businesses, specify the areas served with “no visible address”. As clients do not come to your premises you need a service area type of profile. Make sure to update all of the service areas, increasing the likelihood that you will be visible to clients within all of the places where your business provides services. 

This helps Google to determine what geographical locations your business will display when a user searches for a product or service you provide. 

Phone Number

Make sure your phone number listed is active, and a client is able to reach you using the number provided. For Local SEO make sure to use a local phone number as your main business contact number.

Website Link

What it says on the tin. You need to add a link to your website’s homepage. Make sure the link works and that it takes the users to a secure version of your homepage. 

Business Hours 

Make sure your trading hours are correct and that if it shows you are being open for business that you actually are. The last thing you want is a customer travelling to your premises only to find that it is closed. (Even though it says on your Google My Business profile that you are open for business). This could lead to not only lost business but also negative press.  Be sure to actively keep these up to date during holidays or special events.

There are also rumours of Google actually boosting profiles in search results if it specifies they are open for business during the time when the search is made. Whilst not confirmed, it does make sense to display businesses that are currently open when a search is made. 

If I am searching for a local Pizza joint after a gym session on a Friday evening and all I am served are nearby Pizza places that are closed, I am going to be kind of upset. So, the moral of the story is to make sure your opening hours are up to date. 

Categories

The categories you select are going to determine the type of searches that your business is going to display for. 

It is vital that you select the appropriate primary category. Choosing the wrong category for your business could mean that you are displaying within results for a product or service that you do not provide. Check and cross-check all of the categories you have selected to make sure they are accurate. 

 

Post Regular Updates on Your Google My Business Profile

Regular updates help keep your profile active and engaging for viewers. Posts such as new products, service offers, news, awards and achievements for your business can be a great way of showing users your latest business activities. 

In addition, it shows Google that your profile is actively maintained. An actively maintained profile is a happy profile (In the eyes of Google).

 

Here are some types of updates to consider:

Images

As the old saying goes “an image can speak a thousand words” so regularly posting images of your services, past projects, portfolio and offers are an excellent way of catching a potential clients eye when they are scrolling past your profile in the Google search results page. Make sure images are high-quality and appropriately cropped for display within your profile.

Videos

Videos are quickly becoming the most popular way for users to consume content online. Attention spans are getting shorter by the day, so posting quick, Short and engaging videos showcasing your latest offers, services, products, and company announcements to your Google Business Profile is a great way to engage with customers and showcase your business activities. Released a new product? Upload a short animated video review, attending a local business event? Tell customers about what they can expect on the day. The possibilities are endless when it comes to quick, engaging company videos. 

Posts 

A slightly more traditional approach to publish text-based posts is a great way of showcasing your latest business activities. Announce special offers, events, and company news. If writing about a product, service or special do not forget your CTA’s. 

 

Ask Clients for Reviews

Customer reviews are a significant factor when it comes Local SEO. Your reviews will impact your Google My Business profile ranking, Your Positioning within the SERP’s and the likelihood of a client choosing your business other your competitors. When asking a client for reviews, ask them to not only leave a review but also a description about what service they receive and the genuine feedback of the service or product. 

Keywords within your reviews left by previous clients are highlighted to new potential customers if they have entered an exact or relevant search term. 

For example, if you are a Pizza restaurant and one of your past customers reviewed your business saying, “I loved my Margherita Pizzawhen a potential client searches “Margherita pizza delivery near me“, it is highly likely within the search results under your business name, the feedback will highlight “Margherita pizza “. Sorry to bring it back to Pizza again, but who doesn’t love Pizza!

How to generate more company reviews: 

Asking in Person 

If you offer a service that is face-to-face and you do not necessarily capture a users contact information such as email address, a face-to-face “please do not forget to review us” or a leaflet or flyer with this message (or a QR code linking to your review page) can be a great way to generate honest reviews after a every service or purchase.

Follow-up Email 

If your type of service or product allows you to capture the user’s email address, Sending a follow-up email with a direct link to your GMB review page can be a great way to drum up reviews quickly for your business. This should be sent to all clients, whether negative or positive.  Receiving a negative review is not the end of the world as long as they are not consistent. They can help to improve your service and locate any room for improvement. As well as this, you can showcase to others how helpful you are by replying to negative reviews, helping them resolve the issue. 

Offering an Incentive

Whilst not as ethical as other methods, offering an incentive to clients can be a good way of encouraging a customer to leave a review about your service. This is not a “we pay you for reviews” scenario, just merely a small incentive such as “5% off your next order” to help entice a client to leave a review. 

Typically when a service or product is as expected it is common for a person to not bother leaving a review. They bought a product as expected and that is the end. It is more likely when they have had a terrible experience and are dissatisfied they are quick to locate your profile and broadcast to the world the nightmare they have experienced. 

Incentives could be: 

  • A % off their next order
  • Free delivery on their next order
  • A free sample of another product 
  • Bonus content or an additional item when they next use your business

 

Responding to Reviews 

You now have reviews rolling in for your business, which will help your company build trust in the community. Do you just leave these reviews to age on your profile untouched? No! You take the time to reply to each review to let them know firstly that you appreciate them taking the time to leave their review. Secondly, you have taken note of any comments on their review, and if there is any negative criticism within a positive review or worse, you have received a negative review, you need to reply showing steps you have taken to assist with the situation. 

To be honest, your response to a negative review is not so much for the person who has left the review but more for the viewing community to showcase that you have taken the criticism seriously, that you value your customers and that you are putting in the effort to resolve the matter. 

So if you do receive a negative review and by all accounts totally disagree with the comments received do not reply insulting the user or dismissing their comments, instead remain calm and professional acknowledge the comments and explain what has happened and how you have addressed the matter. Sometimes keeping your cool can make the reviewer look rather unhinged and unrealistic in their feedback. 

 

Respond to Any Questions Posted by Clients on Your Profile

Your Google my business profile has a feature where anyone can ask questions about your business and services. These can range from “what time do you open”, “what service do you provide”, or “how much is this item“. 

This area of your profile can be a great way of interacting with your customers if you do not happen to receive any questions within this area always be sure to reply promptly with helpful answerers (even if you have already stated the answer multiple times within different area of your profile). 

But not only is this a great area to engage with clients, but many GMB account owners do not know you can actually ask questions about your own business here. The person that has asked the question is not visible to viewers; they can see the question but not who has written it. 

So, if you want to ask some “location-specific” questions here, this could be a great way to help with a little bit of local SEO, highlighting that you are a specialist service provider within this area.  For example, the question, “Do you service boilers in south London?” Answer: “Yes, we operate all across south London and provide a full range of boiler services.” 

 

Key concepts when replying to customers within the questions and answers area: 

  • Respond Promptly: Aim to answer questions within 24 hours.
  • Be Professional and Helpful: Provide clear and valuable information.
  • Address Concerns: If there are any negative comments or issues, address them constructively.

 

Utilise Google My Business Insights

Google My Business provides valuable insights into how customers find and interact with your profile. Firstly, you can identify search queries and keywords used by searchers to find your business. This can help provide you with ideas and keywords to optimise your web pages and your Google My Business Profile. 

Secondly within your insights you are able to see actions taken by the customer when on your profile. The Customer Actions track actions such as visits to your website, requests for directions, and calls. If you notice that lots of users on your profile are asking for directions you can make sure that your location is clearly visible within the maps, your posts/updates and perhaps an image or video explainer about how to find your business. 

Finally another great insight is that you are able to see the photo views of all images you have uploaded. What images are the most popular and what ones are not getting the traction you hoped. You can use this valuable information to decide your future posts and updates.

 

Add a Booking Button

If your business offers appointments or reservations, Google allows you to activate a booking button on your profile. This can remove additional steps from the user journey, leading to more conversions for your services.  This feature is particularly useful for:

  • Restaurants: Allowing customers to make reservations directly.
  • Service-Based Businesses: Enabling clients to book appointments for services like haircuts, consultations, or classes.

 

Link Your Socials to your Google My Business Profile.

A new feature added to Google My Business Profiles is that businesses are now able to link their social accounts to their GMB accounts. Once linked a feed from your social media account is visible to customers when viewing your GMB profile, updates from your socials are mixed into your profile updates. Make sure your socials are actively updated and are fed through correctly to your Google My Business profile. 

 

Final Thoughts

The Google my business profile is an essential tool to help small and local businesses improve their Local SEO. with small regular updates a business can really benefit from a huge positive impact on their local rankings. 

What experiences have you, your business or your clients had with a Google My Business profile, let me know in the comments below. 

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