Google My Business (GMB) is an effective service that every organization can use to both maintain and expand its online presence. All businesses want visibility, and their GMB listing, along with their online business citations, provides business owners with an excellent way to promote their companies to larger audiences.
But how do you gain the competitive edge you need to stand out, enhance your listing engagement, and expand your local presence?
In this post, we examine Google My Business in depth, including its significance and how to use GMB optimization services to improve your local SEO in Toronto into 2023.
What Exactly Is Google My Business (GMB)?
Google My Business allows business owners to create or claim a free listing for their business on Google.
The main purposes of a GMB profile are to add business information to the Google listing platform, provide important information to searchers, and receive business reviews. By providing essential details about and photos of your business, including your location, services, and products, you can increase your visibility across Google services. The information you add to your Google My Business profile may appear in Google Search, Google Maps, and Google Shopping. This profile has become essential to a business’s success and must be optimized to maximize your visibility.
Why Google My Business Is Important for Your Business
Google is the world’s most-visited website, with a search engine market share of 92.47%. Most of GMB’s impact derives from its direct connection to local search. So, without a Google My Business profile, it’s unlikely your business will show up on Google Maps and the Local Pack (a SERP feature that appears on the first page of results for any search query with local intent). That can also negatively impact your business’s SEO strategy.
Even before the pandemic, user trends had shown a preference for local search. But that reached new heights in the last couple of years. As people’s movements were restricted, they started searching more and more for local products and services. Since 2020, “near me” searches have witnessed exponential growth as a result of the pandemic. Consumers have taken to ordering their needs from local suppliers. So, it can be assumed that local SEO will continue to be effective in online marketing as this behaviour becomes ingrained.
You can boost your local SEO and get better rankings by properly optimizing your Google My Business profile. By listing your correct service areas and address, all of your services and products, and customer reviews, you can stay relevant and rank high in the Google algorithm. That will lead to more website traffic and a better GMB ranking to help you build authority in your domain.
So, if you think your GMB listing is not optimized, it’s time to do just that. You can use our GMB optimization services to make your profile the best it can be.
Here, we outline effective ways to make the most of your Google My Business listing.
How to Optimize Your Google My Business Profile
Google determines local search ranking based on three factors.
- Relevance: This relates to how well your GMB profile satisfies a search query.
- Distance: Since this is about local search, Google will determine your ranking based on how far your location is from the search or searcher.
- Prominence: How well-known your business is will be decided by factors like quality of backlinks to your website, the number of reviews, your review score, and SEO practices.
Here, we look at effective ways to maximize your score for all three factors.
Complete Your NAP Information
NAP stands for name, address, and phone number. Google says customers are 2.7 times more likely to consider a business reputable if they find a complete business profile on Google Search and Maps. They are also 70% more likely to visit and 50% more likely to consider purchasing from these businesses.
A complete business profile with accurate information is easier to match with the right searches and can improve your score for relevance. So, when creating your GMB profile, make sure you are telling your Google visitors ‘what you do, where you are, and when they can visit’.
Here are a few steps that you can follow:
- Go to the Info tab of your GMB listing and update your correct business name. By correct, we mean adding as many valuable keywords to your listing as possible, besides the actual business name. These keywords will allow your business to reach your target audience and help you connect to the niche you’re in.
- Review your address. Is it written correctly? Are you missing a building number? If you find any mistakes, update your information. Your verified address is more likely to show up in local search results across Google products like Maps and Search. It will also help improve your score for the distance ranking factor. If you have multiple branches, list every location and verify them.
- Review your phone number. Make sure the number given in the profile is correct and that you are using your business’s primary number. If you have multiple phone numbers for different employees, make sure to use the main number for your front office.
- Nothing annoys a customer more than arriving during operating hours only to find you closed. Beyond the NAP information, ‘Working Hours’ is an important piece of information that you need to include to complete your profile. Add the exact operating hours, including holidays.
If they have been affected by the pandemic, make sure to reflect this in your Google Business Profile. You can create Google My Business posts to add information related to mask requirements, appointments, staff mask requirements, temperature checks, and more.
Add Your Business Description and Category
At the bottom of the Info tab, you will find a section for business descriptions. Include a brief description of your company and the value and services it brings to your customers’ lives. Be sure to enter the exact service areas your business will be covering. This will tell Google to rank your business for those terms in that area.
Then, select the category into which your business falls. For example, if you are an SEO or internet marketing company, choose Internet Marketing Service as your primary category.
You can also include additional or secondary categories to increase your listing’s value. More categories are not necessarily better; two or three additional ones will do. For example, if you have a hair salon, you can choose that as the ‘primary category’. If you provide other salon services, like nails, you can add that into the ‘secondary category’.
Add Your Products and Services
Does your business provide products or services? Navigate to the respective tab. If you sell products, make sure to add an up-to-date inventory to your business profile. This way, along with appearing on your profile, your products will appear in Google Shopping. Upload a photo of your product, select the appropriate category, and add the names of your products. Try to use terms your customers will commonly employ when trying to find your products on Google.
To add services, select your category. Then add services that fall under the same umbrella. For service, you can add a custom description; just make sure to integrate keywords into it.
Upload High-Quality Real Images and Videos of Your Business
Photos and images are a great way to boost engagement, so make sure to include them. First, upload images for your Cover and Logo options. Then continue to upload relevant photos accordingly.
For example, you can include photos of the front and inside of your business, staff members, and other relevant images to prompt engagement. These allow you to showcase your organization and clients. Be sure to always label and geotag them. Businesses with photos receive more requests for directions and more clicks through to their websites, so it will help you in local search optimization. Try to maintain consistency with your social media profiles as well, as this will make it easier for customers to recognize your brand.
When uploading photos, keep a few things in mind:
- Add high-quality images. Pixelated or otherwise bad-quality images can make your business look outdated and unprofessional.
- Add photos of your products and services so that customers know what to expect from your business.
- Google gives preference to authentic images, so avoid stock photos. Rather, use original ones of your business and team.
Add Special Features and Attributes
Attributes are features that allow users to know what your establishment offers. They appear in the form of pictograms on the Google My Business pages or Maps.
When you add attributes to your GMB listing, you increase the chance that your business will show up in more specific searches. For example, when searching for “bars near me,” you will notice additional categories like “Outdoor drinks for cheap” or “Bars with live music.”
You can add relevant information that your customers may care about, like:
- Your organization supports the LGBTQ+ community.
- You provide your customers with gender-neutral restrooms.
- Your business is wheelchair accessible.
- You offer free Wi-Fi.
- You provide outdoor seating.
Post Daily and Try to Keep It Optimized
Google loves activity, so you can use the posting feature to prove to Google that you are active not only as an enterprise but on their platforms as well.
For example, if you have an event or want to share information, you can utilize the post section to publish the news. This way, your clients will also know about your company events, new products, or the services you offer. This may also serve as a reliable communication medium in general.
Previously, posts on Google My Business only lasted seven days. Now they don’t expire. However, be sure to provide specific dates and times for your events.
Keep Encouraging Feedback and Actively Respond to It
Always encourage your customers to leave feedback or reviews as this will increase your authority and prominence in the eyes of Google. Encourage them to share what they love about your business and what you need to improve. Reviews show customers that your business is legitimate.
More importantly, respond to every single one of them; that means the good and bad reviews. In your responses, address any relevant information to the reviewer and respond in your brand voice. When responding to a negative review, be honest and offer an apology when it is warranted. You can flag and report inappropriate reviews.
This gives Google and other potential customers a strong signal that you care about providing high-quality products and services. Try to incorporate relevant keywords whenever possible. The more times a word appears on your profile, the more likely you will rank for that term. But don’t push it too hard. These reviews will serve as lasting examples of the quality of your service and your business’s overall reputation.
Google My Business listings are one of the most effective marketing tools you can use and, best of all, they’re free. But, like anything that represents your business, you’ll want to make sure that it’s up to date, as complete as possible, and gets people talking. Follow this guide to improve your GMB listing.