Google My Business (GMB) is the most important citation listing a local business can have. The SEO benefits that a GMB listing provides makes it a gift that keeps on giving to business owners. During the last two months, Google My Business has announced two major changes which will allow business owners to better optimize their Google business listing and attract more customers in return. Those changes include allowing business owners to publish a description of their business (discontinued in 2016) and allowing restaurant owners to publish menu items within their listing.
Here are some additional ways a business owner can better optimize their Google My Business listing and attract more customers.
List Your Business In The Maximum Number Of Categories
Consumers know exactly what product or services they want and in what town or city. That’s why it’s very important to choose a primary category for your business listing as well as additional categories that it could fall under. For example, a local pub would fall under the category of “restaurant”, “bar” and “bar & grill”. Business owners are allowed to list their business in one primary category and nine sub categories. For a complete list of every category offered by Google My Business, visit SolidStratagems.com. Keep in mind that Google will frequently revise their categories from time to time. The more categories your business is listed under, the more exposure your listing will receive in the local search results.
Include A Local Phone Number In Your Listing
Many companies will list toll-free phone numbers for their Google My Business listings and those are ok. However, using a local phone number will show Google that your business is legitimately located in the area you’re advertising in. Google listings with local phone numbers tend to rank higher than businesses that use 800 and toll-free numbers. It’s also important that you include the exact same phone number on all of your business citation listings (Yellow Pages, Manta, Yelp, Apple Maps).
Publish A Post
The “Google Posts” feature was a new addition during the summer of 2017. The possibilities for what a business owner could publish as a post are endless. Posts expire seven days after first being published and Google will send notifications to your GMB account when they expire. Some things you might consider publishing within your listing include
- A new blog post with a link to your business blog.
- A special holiday post or thank you note addressed to your customers.
- An upcoming sale or promotion your business will be hosting.
- A registration link for an event your business will be hosting in the future.
This is a new feature, so we wanted to include a Youtube tutorial video about how to add a post to your Google My Business listing.
Seek Positive Reviews From Former Customers And Respond To All Reviews
Yelp, the most popular review website on the internet, asks that business owners refrain from reaching out for Yelp reviews from former customers and that reviews be added organically. Google, on the other hand, encourages business owners to reach out to former customers for positive reviews. In case you haven’t noticed, businesses with the most reviews tend to rank the highest in the local GMB listings. Studies show that potential customers have great confidence in online reviews and are much more likely to visit businesses with a healthy online reputation.
It’s tough to maintain a perfect rating on any platform that allows customer reviews. Unhappy customers are much more likely to write a review about their experiences than happy customers are. When you do receive a negative review on your Google My Business listing, do not stress it. Make sure yourself or a representative of your company responds in a polite tone by making an apology and asking that the reviewer contact you privately. In some cases, you can contact Google Support and ask that negative reviews be taken down but don’t hold your breath.
Publish Interior & Exterior Photos Of Your Business
Have you ever been shown beautiful photos of a hotel online, only to be disappointed by what you encounter when you arrive at the hotel? Customers are very visual and often become pissed when the photos of a business do not provide an accurate portrayal of the property. The more appealing your business is, the more important it is to show it off and create distinction from local competitors. If your budget allows it, hire a professional photographer to come on site and take photos of your business’ interior and exterior. You might also consider hiring a local photographer approved by Google to create a 360-degree virtual tour of your business. The more visual assurance you can provide a customer, the greater the likelihood that they’ll visit your establishment. This rule of thumb also applies to other important citation listings including Yelp, TripAdvisor and Bing.
Delete Duplicate Google My Business Listings
To find out if there are duplicate GMB listings or other listings for your business’ address, visit Google Maps and then type your business address into the search bar in the top left-hand corner. You’ll see the businesses listed at that address on the left-hand side following your search and will be able to report duplicate locations as “permanently closed”. Duplicate listings are seen as misleading information in the eyes of Google and are more common than you might think. Large office complexes will have businesses that come and go so it’s important to request that duplicate business listings be deleted.
Make Sure Your Business Hours Are Listed Correctly
Not only should business owners ensure that their business hours are listed correctly but they should also make sure to include their designated holiday hours as well. Google places great emphasis on consumer experience and will penalize businesses with inaccurate business information. As stated previously, Google My Business is the most important citation listing for local businesses so it’s important that all business information is up to date and accurate.
Include Keywords & Geolocations In Your Business Title
Unless you’re an established business in a small town, potential customers will need to know what products and services your brand offers when glancing at your GMB listing. So for example, if you own a carpentry business in Nashville (TN), your business name on your GMB listing might read “[Business Name] Carpentry Nashville”. This creates distinction from other competitors in your region and quickly tells potential customers your company’s offerings.
If you have not yet claimed your Google My Business listing, you can do so by visiting Google.com/Business and adding your business information. A postcard from Google will then be mailed to your business address with a code enclosed. You will input that code into your Google business account to verify your company’s location. It’s very important that you create a Google My Business listing for every location under your brand’s umbrella. Please refer to the Youtube tutorial video below to learn more about claiming your Google My Business listing.
Are you a small business that needs help building citation listings and improving your local SEO strategy? John Mann SEO Consulting can help and will be happy to provide a free consultation and website audit. We are a small SEO company in Nashville, TN and offer consulting services in areas such as search engine optimization, content marketing, email marketing and social media marketing.