Google My Business Optimization is the process of optimizing your Google My Business (GMB) listing. Optimizing your GMB listing will help your business to rank higher on Google Maps & for local intent searches leading to:
- more inquiries by phone & text
- more website visitors
- more people coming to your store
- and more sales!
In this article, we will show you the 12 fundamental strategies on how to optimize your Google My Business profile for success:
- Claim & Verify Your Google Business Profile
- Business Details
- Choose Your Business Category and Subcategory
- Write Your Business Description
- Add Photos
- Get Google Reviews
- Post Content to your Profile
- Ask and Answer Questions
- Add Products and Services
- Google My Business Messaging
- Your Website
We’ll also include some ninja tactics within certain strategies that if you’re willing to be consistent & spend extra time implementing will help take your results to the next level!
Note: In November 2021, Google renamed Google My Business to Google Business Profile. Both terms may be used in this article to mean the same thing. (Did you know… Google My Business was a rebrand of Google Places which itself was a rebrand of Google+ Local)
What Is Google My Business?
Google My Business has become an essential part of any online marketing strategy. It’ is a free and easy-to-use tool for businesses to create a listing business location on Google Maps and local search results. The listing includes business information like hours, contact info, and website. Businesses can also add photos, posts, and products to their listing. Users can post ratings and reviews of businesses, complete with photos. Businesses can set up alerts to find out when they get new reviews, track how many people view their listing, manage posts about their business, and more.
Why Is Google My Business Important?
Google My Business (GMB) is critical for any local or small business that wants to be found on Google by people in the local area searching for the services & products provided by that business.
Take a look at these stats…
97% of internet users have searched online to find a local business. 46% of all daily searches on Google have local intent. When Google detects a local intent search for products and services, it shows the map 3-pack at the top of the results (below the paid advertisements). With 25% of clicks going to the top result within that map 3-pack. But to appear in the 3-pack, you need to have an optimized GMB listing that outperforms your competitors.
86% of customers use Google Maps to find local businesses. And how do you get your business to show up accurately on Google Maps? By having an accurate Google My Business listing
88% of potential customers look for online reviews before choosing local services. Guess what you need set up correctly to get Google reviews? That’s correct, a GMB listing
And a purchase follows 28% of all local searches.
Before You Begin Optimizing Your GMB Profile
I highly recommend that before you dive in and make any changes, go and check out your competitors’ profiles and those of similar businesses in the large cities.
A quick cheap way to do this is to log out of all Google services and use an incognito browser to search for your “service name near me” or “service name in city”. For example:
- massage near me
- massage in Frisco Texas
These will not be perfect results. But it gives you a rough idea about who is performing reasonably well in the area. To get more accurate results you will need to pay for Google Maps rank checker software to do it for you.
When checking out the competition you need to note the category they are listed under, the number of reviews, their business description, do they post regularly… try to figure out what you need to do and what level you need to achieve to outperform them.
Also, make a list of the keywords and phrases that are appropriate for your business. These will include your specific services, service categories, products, product categories, city name, suburb name, and any phrases used to describe your products & services.
Optimize Your Google My Business Profile
Claim & Verify Your Google Business Profile
If you haven’t already got a profile, read the next section about the Business Details and then go to https://business.google.com/ to set up an account and get started.
You will need to verify with Google that your business is genuine and located where you say it is. The verification process involves Google sending a postcard with a code to the business address you provided. As soon as you receive the code, log in to your profile and enter the code. It takes up to 7 days for the postcard to arrive. Your profile will not be visible until it is verified. If at any point you change the business address, you will be required to go through the verification process again.
This is a nice and simple section to complete but there are always a few things to be aware of which I’ve detailed below.
Business Name: What is your trading business name? This typically isn’t your legal registered business name. It’s the name above your shop and what say to people when asked. Do not be tempted to add keywords to your business name to game the system.
Business Address: Nice and simple for the vast majority of businesses. But there are a few pitfalls here that you need to know about!
Firstly, if you share a business address with another business, you need to differentiate your address. Your address needs to be unique. Example scenarios where this often happens are…
- Dental surgeries where the dentists are individual businesses within the same surgery
- Estheticians who rent space in a MedSpa
The fix is to add a suite number or room number to the end of the main address. Just be sure that nobody else is already using the number and nobody does in the future. For example… 225 Main Street, Rm 2
Next, you need to be consistent with how you enter your address to be shown on various sites (including your website) across the internet. From a search engine’s perspective…
- “225 Main Street” is not the same as “225 Main St”
- “Room” is not the same as “Rm”
You need to pick one way of writing your address and stick to it! This is also covered in the NAP section below.
Business Phone Number: GMB allows you to enter 2 phone numbers. Only the primary number is shown on the Google Business Profile. Most businesses add one business number. This will be their main business number that will also be added to other sources (refer to NAP below). When someone clicks the Call button on your profile it calls the number.
The only reason to have a second number added to your profile is for call tracking purposes. To implement this you simply move the main business number to the secondary number and add the call tracking number as the primary number. It’s been confirmed that this does not affect your NAP consistency as the main business number is still listed and is accepted by Google.
Business Hours: Add normal business hours and make sure to keep them up to date.
Special Hours: Add other specific dates when your hours differ from your standard business hours or specific one-off days you are closed.
More Hours: You can add hours for specific services or specials to your business on Google. For example…
- Delivery hours
- Pick up hours
- Lunch serving Hours
- Drive-through hours
Website & Appointment Calendar Link: Add the relevant links here. Make sure you add the correct info…
- is your website HTTP or HTTPS
- is it www or non-www
They are different, so be sure to check first!
Attributes: Pick which of the predefined options are true for your business. You can highlight that you have a wheelchair-accessible entrance, that your business identifies as women-owned, and many more.
Choose Your Primary Business Category and Subcategory
Within your business profile, you can select a single primary business category and multiple sub-categories. Only your primary business category is displayed on your profile and it is considered to be one of the major ranking factors for the map 3-pack.
There will probably be several categories that are relevant for your business and it may not be obvious which category best describes your business. Go back to the notes you made and check which primary category your competition has selected. This can help you decide which is best for your business. Pick your primary and then select the other relevant options as secondary categories.
It is possible to change your primary category at a future date but doing so frequently could trigger a suspension from Google!
Write Your Business Description
This is your chance to explain your business to your potential customers (and Google). Your description can be up to 750 characters in length but the first 250 are the most important as these show on your profile. A “more” button needs to be clicked for the reader to view the remaining description text. This is your chance to be creative and stand out from your competitors. Your description should be unique (don’t copy and paste your description from another of your online profiles) and once again should be sprinkled with relevant keywords that fit in naturally with your text.
Add photos to your profile regularly. These should be photos of your business, staff, services, products, etc. Do not use stock photos! Most cell phones take great photos.
A great benefit of using a modern cell phone is that the location data (longitude & latitude) is added to the photo within the EXIF data. The EXIF data is read by Google and the correct location data does have a positive effect on rankings. If you do take photos of your products at a different location, it is possible to edit the EXIF data with an app or on your computer. Quick note: if you use a program to minimize the file size of images, the EXIF data is usually removed.
As mentioned, you should be adding new photos to your profile regularly. If you’ve just created a new profile you should focus on uploading the following ASAP:
- interior photos x3
- exterior photos x3
- product/service photos x3
- staff photos x3
- photos of common areas such as reception etc
If appropriate you can also ask customers to upload any images of your products/services that they have taken.
Don’t forget to upvote your images and ask staff & customers to upvote your images as well. It’s about giving positive signals to potential customers.
Get 5 Star Google Reviews
87% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses before making a purchase decision. And 52% of those people would not use a business whose review rating is less than 4 stars.
Because reviews are important to consumers, they are also important to Google and this means Google reviews are a high ranking factor for local intent searches.
You need to have a good review profile. But, anybody could leave you a Google review. Therefore you must take control and have a process in place that consistently generates quality reviews for your business. The more customers you ask for a review, the more reviews you will get.
You need to consider the following for your review generation process:
- You want as many 5 star reviews as possible
- Recent reviews – be consistent in generating reviews
- Legitimate reviews – only ask your actual customers for reviews. Don’t pay for reviews!
- Length of review – you want to ask your customers to leave a few sentences about their experience
- Content of the review – those sentences should have a positive sentiment and ideally contain keywords such as the type of service or product they purchased.
- Your response to reviews – you need to respond to every single review. Good or bad… you must respond. Your response needs to be at least a few sentences in length, has a positive sentiment, and is sprinkled with a few relevant keywords.
There are 2 main ways to ask for reviews:
- Firstly, in-person on completion of the sale or service.
- Secondly, by email or SMS message after completion of the sale or service.
I recommend you use the second method after asking the person whilst in store if they are happy to leave you a google review. You can ask for a 5-star review and use keywords within the email and SMS as well as provide a direct link to submit a Google review. It’s also possible to have a mini-review campaign and send out a follow polite reminder a few days later.
Hi [NAME], we love receiving 5-star reviews from our customers. Could you leave us a quick review with a few sentences about the experience you had with your body contouring session today?
Here’s a link to submit your Google Review => [LINK]
[YOUR NAME], [YOUR BUSINESS NAME]
What about negative reviews? You will get a few. Some genuine and unfortunately some malicious. Respond to them in as positive a manner as possible. Do not get into any arguments. It is possible to report malicious reviews but do not expect a response from Google to be immediate. The best thing you can do is provide 5-star service and actively generate as many positive reviews as possible.
Once again you & your staff should be upvoting the positive reviews. This will help keep those reviews listed at the top as the most relevant.
Post Content to your Profile
Google wants you to post content to your profile. Your posts will be visible for up to 7 days. Therefore, you should be posting at least once per week.
There are 4 main categories of posts:
- Offer – promote any promotions, offers, or discounts that you are running. You can add a photo/video, offer title, offer details, start time/date, end time/date, coupon code, and a link to a page to redeem (landing page)
- What’s New – This is your chance to write a mini social media post. You can add an image/video and add a call to action button. You can link to a blog post, another more in-depth social media post, or an update on what’s new.
- Event – promote any events you are hosting. You can add a photo/video, event title, event details, start time/date, and end time/date. You can add a call to action button such as a call now button, a signup button, or various others
- Product – post about any new products. The product posts appear under the “Product” section on your listing and not under posts on your listing! You can include product name, photo, category, price, and description
Do not add your phone number to the event details section. Google refers to this as “phone stuffing”. Use the call to action button “Call Now” button instead.
Keep your posts nice, short, and to the point. Take the opportunity to sprinkle relevant keywords throughout the text.
The most important point is to be consistent and post at least every 7 days.
Ask and Answer Questions
Anybody can ask or answer a question on your profile. The principle is very similar to the question and answer section you see for products on Amazon. The last thing you need & want is for some stranger, previous upset customer, or competitor to answer questions on your behalf and give out incorrect or misleading information.
There are a few things that you can do to overcome this and create a helpful Q&A section on your Google Business profile.
Come up with the top 10 most common questions you are asked about your business. Add these to your profile and then answer them yourself. The next step is to upvote the answers yourself and ask your staff, friends, friendly customers to upvote the answers you have provided as well. This will ensure that your questions remain high on the list and your answer is the first one for each question.
Remember, potential customers will also ask questions. It’s important to respond to all new questions fast. Get your correct, polite & helpful answer in before others have a chance.
Add Products and Services
Adding your products and services does not affect your rankings. But if you’ve got popular products and services add them to your profile. They will be shown within your profile if a customer searches for it and clicks on your profile. Although not a local ranking factor, showcasing your products and services can generate more customers.
Google My Business Messaging
Some people like to call, some people like to email, others prefer to message. If you do not have Google My Business messaging turned on then you are missing out on potential customers.
GMB messaging is relatively new and is not yet available in all countries.
Your website isn’t a part of your GMB (although GMB gives you the option to create a simple website if you don’t yet have one) but your profile will link out to your website. Your website must have the correct details on it. This sounds obvious but you’d be surprised how many websites contain out-of-date information.
- Make sure that your business name, address, and phone number are correct (This is also covered by NAP in another section)
- Have the correct links to your business social media profiles on your website. By doing this, links to your social media profiles will likely be displayed within your GMB profile.
- I highly recommend that each of your services has its own unique page on your website
- Add structured data to your website (if you know how)
- Add your business location (longitude & latitude) into the EXIF data of any images of your business.
- Embed a Google Map centered on your business
Having a good, optimized website adds authority and will improve how Google views your GMB profile and benefit your ranking for local intent searches. This is local SEO 101.
NAP stands for Name, Address & Phone Number. I’ve already covered some of this in the Business Details sections. The main point here is that your business name, business address, and phone number should be listed the same everywhere:
- your website
- your GMB profile
- your social media business profiles
- all other online sources of citations (yelp, foursquare, yellow pages, etc)
Your NAP must be consistent. Having incorrect and inconsistent information about your business across the internet will be costing your business new customers. Having a consistent NAP across high authority citation sources has a positive effect on your local search ranking. There are services such as Yext that offer a service to keep your NAP consistent over 50+ online citation services (PS. we also offer Yext at a discounted rate as part of our services).
A Google Business Profile is a powerful local marketing tool. Google My Business optimization aims to optimize your profile to rank well and appear within the Google Maps 3-Pack for local intent searches. And when you do get in the 3-pack, your…
- inquiries by phone & text
- website visitors
- people coming to your store
- and sales
will skyrocket. Especially if you can get to the number 1 spot within the 3-pack.
But… it isn’t a one-time effort.
To beat your competition you’ve got to be consistent in generating new reviews, posting content, answering questions, and responding to new inquiries.
If you do not have the time to do this yourself, we can do all of the above for you.