With over 70,000 searches conducted every second, visibility on Google is a no-brainer for any business today. As such, a well-thought-out digital marketing strategy likely includes a mix of optimizing your website and Google Ads for keywords. However, an often-forgotten element to getting more visibility in the SERPs and driving traffic to your site is optimizing your Google business listing.

Simply put, Google My Business (GMB) allows business owners to gain better control of how their company looks and performs in the search engine. In this post, we’ll provide an overview of how Google My Business can impact your SEO efforts and a few best practice optimizations you can implement for your Business Profile.

What is Google My Business and Why Is It Important?

Your Business Profile within Google provides a quick snapshot of your business’ operating information, reviews, posts, and more. Essentially, it allows customers to quickly find, learn about, and engage with your company without ever having to leave the search engine. It’s completely free to create—all you have to do is claim your Google My Business listing and start filling out your Business Profile.

Now, why is any of this important? Well, there are several compelling reasons to claim and optimize your Google My Business listing—whether you operate locally or on a much larger scale. Not only can you boost your local ranking, but you can also improve engagement and conversions right from the search engine.

Boost Your Local Ranking

When it comes to improving your domain authority and rankings, Google My Business should be a vital component in any local SEO strategy. Straight from the horse’s mouth, Google says, "To improve your business's local rankings, use Google My Business to claim and update your business information."

Google bases local results primarily on a combination of three factors:

  • Relevance – refers to how well a local Business Profile matches the search query.
  • Distance – considers how far each search result is from the location term used in a search query. If a location isn’t specified, Google will calculate the distance based on what it knows about the user’s location.
  • Prominence – refers to how well-known the business is across the web. Think: reviews, backlinks, articles, etc.

Improve Engagement and Conversions

As Google continues to make improvements to its platform, we’re seeing a growing trend of people finding what they need right in the SERPS without ever having to go to another website. Featured snippets, Google’s “local pack” (the small group of local listings that show up right above the organic results), and Business Profiles are all ways consumers can get the answers they need without ever clicking on the results themselves. With potentially more consumers interacting with your business directly on the search engine platform than your website, it’s important that your Business Profile is optimized for quality engagement and conversions.

How to Optimize Your Google My Business Listing

Simply claiming your Google My Business listing and creating a Business Profile isn’t always enough if you want to yield the benefits mentioned above. Here are a few ways you can get the most from your Business Profile.

Don’t Skip Over Sections of Your Profile

Completing your Google Business Profile helps Google not only improve your ranking in local search results, but also increase the number of actions customers can take when they come across your profile. Of course, you’ll want to include basic information, such as your company name, address, phone number, website, and business hours. But you’ll also want to make sure that you complete sections like category and attributes, products and services, and questions and answers. Additionally, uploading photos, creating posts, and responding to reviews are all things you’ll want to continue to do on an ongoing basis.

Be Consistent With Your Information

As you complete each section, make sure that the information is consistent with what is on your website, social media profiles, and any other listings. This may sound like common sense, but even spelling your street name as “St” versus “Street” can raise a red flag to Google.

Two key areas you want to make sure are consistent across platforms include your business name and your address.

  • Your business name should appear exactly as it does in the real world. Adding the location name (Company Name Cleveland) or keywords (Company Name Burgers & Beer) is considered “keyword stuffing” and could be penalized by Google.
  • Both your business name and address should match your other listings exactly as well. Even minor inconsistencies (like in the example above) will be taken into consideration by Google when assessing your site’s credibility.

Choose a Category and Attributes

Google offers more than 3,000 categories that businesses can use to describe themselves, ranging from “accounting firm” to “website designer.” Be specific when choosing a category (for example, choose “Nail Salon” instead of “Salon”) and feel free to use a few additional categories to let customers know more about your departments and services. For example, a grocery store might choose “Grocery Store” as their primary category and include “Pharmacy” and “Deli” as additional categories.

Once you choose a category (or two), additional, category-specific features can become available. For example, an accounting firm can include a link to schedule an appointment right from their Business Profile. You can also select certain attributes to further describe your company and business offerings and help your Business Profile rank. For example, a restaurant might include “takeout” or “wheelchair accessible seating” as attributes to increase the chance that your business will show up for more specific searches.

Add Photos

Regularly uploading photos to your Business Profile can further improve your rankings and drive traffic to your site. Consider uploading your logo as well as any photos of the exterior and interior of your building, products, and features on a regular basis. Continuously adding photos tells Google that you are active with your profile and it is up to date, which can improve your ranking. It also serves as another way for your audience to find you in search, as Google is increasingly including photos in local results.

Perhaps the most compelling reason, though, is that uploading photos can drive traffic to both your website and your brick-and-mortar location (assuming it’s open to the public). Google data shows that customers are 42 percent more likely to request driving directions to a business and 35 percent more likely to click through to the website if its Business Profile has photos.

Get and Respond to Google Reviews

Google has confirmed that more reviews and positive ratings can improve your local SEO rankings. In fact, review signals, (review quantity, review velocity, review diversity, etc.) make up more than 15 percent of local pack ranking factors.

In addition to gaining more customer reviews, responding to reviews can help build trust—both with your customers and with Google—which can also improve your rankings. Google wants to recommend credible, trustworthy sites to users, which is why the search engine encourages businesses to “interact with customers by responding to reviews that they leave about your business. Responding to reviews shows that you value your customers and the feedback that they leave about your business.”

Post to Your Google Business Profile

You can also post updates to your Business Profile just as you might with social media. These posts might include announcements, special offers, events, or even product promotions. While you can’t necessarily optimize for keywords by posting to your Business Profile, regularly posting updates can send those same positive ranking signals to Google in the same way uploading photos does.

These posts can also serve as another touchpoint for users who are actively searching for your services or would like to know more about your company. This is a key benefit because, unlike social media, where your audience is more likely to be scrolling leisurely, there is a higher intent to engage and convert on search engines. Highly engaged customers can even follow your Business Profile and get notified of new posts and updates.

Ask and Answer Questions

Similar to an FAQ page on your website, Google makes it easy for businesses to answer common questions that potential customers may have. As you complete your profile, ask and answer questions that contain keywords to help improve your Business Profile’s ranking for that keyword. Keep in mind, though, that anyone—not just your business—can ask and answer questions here. It’s important to stay on top of incoming queries to make sure that you can provide accurate and optimized answers for your audience.

Add Products and Services

Adding your products and services to your Business Profile is another way you can help your profile rank for even more relevant searches. When adding products and services, be sure to include the name and an optimized description that includes product details, pricing information, and photos. Offering information about your products and services will allow customers—and Google—to get a better idea of products offered and serve as another touchpoint to interact with your business.

Set Up Messaging

Google recently enabled a messaging feature option, where customers and businesses can communicate directly via Google Maps and Search. While we recommend thinking carefully about your team’s capacity and response times before enabling this feature, it clearly presents another great opportunity to engage potential customers.

Building Your Local SEO Strategy

Of course, optimizing your Google Business Profile is just one part of the puzzle when it comes to local SEO. Need some help boosting your local rankings? Give us a call! Aztek’s team of experts will work with you to put together a comprehensive digital marketing strategy to improve your visibility in search.