Any local SEO strategy needs to have a good Google My Business (GMB) listing as the backbone. GMB is a free tool provided by Google that business owners can use to manage their online presence across the whole Google-controlled realm.
GMB is a similar listing tool as sites like Yelp, Facebook Places, or Bing Places, but given the fact that Google has by far the biggest market share when it comes to internet-related services, it’s basically the only thing that is absolutely essential.
The bottom line is, you absolutely need to tend to the Google My Business listing of your firm if you fancy the idea of dominating the local rankings. A GMB listing is critical if you want your firm to appear in Google Maps and in the local pack listings returned for local queries.
Besides this, the review section of GMB is one of the most trusted sources used by prospecting clients - Keep in mind that online reviews are among the most important local SEO ranking factors.
Just to make it easier for you guys to see the ramifications of creating a solid GMB listing, here’s a shortlist with some opportunities that this tool provides:
- The business has an increased chance of showing up in Google’s Local Pack (the first three rankings that appear with the map in search results)
- The business has a chance of being featured inside the Local Finder.
- The business will appear inside Google Maps.
- The business will receive a slight organic search ranking boost.
Setting Up and Optimizing a Google My Business listing
Now that we’ve established how important it is for you guys to create and tend to your GMB listing, it’s time to get to the actual work.
Since we promised you we’ll take you through the whole process, we will create a new GMB listing from scratch and show you the steps taken to optimize it.
Step 1: Claiming and verifying the GMB page
So, the very first step to any local SEO strategy is to claim and verify the Google My Business (GMB) listing of your business. To do this, you’ll need to head over to Google’s My Business page and click the Manage Now button.
Next, you will be taken to a series of steps in which you’ll need to insert various information about your business: name, address, postal code, type of business, contact details, etc.
I know this is a tedious process (and it really is) but please, take the time to input the required data correctly and make sure it is formatted the same way here as everywhere else on the web.
The information that you’re providing now will serve as the backbone of the GMB listing, making it easier for potential clients to find online information about the business.
Now, before the GMB listing will become operational, it will need to get verified. This process is mainly automated and will take up to 3 days to complete. Keep in mind that unless you complete the verification process, your listing will not show up in Google Search or Google Maps.
Step 2: Adding the business hours
Now that you have access to the dashboard of your GMB listing, it’s time to get to work. Keep in mind that Google will allow you to complete the optimization process before the listing goes live. We found this strategy to be preferred instead of starting to optimize after the GMB listing becomes visible.
With this in mind, click on Add hours (under Complete your listing) to set up the hours in which the business is open to clients.
Important: Keep in mind that anyone else can suggest a change or edit to your business listing - so if you don’t set the business hours right, someone else might do it for you in a detrimental manner.
Step 3: Completing the business description
Once the business hours have been set up, let’s move forward by completing the business description. You can do this by going back to the main dashboard menu and clicking the Add description button.
A description is not only good for letting people know what the business is all about, but it also helps Google to place your business into the appropriate search bracket.
With this in mind, when you create the description for your business, include some keywords related to your business niche. But do it naturally without making the whole thing seem forced. Oh, and stay away from keyword stuffing!
For your reference, let’s say you create a GMB listing for a personal injury firm in Chicago. In this case, make sure your business description includes a couple of niche related keywords like ‘personal injury lawyer’, ‘car accident attorney’ or ‘injury attorney’. For the best results, pair them up with regional keywords (“We are personal injury attorneys serving the Chicago area since 1985”).
The initial configuration part is almost finished, but you still have a few additional pieces of information that you can add (and we encourage you to do so). If you click on the action button (top-left corner) and click on Info.
Here you can let Google know about the service area of the business, special hours programs and an Attributes section. Again, we encourage you to fill out all this information because it really helps with the optimization effort.
Based on what we've observed, Google will prioritize a complete GMB listing that has correct hours, descriptions and attributes over a GMB listing that has superior reviews but lacks optimization.
Step 4: Adding rich media
Once you get this far, the next step is to add as much rich media as you can to your GMB listing. This is arguably the most important part of the whole GMB optimization strategy.
Since the whole world is moving towards visual content, it’s understandable why photos and videos are so important for a GMB listing. In fact, a recent study showed that businesses with photos in their listings receive 42% more requests for driving directions inside Google Maps. The same study also found a 35% increase in the number of click-throughs to the business website.
Try to include as many pictures as possible to your listing. Use the various categories to organize your photos accordingly. If you have a presentation video, that’s even better - upload it to your listing by using the Video category.
Step 5: Start posting
Now that the initial optimization part is over, it’s time to get used to giving people updates from your GMB listing about the business. This is a fairly new feature of GMB and a lot of business owners are not using this. This is good for you!
We actually tested this for quite some time and it looks like Google will boost the local rankings of a GMB listing if it sees that it posts regular updates through Google My business.
You can post regular updates by going to the action menu (top-left corner) and clicking on Posts.
Think of GMB posts as mini-ads that you can run inside Google search for free. Sure, they don’t reach nearly as many people as a paid ad does, but it lets the customers visiting the listing of your current promotions, boosting the conversion rate.
Even more, you’re also showing Google that you maintain your GMB listing, boosting your chances of being featured in the 3 Local business pack.
Step 6: Create an ad
Although Google says that paid advertising has nothing to do with the organic results, we found that a GMB listing is a lot more likely to remain in the Local Pack after it was boosted by a paid advertising campaign.
You can create an ad campaign for your GMB listing by going to the dashboard and clicking on Create ad. You’ll then be redirected to Adsense to customize and deploy the campaign.
Thinking of running Google ads for your firm? Learn more about how we can help.
We hope that this article will help those of you unaware of the benefits of creating and maintaining a solid GMB listing optimization strategy.
This material should serve you as a one-stop guide whenever you need to create and optimize a new GMB listing. If you want more help with optimizing your GMB profile, contact us today.