Five Easy Steps To Optimize Your Google My Business Listing

 

Whether you’re a Luddite who misses the days of flip-phones or an old hand who knows all the ins and outs of the internet, one thing is true: You need a pretty good grasp of digital marketing to get ahead in business these days.

Digital marketing can take a lot of forms, but when it comes to locally-focused small businesses like restaurants, auto repair shops, and the like, Google My Business is king.

Even if the name doesn’t ring a bell, I promise you’ve seen it before. Ever done a search for a business near you and gotten one of these little boxes in the corner?

That’s called a Google My Business listing, and it could be more important to your business than you think.

Google My Business listings are a quick and easy way to get your business out in front of customers in your area who have need of your services but might not know where to find you. Google’s own studies have shown that local search (meaning any search intended to find a nearby business) is beginning to dominate the number of searches people make from any of their devices, and any business that wants to compete needs to have a good grasp of their local listing and what they can do to make their business easier to find for potential customers.

Trust us, it isn’t quite as complicated as it all sounds. Whether you run your own website or haven’t touched HTML code since you were in school — if you ever touched HTML code — we’ve got five easy tips to optimize your Google My Business listing and get out in front of as many potential customers as possible.

Step 1: Claim and Verify Your Google My Business Listing

If your business has been around long enough, chances are that Google has created a listing for your business without you even realizing it. (They’re sneaky like that.)

When looking to make the most of your local search results, the best place to start is to actually visit Google My Business and see if your business has a listing already. The odds are pretty good that it will, and once you find it and associate it with your Gmail account, you can start optimizing it. (Go ahead and create a new Gmail address specifically for your business if you haven’t already, since this will make it way easier to keep track of everything instead of using your personal email.)

Keep in mind that part of Google’s process for claiming an existing listing involves them sending a postcard to your business’s listed address with a special code on it. This postcard might take some time to get to you, but as long as you or someone on your staff is keeping an eye on the mail you should have no problem getting it.

Take a look at all the information and make sure it’s as accurate as possible. Are you listed under the most relevant category for your business, or does your business offer more than one category of product or service? Is your address correct? What about your phone number? Is your website address listed correctly? Are your operating hours listed, and if they are, are they accurate? Is your name spelled wrong? This isn’t the last time you’re going to be asking yourself these questions, but verifying them all on your Google My Business listing will go a long way towards improving your local search appearance.

Step 2: Verify All Your Information on Your Own Website

Even if you’ve claimed and verified your Google My Business listing, you need to make sure that the information is correct on every source Google pulls from. Perhaps the most important of these is your own website.

Wherever your business information is located on your website, take some time and make sure it’s all up to date and correct. Google’s listings, even after being claimed and optimized by hand, are powered by an algorithm that crawls the internet to look for instances of your business’s name, address, and phone number (also referred to as NAP) and may change it without your knowledge if it finds information that doesn’t match what your listing already has. Verifying the information on your business’s homepage helps convince Google that the information is correct.

Step 3: Add Photos

As frivolous as it might sound, Google My Business places a huge importance on the amount and quality of images your listing contains, not to mention the increased likelihood that users will click on a profile with logos and pictures to get a look at the place.

Take a few pictures of your store or find a few pictures from your Facebook page that you feel best represent your business, including a logo, and upload them. Think about what you’re really known for (plumbing, amazing burritos, etc.) and emphasize those offerings in your pictures.

When you’re done, make sure you’re prepared to do it again in another 4-6 months: Google places a priority on listings that update their images semi-regularly, so doing this will help increase your prominence in local search.

Step 4: Respond to Reviews, Good and Bad

In addition to frequent photo updates, Google also prioritizes businesses that frequently respond to customer reviews and posts on their listing. Good reviews? Drop a quick note to thank the reviewers for their business and kind words. Bad reviews, complaints, or questions? Apologize for their experience and share an email or phone number they can contact to talk the problem out further with your staff.

Remember: Not all of the reviews will be good, and not everyone’s problem can be solved, but if Google sees you making an effort to reply to bad reviews it can make a big difference in your listings.

Step 5: Make Sure All Your Locations Are Covered

A lot of problems and confusion can arise if your business has multiple locations but not all of them have Google My Business listings. If you have a second location or a satellite store of some kind, give each one of your locations their own Google My Business listing to better reinforce the NAP information of each one.

This can prevent people getting the wrong directions to your business, or driving to a location that’s out of the way when they had one in their neighborhood that Google didn’t know about. Doing this will basically require you to repeat steps 1-3 (and step 4 as needed), but will be well worth it in the long run.

Of course, this isn’t all there is to a Google My Business listing, let alone local search as a whole, but this should get you started on the right foot and hopefully help you get a leg-up on finding customers via Google searches.