How to Optimize Google My Business and Win More Customers
Google My Business (GMB) is an online listing for your business’ operating information — Name, Address, Phone Number (NAP) — in its most basic form. While you surely have this information on your website, Google My Business does the hard work of aggregating the content you provide and making it easily searchable across multiple platforms. So when you use GMB correctly, your business will have consistent information across Google Search and Maps.
It’s also one of the easiest and most accessible ways for your customers to read and leave reviews. It can help with your Local Search/SEO Strategy. AND it’s a great way to interact directly with current and potential customers.
Why to use Google My Business for your local business:
GMB is one of the best free tools available for business owners and digital marketers.
- Control, index, and display relevant business information
- Interact with current and potential customers
- Manage your online reputation
- Curate user-generated content like customer reviews, photos, and videos
- Gather customer insights like how they arrive to your site, how they interact with your content, what their search intention may be, and where they are in their buying journey when they discover your content.
Most of all, Google My Business can help you enormously with your local SEO strategy. Here is a comprehensive list of the most recent local ranking factors if you need more convincing.
Here’s how to optimize Google My Business in 6 easy steps
Step 1: Claim your Google My Business listing!
Go to business.google.com to claim your business. This part is easy!
Step 2: Enter your essential business information
Consistency is important for your brand. If this is news to you, then you need to check out this article on the importance of branding. But this actually goes way beyond the visual elements of your brand. Providing your business information consistently in multiple online locations signals to search engines that the information is trustworthy.
Search engines will always list trustworthy content over unverified content. So if you want to be at the top of Google (translation: if you want your customers to find you online), then you need to optimize your listing on Google My Business.
Include your company name, business location or address, and phone number EXACTLY as it is listed on your website. You also need to include your website, a short description of your business, your business category, and attributes.
Step 3: Ask for and respond to all reviews
We know that Google places a ton of value on user-generated content like ratings and reviews. And there are a million variables that determine how hard those reviews will work for you. Things like average star rating, the amount of reviews, frequency of reviews, the keywords used in reviews, whether or not you respond to them, the location of the reviewer… these factors and more all come in to play when Google weighs their value in Local Search. The bottom line is: You need reviews.
The first rule of getting reviews is this: If you want them, ASK for them.
Don’t assume your customer will be so overwhelmed by their good experience that they’ll go out of their way to leave you a glowing review. Or any review. The customers who are most likely to leave a review without being prompted first are — surprise! — unhappy customers. So ask every single customer, every single time.
The second rule of reviews is this: Simply asking is NOT enough. Happy customers tend to be willing to leave a review, but you have to make it EASY for them to do so.
Here’s how to make it easy for customers to rate and review your business:
Rule #1 Ask for reviews at the right time.
When is the right time to ask for a review? Immediately after delivering excellent service or as soon as possible afterward, when the customer is likely to be in a position to leave a review.
Rule #2 Link directly to your GMB listing, so customers can leave a review with 1 click.
Step 4: Enable Messaging for Google My Business
To do this, click Messaging on the left-hand side:
Just click the toggle to turn Messaging on, then write a short intro message for your customers, and choose a phone number that can receive SMS messages.
After you start receiving and responding to messages from customers, Google will add a badge to your listing that indicates how long it will typically take to receive a response from your company.
Step 5: Post regularly on Google My Business
Share pictures, videos, events, offers, and updates regularly on Google My Business. Unlike your other social media platforms, these posts will disappear after 7 days. So be sure your posts are both timely and specific.
When creating your post, keep in mind:
- Google will allow up to 300 words per post. However, if you use a CTA button (which we strongly recommend), then only 60-70 characters will display on either desktop or mobile.
- If no CTA button is selected, then your text post will display on mobile in its entirety.
- Don’t forget to use UTM codes for any links back to your website.
- Pictures and videos help customers find your business on Google. Choose high-quality, clear images to represent your company. Here are Google’s guidelines for photo size and resolution.
Step 6: Use Google My Business Insights to learn about your customers
GMB will give you very specific customer insights that can be difficult to track down.
Note: If you’re using the Google My Business App, you’ll see this information in the Customers tab. If you’re working from a computer, you’ll click the Insights tab.
Some of the current insights offered are:
- Queries used to find your business: These are the exact words and phrases that people search when they come across your GMB listing
- How customers search for your business: This section tells you whether customers are looking for you by name or by category/services/attributes.
- Where customers view your business on Google: Listing on Search or Listing on Maps
- What actions did they take on your listing? This will tell you how people are interacting with your business profile.
- Verified phone calls to your business from your GMB listing
- Photo views — and how you compare to similar businesses
The better you know your customer, the better you can serve them!
How to Handle Edits to Your Business
So Google now actively encourages people to update information for local businesses through their Local Guides program. As a Local Guide, you score points for answering questions about businesses, adding reviews and photos, and updating information.
Sometimes these updates are great and totally accurate! Sometimes, not so much. So you need to stay on top of updates to your GMB page so you can accept or reject any changes that come through.
When you log in to business.google.com, the first thing you see is a list of locations, like this:
Under Status, you will either see “Pending edits,” “Published,” or “Not published.”
If you see “Pending edits,” and you haven’t made any changes yourself, then that means someone else has submitted updates to your page. To review edits to your page, just click your company name. It’s pretty easy to see what’s changed. Basically, anything new is in orange.
You can accept, discard, or edit any of these changes.
Google My Business is essential for business owners and marketers focused on local SEO. It’s easy and accessible for both you and your customer, so be sure to claim and optimize your Google My Business listing, post regularly, and check your insights.
Pro-tip: Your competitors may be unfairly manipulating Local Search, increasing their rank, while damaging the search experience for your customers. Here’s how to find and remove spammers in Google Maps.