Local SEO: how to optimise your Google My Business profile
Once you’re set up with your Google My Business profile, to get your listing noticed, you need to get optimising! In this guide, I’ll take you through how to optimise your Google My Business profile. If you’ve not yet set up your Google My Business listing, have a look at my 10-step guide.
The first step to optimise your Google My Business listing is to take some time to complete all the information that Google asks for. There are two main reasons for doing this:
- Google aims to serve local results that are the most relevant to what the user is searching for. So, if your business profile has as much detail and information as possible, your listing is more likely to show up in searches for users looking for businesses like yours. In other words, completing your profile will improve your search ranking.
- If you don’t complete all the information, someone else might instead. Anyone can suggest a change (‘suggest an edit’) to your business listing, so to retain control over your business information, make sure you fill everything in and regularly keep an eye on your listing.
If you are having trouble with your Google My Business profile and need help correcting information, you can seek answers via the Google My Business Community Forum. There is also a Google My Business Facebook page and a Twitter account. And if you’re looking for some help and advice on optimising your local SEO to get more business from people in your local area, get in touch with me for a chat!
Here are my top tips on how to optimise your Google My Business profile:
Tip one: Add your products and services –
During set-up, you were asked to choose a category that fits your business best. This is your primary business category. After set-up, you can add other business categories (make sure they’re relevant), and under each business category add your own custom services that detail what your company offers. For example, my primary category is ‘Marketing consultant’ and the services I’ve added are: search engine optimisation (SEO), paid search (PPC), search marketing strategy, website optimisation and marketing support. You can add a price (if you want to) and you should include a service description, providing potential customers with detail about the services you offer.
The more visually appealing products section allows you to add a product image, price, description and a call-to-action (CTA) button such as ‘Buy’ and ‘Learn more’ that you can link back to the product page on your website. I recommend that you put your products into categories (which you create), to keep them organised.
Tip two: Add your opening hours and ‘special hours’ –
Add your opening hours so that your customers know when your business is open. You can set them for each day and if you’re closed for lunch, for example, you can set morning and afternoon opening times so that your profile is marked as closed during lunchtime. You can also set as open 24 hours a day, if this is the case for your business.
There is also the option to add ‘special hours’ for holidays or any one-off days that your business might be closed. These can be set-up in advance.
Tip three: Create a profile short name –
Create a short name for your profile to make it easier for customers to find you. Once you create a short name, Google will create a shareable link that you can share with your customers to encourage them to leave reviews directly on your profile. (See tip nine below for more information about customer reviews). There are up to 32 characters available for your short name and you are allowed to change it 3 times a year (if you wish).
Tip four: Write a compelling business description –
You have 750 characters to tell your audience who you are, what you offer, why your company is great etc. Do not keyword stuff or include links in your business description. Also do not include information about special offers or company updates – use the ‘Posts’ area for this instead. Google has some guidelines on business descriptions, which are worth giving a quick read through.
Tip five: Add photos and videos of your business –
Including photos and videos are a great branding opportunity and a chance to showcase your company: your employees, your products and your services. Add a picture of your logo and a cover photo of the front of your office/shop, for example, so that customers can recognise your business when they visit. You can see Google’s photo guidelines here for image size information. Videos are very effective at bringing your business to life and Google has some video guidelines too.
Tip six: Add attributes to your profile –
Attributes are a great way of highlighting specific features of your business and answers to questions that customers may have, such as: Does your café have wifi? Is your pub child-friendly? Your business category determines which attributes are available for your profile. At the time of writing (during lockdown 2 in England), a useful attribute that cafes and pubs can take advantage of is whether they do takeaways and/or offer a delivery service.
Tip seven: Add posts to your listing –
Creating Posts in your Google My Business profile allows you to engage with your customers directly in search engine results and in maps. Posts appear low down in your profile (below your business description), so they’re not hugely noticeable in my opinion. However, you can see how they’re performing (number of views and clicks) and decide whether they’re beneficial for your business. The types of posts that you can test are: offers, what’s new information, event, product and Covid-19 updates. Posts come up with a button (‘Order online’, ‘Book’ etc) so they a useful method for encouraging engagement with your listing (by getting visitors to your website, for example). Each post needs an accompanying image (or video) and expires after 7 days (unless it’s an event, it will expire on the event end date).
Tip eight: Set up messaging (if you have the resources) –
The messaging feature allows users to message/text you directly from your profile in search results. If you have the resources to respond immediately to chat enquiries and it makes sense for your business, then this could be a great feature for you (to test at least). Having this feature enabled means that users will expect an immediate response, so if you don’t have the resources then don’t use it. Messaging is currently only available in the Google My Business app and you can customise the automated message that customers will receive when they message you. You can turn the messaging feature on and off (in your settings), however, if you want to turn it off outside of business hours then you have to do this manually every time.
Tip nine: Respond to your customer’s reviews –
Responding to customer reviews shows that your business values your customers and their feedback. It’s also extremely useful for your ongoing improvements to your customer’s experience of your products and services. You can encourage your customers to leave feedback by providing them with a link. Once you have created a short name for your profile (see tip three above), Google creates a shareable link that customers can use to leave reviews. To find your ‘leave a review’ link, click ‘Home’ in the left-hand menu, and in the ‘Get more reviews’ area on the right-hand side you will find the ‘Share review form’ button.
Tip ten: Answer your customer’s questions –
The questions area of Google My Business is hugely underutilised by business owners. If you don’t monitor and respond to customer’s questions, it can lead to misinformation about your business as yes, anyone can respond to questions. You may have noticed that those who often respond to questions are those badged as Google Local Guides (you can find out more about those here). They are usually helpful, however, there are examples when they can be less so and it didn’t take me long to find one such example today:
You can’t turn off the questions section but you can make sure you’re alerted to any new questions in the ‘Settings’ area of your profile.
Tip eleven: Make use of the Covid-19 features
Google has recently added some features to Google My Business to help businesses inform their customers of any changes during Covid-19. There are a lot of changes that companies are having to deal with at the moment. These features include a Covid-19 update, service availability, reminder to update your hours, health and safety measures and a feature to mark your business as temporarily closed (during a lockdown, for example). With the service availability feature, you can highlight on your profile that you offer online appointments and add an appointment link (which could be your contact page). The health and safety measures are particularly important for businesses that have face-to-face contact with customers.
Tip twelve: Keep your listing up-to-date –
Just like you would keep your website and social channels up-to-date, it’s also important to keep your Google My Business listing updated. It’s particularly important to make sure your opening hours, contact details and products and/or services information are kept up-to-date. You certainly don’t want potential customers arriving at your shop to see that it’s actually closed when your profile says that it should be open.
Monitoring your Google My Business profile performance –
Those who know me know that I love data that helps us understand how our activities are performing. The Insights section of your Google My Business logged-in area gives you valuable information, including:
- How customers search for your business – whether customers found your listing directly by searching for your business name or address, whether customers discovered your listing by searching for a category, product or service, or whether customers searched for your brand or a brand related to your business.
- The search queries used to find your business on Google.
- Where customers find your business on Google – the number of views via Google Search vs the number of views via Google Maps.
- What actions the customer took after they found your listing on Google – number of visits to your website, number of request directions (in Google Maps), number of customers who called you and the total actions.
- How many times your photos have been viewed and how many photos you’ve uploaded to your business listing.
It’s definitely worth keeping an eye on the Insights section and tracking these. The search queries, for example, give you an idea of what your customers are searching for, providing you with useful content for Posts. The above tips are a good starting point on how to make your Google My Business profile work harder for your business.
If you’re looking for some help with your local SEO strategy and would like some advice on how to attract more customers in your local area, I can help. Get in touch with me for a chat.
- Posted by victoriathomasmarketing
- On 3rd December 2020