In most brand hunts toward targeted visibility on Google, it is fairly known that that requires optimizing their website and Google Ads.
What they don’t know is that there is yet another function that needs to be optimized too: their Google business listing. otherwise known as Google My Business (GMB).
This powerful tool is your elevator pitch on Google’s SERP. It is a knowledge panel that showcases all the details a customer needs to know about your local business in a glance, and makes it that much easier to reach out and engage with you.
Searching a local business on mobile, it will often be displayed as the top result before the organic results. On the desktop, it will be displayed just to the right of the organic and paid search results.
With one look at the valuable information-packed tool, a customer can decipher whether or not they want to engage with your business.
The cherry on top? It’s free.
An optimized listing not only makes the customer choose your business over competitors, but also:
- Increases visibility
Proximity and relevance are not the only features of your business the Google algorithm looks at; activity and quality of information are equally as important. An optimized listing triggers Google to rank your business higher in the local results.
- Improves engagement
More and more, we are seeing the phenomenon of “0-click searches”, i.e. customers enter and exit Google without visiting any other website. That tells us that the information on your GMB listing is enough for them to engage with you; you’re going to want that to be optimized.
- Converts customers
With an optimized business profile, a customer can call you, visit your website, contribute to FAQs, book appointments, request a quote, discover you in keyword searches and more. You’ll be driving traffic to your online channels and your front door, all through the dynamic snapshot of the GMB. Acquisition galore!
The more Google formulates a well-rounded picture of you: what you do and sell, the more Google will match you up with other types of search queries.
It is vital for cementing your online presence beyond your website. And yet, not enough businesses leverage its impressive features! This is your chance to be ahead of the game.
You will be virtually head-to-head against other businesses so it is crucial that you grip your customers’ attention with a helpful panel.
Now that you know the key to winning over your customers, it’s time to get to work.
Let’s walk you through strategies to optimize your business profile and turn GMB into the best customer acquisition tool you didn’t even know you had.
- Set up your account
Before we get to the juice, let’s go back to basics.
Head on over to Google.com/business and create your account. Once done, fill out all your business information and add a description. Always be up-to-date on your business name, location, contact details, and hours of operation in the least.
Ever looked up a business that said it was open on the map, made your way there only to find that its closed?
Not the best first impression of the business, it’s safe to say.
After brooding, your first reflex would probably be to turn to the next available business, the competitor.
To evade this unwanted scenario as a business, be meticulous. Indicate your regular and holiday hours. Make sure your business name online is identical to your brick-and-mortar. Cross-check all the information on your GMB with your website. Your messaging should be consistent across all your channels. That means use either “st” or “street”, consistently. Your credibility is measured with these seemingly small consistencies.
Next up, choose your business categories. This is what your business does, not what your business sells.
You have primary and secondary categories, with up to 10 options to input. However, Google assigns the most weight on your primary category so be sure to choose it wisely.
As an example, we at Rooted Digital, can select our primary category to be “marketing agency”, the closest to an all-inclusive category for our business.
As for our secondary categories, we could choose a marketing consultant, internet marketing service, advertising service, business development service. This would help us in potentially appearing in other searches that are also related to our services.
When that’s done, add a description.
Categories are great as an overview, but surely you will need space to expand on your offerings, especially if you are operating in a niche. That’s what descriptions are for.
Google gives you 750 characters to work so make use of everyone! Every word tells the customer more about you.
A good description describes your products, services, and unique value.
And remember the rule of thumb: the same way you communicate your business to your customers, you relay that communication to Google as well, which in turn, boosts your search rankings.
- Images, lots of them!
Let’s see what Google has to say about this:
*Businesses with images garner almost double the clicks for location directions and their website than businesses that don’t have photos.
Say that you were looking to visit a bike shop.
One bike shop’s GMB shows you the storefront and logo – meanwhile, another bike shop’s GMB showcases their variety of bikes, up-close images of spare parts, the staff that you might encounter.
How much more confident would you be, having made clear expectations of your visit to their store?
This is your chance to shine. Take interior pictures, exterior pictures of the building so customers can recognize you easily, get some snazzy captures of your friendly team.
In fact, it is even possible for customers to upload images of your business too. And you should encourage them to do so. Give them an experience they’ll want to come back to and free exposure for you!
On the other hand, be sure to keep a close eye on the images you want to represent you. Poor quality images, irrelevant images or the like should all be filtered out.
It’s no secret how influential reviews are. (We cover that in-depth in our previous article: The Importance of Online Reviews). They are a deciding factor whether a customer wants to engage with your business or not.
But take our advice on this – don’t just wait idly for the reviews to come raking in. Even if you gave the customer an earth-shatteringly awesome experience, chances are they still need a slight nudge to write you a review.
Don’t shy away from actively soliciting a customer to leave you one. Tale as old as time, if you do not ask, you shall not receive.
Bear in mind though, it’s not enough to garner reviews. In the same vein, it is good practice to respond to each – even the negative ones.
Positive ones are light and should be relatively easy to respond to.
But what about the unforgiving one-star rating and negative talk?
Many make the mistake of leaving them be and crossing their fingers that they will go unnoticed.
Don’t be that brand. You need to pick yourself up and respond to them.
The customer that left it deserves it and the potential customers reading need it.
Only then, you are more likely to restore your credibility. The only way out is through.
- Google Posts
Similar to social media, Google rolled out the Google Posts feature.
They show up in a carousel as part of your GMB with media, copy and a link to your website. It’s a great way to share content pertaining to your business, ranging from: blog articles, business updates, upcoming events, promotions.
You can communicate whatever you like to connect with your customers. Just don’t forget your Call-To-Action to encourage conversions!
When we’re all set up with our GMB listing, insights are where the fun begins.
Insights are arguably one of the most important sections to pay attention to.
A treasure trove of information, it lets you know handy information about the conversions your GMB listing is generating.
Find out everything from where your customers found you i.e. a direct brand search or a discovery search, how your images compete with other brands’ GMB listings, website visits, phone calls, direction requests. This data is crucial for reporting purposes, to determine how well your SEO has been performing to propel your profile to the top of the pack.
And that wraps it up – you now wield one of the best tools to position yourself in the eyes of your new customers and stay one step ahead of your competition.
Your GMB listing is often the first point of contact with the customer. To truly unlock the rewards of GMB, it’s important to be mindful.
While you need to input some actions (opening hours, categories) only once, you will need to tend to others (uploading images, publishing posts) more closely.
Seeing how much it is overlooked by other brands, there exists an abundance of opportunities to rank up for grabs.