Optimizing your Google My Business Listing
I get regular queries from clients about the importance of the Google My Business (GMB) listing and the best way to go about optimising it in order to leverage as many opportunities as possible. What I’ve discovered from these interactions is that, while most people know they need a GMB listing in terms of managing and maintaining their online presence, far fewer are aware of their many features and how to optimise them – much less why!
That little GMB ‘knowledge panel’ that pops up (usually at the top of the search) can be a veritable gold mine for your business – as long as you manage it efficiently and give people all the information they need, right there in front of them. As I’ve said many times before, the key in anything to do with internet search is to make it easy…
With Google recently rolling out some additions to their online business tool, it’s never been more important to be aware of just how to make it best work for you.
Why Do You Need GMB?
The reasons can basically be distilled down to three key benefits:
- To gain increased search visibility
- To improve your customers’ experience
- To increase traffic to website, social media platforms and physical (if that applies)
To put it (very) simply, the more Google understands about your business, the more kinds of searches you can appear in – and that kind of expanded visibility is, of course, just what you want. So the more targeted information you include in the knowledge panel of your GMB, the better. Because what you’ve got to remember is that customers are interested in finding the best and most appropriate service or product for their needs – so if your competitors are out there blowing their own trumpets and not only appearing a range of different search queries, but also showing potential customers that they’ve got exactly what they need, then you have to be doing that as well – and do it better!
One of the clearest examples of that is the Google Three-Pack – when you appear in a search in a box with two other top results. If all three results have their address, phone number, website and a Google Maps pin and directions, but if only one of them has posted their business hours and, say, a clear visual of their five star reviews and some images, you can bet that’s the one the customer is going to choose. Once the customer clicks on the winning business card, if it takes them to the map and also puts their GMB panel front and centre, the business has successfully captured their attention.
Tips to Optimizing your GMB
Having as much of the right information on your GMB listing is absolutely vital, as you can see, so let’s talk about how you go about doing that.
Add Basic Information and Description
This almost goes without saying, but you might be surprised how many businesses fail to take the time to do this correctly. Make sure you not only have the name, address and phone number, but also your opening hours. In addition, make sure that you have represented yourself correctly in the very important primary and secondary business categories.
A description gives you a chance to pitch your business to your customers, and this is particularly important if you offer niche services or products. Don’t waste a single one of these extremely valuable 750 characters!
Use Top Quality Images
Google’s own stats tell us that users are much more inclined to interact with a GMB that has images than ones that don’t. But don’t just choose any old image; you’ve got a valuable opportunity to showcase your business, your products or your services so don’t waste it. Use representative, high quality images that show you off in the best possible light.
You can also allow customers to share their own images to your GMB or socials, but make sure you’re able to moderate them, and keep them separate from your branded images.
Use All the Tools at Your Disposal
You shouldn’t consider your listing as a one time job. Make sure you keep abreast of any new additions to Google’s online business tool so you don’t miss out on adding/using any new features they roll out.
One of the more recent ones is the Google Marketing Kit, which allows you to produce all kinds of creative social media posts, posters and stickers for events, promotions and even to be able to share your best reviews in a striking visual way.
Use Google Posts
Users can now ‘follow’ your GMB profile just as they would on social media platforms, so using Google Posts is a fantastic way of advertising events and deals and engaging with your customers – complete with images, direct calls to action and handy analytics. Adding the searchable ‘shortnames’ feature, allowing customers to follow you, also hugely increases the potential of local engagement – so it’s particularly valuable for small businesses.
The kind of content that can now show up on your knowledge panel includes everything from blog posts and eBooks, to special events, product promotions and company updates. Posts like these have a huge impact on audience engagement and are yet another way to stand out from your competitors.
Taking this a step further, adding videos as Google Posts, rather than along with the rest of your images, allows them a much bigger chance to get in front of an audience directly on your knowledge card. Whether it’s an existing company profile video or something you create especially for a promo, product or event, putting a video front and centre could be the determining factor of a click through to your website.
Respond to Your Reviews
It’s human nature for customers to look to reviews of other people’s experiences, so they are an important feature to appear on your GMB. But it’s also vital that you respond to them, reinforcing you as an accessible and, well, responsive business. This means not only basking in the glow of your five-star endorsements, but also tackling the tricky negative ones. While you probably don’t need any advice on responding to complimentary reviews, with a bad one, make sure you stay polite, rational and always take steps to acknowledge the issue and your intended actions, where appropriate. Never, ever simply ignore a negative review and hope it will go away.
The takeaway from my tips above is this: don’t neglect your Google My Business listing because it is one of the most powerful and simple tools at your disposal. And it’s free! Get the jump on your competitors by making sure yours is fully optimized – and keep it that way.