How to Optimize a Google My Business Listing for Local Search


September 25, 2018 By

Cheryl Dykstra


Not only does your Google My Business (GMB) listing increase your chances of showing up in the Google Local 3-pack, but when your business is searched for by name, Google often shows a Knowledge Panel that displays detailed information about your company.


These details are pulled directly from your GMB listing, as well as from information Google finds from other online sources and user-generated content (like third-party reviews, Q&As, user-suggested information, etc.).

But how can you optimize your listing to help you in local search?

Set Up & Basics

Before we get too far, it’s worth discussing the basics. Some of these steps may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many times we see the same simple mistakes over and over.

Claim and Verify

The very first thing you should do before creating a new GMB listing is to ensure there isn’t already an existing listing. Even if you don’t recall having created one, a customer may have done it for you, or an old colleague. Simply do a quick Google search of your business (also try this in Google Maps) and see whether a profile comes up for your business.

If there is an existing listing, you’ll need to request ownership access and verify it once it’s been relinquished to you.

If there is no listing, it’s time to create your own and verify your ownership. Google will send a postcard to your business address with a code. You’ll then need to enter the code to verify it.

Fill Out Your Business Information

Once your business is verified, it’s time to deck out your listing. Fill out all relevant information and ensure it is accurate and kept up to date. There is nothing more frustrating than a GMB listing with the wrong opening times: cue angry customers. Also, remember to add any special hours or holiday times.

Keep your business name the actual name. Don’t try to sneak any keywords into your name field or you’ll be at risk for violating Google’s guidelines. Write an accurate and enticing description in line with Google’s guidelines and choose a relevant category.

Don’t worry if you don’t see the perfect category for your business, you can always add more details in the ‘Services’ section, where you can add products or services, or in other description areas.

Lastly, make sure that your NAP (name, address, and phone number) is consistent with all other listings you have online – whether it be on your website, Facebook, etc. Even small differences can mean a lot when it comes to local rankings.

Photos

The photos on your GMB listing can make a noticeable difference in click-through rates. Include a logo, a shot of your storefront or service vehicle if applicable and any other photos which you think will help to effectively promote your business. Ensure they are professional, appealing and kept up to date.

Be sure to follow Google’s best practices in terms of formatting; the recommended specifications are as follows:

  • Format: JPG or PNG

  • Size: Between 10 KB and 5 MB

  • Minimum resolution: 720 px tall, 720 px wide

  • Quality: The photo should be in focus and well lit, and have no significant alterations or excessive use of filters. In other words, the image should represent reality.

As of January 2018, you can also add videos to a listing. Just be sure to follow Google’s video guidelines.

Reviews

Once you’ve set up your listing, the real fun begins.

One of the biggest factors in the success of your GMB listing is getting reviews. Google reviews have long been a key decision making factor for customers, with 68% of consumers saying they trust a local business more if they have positive reviews.

You can’t just set up a listing and expect the reviews to pour in though. Even the most amazing business needs to give a gentle nudge towards the reviews section.

If you’re looking to get more reviews, check out our article:
3 Tips for Getting More Online Reviews

However, it’s not just about the positive reviews. A diversity in reviews tend to be trusted more than 100% five-star reviews, especially if those reviews give more specific information about a product or service, since every buyer has different tastes / needs.

The key to negative reviews is responding with a calm and collected manner. According to a TripAdvisor survey, 78% of consumers felt that businesses care more about their customers if they respond to online reviews versus if they don’t respond.

Monitor Your Listing

Did you know that anyone can suggest an edit to your profile? It could be a well-meaning customer who just doesn’t have a clue. Or it could even be a competitor. Either way, business owners are not always notified, so you really need to keep an eye on your listing to make sure there aren’t any changes made.

Also, users can now ask questions about your business from Google. Google likes user-generated content, as it’s all part of building a user-centric community. Just make sure that you’re keeping an eye out for them.

Insights

Once you’ve had your listing established and optimized for a while, checking your Insights can be a great way to see whether your GMB profile was viewed on Search or Maps, as well as customer actions, such as website visits, direction requests and phone calls.

You can get an idea of how well your listing is doing and what you can optimize more.

Optimizing your Google My Business listing is not too complicated. Even simple changes can have a profoundly positive effect on your SEO; given it’s an area so often overlooked by other businesses. Don’t leave that rankings boost on the table!


If you need help with your local SEO, give Sales & Marketing Technologies a call today at (407) 682-2222 or contact us online for a free strategy session to learn how we can help.

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