Maximising Local Exposure
If you're looking to target local consumers and boost your local search rankings, you’ll need to set aside some time to create a Google My Business (GMB) account and optimise the information for your business.
There’s quite a few sections which are important to populate so I’ve outlined below how you can make the most of your GMB account.
Most importantly, it’s quick, easy, free and will be time well spent.
Firstly, what is Google My Business?
GMB is a free tool provided by Google to enhance your business profile on it’s search engine. It gives business owners the ability to improve their location search rankings in a relatively simple way.
You’ll benefit from:
- Highly visible knowledge panel which appears to the right of the search results
- Featured on Google Maps, locally
- Users are able to find you and contact you more easily
- Ability to provide voice search results
- Assistance with Google App search results
GMB signals are very important in local search results and their importance is growing year on year with over 500% increase in “near me” searches in the past year alone so be sure to invest some time in creating a well optimised account.
Once you’ve registered for a GMB listing you’ll be sent a verification code to activate your listing which you can then optimise.
Getting the basics right (Known as NAP)
The very first stage is to ensure Google has the correct information for your business including business name, address, contact information and website address. Google will use this information as a quality check.
If you have multiple business locations you’ll be able to connect them in your account and give each a short name which can be done in the info tab.
Another one of the basics to get right is to communicate your opening hours so that Google can display to the end user whether or not you are open at the time of the search. You will have the ability to set whether you are closed on certain days i.e. every Sunday, or whether you are closed on specific dates of the year i.e. bank holidays.
As it’s based on influencing your local search results, have a think about the areas you are able to serve. Working in digital myself, I can work with anyone, anywhere in the world but it’s important Google understands the areas that I operate in physically especially for customers that expect a personable relationship i.e. face to face meetings.
The more you fill in, the more people will think you have a reputable business and they will begin to feel confident in approaching you.
Writing the perfect business description
You have 750 characters to write the perfect business description that should be written in an engaging and authentic manner and shouldn’t be used to promote any of your existing promotional offers.
Google will use this information to tell local search users about your brand i.e. your; story, mission, history, locations, services or products. You can of course include a couple of keywords which are key to your product or service offering being understood by the end user.
It’s likely to take a few tries to get the description how you want it to be and that’s expected. I can change mine all the time when adding or removing services throughout the year. You can go back to your profile and change this information as much as you need to until you're 100% happy with how it appears.
Adding your business categories
Populating this information plays a pivotal role in your local search ranking so that both Google and the end user understands what services you offer and ensures that your listing will only be displayed on relevant search queries. Take my example below for instance, I want Google and the end user to know I can provide services around marketing, digital marketing and web design.
You’ll need to establish what your primary category is that you want Google and the end user to know along with any additional categories of the services you offer.
Adding your logo and engaging images
GMB provides you with lots of options to upload images and research shows that profiles with engaging images are 60% more likely to have their attention captured.
You can upload logos, images, interior or exterior shots, 360-degree images and videos to your account.
Rule of thumb is to upload, if you can, the following:
- Three exterior shots of your business (if you have a physical location) and at least three interior shots of your business focusing on different locations within the business to showcase your setting, decor, atmosphere etc.
- Team pictures (if you have them)
- Images of your products (but not all of them)
Keeping tabs on your reviews
You can use Google as a platform to capture your customer reviews so if you use this feature, be sure to keep an eye on any incoming reviews and respond where necessary.
You can create a link to your review page asking customers to leave you a positive review which will help you start building your reviews base.
Based on the industry of your business, you may use a different platform for capturing your reviews which is ok.
Use Google Posts
Think of Google posts within your content marketing plan, only it’s boosting your website listing on organic search. To give you an example, here’s a Google post that I uploaded the last time I promoted my services to help clients with Google Shopping Ads.
Download the App
There is a dedicated App for GMB which allows you to monitor the performance of your listing, respond to any recent reviews and link with your phone to accept incoming calls or messages. Definitely worth adding to your phone so that it can work in the background during your working day. Having the ability to interact with a potential customer in real time is a valuable feature when enabling the instant messaging.