An important first step in any local SEO strategy is to claim and verify your local business’ Google My Business (GMB) listing. Getting on Google My Business can increase your chances of showing up in Google’s Local Pack, Local Finder, Google Maps, and organic rankings in general.
Local Businesses can claim this free listing on Google which includes information about their company.
List your address, phone number, opening hours, website address etc. You will need to follow Googles guidelines when setting your business up.
Lately, Google has added some great additional features to Google My Business that enhance your business listing. These help grab potential clients attention and can increase how you rank in local search results ( Local SEO).
How to Claim your Business on Google My Business (GMB)
To get started – visit https://business.google.com/
You will need to input as much information as possible. Remember if you don’t fill out all the information, someone else could. Many business owners don’t realise that anyone can suggest an edit or change to your business listing – and that includes your competitors.
When someone clicks on that option they can literally edit your Google My Business listing.
And these aren’t just “suggested” edits – these user-generated changes can actually be made live on your listing without you even being notified. This is just one reason why you should log in to your Google my Business dashboard regularly to ensure that the listing is correct and no changes have been made.
Googles procedure is to send an email to the business owner and who ever else is listed as managing that Google My Business account, but often these emails can be missed. This results in changes to the listing that may negatively affect your business listing without you realising it. Log in regularly to check or download the Google My Business App to your phone.
To verify the listing on Google My Business
After updating all the information about your business, Google will then review the listing. Once that is complete you are required to verify your listing. Google will send you out a postcard to the address which you will need to input back into Google to verify the business.
Optimise your Google my Business Listing
Once you have verified your GMB (Google My Business) listing, now is the time to optimise your listing. Grab your chance to rank higher than your competition.
Google My Business Posts
These posts are like mini-ads or social media posts that show up in Google search in your Google My Business Listing.
To get started with Posts, log into your GMB dashboard and the Post option is on the left hand side.
Similar to social media posts, you can add images or video, some text description and even a CTA (call to action) which can be a link to your website.
Some Google my Business Post ideas
- Event posts – you can set up a post with a link to the registration page
- Sales – you can specify the date time the post will show
- Blog or News Posts – push your latest news post – as this one will be pushed on mine J
- New products or Features – show the new products/features and link to where they can be purchased
- Seasonal message – maybe you wish to push a seasonal message i.e. Christmas/Easter/Back to School
Posts show up prominently in your business Knowledge panel as above, so don’t miss this opportunity to stand out from your competitors.
Google & Emojis
Want to have even MORE fun and potentially help your local SEO? Try adding relevant emojis to your Post. Google is beginning to index emoji-relevant search results. (In fact, you can now search Google by “tweeting” an emoji at it!)
Additionally, people — especially younger people — are beginning to search (typically on their mobile devices) with emojis! So if a person is searching for “[pizza emoji] + nearby” and you own a local pizza restaurant and use the [pizza emoji] somewhere on your Google My Business listing — like in a Post with a special offer on a pizza order — you might have an SEO edge over the other pizzeria competitors close by.
How to add emojis on Windows Desktop (10 & 8)
Option 1 Windows 10 & 8 Touch Keyboard
- Right-click a blank area of the Windows Taskbar, then choose “Toolbars” > “Touch Keyboard“. If it doesn’t show – ensure the tick to “Show Touch Keyboard Button” is ticked.
- Select the Touch Keyboard iconin the taskbar.
- Choose the smiley key, located toward the lower left portion of the keyboard.
- Select the Emoji to type it in a field
Option 2 – Google Chrome Plugin
- Download and install the “Emoji Input” plugin.
- An Emoji icon is available at the upper-right corner. Select it.
- Emoji characters may show in the plugin box as a square. Highlight the box/Emoji, then copy it (CTRL + C).
- Paste (CTRL + V) the Emoji in the text field you would like to use it. It may still show as a rectangle, but when you send your message, it will show as an Emoji character.
Once the emoji list of characters appear, you can select the emoji you’d like to include (but don’t get carried away — one emoji is enough):
When people search using Chrome on their smartphones with an “emoji + near me,” you might be surprised by what they find:
You got it! Google knew that I was looking for a great burger resturaunt around my home!
This strategy is still new and we’re not certain how adding emojis to your GMB listings impact these “emoji search results,” but if you have a related emoji that is pertinent to your business, you should definitely test it! (But don’t overdo the emojis — it gets obnoxious and doesn’t look professional if you go overboard.)
Posts stay live for seven days or “go dark” after the date of the event. (However, the old Posts still appear in your GMB listing — they’re just pushed down by the new Posts.)
Google will remind you when posts are about to expire and to add new posts. Posts show up prominently in mobile searches (which is over 60% of all website access) so make your website stand out among the search results by keeping your Posts updated.
Book Directly from Google
A quick way to get more bookings (if your business relies on customers making appointments) is to have the Booking button feature enabled on Google. For this you must be using one of the approved Google booking/secheduling software to integrate it with your GMB.
This will enable clients to book an appointment directly from your Google My Business listing. This can make it even easier to get new customers — they don’t have to leave Google to book an appointment with you!
If you have an account with one of Google’s supported scheduling providers, the booking button is automatically added to your Google My Business listing. Take advantage of this integrated GMB feature if you use the booking providers, it’ll make it super simple to get new clients or customers.
Questions and Answers
Questions & Answers is a great feature for Google local search. The hint is in the name – potential clients/customers ask questions about your business and you can answer these questions.
The Google My Business Questions & Answers feature is the perfect opportunity to hear directly from “the people” and you can respond to them. Win-win.
One thing you should do is be proactive and create a Frequently Asked Questions list to pre-empt people’s GMB Q&As. Check with your staff to identify the questions people most often ask, then put those Q&A questions on your GMB listing.
WARNING: It’s important to note that just like “Suggest an Edit” on GMB, anyone can answer questions asked of your business. Therefore, you want to keep an eye out and make sure you answer questions quickly and ensure that if someone else answers a question, that the answer is accurate.
Google My Business online Reviews
Google encourages business owners to ethically ask their customers or clients for online reviews. Online reviews appear next to your listing in Google Maps and your business’ Knowledge Panel in search results. Online reviews can help your business stand out among a sea of search results.
Additionally, online reviews are known to impact search result rankings, consumer trust, and click-through rates. According to BrightLocal’s 2017 Consumer Review Survey:
- 97% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses in 2017, with 12% looking for a local business online every day
- 85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations
- Positive reviews make 73% of consumers trust a local business more
- 49% of consumers need at least a four-star rating before they choose to use a business
- Responding to reviews is more important than ever, with 30% naming this as key when judging local businesses
- 68% of consumers left a local business review when asked — with 74% having been asked for their feedback
- 79% of consumers have read a fake review in the last year
If you follow Google’s guidelines for Google Business reviews, you can ask your customers for reviews. (However, if you violate any of these policies, your reviews could be removed.)
Recently Google made some changes to their review guidelines.
They have now changed it so that current and/or former employees can’t leave reviews. For business owners this is great news because it means that disgruntled and ex-employees with a grudge can no longer post bad reviews.
When customers leave reviews for you — good or bad — make sure you respond to them. Not only does it show that customer that you appreciate their feedback, it also shows potential customers that you care.
So what happens if you get a negative review? First, don’t freak out. Everybody has a bad day and most people recognize that. Also, if you have a troll that gave you a one-star review and left a nasty comment, most people with common sense recognize that review for what it is. It’s generally not worth stressing over.
To learn more about strategically getting more online reviews, check out this article from Moz.
Photos and Videos on GMB
The Internet used to be all about text and information, but more and more the visual appeal of the Internet is what grabs people’s attention — and that means photos and videos. Videos are so hot that you don’t even need sound. Studies show that as much as 85% of Facebook videos are viewed with the sound off.
However, many business owners are still under the misperception that to get into videos (or even photography) you have to hire a professional video production company or studio. Not true. Some of the best photos and videos are done on the fly — and with a smartphone!
Adding photos of your business is a great way to humanize your brand and let your customers get a “behind-the-scenes” look at what your company is all about… AND your customers can post photos on your Google My Business listing, too!
The ability to add photos to your Google My Business listing has been around for a while, but adding videos is a relatively new feature that Google introduced. Instead of being afraid, get excited! You can now add a 30-second video about your company that will grab people’s attention on the most popular place people go to search and find information: Google!
How to Add Videos on GMB
To get started, log in to your Google My Business dashboard. You will either see the “Add Videos” image on the Overview tab:
Or you can also click on the blue + sign to add a video:
When you click on the “Add Video” button, you can either drag the video you want to upload or select the video from your computer.
Google states that it can take up to 24 hours for the video to display, but most videos show up after just a few minutes. The videos should be 30 seconds long, but we’ve uploaded longer videos just fine. (Keep in mind that people have short attention spans, so don’t overdo it with videos that are too long — 30 seconds is just about right!)
Now, for you marketers out there that are salivating thinking of the great marketing and promotional videos you can upload, hold on for just a moment. Make sure your videos are taken at the place of business and are of people that work at your business or directly pertain to your business.
(Google My Business is not the place for stock photos and marketing or promotional videos.) Google can remove the videos if the primary subject of the content is not related to the business location.
Owners who upload videos will be shown in the “By Owner” tab. When customers or clients upload videos, those videos will appear in the “Customer” tab. ALL of the videos will be displayed in the “Video” tab.
Google has given us some general Google Business Video Guidelines to follow:
- Duration: Up to 30 seconds long
- File Size: Up to 100 MB
- Resolution: 720p or higher
As a bonus, once you have two or more videos on your GMB listing, you’ll get a Videos subtab that shows up on mobile devices!
Business Descriptions on GMB
Good news! Google now allows business owners to include a business description on your Google My Business listing. (And it’s about time!) Google recently made this announcement via Twitter and business owners were thrilled.
As usual, Google has provided us with some guidelines to follow: Google Business Description Guidelines. It’s important you adhere to these rules because Google does review your business Description.
Input up to 750 characters in your business description. Only 250 characters show up before they get cut off in the Knowledge Panel. So you want to make sure that you carefully create your business description and put the most important information and keywords — including your city — towards the front of the description.
Google really does review your business description to make sure people aren’t being deceptive or are spamming, so be sure to follow these guidelines:
You only have 750 characters (and only 250 of those show up in the company’s Knowledge Panel), so you want to make sure that every character counts.
On a desktop computer, the business description appears in the Knowledge Panel towards the bottom, below your reviews. (It’d be great if Google would bump the business description up towards the top of the Knowledge Panel where it should be… Let’s hope they move it there soon!)
On a mobile device, you can only see a business’ description if you click on the About tab:
Services/Menus on GMB
If you sell services, like a spa, nail salon, hair salon, copying company, or even a holistic center, and have a “menu” of services, the new Services list in Google My Business is a great new addition. This feature is only available for food and drink, health, beauty, and other services businesses that don’t have a third-party “menu” link.
The Services list allows you to categorize and list out all your services (or food items) and prices so that potential customers can easily see what you have to offer.
This list itemizes out each service (or food item) you offer. Start by logging in to your Google My Business listing and click on Info:
Then scroll down and you will see the “Services” section where you can Add or edit your items:
This is where you can create categories, add items, and you can also add a description of each item (if you want to).
If you own a service business with set prices, I’d highly recommend you include your list of services and make sure you update these services and prices if things change.
Get more out of your Listing on GMB
Google is always looking at the engagement searchers and you, as the owner, are having with your Google My Business listing. The more interaction, the better your chances of ranking higher in the local three-pack and organic rankings in general. That means you need to keep optimizing your Google My Business listing.
As new features come out, plan on using them to keep your GMB listing fully optimized which will help with your Local SEO. Please contact us at Web Clare if you wish us to optimise your Google My Business Listing.
Please note some of the detail above has been taken from article on Moz
SEMrush have also published a great guide to Google My Business for 2021.
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