People discover businesses through local SEO and Google Business.
If a person is looking for a new restaurant, they’ll use their phone to look up dining places in their location. Google Maps show them the top spots near their area.
If you need a dentist, Google Maps can also show you dental clinics nearby providing you with the location, contact information as well as feedback and reviews.
So if you own a local business, local SEO and Google Business will help secure your place online if used correctly. However, not many businesses know how to take advantage of this strategy.
A local SEO strategy and Google Business are not only cost-effective solutions for local businesses, but they’re strategies that will give you favorable results once you learn to optimize them correctly.
Learn about the features you need to prioritize and how to optimize them to drive traffic to your business.
What is a Google Business Profile?
Google Business is a tool owned by Google designed for business owners so that people can easily find them online. Creating a Google Business Profile enables businesses to manage their information and online presence across Google, which is the largest search engine in the world.
This means that your business won’t just be optimized for Google search but every feature integrated into Google such as Google Maps, Places and Google Carousel.
The advantage of claiming your Google Business Profile is that it will improve your Local SEO and search visibility. Whether your business is targeting a local, regional or national audience, Local SEO can help draw in visitors from any location you want.
What is the Google Local Pack or the Google Map Pack?
The Google Local Pack, also known as the Google Map Pack, is a section in Google’s local search results where people can see top-ranking listings in a certain area or the location a person is in.
In this section, businesses are listed together with their contact details, exact geographic location, hours of operation and other important information.
How the Google Local Pack Works
When a user searches for a local business, Google Local Pack or Google Maps displays the top-ranked establishments in the area that matches the user’s query. The results are based on Google’s algorithm that interprets signals from these results as the most relevant to the user.
Google’s Guidelines when it comes to ranking on local search results is fairly easy to understand as its main goal is to deliver the best physical location that matches the user’s search intent. You just need to optimize your Business Profile so that Google will prioritize you above your competitors.
How to Optimize Your Google Business Profile for Local SEO
Many elements and factors are involved when it comes to optimizing Google Business for Local SEO. For example, adding keywords and key phrases to your profile can make a huge difference if you manage to pick the correct ones.
Below are ways you can begin using Google Business with Local SEO to improve local rankings.
1. Claim your Google Business Profile
This is one of the most important steps. All you have to do is claim your business listing and verify that you’re the owner of the establishment. You can register your company.
How to claim your Google listing
- Go to Google Business and create your business profile.
- Provide your business name and address. If your business listing appears in the suggested matches, go ahead and claim it, otherwise, create a new listing and enter the necessary information.
- Complete each section. One of the best ways to optimize your business profile is to complete each section right away as this will not only help Google understand and rank your business but it will also get more people to take action when they come across your profile.
Aside from filling out the basic information like name, address, website, phone and hours open, you need to think about what to put in these sections:
- Category & attributes
- Products or services
- Questions & answers (FAQs)
- Google will then verify that the information you entered is correct and your business is located where you claim it to be. After a week or two, your verification PIN will be sent via postcard.
- Enter the verification PIN and you’re done! You can now share updates about your business with the world.
Local rankings are determined by relevance. So, the more accurate the information you provide, the easier it will be for Google to pull up your business for queries that match it.
Not only do you need to enter all the right business information, but you can also add keywords so customers can know more about what your business is about.
This is where local SEO services can be of use. By doing keyword research, you’re sure that you’re choosing the right category as well as including the right words in your description so that it matches what your target audience is looking for.
2. Add photos to your listings
Adding photos is an excellent way to give people an idea of what your place or services look like. This way, it’s easier for potential clients to see if what you’re offering matches what they need.
Images will get you that extra traffic. But you have to make sure that they’re optimized.
Select the right images, choose the perfect file size and ensure that the quality of your photos is top-notch. If you want, you can go the extra mile by geotagging photos for Google Business to highlight your location even more.
Use photos to make your business stand out. However, anyone can just add images, so make sure that the ones your upload are high quality and optimized.
If you find that most of these tasks are not in your range of specialty, for example, geotagging can be quite technical and time-consuming, you can always work with a local SEO company to ensure that you get help from professionals.
3. Verify your business location
Credibility and trust are the foundations of a business. Verified businesses are 100 percent more likely to be trusted by new visitors.
Once your business is verified, you also have protection in case someone tries to impersonate your business or pose as a representative of your brand.
4. Choose a category
Choosing a category will increase your chances of getting found when a consumer enters a query using a categorical term, product or service. This is beneficial as more people enter categorical or general terms rather than typing a specific business name or address.
If you choose a category, Google also makes it possible for you to choose category-specific details that will make your profile more efficient in grabbing a user’s attention.
For example, hotels will have star ratings whereas HVAC contractors will have service options as to whether they offer online services and onsite services.
Here are some things to keep in mind when choosing a category.
Be very particular about your category
There are many businesses on Google and some of them can fall into multiple categories. But you have to be specific when setting your main category. For example, if you’re an Italian Restaurant, then you can’t just put Restaurant as your category. There will be a list of categories that will appear once you type in your business so make sure to choose the ones that are perfect for your business.
Provide a secondary category
It will help to provide more information about your store and one way to do this is to set up a secondary category. For example, if you’re a Real Estate Agency, you can use additional categories like Commercial Real Estate Agency
Keep it simple
It’s easy to get carried away when choosing categories as some might go overboard in choosing categories that might apply to their business when these are just products or attributes of their business.
Make sure to choose categories that match what your business offers.
5. Pay attention to attributes
Once Google knows your category, a list of attributes designed for your business category will appear and you can add them to enhance your business description. For example, if you’re in the restaurant business, you’ll see features like dine-in, delivery or takeout.
Potential customers can see whether you offer free wi-fi or which days of the week you’ll be mostly fully booked.
Attributes on Google can get very specific, so you have to take advantage of this so you can highlight your best assets.
6. Encourage Google reviews
Google reviews are a big credibility boost to your brand and it’s user-generated so you don’t have to spend anything. Customer reviews or word of mouth is still the best form of marketing after all.
Reviews show that real people who have experienced your services vouch for you and this is a powerful way to attract new customers.
Not only that but Google also puts a lot of value on user reviews and sees them as a huge factor when ranking your Google Business Profile.
One of the best things about Google Business is that it’s very efficient when it comes to reviews. You simply ask your customers to take some time and leave a review on Google. You can provide a direct link or they can easily search your business on Google and leave a review on the spot.
Note that the key here is to be more targeted. This means that target customers that have genuinely enjoyed your services and kindly ask them for their review.
7. Interact with your clients by responding to reviews
The benefits of having positive online reviews can mean the success of a company, however, it can also easily break a business.
Make it a point to respond to the reviews left by your customers, whether they’re positive reviews or otherwise.
8. Optimize your website for mobile
Google Business can also be a bridge that connects people to your business website.
You have to keep in mind that users coming from Google Business will be using different devices. Make sure that your website is ready to receive users who are not only on their computers but also on their mobile devices as well.
Google now uses mobile-first indexing which means that they will be prioritizing the mobile version of a website when crawling and indexing it. So you have to ensure that your website looks beautiful and is responsive on any device.
You can check how mobile-friendly your website is using Google’s own test. You can see how easily a user can use your page using a mobile device. You can use Search Console to learn more about critical site errors and how to fix them.
9. Post consistently on your Google Business Profile
You can post events, announcements, updates and offers to your Google Business Profile. These posts can be created in your Google My Business (GMB) dashboard. These posts become highlighted as it becomes more popular.
Posts are beneficial as it encourages users and potential customers to take action once they come across your profile.
These posts also serve as Google ranking signals. So as you post, you’re sending a signal to Google that your profile is updated and active. Similarly, customers can also follow your Business Profile and get notifications as you post updates.
Tips when posting on your Google Business Profile:
- Post relevant content. Don’t just post updates to send signals to Google, you have to post content that serves a purpose. You can post photo updates if you don’t have a special event coming up.
- Post regularly. Posts tend to expire after a week, so make sure to post relevant updates weekly.
- Include links to your posts. Calls-to-action (CTA) are important in encouraging people to take action once they see your Google Business Profile so make sure to include one in every post.
10. Add messaging to stay connected with customers
Messaging allows users to send you a text message from your Google Business Profile. This is an excellent opportunity since smartphone buyers tend to use their devices for local searches.
This feature allows them to easily message you as soon as they spot your Google Business Profile.
If you skipped this step while signing up, you can access this feature in your Google My Business dashboard. You’ll see the “Messaging” tab in the sidebar. You’ll get the option to download the app from Google Play or the App Store.
You’ll be provided with a different number using Google’s Allo App so you don’t have to worry about displaying your private number. But be sure to set up alerts so you’ll know whenever you have an incoming customer message.
Google Business Profile: A Free and Easy Way to Boost Visibility
Your Business Profile can help you in so many ways; you just have to fill out the pertinent information, and make sure it’s accurate and updated.
However, like any strategy that involves SEO, you’ll increase your chances of success if you optimize external elements that Google also takes into consideration when ranking your Business Profile: your website, third-party websites that connect to your site, review sites that mention your business and more.
Make sure that everything your business is involved in provides quality content and information. Google may have hundreds of ranking factors, but the one constant factor will always be about making user experience as easy as possible.
And a big part of that is putting out quality and trustworthy information.
Optimize your Google Business Profile today, and you’ll improve online visibility and local presence without spending a dime.
Join the discussion