For small local businesses, creating and optimising your Google My Business (GMB) profile is becoming even more important as a marketing strategy than having a website. These days, GMB has practically become most SMEs new primary homepage.
Why? It all comes down to visibility. Google My Business listings can appear above the very first organic search result - also known as position zero - which is a coveted spot for any company. Appearing as the top result can positively impact your sales if users can swiftly access all the details they need through a GMB listing, as well as potentially increasing site traffic too.
However, simply creating a GMB profile is not enough: it needs to be optimised to maximise your chances of ranking high locally, in order to attract more customers.
In this guide, we’ll explain more about what Google My Business is, as well as how to create and optimise your GMB profile.
What is Google My Business?
Google My Business is a platform by Google that is completely free for businesses to use and set up. Companies can create a GMB profile that shows important information about your business in both the Google Search and Maps results. Critically, these details can be easily viewed without someone needing to necessarily click onto your site.
However, to set up a GMB profile you need to meet one requirement: there needs to be some element of face-to-face interaction with your clients or customers as part of your business activities. Online-only businesses can’t set up a Google My Business Page.
Details that can be found on your Google My Business profile include your address, reviews, phone number, and business.
Want to see what a Google My Business listing looks like? Take a look at the example below. You’ll probably recognise something similar to this coming up in the search results when looking for local services or businesses such as restaurants, cafes or bakeries:
As you can see here, three businesses appear in what is known as the ‘Local Pack’ or a ‘Knowledge Pack’ and this is what local businesses should be aiming to appear in.
Depending on your industry, it’s also possible to add appointment booking details and list products (including their description and prices) to your Google My Business page.
This platform is an essential component of any successful local SEO strategy (search engine optimisation that is geared towards appearing on the first page of the local search results).
How To Create a Google My Business Profile
Setting up a Google My Business profile is a quick and easy process. Follow the steps below to get started:
Create your GMB listing
- Log into your chosen Google account and then head to google.com/business.
- In the right-hand corner click ‘Start now’.
- Type your business name.
- Enter your location.
- Fill in delivery information (if applicable).
- Enter your business category.
- Include your business website and phone number.
- Fill out all remaining properties in the GMB listing (such as appointment information, services, team members etc) to maximise your ranking potential.
- Pick a verification option (more on this in the next step).
Verify your GMB listing
After claiming and creating your Google My Business page, the next step is verifying it. You can do this either by postcard, email, phone, instant or by bulk verification. Depending on the option you choose (and the category your business is in - not all firms are eligible for instant verification) it may take less than 24 hours or up to a week to validate.
That’s it! You’ve sorted out the fundamentals of your GMB page. But as we mentioned earlier, to increase your chances of appearing in the top 3 Google My Business listings for local searches, you need to optimise this profile. Check out the next part of the guide to find out how.
The Best Ways to Optimise Your Profile
When so much of our decision-making is made online, reviews are more important now than ever before. A staggering 90% of people read reviews prior to making a purchase, and the number of reviews you receive on your GMB listing count as a ranking factor.
With this in mind, encourage customers to leave a review. You can make this easier for them (and therefore increase the likelihood of action being taken) by providing a link, which you can create in under a minute on the Google My Business dashboard. Send this to customers via a follow-up email after purchasing.
Remember to engage with both positive reviews that you get on your GMB page. Engagement also counts as a ranking signal, having an impact on your visibility in the search results.
But don’t forget to engage with negative reviews too, if you receive them. When deciding on a purchase, users will take into consideration not only the positive reviews, but how well you deal with the negative ones too. Always respond in a proactive, helpful manner, finding the best way to resolve the situation (if at all possible).
Increase your visibility even further with your GMB listing (and keep in contact with existing customers) by posting regularly. On the platform, utilise the Google Posts feature to highlight things such as company updates or special offers relating to your products.
Don’t forget photos
Photos are a crucial component of any GMB profile - so make sure you are adding them as often as possible. Visuals are key to success for Google My Busines pages: data by Google shows that businesses who use photos in their listings gain 42% more direction requests, so don’t forget about them! Make sure you are using high-quality, eye-catching photos that are representative of your business.
We hope this guide has clarified why the creation of a Google My Business page is of paramount importance, especially for local businesses. It is the cornerstone of any successful local SEO strategy, ultimately yielding in more clients.
RJM Digital can take off the set-up and optimisation of GMB listings on your behalf, saving time and considerable effort. Contact us today to find out more.