Targeted visibility on Google is critical in today’s business world. Most successful businesses recognize this, though not all know how to effectively optimize their website to make the most out of things like Google ads, Google business listings, and their Google Business Profile.
A Google Business Profile is essentially a dynamic snapshot telling prospective visitors and search engines about your business. This is a great way to highlight your specialties and makes it easy for potential customers to find you. Maintaining an up to date Google Business Profile is free and takes very little time to do. A Google My Business profile will allow your business to appear in local searches, also referred to as the local 3 pack, a critical part of local SEO or Search Engine Optimization. Google understands the intent of a person, and the difference between looking for glasses vs eye doctor. Eye doctor will push a local 3 pack video of eye doctors in your surrounding area.
While claiming a Google Business profile is free and easy it’s only the first step in taking full advantage of the visibility it offers. To really maximize your presence on the internet and Google’s search engine, you need to employ an effective strategy.
In this article, we will take a close look at key strategies and things you can to do maximize your visibility through Google. The ultimate goal is to attract new customers to your site and generate more business opportunities. Especially when it comes to local sales, marketing, networking, and making new contacts.
This includes things like:
- Claiming Your Google Business Profile
- Making Sure Complete Every Section In your Google “My Business” account
- Maintaining Up To Date Contact Information
- Selecting Secondary & Primary Categories
- Marking Off All Applicable Attributes
- Writing A Complete Business Description
- Publishing New Content Each Week
- Uploading New Photos Each Week
- Answering All Incoming Questions On Your Profile
- Responding To All Reviews & Recording Them
- Updating Your Products & Services
- Enabling Messaging & Responding Promptly
These features are free for you to enter and maintain, which makes them a great customer acquisition tool.
Strategies for Optimizing Your Google Business Profile
There are a few essential strategies you can use to maximize your Google Business Profile. To make sure you are maximizing your visibility you might want to consider employing the following strategies. Keep in mind that your business is typically expected to appear roughly up to 20 miles away from where the searcher is searching from. Google knows the IP / GPS location of a searcher, so the results shown to a searcher will be within that proximity. While it’s not always the case, it usually is, unless there is a higher relevance of your business, and there is less competition in the surrounding areas.
The vast majority of consumers start their search exclusively on Google. This is thanks in part to things like snippets that present you with topic-relevant questions and additional information, as well as advanced tools for customer engagement. So, it’s a good idea to maximize your profile for communicating with potential customers, including enabling conversation tools like enabling messaging and allowing current and former customers to post reviews. Then make sure to respond to all incoming communications as soon as possible.
Boosting Your Local Ranking
These days an increasing number of searches on Google include a term by “Near Me.” This is one of the ways that Google helps target local businesses. Google factors this into their algorithm. Noting things like your location and contact information will help you get a higher rank. There is also evidence that google scans your website for content that is related to people’s searches. So lets say someone is searching for Pizza store with anchovies, and there is no mention of anchovies on the GMB page, BUT you have a blog article talking about their Pizza with anchovies, Google will display that in the search results local 3 pack results next to your listing.
You should also make every effort to include things like:
- Use important keywords in descriptions
- Include an FAQ
- Maintain accurate contact information
- Use your Google account and Gmail address in the contact information
- Respond to all inquiries
Connecting Your Google My Business account To Your Google Business Profile
It’s important to note that your Google “My Business” account and your Google Business Profile are different things. This means you need to set up your Google My Business account and then connect it to your Google Business Profile.
How Do I Create A Google My Business Account?
Creating a Google My Business Account is relatively simple. You just need to go to Google.com/business. Then sign in with the same Google/Gmail account that you use for your business. Then Google searches “My Business Optimization” and sign up with your Google My Business information.
Make Sure To Complete Every Section Of Your Google Business Profile
Google’s algorithm tends to assign a higher local rank to businesses that have complete information in their Google Business Profile. It also increases the chances of a prospective customer reaching out or taking action to connect with you.
This starts with the nuts and bolts basic information like
- Phone Number
- Web Address/URL
- Hours Of Operation
You also need to input relatively static information for other more detailed sections like:
- Categories & Attributes
- Products & Services
- Questions & Answers
- Include Owner-Generated Queries
Recurring Content To Add & Curate
Other things need your attention on a more frequent basis. This includes some basic content curation such as:
Periodically posting new information will improve your rank by showing activity. These posts mustn’t be repetitive re-posting of older information, which Google’s algorithm might detect and thus lower your ranking.
Allowing current and past customers to post reviews, and courteously responding to them will further demonstrate activity, improve your ranking and help you attract more visitors to your business website.
Allowing Consumer-generated Questions
Letting consumers ask a question and responding to them promptly demonstrates activity for higher ranking on Google, as well as providing important information for prospective customers.
Tips For Optimizing Your Google Business Profile’s Contact Information
When filling out your Google Business Profile information you need to make sure that the business name is exactly the same as your business signage. Avoid using the location itself or any forced keywords will reduce your ranking as Google’s Algorithm treats this as spam.
Make sure that your address and business name are identical. This includes using the same abbreviations as Co. for “Company” or St. for “Street.”
When indicating your hours of operation, do you best to include the hours each day as well as things like Holiday hours. While this isn’t as big of a deal to Google’s algorithm it will matter for your potential customers who might leave a negative review after making a trip to your storefront only to find that you are closed.
Tips For Writing Out Your Business Description
Your business description is also a critical component of optimizing your visibility for Google’s algorithm. Google inputs this for you based on their own editorial summary. It does this by assessing the consistency of the information you input in other parts of the Business Profile.
One of the places Google draws this information from is the “From the Business” section of the My Business dashboard that’s linked to your account. You can find it in your profile under the “Reviews” section.
Optimizing Your “From The Business” Section Of Your Google Business Profile
You are limited to 750 total characters in the bulk description. Though the first 250 characters as assigned the most weight. It’s best to use as many of the characters as possible. If you can try to repurpose the same information from your website’s “Mission Statement” or “About Us” tab.
When crafting these sentences try to put yourself in the mindset of your potential customer and phrases they might use to search for you. Avoid using any links or embedded HTML, and keep it to an elevator pitch that is FACTUAL and not like a sales pitch, else it may not get approved.
Select A Primary Category & Related Categories
Google’s algorithm also looks at the category information in your Google Business Profile when ranking your site. The category you select will then prompt Google to give you features that are specific to your category, which will best reflect what your business does best. It’s also a good idea to add sub categories that are related to the businesses. It won’t hurt you and only help give more visibility. For example, a primary category may be Orthopedic Clinic, and the sub categories would be Podiatrist, Doctor, Hand Surgeon, etc..
While you can change this later, If you later change your category, or you add an excessive amount of information, Google might ask you to verify you’re your business before ranking you. So, it’s best to take your time and choose the best category possible.
Choose Applicable Attributes
Attributes are nuts and bolts things as well as special features that might help set you apart from your competitors. This might include things like “Free Wi-Fi available or “Service Animals Welcome.”
A Business Profile that includes applicable photos from your Google My Business account dashboard helps in a variety of ways. Photos are visually attractive to people who click on your link or snippet. Uploading photos periodically also shows Google that you are active on your site, and invested in content generation.
Ideally, you want to upload at least one new photo per week. Perhaps more if you have an event-driven business. Just make sure they are genuine photos and not stock images sourced from elsewhere. When applicable add captions and try to Geo-Tag your photos. Videos are also fair game in this instance if you are using Google’s Street View app with a 360-degree. Google also encourages NON-STOCK images. So try and refrain from using free stock photos, and always opt for using images that are authentic photos from your business in action.
Encourage Google Reviews
Enabling reviews of your business and responding to them promptly helps in a few different ways. Right off the bat, it demonstrates activity, but it also imparts the tone of your customer service to your potential customers who read the reviews. Google reviews help you stand out, but there is also evidence that more reviews helps give you a stronger visibility range outside your centerpoint of your business address.
Post Frequently To Your Google Business Profile
Adding things like announcements and other things on your social media platform will also help you rank higher with Google’s algorithm. Posts tend to show up in your My Business dashboard under the “Updates” section.
This information might also be populated to Google Maps, and consumers might also be able to follow your updates as notifications. If you are a brick and mortar location, you might want to also include specific guidelines, such as your policies during a pandemic. For example, Google tends to rank businesses higher if they have a post for their “COVID-19 Response.”
Set Up Your Messaging Protocols
You can set up messaging protocols where you are sent new text messages or other notifications when someone posts to your Google Business Profile. You can find this feature under your Google My Business dashboard under “Customer Messages.” Then when you do get a notification, respond to it promptly and politely.
Take The Time To Maintain Your Business Profile
While this is a free tool, it is not without its time demands. Activity, consistency, and responsiveness are important to maintain your presence. This includes doing things like posting weekly articles or blogs as well as maintaining updated photos and correct contact information. Be sure to respond to all customer questions and reviews. Not only do these things demonstrate the kind of activity that Google’s algorithm prioritizes, but it’s also a great way to maintain good relations with current and prospective new customers.