Getting found online for a local business is becoming more difficult and expensive. Ad prices are skyrocketing while organic reach through social media is on the decline. One way that’s still affordable and effective is using a Google my business account, or GMB for short. Today we will discuss GMB optimization and why it’s so important.
But What Exactly Is A GMB Listing?
A GMB listing is something that shows up when someone near to you searches for a product or service you may sell.
Have you ever searched for “Plumbers near me” or “restaurants near me”, if you have you will have noticed that the Google search page looks different from usual and you usually see a map with pin markers on there showing the top 3 results for your search?
This map and 3 results are referred to as the map pack, but it has been called other things over the years such as the snack pack. If you hear either, they mean the same thing.
Ranking in the map pack for local businesses is very important as over 26% of searches are local and with over 3.5 billion searches performed every day that’s a lot of potential customers to lose out on.
If you want more leads, sales, and visibility as a local business you need to be in the map pack when someone searches for your product or service when they are near you.
Optimizing Your GMB Listing To Get Found
The biggest problem with ranking in the map pack is that there are only 3 positions that can be claimed. Being in the top 3 is going to bring more visibility and traffic to your website so the effort to get there is worth it.
To have any chance of ranking in the map pack you need an optimized GMB profile. If you don’t have a GMB listing at this point go to Google.com/Business and you can set up a free account, and If you need any help with your SEO strategy, get in touch with us.
When you have set up your GMB listing you will need to verify your business. There are a few options for verification. It’s usually done via a postcard.
When you request a postcard verification, Google will send out a postcard with a few letters on it which you will need to confirm on your listing. When this is done you can start the optimization process.
Complete Your Profile
The first step of an optimized profile is to make sure all of your business information is complete. This may sound obvious but there are many options to fill in and sometimes business owners can get overwhelmed with the process and miss parts out.
The Most Important Parts Of Your GMB Listing Are:
- Your business name.
- Your business address.
- Your phone number.
- Your email address.
- Your opening hours.
- Your website address.
- Your business category.
- The products and services you offer.
- Your business images.
This may seem like a lot of data to fill out but it should only take you an hour or so to complete it.
When done you could have something that generates leads for your business without too much work needed to be done afterward.
Filling the details out above is simple enough, but you should take care when doing so because if your details are not consistent across the internet you will have trouble ranking for your desired keywords.
Your name, address, and postcode or NAP information should be the same on your Google listing, your website, and any other websites such as Yelp where your business data can be posted. If any of this is inconsistent it will have a negative ranking effect.
Your NAP Data Should Always Look The Same, Which I Will Demonstrate Below:
“Matchbox Design Group LLC
1501 Locust St, Unit A
St. Louis, MO 63103”
“Matchbox Design Group
1501 Locust Street, Unit A
St. Louis, MO 63118”
The business above may look the same to us but to an algorithm it’s different. In example one the business name doesn’t include the “LLC” within the business name and it also spells out the word street in full.
Keep your NAP data consistent or it will cause headaches further down the road.
If you do have inconsistent NAP data you will have to either fix this yourself or hire an SEO agency to help you with your business profile.
Choosing The Right Business Category
When optimizing your Google listing you will want to make sure you are in the right business category. You may have an idea of what your business would fall under, but this can sometimes be different from what your customers expect.
For example, an IT company may feel like they belong in the computer category but if you do a Google search for IT support in St Louis you will notice that all of the businesses that rank in the map pack are under the “IT support and services” category.
By checking the current results you can see what Google expects to rank, so don’t fight them, use the same category as your competitors, and move on to the next step.
Add Photos To Make Your Listing Stand Out
Not only do your photos add trust but they also allow you to add something called EXIF data into them. Now it’s not known if adding EXIF data into photos is a ranking factor but it certainly doesn’t hurt.
EXIF data is data embedded into a photo that says where a photo was taken and what camera it was taken on and many other bits of information. For a small business in one location using this EXIF data is a good trick to creating geo relevance.
For example, if you are a business in St Louis and you have photos in your business listing of local areas in St Louis and your EXIF data shows this too then Google is going to know you are a business in St Louis and that is theorized to help with ranking your business in the map pack.
EXIF data is embedded into your photos naturally but if for some reason it isn’t you can edit your photos and add the data via programs such as Photoshop.
Getting Reviews To Your Listing
If you want to rank in the map pack you need high quality reviews and hopefully not negative reviews. Very rarely do businesses rank without having any reviews.
Getting reviews to your Google listing is quite difficult as there isn’t a good way of getting a link you can copy and paste and send to your customers. For this reason, most businesses just forget about getting reviews, but there is a way to do it which will help your customers, it does require a little bit of work though.
What you will need to do is go to Google maps and search for your business, next click on the reviews section, and then copy and paste the URL in the address bar:
As you can see this URL isn’t too friendly and if you sent this to your customers they would think you have been hacked. What we need to do is use a URL shortener. You can use any on the market, a paid one that will allow you to make a brandable link is worth the investment if you plan on working on getting more reviews.
For the sake of this post I have used a free version known as shorturl.at
Adding the above code to this website then gives you back the following code:
This code can then be sent to customers via email, social media, or even printed on business cards so you can give them out to happy customers so they can review your business.
Don’t forget to respond to reviews.
Tracking Your Listing
To rank a GMB listing you need to track it so that the small changes that you make can be tested. Without local rank tracking software, you won’t know if your optimizations are having a negative or positive effect.
SEO is all about testing and GMB listings are no different.
When you track your listings you can see how posting from your GMB can affect your rankings. Do 2 posts a week to help with the ranking? You can even do 3 or 4.
GMB optimization could mean the difference from generating no traffic to generating leads or sales for your business on autopilot. With this article, we have gone over some of the best ways of optimizing your profile but if you ever need help with your local SEO please get in touch with us.