Google My Business (GMB) is a free tool that helps businesses manage their online presence on Google. It allows businesses to appear on Google Search and Google Maps, and provides customers with important information about a business, such as hours of operation, location, and reviews. It is arguably the best resource for local SEO there is. A lot of other directories pull their information from GMB listings.
Here are five tips for businesses to optimize their Google My Business profile:
1. Claim and Verify Your Business
The first step to optimizing your Google My Business profile is to claim and verify your business. This involves creating a Google My Business account and confirming that you are the owner of the business. Once you have claimed and verified your business, you can add and edit information about your business, such as hours of operation, contact information, and photos.
Ocassionally there will be other methods but you’ll usually need to have a “postcard” sent to your business address with a code on it. You then enter that code to become verified. Although they say you can expect the card within 5 days, I’ve seen it take up to a couple weeks, so the sooner you get on this the better.
Another note I should make here, even if you are a “service area” type of business and don’t have an office where you conduct face-to-face meetings, you’ll still need to verify your business address. You can still hide your address to the public, but it is required to get verified.
2. Optimize Your Business Information
Make sure to fill out all the information on your Google My Business profile. This includes your business name, address, phone number, (sometimes referred to as NAP) website URL, hours of operation, and photos. Be sure to use accurate and consistent information across all your online profiles, such as your website and social media pages. This will help improve your online visibility and ensure that customers can easily find your business.
Consistency is very important when it comes to anywhere your business is mentioned. (This is called a citation.) You need to pick an address format and stick with it. For instance, if your business is listed at 123 Main St. with “street” abreviated, then every other mention of your business on the web should have the same format!
3. Encourage Reviews
Reviews are an important part of your Google My Business profile, as they provide social proof of the quality of your business. Encourage customers to leave reviews by providing excellent service and asking them to leave a review after their visit. You can also include a link to your Google My Business profile in your email signature, on your website, and on your social media pages to make it easy for customers to leave a review.
Responding to these reviews are important as well. Especially if you get a less than desirable review. This is an opportunity to show potential customers how you deal with unhappy customers. If there is no response, even if you’ve handled the complaint, it may appear to others that you don’t care about complaints and do nothing to resolve them.
4. Use Google My Business Posts
Google My Business Posts are a great way to promote your business and keep customers informed about your latest news and offers. Posts can include photos, text, and call-to-action buttons, such as “Learn More” or “Book Now”. Use Google My Business Posts to announce special promotions, events, or new products or services.
This is a widely underused part of GMB listings and I don’t understand why. It goes a long way in not only keeping your customers informed but adds fresh content for Google and Google loves fresh content. All other things being equal, a business that regularly uses this feature will show up above a business that doesn’t.
5. Monitor and Respond to Reviews
I briefly mentioned this above, but it is so important that it deserves it’s own section!
It’s SO important to monitor and respond to reviews on your Google My Business profile. Responding to reviews shows that you value your customers’ feedback and are committed to providing excellent service. Respond to both positive and negative reviews, and address any concerns or issues raised by customers. This will help improve your online reputation and build trust with customers.
Another thing worth mentioning here is you might want to look into reputation management software. This will not only make managing reviews much less tedious but can potentially stop negative reviews from reaching public areas and give you a chance to turn things around before they do!
Google My Business is a powerful tool for businesses to manage their online presence and attract new customers. By claiming and verifying your business, optimizing your business information, encouraging reviews, using Google My Business Posts, and monitoring and responding to reviews, you can improve your online visibility, build your reputation, and grow your business.