Back in the day, the Yellow Pages were the go-to resource for finding local businesses. You pulled out that trusty book and either looked up the number you needed, or went to the relevant business category to figure out who to call.
It goes without saying that times have changed. Breaking out the phone book has been replaced with using a search engine on your phone or computer. Even typing that search query yourself is slowly being replaced by asking Alexa, Google or Siri to do it for you!
With customers relying on online search for so many aspects of their daily lives, it’s critical that your business is easily found on the search engine results page (SERP). In fact, 82% of smartphone users go to search engines as their first step in fulfilling a need.
A Google My Business profile can play a critical role in achieving a top search engine ranking and connecting with customers online. Keep reading to learn more about this important tool for local SEO and improving your business’ online presence.
What is Google My Business?
Google My Business is a free tool for businesses to share key information about themselves and manage their presence on Google Search and Google Maps. It allows you to display information such as your name, location and business hours, collect and respond to user reviews, share photos and more.
Why Do You Need a Google My Business Profile?
Google My Business is critical for local SEO, or ensuring that you are found for searches relevant to your products or services in the geographic area you serve.
More visibility in the modern SERP
Yes, your website may show up in the regular listings. Without a Google My Business profile, however, you won’t be found in the maps listings or on the right-hand sidebar.
These features are becoming increasingly prominent, especially for mobile searches, so if your business isn’t found here then it’s less likely that users will scroll down to and click on your website listing.
Online presence, even without a website
While we’re strong advocates for the importance of having a website, you don’t actually need one to create a Google My Business profile.
This is a great way to connect with customers online if you’re a new business and haven’t gotten your website up yet. It can also be your shortcut to having an online presence if a website simply isn’t feasible for one reason or another.
Full control over your business information
Another key benefit of a Google My Business profile is that it allows you to control the information that Google shares about you. If you don’t create and manage the profile yourself, Google may pull information from other sources, such as your website, social media or other online listings.
On one hand, Google creating a listing for you can be a handy feature. On the other hand, this information isn’t always correct. The last thing you need is customers calling the wrong phone number, showing up when you’re closed, or even going to the wrong location!
Creating and managing the profile yourself is the best way of making sure it is always accurate and up-to-date. This is especially useful for businesses that may adjust their hours throughout the year, or when you’ve changed locations or contact information.
In a nutshell, Google My Business is a free and easy way of boosting your local SEO and connecting with customers online. Here are our tips on how to further improve and optimize your profile to greater improve your SEO and the value this profile provides for your customers.
7 Ways to Boost the Performance of Your Google My Business Profile
1. Make sure you have one
If we haven’t convinced you already, the first step to making the most of Google My Business is to create a profile and or gain control of an existing one.
2. Ensure NAP consistency
We, too, would love to have a consistent napping schedule…but this NAP has nothing to do with sleep! In the SEO world, NAP refers to your Name, Address and Phone Number.
With SEO, NAP consistency is key. For example, don’t have your address listed as 49 Charlotte St in some spots and 49 Charlotte Street in others. Pick one way of formatting your business information and stick to that across all platforms.
We get it, to the average person this sounds over-the-top and picky. The reality is that it matters to Google, so if you want your business to rank well, then you simply have to work with Google’s guidelines.
3. Set the correct service area
Beyond simply listing your physical address, use the service area field to select the areas you serve or would like to draw customers from.
Location-proximity will always play a role in the top maps listings that Google displays, which can make it harder to rank well in areas that are further afield from your physical location. While it may be more challenging, it’s not at all impossible.
Especially for service-based businesses that visit customers in their homes, the more accurate your service area is the more likely you are to be found in your targeted locations.
4. Add some photos
Adding photos to your profile is a great way to attract more attention to your listing and show off your business’ physical space and what you have to offer. You can share photos of anything relevant to your business, from what your storefront and interior look like to photos of your team and products.
The numbers don’t lie. Google has reported that businesses with photos on their profile receive 42% more requests for driving directions to the location, and 35% more clicks to websites, than profiles that don’t share any photos.
5. Share regular posts
Almost like a mini-blog, Google allows you to share posts with news, events, promotions and products. Each post has room for text, an image and a button with a link to your website.
Sharing regular posts (we suggest a minimum of one per week, since the posts expire after 7 days) is a great way of displaying useful information for your customers right in the SERP. At Design Thinking, we love to share links to our latest blog posts as soon as they’re published.
6. Make use of business-specific features
The exact features of your Google My Business profile can vary depending on your business category. For example, a grocery store won’t have access to the bookings feature while an insurance company won’t be offered the opportunity to share products.
Take a look at what’s offered based on your business category and make the most out of what Google’s offering you. Why make your customers book a hair appointment on your website when they could do it straight from the SERP?
7. Respond to reviews and questions
The ability to leave reviews is one of our favourite features about Google My Business. Positive reviews and a high overall rating could be the difference between a potential customer choosing you over a competitor.
Beyond simply collecting positive reviews, responding to them can further improve your standing with potential customers and even give your local rankings a small boost. Customers appreciate this acknowledgement of their review, and it allows you to effectively deal with any negative, or even fake, reviews that arise.
Struggling to get reviews? Simplify the process by creating a short name and URL for your profile. Give this link to your customers, and they’ll be taken directly to the review section of your profile.
Google My Business is an important tool for reaching local searchers. Given that 46% of all Google searches are looking for local information, and 88% of mobile searches for a local business lead to a call or visit within 24 hours, your online presence is simply incomplete without Google My Business.
Once you’ve created your profile, use our expert advice to maximize its visibility and impact, then sit back and relax as the phone starts ringing and the customers file on in.
If you’re looking to improve your Google My Business profile or SEO rankings in Brantford or Hamilton, our SEO specialists are ready to help. Get in touch today and see what Design Thinking can do for your online presence. We build brands, it’s what we do.