By Kelvin Sim
To implement a successful location-based strategy, most SEO professionals start with Google My Business.
Google My Business
Google My Business (GMB) is a free tool from Google that helps business owners manage their online presence. GMB complements your existing website by giving your business a public identity and presence with a listing on Google. The information you provide about your business can appear in Google Search and Google Maps.
Google’s Knowledge Graph also utilises verified GMB information to help generate details for its database about business and related entities that are relevant to specific search. The Google Knowledge Graph is a system that Google launched in May 2012 that understands facts about people, places and things and how these entities are all connected. Google’s Knowledge Graph is used both behind-the-scenes to help Google improve its search relevancy as well as providing Knowledge Graph boxes that is capable to provide direct answers – that typically appears to the right of their search results.
Getting Started with GMB
Before this powerful platform can be leveraged to expand a company’s local presence, the first step is to create or claim a GMB listing. These are the steps to getting started:
1. Create or Claim the Business’ Listing
Either create or claim the GMB listing associated with the business to take control of the listing. Claiming a GMB listing requires verification and this will allow the individual to edit the business listing displayed in Google’s search results. Keep in mind that even if a company has not created its own GMB listing, an unclaimed listing may already exist as Google often generates listings automatically based on the information found online. However, an unclaimed GMB listing may leave a company susceptible to an incomplete or inaccurate listing. This misrepresentation will ultimately impact user engagement and overall conversion rates.
To find if a GMB listing exists for your company, search for your business name on Google. If a GMB listing and an “Own this business?” link is visible, this listing can be claimed by following the links, singing into Google, searching the business name and request verification. Alternatively, if the listing does not display the “Own this business?” link, then the listing has already been claimed.
Otherwise, if there is no business listing, then you can create a GMB listing and populate it with the appropriate content and contact information.
How to create a GMB listing:
- Log into the Google Account you want associated with your business (or create a Google Account if you don’t already have one).
- Go to com/business and select “Start now” in the top right-hand corner.
- Enter your business name.
- Enter your business address.
- Select your delivery area.
- Choose your business category.
- Add your business phone number or website.
- Choose a verification option. If you’re not ready to verify your business yet, click “Try a different method” → “Later.”
2. Ensure the NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number) is Correct
One of the main benefits of claiming and monitoring the GMB listing is to prevent the spread of false or inconsistent business details. Once a listing is claimed and verified, double-check that the contact information, physical address and photos accurately represent the business’ brick-and-mortar location. Remember, NAP consistency is one of the golden rules of local SEO, so it’s important to ensure everything is consistent across the web and with other listings.
3. Select an Accurate Business Category
While it might be tempting to select as many categories as possible, it’s important to only select categories that are truly applicable to the business. Misrepresenting a business online can harm the business’ ranking, not to mention aggravating potential customers who feel like they’re being deceived. To help make the right choice, you can search on Google for competitors to determine the categories they are listed under.
4. Upload High-Quality Images of the Business
The photos uploaded to a GMB listing are displayed alongside search results and shape a consumer’s initial impressions of a business. For best results, upload high-quality images that clearly depict the business or store location, along with some pictures of products.
Benefits of GMB
1. Information Consistency.
Updating your entry in GMB will ensure consistency in business information in Google, and by extension, any third-party apps or services that rely on Google to get their data. You’ll have the chance to update your business’s name, address, phone number, and specific details like your open hours. You’ll even have the opportunity to write out common questions and answers about your business (and have them appear on Google Maps). That informational consistency is invaluable to make sure customers are contacting you at the right times and getting the right idea of what your business does.
Using GMB also improves your business’s visibility. Many third-party sites rely on Google for their information, so completing your business profile will increase your chances of getting featured on them. Google will also have more information to categorise your business, so it’s more likely that you’ll show up for relevant local searches.
3. Better First Impressions.
One of the best perks of GMB is your ability to upload photos or videos, which might show off some of your best products and services or simply display your storefront, ultimately leading to a more powerful first impressions.
Google also offers businesses using the platform “insights,” or analytics data that show exactly how and when customers are finding your entries. With these data, you’ll be able to figure out where customers are seeing you—and where they aren’t seeing you. With that information, you can tweak your campaigns to improve your visibility further or cater to a specific target audience.
Having a GMB account provide owners the ability to create posts, or pieces of content that search users will see when evaluating your business. These posts can be almost anything and can help furthermore provide value to your customers which may enhance conversion rates, sales and your overall business reputation.
If your business takes appointments, GMB offers you with the opportunity to accept bookings online. This is remarkably convenient for customers looking for services like pet grooming or haircuts, as they can schedule an appointment without ever leaving the search results page.
7. Review Management.
Business’s reviews are a crucial component of your SEO strategy. With a GMB account, you’ll have the ability to turn all your Google reviews into a two-way conversation. You can access your reviews and respond to them if need be.
As search continues to evolve in 2019, with strong indicators pointing towards increased interactivity with Google SERPs, it is highly beneficial to ensure that you optimise your GMB listings, to improve your search visibility and conversions.