Google My Business is a free tool that business owners can use to create, manage, and optimize their Google Business profile. It is designed to help companies acquire new customers through search and maps.
Here are just a few specific advantages for using and optimizing your Google Business profile:
- Improved ranking. Google shows business profiles in local search results, and well-optimized profiles are more likely to appear higher up in the list.
- Improved visibility. By providing useful and accurate information, Google can display your business profile in search results for more relevant local searches.
How to optimize your company profile via Google My Business:
- Create or claim your company profile
- Determine your business category
- Choose your business type
- Add business hours
- Set vacation times
- Add your contact details
- add photos
- Add products and services
- Receive more reviews
- Answering questions
- Publish updates
- Set up messages
- Fill in everything else
- Optimize your website
1. Create or claim your company profile
It's important to note that Google Business Profiles and Google My Business are two separate things:
- Google Business Profile: A local listing of information about a company. Business profiles appear in Google Search on desktop, mobile and Google Maps.
- Google My Business: A free tool to manage your Google Business profile.
Before you can tweak anything, you must first create or claim your Google Business profile through Google My Business. To do this, click here, click on "Manage Now" and log into your Google account.
If you've already claimed your Google Business profile, you will see an administration dashboard.
If not, you'll see an option to find and manage your listing. Enter your company name in the search box. When it appears in the drop-down list, click the company name and request the profile. Otherwise, click the option to create a new company with that name.
All you need to know is that in your business profile, your company name should actually be your company name, not a "tweaked" version with a bunch of keywords.
Google states in its guidelines that your profile could be blocked in this case:
Your name should reflect the real name of your company that is known in your store, on your website, on your stationery, and by customers. (…) The inclusion of unnecessary information in your company name is not permitted and may result in your listing being suspended.
2. Define your business category
Categories describe what your business is, not what it does or sells. Always choose a main category that best describes your company as a whole, not its products or services.
For most businesses, this is easy enough. If you are a plumber, choose plumber. If you have a pizza restaurant, select "Pizza Restaurant". However, there are times when the best choice is not so obvious.
For example, let's say you are a chartered accountant and run an accounting firm. You may be wondering which of these categories to choose:
- Auditing company
The answer is that there is no definitive answer. All three are valid options. However, Google's advice is to be as specific as possible. Therefore, "auditor" is probably the best option here.
This might sound counterintuitive, but it does give you the best chance to show up for most searches. A chartered accountant is a relevant result regardless of whether people are specifically looking for a chartered accountant or, more generally, a chartered accountant. An accountant is only a relevant result for people looking for an accountant.
You can see this game in the SERPs.
Only add additional categories if you need to inform potential customers about products or services that do not fall under your main category. For example, if your main category is "Accountants", you don't need to add "Accountants" as an additional category because it is too similar. However, if you offer accounting or payroll services, these should be added.
3. Choose your business type
Google basically divides companies into three types.
- Shop window shops Only serve customers and customers at their business address. Examples: hair salons, cafes, bars, shops, etc.
- Service company Visiting or delivering to customers or customers, but not serving them from their business address. Examples: plumber, cleaning service, mobile hairdresser, etc.
- Hybrid companies Serving customers and customers from their business address and also visiting or delivering to them. Examples: a photographer who takes photos on site and takes photos in the studio, or a restaurant that also offers a delivery service.
If you are a site company, Set your address and leave the Service Area field blank. Do this on the Info tab.
If you are a service companyClick the option to set your service area. You can add up to twenty of these, but it's important to be specific. Don't list every place that comes to mind in hopes of showing up for further searches. According to Google, "the boundaries of your entire area should not be more than about a 2 hour drive from your business location". As a rule, one or two nearby cities are sufficient. Use POST CODE/ Postcodes if you need to be more detailed.
Finally, delete your address from the list.
Note that this only hides your business location from searchers. You can still find customers who search in your service area.
If you are a service company serving an entire state or country, be aware that map packages that contain Google Business profiles will only show up for local searches. It doesn't make sense to tweak your business profile listing so that it shows up everywhere. That's not what they're there for. A national or international ranking is more of a task for your actual website.
If you are a hybrid companyFollow the same steps as companies in the service area, but do not delete your address. Customers who want to visit your store or office will still need it.
People need to know when you are open and closed so everyone should add their opening times. This probably sounds obvious, but there are tons of business profiles without this essential information.
To add your hours, go to Dashboard> Info> Add Hours
Mark the days that they are open and add the times that they open and close. If you close and reopen later in the day, as is often the case with lunch and dinner restaurants, click the Add Hours option to add another row. You can do this as many times as you want.
Nobody wants to spend time traveling to your business only to find that they've closed early for a holiday when you arrive. It's frustrating and a surefire way to get bad reviews that can negatively affect your local rankings.
Fix this problem before it becomes a problem by adding "Extra Hours".
Just go to Dashboard> About> Add Special Hours
As with normal hours, the "Add Hours" button allows you to add multiple opening and closing times for the same day. For example, you might open for a few hours on Christmas Eve in the morning and then open again in the evening. In this case, your specific hours would look like this:
Even if your vacation times coincide with your regular hours, you should still confirm them. If you don't, prospects looking for a holiday may see a warning on your listing.
6. Add your contact details
Most businesses want to add both their website and phone number, which you can do in the About tab.
You should only leave these fields blank if you don't have a website or don't want to be contacted by phone. At the very least, you need to add at least one of these to your company profile. Otherwise customers won't be able to contact you.
According to Google, companies with photos receive 42% more requests for directions and 35% more website clicks than companies without photos.
Anyone can add photos to a Google Business listing, including customers. However, adding photos yourself will ensure your listing looks its best and is highlighted in search results for the right reasons.
Google has a lot of guidelines for business photos, but here are the basics:
- Add your logo: The clearer the better.
- Add a cover photo: Choose something that shows your company's personality.
- Add more than 3 outside photos. Take them from different angles throughout the day to help customers find your business – anytime.
- Add more than 3 indoor shots. Capture your company's decor and ambience to attract customers.
- Add 3+ product photos. Showcase your favorite articles.
- Add more than 3 photos at work. Show your team how they are serving customers.
- Add more than 3 team photos. Humanize your company by showcasing the personalities of your team members and employees.
When it comes to photos, more is apparently better. A study by BrightLocal found that companies with more than 100 photos received 520% more calls, 2,717% more direction requests, and 1,065% more website clicks than the average company.
Of course, that doesn't mean you have to add hundreds of photos right away. Start with the guidelines above and add more photos over time.
Just make sure you name them all correctly – for example, bridesmaid-dress.jpg, don't IMG_574921.png.
Recommended literature: image SEO: 12 Actionable Tips for More Organic Traffic
8. Add products and services
If Google gives you the option to add products and services to your business listing, it is usually worth doing as it can help your business listing show up for even more relevant searches.
For example, this bridal shop listed all of the wedding dresses that they offer as products:
Apparently, therefore, their list is displayed for related local inquiries about specific dresses and brands such as "lillian west wedding dress sheffield":
Just make sure to add all relevant details about your products and services, including the name, price, category, description and a link to the relevant product or service page on your website. You can copy and paste the descriptions and details of your website to speed up this process. This does no harm and does not cause duplicate content problems.
Checks for local map pack rankings are becoming increasingly important, according to BrightLocal's 2020 study. And Google itself states that "high quality, positive reviews from your customers can improve your business visibility and increase the likelihood that a buyer will visit your location."
Interestingly, Google also highlights reviews that include relevant keywords from the searcher's query in the results.
But how do you get reviews?
Here are a few options:
- Ask customers. When you interact face-to-face with customers and feel that they had a positive experience, ask them to leave a review.
- Create and share a review link. Many customers don't know how to leave Google reviews. Google knows this, which is why all companies have the option to create a shareable review link. Find it in Google My Business> Home> More Reviews.
- Create Leave a Review cards. Have physical cards printed thanking customers for their business and invite them to leave a review. Include your abbreviated review link or a QR Code to make things easy.
- Include your review link in your email signature. Communicating with customers through email is a great passive way to get more reviews.
All you need to know is that it is against Google's policy to incentivize customers in exchange for reviews. Therefore, avoid tactics like offering discounts or free consideration.
People may have questions about your company that your listing doesn't answer. Because of this, Google allows searchers to ask questions about businesses and get answers from business owners and the wider community.
Many companies do not keep track of these questions and leave it to others to provide the answers. This is rarely ideal and often results in customers seeing misleading or inaccurate information about your business.
For example, here is someone asking if they need to pre-book a local bar in order to get conflicting answers from the local community:
This can only result in negatives. Conflicting answers are likely to deter that person and others from visiting them in full, or they will get angry if turned away for not pre-booking. It is these people who leave negative reviews and destroy your local SEO.
For this reason, we recommend a proactive question and answer approach. There are two ways to do this:
- Turn on Q&A notifications. Receive notifications when someone asks a question about your business and respond immediately. Don't worry about getting a lot of annoying notifications. If your company isn't very popular, questions are rare. Note that these warnings are enabled by default. However, it's worth checking the settings.
- Provide answers to frequently asked questions in advance. Most websites have one FAQ Frequently asked questions answered page. You can ask and answer these questions yourself in your Google listing. Just make sure you're signed in to the same Google Account that you use for Google My Business so that the responses are marked as being from the business owner.
You can use posts to share updates, offers, and events related to your business. Think of them as status updates. They'll appear in a carousel at the bottom of your Google Business window.
Occasionally, Google will also show relevant posts in the "Map Package" results.
For example, if we search for "Woodburn Oregon Sympathy Flowers," Valley Pacific Floral is listed in the map package. And Google presents one of its posts in which the term "sympathy flowers" from our search is mentioned.
It is unclear if this company ranks here because of this post or if it ranks independently. In both cases, it helps to highlight the listing in the SERPs and draw more attention to you from potential customers.
To make a post, go to the Posts tab and click the button to make your first post.
Here are some tips for your posts:
- Use good photos. Make sure they are clear, well lit, and well framed.
- Inspire action with your headline. Make an effort to come up with compelling offers. Don't just say "Sell Now" when you can say "50% of everything" all weekend.
- Be precise. Avoid being vague like the plague. Don't say "It's happy hour!" if you could say: “Happy Hour! 50% discount on all drinks from 5 to 6 PM every Saturday!"
- Be punctual. Don't wait until Valentine's Day for information on your candle light dinner special. By then, people have already made plans.
- Don't just post for that. Many guides say that posts "send positive Google signals" and "post as often as possible". We do not agree. Only post when you have something meaningful to say.
For more information on creating great business postings, check out this quick guide from Google.
Enabling messaging adds a button to your Google Business listing that searchers can use to notify you directly.
Google also displays the Message button on Google Maps.
To enable this feature, download the Google My Business app for iOS or Android. From there, sign in to your Google Account, go to the Customers tab, then the Messages tab and click the option to enable Messages.
Google does not use your telephone number for this. Messages are displayed in the app. Hence, it is safe to install the app on a non-work phone without any privacy concerns.
13. Fill in everything else
Most of the major options in Google My Business are now complete. However, it is worth taking a minute to fill in the remaining options. This depends slightly on the category you have chosen for your business.
For example, restaurants can list their menu items, hair salons can use a third-party provider so that searchers can book appointments directly through their company profile, and so on.
Don't worry too much about "optimizing" the remaining fields. Just fill it out as precisely as possible and you're good to go.
14. Optimize your website
Have you ever noticed that Google sometimes shows business profiles in search results when the website says what you're looking for?
Dermal fillers are not mentioned anywhere on this company's profile. It's showing up because the phrase is on the actual website that Google picks up on.
It is for this reason that you should mention the products and services that you are selling on your website.
Of course, most websites already do this to some extent. If you sell bridesmaid dresses, your website will likely mention it. However, it is easy to overlook important products and services that local people are looking for. To find these, enter the products and services your website mentioned earlier into a keyword research tool like Keywords Explorer and review them Also rank for Report. This shows other keywords that the top websites for your keywords are also ranked for.
For example, the above website already mentions products and services such as dermal fillers, Emervel fillers, Juvederm fillers, Radiesse fillers and lip enhancers.
Paste this into the Keywords Explorer and check the Also rank for Report.
Here we see products and services that are not mentioned on the website, such as cheek fillers, eye fillers, lip injections, and jaw fillers. It is always possible that the website doesn't mention these services because they don't offer them. However, given their other services, it is very likely that they will offer at least some. And if they do, they should probably add them to their website.
For example, let's say this company offers lip injections but forgot to talk about it on their website.
If we search for this keyword, we will see a package of cards in the search results.
This tells us that the query has local intent. In other words, people who type this into Google are looking for local businesses that offer this service. Because of this, it might be worth mentioning this service somewhere on their website.
Now it is important to note that this is not about sprinkling lazy keywords into your website copy. This is not going to work. This just makes your website unprofessional. So make sure to add products and services to your website in a meaningful way:
- Revise your home page copy to include more products and services (don't get crazy here, most importantly, keep it natural and legible).
- Adding new pages for individual products or services.
- Mention the additional products and services you are offering on one FAQ Page.
Most of the above optimizations should take no more than half an hour to implement. After that, you will have a well-optimized company profile that does not fall victim to the common optimization mistakes many business owners make.
However, you should check everything regularly to keep your profile correct. (Once every couple of months should do the trick).
It's also important to know that the purpose of your Google Business profile is to show up on local intent queries. In other words: queries in which searchers search for companies, products and services in their region. This is something that many business owners get wrong. If you want employees to find your company nationwide, nationally or internationally, you need to invest SEO beyond Google My Business. That means doing keyword research to find the right keywords and optimize your pages with On-Page SEOand building connections to outperform the competition.
Learn how to do that in our complete guide to local SEO.
Do you have any questions about the optimizations mentioned above? Hit me on Twitter.