Google My Business has become an increasingly important tool in search engine optimisation. So, what is it and how do we use it in a local SEO strategy?
Google My Business is a great way to improve your company’s appearance in search results. What’s more, it gets you a pinpoint location on Google maps and allows you to communicate with customers. Furthermore, it’s a good tool to improve local SEO. Best of all, its free.
What is Google My Business?
The portal is essentially a local listings service. It allows a company to show important information about its location and opening hours. In addition, customer reviews, photographs, a question and answer facility and posts about promotions are also incorporated.
You’ll see a business’ profile when you search for a brand or are looking for a local product or service.
The benefits are numerous. A searcher can get quick access to see if a business is open. Furthermore, directions are just a finger tap away and reviews are easily viewable.
Why is a Google My Business listing important for SEO
Local intent searches
Google My Business has become a vital part of any local SEO strategy. This is especially true for any bricks and mortar business. Having a location on Google Maps is crucial to be more prominent in search results. More importantly, so that potential customers can find you.
Local intent now makes up 46% of searches. This is especially true for shopping and the rise of “near me” searches.
Appear in the local pack
A business with a good and active Google My Business profile has higher chance of appearing in the local pack. These are the three positions above the search results with a local map.
These businesses usually receive the bulk of searchers. Mobile phone users especially are more likely to click on them than trawl through search results.
Mobile phone searches
Mobile phone searches overtook desktop in 2016. Google My Business is key to being visible in mobile searches as it is so intrinsically linked to Google maps. Therefore, a customer that is looking to purchase a product or service will want to find it locally. In addition, they’ll often want to visit the store or location and may need directions.
The importance of customer engagement
Google My Business provides a perfect opportunity to engage with customers and potential clients. As a result, brand loyalty can be built up and also repeat customers.
There are a number of ways to engage with customers through Google My Business.
Customers can leave reviews about a business. Key to engagement is for any business to respond to these reviews. Good or bad, businesses that respond to their clients usually do better in local SEO results.
Question and Answer
The Q&A section is often overlooked. However, encouraging clients to post questions and responding to them makes for an active Google My Business profile, which search engines like.
Businesses can even post their own questions and answer them. This is a good way to provide answers to frequently asked questions. What’s more, it’s a great way to spark other client questions and thus create customer engagement.
Google My Business Posts
Google My Business provides a posts section. This can be used for anything from telling customers about a new article on the company blog to the latest promotion or offer.
Posting allows a couple of benefits. Firstly, to drive customers to the company website. Secondly, to engage with them.
We frequently see businesses that have an active posting schedule – at least twice a week – doing better in search and appearing more in the local pack.
Photographs are another overlooked area of Google My Business. Uploading photographs by the business itself allows potential customers to do two things.
Firstly, to see the business façade. Therefore, when they arrive for the first time they can recognise the business.
Secondly, it also allows them to see inside the business so that they can make a judgement if it’s a place they’d want to go eg a café or restaurant.
However, customers can also upload their own photographs, which again makes for good client engagement.
Appointment or table booking
A Google My Business profile also allows customers to make bookings. This is great if you have a restaurant or another type of business that relies on bookings. Customers can therefore make a reservation quickly and easily without having to visit a website.
How to optimise your Google My Business listing
The key to any GMB listing is to get the basics right. Having the correct and consistent name, address and phone number (NAP) across Google My Business and the rest of the web is vital. Inconsistencies are a thorn in the side of any local SEO strategy.
It’s also important to choose the right category for your business. Furthermore to add the information that customers will find useful, such as the correct and up-to-date opening hours. No one likes turning up to a business that Google lists as open to find it’s closed.
Links to important information are a great way to optimise your listing. Links to the menu or a price list are good optimisations. Google also allows you to list products and services, with prices if you wish. A great way to promote your top sellers directly to potential buyers.
The importance of Google My Business in a local SEO strategy overall
A Google My Business profile has become highly important in any local SEO strategy. Factors like website hosting, SEO quick wins and having a professional website designer that understands solid SEO structures are all part of a good strategy. However, a good and actively maintained Google My Business profile really helps make a difference when optimising for local search.
An actively maintained profile that engages regularly with customers will rank higher in search and appear more frequently in the local map pack. This not only increases customers, but also creates repeat business as two-way engagement is created. What’s more, valued customers are usually happier ones who will write good reviews and share content.