How to Optimize Your Google My Business Profile

Your Google My Business profile is more important than you may think. It is your gateway to local search and your means of informing Google that you are in business. However, consistently, we find that small businesses neglect to claim or register their businesses with Google, and if they do, they seldom utilize the service. We want to help change that by helping your small business understand what the service is capable of and how you can gain a competitive edge by optimizing your listing and utilizing the service.

First, you need to know that Google My Business is free. However, you also have to know that your business can be claimed by anyone if it's already been listed by Google. Google may initiate your listing, but they do not qualify or guarantee its accuracy. You need to actively update and manage your listing. To make sure that this is not the case involving your small business, do a quick search, and see if your business pops up. If it does, look at the bottom of the listing under ' Help Improve this Listing' and if it says 'Own this business?' you'll know that the listing was placed by Google and it's your opportunity to claim your business listing. Conversely, if this question does not show up and you can't recall setting up a listing; it's time to contact Google because someone else may have claimed your business listing.

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Claiming/registering your business with Google is a two-step process. Once you've claimed/registered your business, you will be prompted to verify your businesses. To do this, Google will send you a physical postcard (allow 5-7 days for delivery) in the mail with a verification code. Once you receive the code, you will need to log back into your Google My Business account and enter the verification code. This will complete the registration process.

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Now that your small business is registered, it's time to optimize your listing. Below are 9 recommendations to help you optimize your Google My Business listing:

1) Complete your Business Profile.

Google will request specific information regarding your business. Complete each request to the fullest extent - don’t skimp or neglect this step.

2) Post on Google My Business.

The ability to post to your listing is a potent tool (frequency and consistency is the key). Here are some posting ideas:

- events

- sales

- product posts (new featured item either in-store or online)

- links to your blog posts

- holiday messages

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3) Add a Booking button.

You can now add a booking button, which can be either for a service or to make a reservation. Reserve with Google is an integration service available to you as a Google My Business account owner. Here is a list of available integrations through Reserve with Google. And here is a link to a great Google blog post to learn more about this feature.

4) Enable Messaging

Google My Business allows consumers to message you and your business direct; however, you need to enable the feature. When you do, you will receive these messages via your mobile device and email. However, if you are going to enable this feature, make sure you're prepared to respond to messages immediately. There is nothing more frustrating than having to wait for a response when you’re looking for answers.

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5) Ask, Receive and Manage Reviews

There is nothing more valuable to your local SEO efforts than reviews. We recommend sticking to Google as your customer review platform. Email is the most effective way to ask for reviews. However, if you don't collect emails (as many restaurants don't); then the next best thing is create a handout or insert asking for a review at the time of purchase. As you receive reviews, it's also essential that you respond to every review. Responding not only adds credibility to your business but also improves your search ranking with Google (not responding has the reverse effect). To create a direct link to your review page here is handy post that will help you.

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6) Post Photos and/or Videos

Photos and videos are a terrific way to showcase your business and products. Photos and video are among the most effective way to engage your audience. For example, a restaurant posting photos of their food and dining atmosphere (appealing photos of course) are 50% more likely to get a visit or reservation compared to a restaurant that has no photos. This is your opportunity to showcase your business, so make sure you're taking advantage of it.

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7) Optimize your Business Descriptions

Make sure your business description is clear and concise. Optimize it by adding keywords to your business listing. For example, if you are a restaurant serving up Mongolian fare, make sure you include that in your business description. Be descriptive but don't overwhelm.

8) Add a Menu or Menu of Services

Make it convenient for your customers by adding a menu or menu of services to your listing, this will help you convert visitors and streamline your interaction. Not only will this be more effective in converting visitors, but it will also have an impact on your search ranking. For restaurants, Single Platform is a terrific tool to manage your all menu posts.

9) Add Products to Your Listing

Google has added an 'add a product' feature that is now in Beta testing and could become an instant winner for retailers. If that's not enough, there's Pointy, a Google retail partner that will enable your retail business to showcase and market your products through Google's marketplace.

Parting tips...

- Since anyone can add information to your listing. You'll want to log into your account frequently to make sure your listing does not include any inaccurate information.

- Download the Google My Business app on your phone, so you can keep tabs on your business and post on the fly.

So there you have it...our recommendations to optimize your Google My Business listing. If you’re looking for more information or would like assistance we're always available to help.