(Edited 4/15/18-Google added a menu option for all businesses)
When it comes to Local SEO one of the very first, yet often overlooked, tasks is to create your Google My Business listing. Google My Business is where Google Maps and the Google 3 Pack get their information from. If you don’t create a listing for your business on Google My Business then your business will either not show up, or show up with incomplete or inaccurate information. Google My Business also increases the likelihood your business will show up on the Google 3 Pack and in the organic search results.
Google has recently implemented some new changes to your Google Business listing that will help further your engagement with potential clients. These new updates will allow you to further attract new audiences. Utilizing these updates will also improve your standing within the Google Local Pack, especially since there’s a good chance your competition is not aware or acting on the updates.
Google has put more and more emphasis on Google My Business in recent years. While Google+ personal profiles have drifted into the social media abyss, Google My Business continues to evolve into a very important component of Local SEO.
There are 3 opportunities for your business to show up on the first page of the Google Search Results Page. The first is with Google AdWords. The second spot is the Google 3 Pack (Also known as the Google Local Pack). The third is in the organic search. Ads may or may not show up in the results depending on whether or not you or a competitor is using Google AdWords to advertise locally. The information that is included in the Google 3 Pack comes from your Google My Business listing. Chances are there are more than 3 businesses doing what you do locally. So the 6 optimization steps below will help you secure one of the top 3 spots.
If you have not already claimed your business listing then that will be the first step. Visit www.google.com/business to started. You will enter some of your basic business information and be asked to verify that you are the owner of the business. The verification process is usually done through a postcard with a pin number mailed to the business address. In some cases, phone verification is also an option.
- Complete All the Information Google Asks For-I cannot express how critically important it is to have complete and accurate information on your Google My Business listing. I have personally been the recipient of inaccurate information on because someone failed to provide the correct information to their Google My Business. Included in a complete listing is contact information such as website address, phone number, and physical address, hours of operation, categories relevant to your information, and pictures including your logo (profile picture).
- Use the Booking Button-A recent addition to the Google My Business listing is the ability to add a booking button. This is great for service businesses and for end users alike. Using one of the dozens of scheduling sites that Google has partnered with you can easily incorporate a booking button into your Google My Business Listing.
- Post to Your Google My Business page – Often-This blog post will get posted on our Google My Business page. So will many, many, other posts. As often as you post to Facebook you should be posting to your GMB page. These posts show up on the Knowledge panel and on Google Maps. Unfortunately (or fortunately for your business) most businesses have abandoned the practice of posting to their Google My Business Page. This tactic can separate you from the pack (pun intended).
- Set up Text Messaging-I bet you didn’t know you could do this! Now people can send you a text message directly from your GMB listing on mobile. Google uses Allo to send text messages to your mobile device (or another number that receives text).
- Reviews, They’re Important-It used to be frowned upon to ask for reviews but today you should encourage your clients to leave you a review. The difficulty is people leave reviews where they want to leave them. Facebook, Yelp, or Google to name a few. The method that we find works best is to send an email with a link to your Google review section.
- Questions & Answers-Another feature that has begun to grow wings of its own is the questions and answers. Google Local experts can answer questions that other Google users ask about businesses they visit. This helps Google ensure that the information on the Google Business listing is accurate and up to date. That also means that your information should be up to date and correct. While it’s not clear what impact this has on the Google Local Pack there’s no doubt that it will factor in one way or the other. Oh yeah, we’re Google Local Experts as well.
- (Edited 4/15/18) Menus-Up until early April 2018 only restaurants were able to add menus to their Google Business listing. Now all businesses are able to add a menu. You can list products or services that your business offers. I added this to my client’s business pages but have yet to see it in the search results for Google Maps or the Google 3 Pack. One added bonus I can see this potentially having is added keyword phrases. Keep in mind many business owners, I would say the majority of businesses, are not paying attention to the updates giving any business that does a potential upper hand. The worst case scenario is eventually you will have a listing of products or services on your Google Business Listing.
As you can see there are a lot of opportunities to engage with your audience and potential clients using Google My Business. Just like SEO it’s not just a set it and forget it task. Your Google Business listing requires constant review and optimization.