How Google My Business can help your local SEO
Google My Business has become an essential part of online searches since its debut arrival in 2014. It should be one of the first things that any business should get right. It’s free and will help your SEO efforts and website gain more exposure.
What is Google My Business?
Google My Business is an easy to use tool that has many benefits for businesses. It helps to keep you on top of your presence across Google which includes search results and Google Maps.
Once verified that you own your Google My Business, it’s free by the way, you’ll be able to edit and update your information. This will not only get you found easier in local searches but will also allow you to showcase yourself even before anyone has clicked through to your website.
It’s a great first step towards any SEO strategy that you have. It will help your business appear in Google’s Local Pack, Google Maps and help with your organic rankings.
When you have control of your Google My Business listing you’ll be able to add key information about your company such as telephone number, address, opening hours, link to your website and the types of payments your business takes.
If you haven’t already set up your Google My Business Listing, then the first thing to do is head over to https://www.google.com/business.
In the top righthand corner you’ll be presented with two options, either ‘sign in’ or ‘start now’. As we’re talking about businesses that don’t already have a Google My Business, then you need to click ‘start now’
The next page will either ask you to sign in with an account that is already registered with Google or create a new account. Complete which is most relevant to you and click next.
Once done it will ask you for your business name. The text field will either auto-suggest a business that is already known to Google or create a new business. Again, what you click is down to what Google already has. If your business name is already there click that, if not create a new one.
Fill out the next few screens with as much valuable business information as you can. Fill every field!
Google doesn’t want any bogus companies setting up Google My Business listings. So, they have a way of verifying you are legit and the actual owner of the business.
Once you have filled in all the fields, Google will send you a postcard through the post to the address you added to your listing. It should arrive within a few days. This will have a verification code on.
Once you have this log back into your Google My Business listing and enter the code. You should be now all set.
One very important point to note is that even when your Google My Business listing is live other people can actively try and make changes to your account information.
As you can see below some of your most vital business information is up for editing. These could become live or changed on your account without you even realising. We’d suggest that you log in on a regular basis and check what information is there. Google does send out notifications via email when a suggested edit has been submitted, but don’t rely on this. Be vigilant and check for yourself.
Google dashboard and making the most of your listing
The dashboard has quite a few tabs all aligned to the left-hand side (when using a PC). The home tab basically shows a snapshot of quick things that you can do such as add photos, create a post or see your latest review.
We’ll now talk you through each tab
The centre of your screen you will see that you are able to add certain additional information to your Google My Business listing. These are timely posts that you can add such as events, offers or products. Once you update these, when a visitor sees your listing in search results they will also see this additional content.
Think of these as a great way to get your message across. They are extremely powerful in converting people to click through to your website to find out more
These ‘posts’ are very similar to posting in other social media such as Facebook or Twitter. They can show you a small thumbnail picture and at few lines of text. There is also a call to action button. On the example below, we have added a blog article and a link back to the original location on our website.
If you’re unsure what kind of content or topic to post, then here are some ideas.
- If you have a discount or sale on for a certain time, then add this as a post
- Should you be hosting a training event or workshop then you can post this with the dates and times. This should then link through to your booking page where people can sign up to attend
- As the example below, it’s a great way to showcase your latest news or blog post
- If you have a great new product then add a picture of it and link it through to that page on your website.
The best way to understand what to post is to think about it as being a megaphone. If you had one thing to shout about to the world today what would it be?
We would really recommend that you use a striking image to accompany the post as it will make it stand out more on your listing. Once you’ve posted an update, check it on both desktop and mobile to make sure it appears exactly how you want it to.
Posts on Google My Business last for only seven days or unless you add a new post within this time. After the seven days, your post will still be there, but it will be out of sight, new posts push them down.
Google will send you helpful reminders when your post is up and to add a new one with fresh content.
The last thing to note is that there is a helpful newish feature that allows you to add a booking button on your listing. This is useful to businesses that rely on appointments such as dentists, restaurants and barbers etc.
To use the book button, you must already use a supported Google online booking provider, if you do it will automatically be added to your listing.
The third tab down is the info screen. These pages enable you to edit many aspects of your basic business information. If you haven’t already then please complete as much information as you can.
Firstly, on this page you will see a blue section with a pencil next to it, this is where you add your business services or classification. On our listing we offer various services, this is the same for all types of businesses.
If you’re a beauty salon and do hair dressing and waxing, then these should be added to your business services.
It’s important to be as comprehensive with these as possible as its one of the ways that Google will match your website with a search.
e.g If you’re the beauty salon above and you don’t add hair dresser to the services then when someone searches “find me a local hair dresser” Google will have more of a hard time matching you up.
The next few sections are obvious, complete your opening hours and when you’re closed.
Special hours are for best used for a holiday such as Christmas Eve. If you intend to stay open that little bit later than on a normal night, this is the place to add it.
Telephone number, website address, description and the rest go without saying.
The advanced option we will talk about in another post.
This is the page that shows you detailed analytical data about how well your Google My Business page is working for you.
The first graph shows quite interesting information. It tells how many visitors and percentage wise have found your listing compared with a direct name or address search.
It’s how many people have searched for “web designer” as opposed to searches for “Midas Creative”. Typically, if you’re a small business then it would tend to be much higher for ‘discovery’. If you’re a national business or a well-known company it could be a more even split between ‘direct’ and ‘discovery’.
The next graph illustrates where customers on Google view your business. It’s broken down to either listing on search or listing on maps.
The next few graphs are again very straightforward; the third graph shows how many people have acted on your Google My Business listing and which method they took.
The fourth shows of those people who saw your listing and requested directions where are they located.
Fifth is telephone call information, when someone clicked your listing and made a direct call on a mobile.
The sixth shows how many people have viewed your photo uploads and it compares it to similar businesses to you.
Reviews are an important section on your Google My Business listing. It’s the place where you manage your customer feedback.
It allows you to see what your customers say about you and how many stars they have given you out of five.
When you do get a review, they are automatically added to your listing and everyone will see them, you don’t get the option to approve or not. This is so genuine bad reviews aren’t filtered out through you not approving them.
We can’t stress enough how important this is to your business. If you only have a few reviews and most are three out of five, chances are viewers will be deterred from contacting you. They may go to someone with fewer reviews that are all five stars.
When you’re left a review, ensure that you respond to the review in a professional manner – see the ‘haven’t replied’ section. If someone has left a terrible or false review (it does happen) click the three dots on the right-hand side and flag as inappropriate.
One further thing to be mindful of is that you have two types of ratings. One left directly by your customer, and then an average score for your company. The average star rating is calculated by adding up all your individual ones and then the average is given to your company.
If you do offer a great customer experience, then asking for a Google review from them, it will really help your click-through rate to your website. There is true organic SEO value to getting reviews.
One of the main aspects of Google My Business is the ability to add collections of images and videos to your listing.
As we mentioned earlier, the Insights tab lets you track data on this. Therefore, it must be a big part of Google My Business.
This page allows you to add a profile image – normally your company logo, images and videos broken down into sections such as interior, exterior and your team etc.
We would really suggest you make the most of this by adding as much content as you can. With a well-stocked listing that is updated regularly, it will help you stand out from your competitors.
Adding photos couldn’t be easier, click the big blue button with the plus sign. Then either drag your image to the popup window or select the location where it is stored.
Once your picture has finished uploading, click on it.
You will be presented with three options. Look towards the top right.
The first item (looks like an open window) allows you to turn that image into a post on your listing. The rubbish bin is a delete to remove the image from your account. The third image (the letter I icon), allows you to select which category to add the image to – work, interior etc.
Now if you already have a website then you don’t really need this. It’s a free website builder that allows you to create your own basic site within Google.
The only other tab you really need to look at is the settings. This will enable Google to send you specific updates when an action happens on your account such as some leaves you a review, someone sends you a question etc.
With Google being the dominant search engine and a global leader, you can be assured that more and more emphasis will be placed on its own listing platform.
Over the last few years, it’s been constantly updated with new features are being added all the time. This is a sure sign that it’s not going away anytime soon.
Your listing does have an effect on your organic SEO and ranking position, it’s just not known to what degree though. However, the signs are there that your listing will play a bigger part of how the Google search algorithms work and score your website, ultimately affecting your ranking positions.
If you don’t have a Google My Business listing set up yet, we’d really suggest you do it today.