Whether you’re a small or large business, your local SEO strategy is an extremely important element of your campaign to ensure you’re effectively marketing your business, product or service, especially now that 46% of mobile users have ‘local intent’ behind their search.
But is the time and effort of Google My Business (GMB) really worth it? Especially when you have myriad locations? The answer is, absolutely.
Google has said four-in-five consumers use search engines to find local information, such as store addresses, business hours, product availability and directions. That’s more than a 200% increase in the past three years. And while we know people are relying on mobile more than ever, Google has also found 76% of consumers searching for something nearby on their mobile, will visit the business within a day, with a further 28% making an actual transaction. Hence, the importance of optimising your GMB listing.
Recently, Google has taken a mobile-first approach, meaning it looks at mobile websites and how a user interacts with Google search on mobile when determining rankings. With Google now putting a large emphasis on the mobile experience, GMB listings are shown within the ‘Local Pack’ as the first results above the fold, taking up prime real estate in the search engine results pages.
Gaining visibility in the Local Pack is crucial when you’re trying to gain more traffic to your site as a bricks-and-mortar business (such as a hair salon, restaurant or dentist) or as a business servicing a particular territory (such as plumbing or repairing services).
Without an optimised GMB listing, your chances of appearing in the Local Pack, as well as maps, is virtually non-existent.
Not only this, but a listing allows you to gain more control over your online presence. While it assists local search rankings, you also have the ability to supply the user with critical information about your brand. With this in mind, a properly optimised GMB listing will have substantial reach for your online audience.
While Google is getting better at recognising information on the web, every aspect of your GMB listing, from images to your address and opening hours, is important in helping Google identify your business as legitimate, resulting in a position in the users’ Local Pack as a relevant result to their query.
It’s important to understand the users’ intent when they are searching for local results. If they were not after information such as your phone number, address, directions or reviews, they would have gone straight to your website instead. Your listing will also provide reports on how users are interacting, allowing you to learn more about your customers or potential customers.
How to optimise your GMB profile
There are simple ways to ensure your GMB is optimised for maximum reach.
1. Check your business information
Ensure the information on your profile is factual and up to date, with all fields filled out where possible.
- Contact number;
- Opening hours;
- Service areas (if applicable);
- Short name;
- Services (if applicable);
- Products (if applicable);
- Business description; and
- Opening date.
When updating this information, it needs to replicate what is also shown on your website and other citations, especially with your business address and name. Inconsistencies in citations can have a negative effect on your local ranking, as Google can read different sets of information and find it difficult to rank your business.
2. Image optimisation
Images are a great way to not only showcase your business but create an eye-catching profile for users. Google gives businesses the option to display a series of images to accompany their profile.
These images should be of high quality and have a clear link to your business. I recommend having an image under each category and building on these images regularly where possible.
An additional image feature is the 360-degree virtual tour, which is a sequence of images compiled together to create a virtual walking tour of your business space. This tour can be created by a professional photographer who is trained in these types of images. A study has shown listings with photos and virtual tours are twice as likely to generate interest, therefore, the need for image optimisation is highly important.
Arguably, reviews are becoming one of the most important features of GMB listings. In fact, a recent report has shown 57% of consumers will only use a business if it has four or more stars. Not only do reviews help with your local rankings and help to build authority for your brand, but they mean you are able to gain more insights from your customers. For example, are they happy with the service or can you improve in any way? The review feature means you’re also able to showcase good reviews and respond accordingly.
4. Share posts
Posts are a fairly new feature to GMB. This type of content can include business news, updates, events, offers and products. This is an easy and simple way to showcase a variety of content that is suited to your business specifically.
Below are a few examples of content that can be created for the posts:
- Highlighting a new business win or partnership;
- Showcasing past and future events;
- Introducing a new product; and
- Sharing a new offer for that week.
Posts also have the option to include a call to action button. Think: buy, learn more, reserve, get offer and sign up.
These posts are showcased at the bottom of the local profile.
So, the answer in short?
GMB listings should be highly optimised to engage new business and drive traffic to your website. While it can be timely depending on the number of business locations, if you’re not optimising your GMB, your local visibility is being compromised.