When today’s consumers are looking for a local business — whether they’re seeking out a nearby restaurant or are in the market for shoes, sunglasses, hardware or healthcare — it’s increasingly likely that their search will begin online. In fact, according to a study, more than three-quarters of modern consumers review a company’s online presence before making an in-person visit, and nearly half of them are likely to head for a physical location after discovering a strong online presence through a local search.
The king of local searches
What’s more, when it comes to local searches, Google is the undisputed king. Nearly 80% of consumers use Google Maps to perform “near me” searches for local businesses, and that in 2022 nearly 90% of consumers used Google to get more info on local businesses.
So, for any business — and especially small businesses that count on local consumers for the bulk of their sales — ensuring that local searches on Google bring up their business and provide sufficient details on it is a big key to success. And placing and optimizing a Google Business Profile (formerly known as a Google My Business listing) is one of the leading ways to make this happen.
How to optimize your Google My Business listing
For businesses looking to ramp up their online exposure, creating a Google Business Profile is free and easy to do. And by keeping it optimized, businesses can elevate the first impressions many consumers have of their company — and make it more likely that their online discovery results in an in-person visit and a sale. Further, a well-optimized Google Business Profile can deliver additional benefits such as an SEO boost, a higher local-search ranking, added consumer appeal, a higher search ranking on Google’s SERP page and more.
Ready to make it easier for potential customers to find your business online and more likely that they’ll convert when they do? Consider these seven ways to optimize your business’s Google Business Profile:
1. Claim your business profile
First of all, if your business hasn’t already done so, you’ll need to create a Google Business Profile. To make it easy, the Google Business Profile website will walk you through the step-by-step process of creating your profile, personalizing it and getting it published. And in the future, you’ll also be able to use the account you create to manage your profile.
2. Ensure that your profile is fully populated
Some sections of your profile should be quick and easy to complete, while other sections may take a bit more thought — but to get the full benefits of your Google Business Profile, it’s important to complete them all.
The sections you should be able to knock out right away include:
- Your business name
- Your business address
- Your phone number
- Your website’s address
- Your business hours (which you’ll want to keep up to date, especially if they change seasonally or otherwise are revised)
It may take more time and effort to complete these sections, but doing so will help convey important business details to consumers who find you online:
- Your business category and attributes
- Your products and services
- The “From the business” section, which allows you to provide additional details about your business and its ownership — and which you’ll want to fill out thoroughly to maximize the potential impact of your Google Business Profile
- The “Questions & answers” section, where you can anticipate consumers’ FAQs and provide answers to them, in addition to answering actual consumer-submitted questions moving forward
Your profile will also contain sections for posts and reviews that will be populated (and can be optimized) on an ongoing basis.
3. List in the right business categories
During the creation of your Google Business Profile, you’ll be prompted to select your primary business category. But dig deeper, and you’ll find that Google allows you to choose up to 10 pre-defined business categories to list in your profile. And while leveraging all 10 may not be necessary for your business, it is wise to select all the ones that are strong fits for your business — as doing so will increase your business’s chances of showing up in the results for more consumer searches. For example, a pizza restaurant that offers in-house dining, delivery and catering will likely want to choose “pizza restaurant” as its primary business category, but can also choose “pizza delivery” and “catering” as sub-categories, expanding its potential reach in search results.
4. Make it easy to contact and reach your business
Your Google Business Profile will let you provide a range of ways for consumers to reach you, and if you want to increase consumer engagement with your business, it’s wise to leverage as many of them as possible. Providing a phone number will enable consumers to call you from their smartphones instantly with the simple touch of a link. Including a full and accurate address will let them get driving directions to your location with just a single click in your profile, then easily make their way to your place of business in person. And by activating the messaging feature in Google My Business, you can instantly reply to consumer queries about your business and its offerings. The more contact methods you provide for your business, the more likely you’ll ramp up the numbers of interested consumers reaching out to you.
5. Power up your profile with photos
Adding photos to your profile can ramp up the visual appeal of your business listing when consumers come across it, in addition to lending added legitimacy to your business and making it more likely that consumers will click through on your listing and choose your business to meet their buying needs. Further, by regularly adding new photos to your Google Business Profile, you can signal to consumers that your business is active in maintaining its profile and that the information provided there is up to date.
6. Explore your attribute options
Consumers are often looking for a specific feature in a business before choosing to make a purchase there, and the attributes section of your Google Business Profile lets you list all of the ones that apply to you. The attributes you’ll be able to choose from will be determined by your business category, and it’s wise to select all of the ones that apply to your business. For example, when a traveler is seeking out a hotel that will allow his or her dog to come along during the stay, he or she will likely consider only the listings where the pet-friendly attribute has been selected on Google Business Profile and may even search specifically for pet-friendly hotels. Similarly, when a coffee shop chooses the free wi-fi attribute, it’s more likely to make the cut for a consumer who needs to check his or her email while grabbing a morning coffee. It’s also wise to review your attribute options regularly, as Google will often add new ones based on search trends.
7. Track your profile’s performance
Google also offers ways for businesses to track the performance of their Google Business Profile over time, and by doing so, business owners and managers can gain powerful insights about how consumers interact with their business online. Just a few of the performance metrics that can be measured and monitored using Google’s Insights tools include search queries used to find your business, unique visitor numbers, direction requests, calls and website clicks. And by regularly optimizing your Google Business Profile and monitoring the impacts of any changes you make on these metrics, you can dial in the most effective profile possible over time.
Could an enhanced digital presence — including a Google My Business listing optimization — bring impactful benefits for your brand? From reviewing and sharpening your online directory listings to increasing the effectiveness of your website, app, social channels and more, the team of certified brand strategists and data-driven marketing experts at Brandon specialize in ensuring that consumers can find your business online … and in moving them along the path to conversion once they do. To get started with help ranging from a simple website analysis to a comprehensive strategy tailored to boost the performance of all of your marketing campaigns, contact us today.