Google My Business optimisation may not be on your immediate to-do list, but it certainly should be.  As a business owner, you may have set up your Google My Business listing, added your basic information and your logo but not updated it since.  Or you may be updating it once in a while but not seeing results in online ranking.   What you might not realise is that an outdated and poorly optimised listing is a wasted opportunity to increase your visibility.

The good news is that optimising your listing is very easy and it’s low hanging fruit that’s yours for the taking.  If you have a business that only sells products online, then you aren’t eligible for a listing.  But for businesses with a physical location or one that provides services, then it’s crucial that you have a GMB listing in order to rank well in local searches on search engines such as Google.

Before we get into my 10 super easy Google My Business optimisation tips, let’s look at what it is and why it’s important.

What is a Google My Business listing?

Google My Business (formerly known as Google Local and Google Places) is a free local marketing tool for your business. It’s how your business gets displayed in Google Search and Google Maps.  It contains your most important business information such as your address, telephone number and opening hours, as well as updates, photos and descriptions of your key services. It’s also a place where people can submit and read reviews about your business.

Why a GMB listing is crucial

While there are many reasons why a GMB listing is so important, here are the top five:

  1.     A GMB listing increases your visibility online.
  2.     You can share information with your potential customers.
  3.     Replying to customers in real-time is really easy.
  4.     Customers can leave you a review.
  5.     It’s free.

So now you know why you need a business listing, but how do you go about making sure it’s as good as it possibly can so that Google will place you in the top three spots known as the map-pack?

Read: Local SEO Tips | 5 Easy Ways to Boost Your Visibility

10 ways to optimise your GMB listing

1. Don’t spam the business name field

Including anything other than your business name is not permitted, however, a lot of businesses include keywords in an attempt to rank more highly.

Google my business listings of architectsTake this example. My search for “architects London” returned these results. Both Goa Studio and Urbanist Architecture have added keywords to their business name which is against Google’s guidelines. This can get your listing suspended.

It doesn’t seem fair that your competitors can continue to include keywords in their business name, while you play by the rules, but there is something you can do about it.

Type in your main business category and your location into the search bar in Google Maps. Look through the results and pick a result whose business name looks spammy. Check out their website to verify their business name.  My search for “dentists Finchley” returned a result for Smile Cliniq. They’ve spammed their business name with keywords.  To flag this to Google, scroll down the listing and click on “Suggest an edit” and you will be given the option to fix the name or mark the business as closed, non-existent or duplicate. Choose the “change name or other details” option and edit the information.

Smile Cliniq google my business listingYou’ll then receive an email from Google saying that the name has been changed, or that they are in the process of reviewing the edit. Although Google will say that changing the name does not affect rankings, you will find that once the business name has been changed, they won’t rank as highly as before, which gives your business listing more chance to rank higher.

2. Choose a relevant, specific category

After the name of your business, the primary category is the most important factor for better ranking in local searches. Make sure that the primary category you’re using for your business is the best possible choice based on your business’ products and services. It can make a big difference as you try to improve visibility for terms related to that category.

Google updates its list of categories, so it’s good to check that your business is listed under the correct one. Have a look at the categories your competitors are using because if you have something different to all of your direct competitors, then it’s possible you’ve picked the wrong one.

3. Make sure your information is correct

This might be stating the obvious, but you should ensure that all the information you provide is 100% correct. Check that the name of your business, the address and phone number are correct. It happens all too often that the phone number is incorrect. Don’t lose business due to a simple mistake.

4. Publish posts, photos and videos regularly

Did you know you can add photos to your listing? When you claimed your business you might have uploaded your logo and thought that’s all you needed to do. Get into the habit of uploading pictures on a weekly basis. It can be of your product, your team at work, or the interior and exterior of your office. If you are a service-based business, you could upload pictures of the tools you use.

If in doubt, spy on your competitors. Go to Google Maps and type in your category. What kinds of pictures are your competitors uploading? Don’t forget, you can ask your clients to upload pictures of them using your products.

5. Ask for Google My Business reviews

Business listings that include customer reviews are more credible and receive more clicks. You want more clicks, right?  The quality and quantity of reviews on Google is one of the most important ranking factors for local SEO. Which listing is someone going to click on? The one with no reviews or the one with lots of reviews, even if some of them are not so flattering? The latter of course.  People want to know what other people are saying about a business.

Get into the habit of sending out review requests on a regular basis. It might feel uncomfortable at first, but most people are more than happy to write one. You might have to send reminders a couple of times, but it’s definitely worth being persistent.

6. Add UTM code

UTM code in Google My BusinessGoogle My Business “insights” aren’t very accurate or reliable and you most certainly want to know how many visitors your website is getting via your GMB listing. Adding a UTM tracking code helps you track your impressions in Google Analytics.

To add the UTM code, log into your GMB account and click on Info. Click on the pencil icon to edit the website field and add this string after your URL:

/?utm_source=Google My Business&utm_medium=GMB&utm_campaign=GMB&utm_term=location&utm_content=location

The changes will remain in “pending” while Google reviews them. Once approved, you’ll be able to view the data in Google Analytics and track visits to your website from GMB.

7. Attributes

Attributes in a Google My Business profile are designed to grab searchers’ attention by highlighting important service offerings.   From the menu, click Info, then Add Attributes and then Edit. Note that all businesses do not have access to all attributes and available attributes vary according to the category of business. For example, a dentist is unlikely to be able to add attributes such as “online care” and “online classes” to their GMB listing.  Look through the options and choose those that are most relevant to your business.

8. Fill out profile completely

This might sound like a very obvious tip but you’d be surprised at just how many sections businesses leave out. Depending on if you sell a service or product, fill out the relevant section with a brief description and a price. There’s a character limit so you’ll have to be brief.

 9. Geotagging

Geotagging is essential for Google My Business because each listing is based on an exact location and Google Maps. Adding a geotag to a photo gives Google more information to index, helping your business rank higher on Google.  Check out the free geotagging tool from Geolmgr  There’s also a great YouTube video on how to geotag your GMB photos for free which is definitely worth watching.

10. Q & A

The Questions and Answers feature is often overlooked by a lot of companies.   Available only on the mobile version of your listing, it’s a great way to answer the questions you get most frequently.   You don’t need to log into your GMB profile to do this.  Just bring up your listing on your phone, scroll down to the Q & A section and enter in a question. You’ll then be able to answer it yourself.  Visitors to your listing can also reply to existing questions or create their own.  This is a great way to provide even more information to your visitor making it easier for them to decide to contact you – even without going to your website.

And finally…

Don’t update your GMB listing once and forget about it. Update your GMB profile weekly, whether it be by adding new pictures, publishing a post or gaining a new review. An updated profile with recent reviews is more likely to rank highly. So, set aside 10 minutes a week to update your listing. It’s certainly time well spent.