Optimizing Your Google My Business Listing

A lot of small businesses tend to place a lot of emphasis on the development of their websites and, subsequently, their SEO efforts. While your website is a critical element to your SEO strategy, claiming your Google My Business (GMB) listing can make a huge difference to your organic ranking and website traffic as well as to your ability to show up well in other Google products like the Maps, Local Pack, and Local Finder.

That’s really what I want to focus on today – using your GMB listing the right way to maximize what you get out of your efforts.

Start by Verifying Your Listing

The very first thing you need to do, if you haven’t already, is claim and verify your listing. Visit to claim your listing. Verification involves Google sending a postcard to the address on your listing. Once you receive it, you’ll go back to your Google Business account and enter the code from the card. Entering your passcode gives you complete access to your listing profile and details. This process may seem a little lengthy, but it prevents people from claiming profiles they don’t use in order to commit fraud.

Regularly Check Your Basic Details

Have you ever been looking at a Google My Business listing and noticed the “suggest an edit” button? The general public sees this on every listing, which means they can suggest what they perceive as corrections to your address, phone number and other details. This feature can be a benefit or a disadvantage depending on who sees it.

If a customer visits your listing and sees something missing, he may try to make that correction for you. But on the same token, if someone you just managed to deeply anger with bad service sees it, they might decide to vandalize it, too.

Anyone can make edits.

That includes competitors that visit your listing, too.

Check your profile over carefully. Make sure all of your basic business details are completed, including your address, phone number, hours, and website URL. Fill in anything missing.

Service based businesses should make sure their service-areas are updated as well. When you are in the address section of your listing, make sure you click “yes” next to the button that asks about whether or not your deliver goods and services to customer locations. You can choose a zip code or mile radius so that your potential customers know how far you are willing to travel.

Edit the About Us Section

Google didn’t have an official “About Us” section on business listings for quite a while, but it’s back now. This is your chance to tell people what sets you apart from the crowd. Hit the “Info” button and you’ll be presented with a text box. You only have 750 characters to work with, so be creative with your wording and make your message stands out.

Upload Photos

A picture is worth a thousand words, right? Google automatically pulls a few photos from your website and other online sources, but you can upload your own as well. Make sure you upload a few photos of your office, staff, products, customers – whatever will give people who land on your listing a feel for the type of business you run.

Avoid slapping on stock photos (especially of people) just to fill up space; one or two is fine. Too many can make your profile feel forced, shallow, or fake. A few natural pictures of your office taken with a decent camera go a long way.

By the way, you can upload videos to the photo section as well. I’ve talked about video marketing being a huge component to SEO and content marketing, so make sure you’re uploading some of your new content here when you create it.

Update Your Services

The services section new and isn’t showing on all listings yet, but if it’s available to you, you will see “Services” in the menu within your Google My Business profile. You can use this section for products or services This is great for getting additional product or service keywords into your listing, especially since some business owners don’t always agree with how their businesses are categorized. Make sure you are utilizing this section if you have access to it.

Turn on the Messaging Function

This is a relatively new feature that seems to be available in the US but not necessarily to other countries. Messaging allows visitors to send a text message to your business. All they have to do is click on the business listing and you’ll receive a text message that you can reply to. Your personal number won’t show to customers, either. This is a great way to quickly answer questions your potential customers may have.

Monitor Your Reviews

You get an email every single time someone leaves a review on your Google My Business listing. Establish protocol for reply to reviews and do so on a regular basis. Some businesses reply to all of their reviews while others only reply to negative reviews. According to BrightLocal, about 30 percent of people surveyed said it’s important to them to see that a business is reply to reviews – especially the negative ones.

That said, you’ll need to be careful about your wording. If you run a medical office, for example, you’ll need to make sure your replies don’t violate HIPAA guidelines. Replying to reviews does show the public that you’re listening, conscious, and aware of what people are saying about you; and it shows you are willing to resolve issues amicably.

Google Posts

Perhaps one of the most underutilized sections of the Google My Business is the Posts section. Many business owners just don’t seem to realize it’s there yet. You can add a post via your dashboard and it will show right on your business profile in the Google search results. You can showcase an article, a special, or some other piece of content. The posts usually expire within two weeks, so you’ll want to update this section regularly.

Don’t Make These GMB Mistakes

Make sure you check Google once in a while to make sure there are no duplicate business listings. Sometimes they are added when your name is misspelled, or when someone creates a listing with your name and your business name together (this is common with doctors). You’ll want to claim and remove duplicates to avoid confusion. Don’t create a new listing if your business moves; just update the address.

There is a significant amount of effort and work in achieving “good SEO,” especially if you want to stay on the ‘white hat” side of things. That said, having an updated business listing that you’re constantly monitoring and updating can go a long way in making it easy for your potential clients or customers to find and contact you.

Google has been making a lot of changes that will have visitors interacting more on your GMB listing; this is mostly positive, but it also means they won’t necessarily be clicking through to your website. Making sure your profile is in tip-top shape will ensure you’re able to play along as the SERPs continue to change.

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