Improve local SEO with Google My Business
Google My Business is a free and simple tool for managing how your business information appears across Google Search and Maps.
If you’re just getting started with your local SEO, a Google My Business (GMB) page is a great way to start. Having a GMB profile can increase your chances of appearing on Google’s local pack and Google Maps and can boost your organic result in general.
With a GMB profile, you can display important information about your business such as opening hours, contact details, a link to your website and photos of your products and premises. Businesses that add photos to their profile can benefit from a 35% increase in click throughs to their website demonstrating a further advantage of having an active GMB profile.
A Google My Business page provides a platform for customers to leave reviews about your business, which will help to make potential new customers feel more confident about your product when they are in the pre-purchase phase. This is hugely important given 90% of customers say buying decisions are influenced by online reviews.
Responding to reviews is a great way to interact with customers and reveal the human side of your business. According to a Harvard Business Review, ratings increase when businesses respond to customer reviews so you should always try to respond to feedback, both positive and negative, to show customers you take their comments seriously. If you need guidance on dealing with customer comments, refer to Hubspot’s guide to best practice measures for responding to Google reviews.
Every Google My Business page has a ‘Suggest an edit’ feature which enables searchers to make changes to your page, which could happen without you being notified by Google. It is therefore recommended that you fully complete your profile to deter anyone from adding missing information on your behalf. You should regularly log in to your dashboard to check there are no unwanted changes to your page.
Proper categorisation is critical to local SEO success and is often the deciding factor in whether a website shows in the local map. Google advises that you choose as few categories as possible, ensuring they are specific and representative of your main business.
Try to feature your keyword in your title and within the file names of any images you upload, taking care not to overuse keywords in case your content appears spammy. Include a variety of image types such as the interior and exterior of your premises and staff and product shots, to demonstrate the diversity of your business.
Google now enables business page owners to upload short articles of up to 300 words to their GMB profiles. This provides great flexibility to promote events, share content and highlight new products or special offers. Posts expire after 7 days so you will be prompted via email to replace a post that’s about to expire with something new. If you’re promoting an event, the post will automatically expire on the day of the event.
Review the way your contact details appear on your website and mirror the presentation on your GMB page, and on any other citations across the web, including your social media profiles. For example, don’t call yourself ‘My Business Limited’ in one location and ‘My Business Ltd’ on another.
You should also avoid inconsistency with your telephone number format, for example using a mix of the country code (+44 161) and the local area code (0161) on different locations across the web - decide on your preferred format and stick with it. Any inconsistencies, no matter how small, can confuse Google as it won’t know which is the correct version which can be potentially damaging to your SEO.
Seemingly a minor point, but if the map marker is placed incorrectly it could result in lost customers and negative reviews. Ensure your marker is accurate so that your customers are directed to the right location, reducing frustration and providing a better user experience.