Why is Google My Business So Important to Your Local Business?

As I mentioned in my previous article on how to create a Google My Business account GMB can be defined below.

“Google My Business is the modern version of the Yellow Pages and serves as the foundation for search engine optimization for local businesses. With GMB, you can add your business information to Google so that people looking locally for your services can find you.”

Now we understand Google My Business’ role, but you might still be wondering why local search is so important. When I considered answering this question, I realized the answer might be best presented through statistics that unveil the local search’s actual value.

5 Statistics That Show How Important Local Search is:

  1. 46% of all Google searches are looking for local information. (Source: GoGulf)
  2. 80% of local searches convert (Source: SEW)
  3. 72% of consumers that did a local search visited a store within five miles. (Source: HubSpot Marketing Statistics)
  4. 88% of searches for local businesses on a mobile device call or visit the business within 24 hours. (Source: Nectafy)
  5. 92% of searchers will pick businesses on the first page of local search results. (Source: SEO Expert)

Steps to Optimize Your GMB Listing

Ok, so now that we know, and by we I mean you, just how important being included in Google’s local search results is, let’s get you on track to optimizing yours:

1) NAP Accuracy

NAP stands for Name, Address, and Phone Number and is one of the critical areas in determining your ranking in Google’s local search results.

The basics are that wherever your name, address, and phone number appear online, also known as citations, they should all follow the same style and use the exact vocabulary as your Google My Business account. This also includes your NAP that is listed on your business’ website.

I’ve shown an example below of Google My Business on the left and Facebook on the right. See how the address and phone number are identical. It needs to be this way across all local business listings online. And, though it doesn’t show, the name is also identical.

pds e1583285544635

2) Choosing Your Local Business Categories

When choosing your primary and subsequent categories, you must be sure you are selecting the best options for your business. I’ve had clients that didn’t rank well for their primary keywords, and once their GMB categories were corrected, they began popping up in the ranking reports.

In a survey held by Moz, it was found that the Google My Business categories you choose for your local business ranked #3 on the top factors that influence Google’s local rankings.

ranking factors categories e1583294395270

To ensure you are heading in the right direction when choosing your categories, I have included Google’s guidelines below.

GMB Category Guidelines

  • Use as few categories as possible to describe your core business from the provided list.
  • Choose categories that are specific but representative of your primary business.
    • Do not use categories solely as keywords or to describe attributes of your business.
    • Do not use categories that pertain to other businesses that are nearby or related, such as a business physically contained within your business or an entity that contains your business.

Source: Google Support

Below is a screenshot of some options available to dentists, for example. As you can see, based on the options, the process is pretty straightforward. Keep in mind you can also select multiple categories.

Screen Shot 2020 03 03 at 9.39.25 PM

Here is what it looks like live in your GMB listing.
gmb category displayed e1583340932915

3) Crafting a Solid Business Description

Your Google My Business description is another area that needs to be completed. These haven’t always been available, as Google once removed the theme. Luckily they are now back.

“Google My Business (GMB) recently brought back the business description field, which has caused those of us working in the local search industry to say “hooray” and raise eyebrows.” – Search Engine Land.

As with all areas within GMB, these are the guidelines for optimizing your business description.

gmb descriptions
Over the years, There has been debate about whether keywords in the description provide any ranking value. However, the consensus has been that it does not, until recently that is when this surfaced:

However, shortly after this, Google updated the document, and the suggestion that keywords in your Google My Business description would aid in your local rankings has been removed.

Here is Google’s description, with an example of how you should write your descriptions:

Screen Shot 2020 03 04 at 3.36.28 PM
Feel free to include keywords in your description so long as they help describe your business to your users.

Here are some essential dos for your GMB descriptions:

    1. Keep it brief
    2. Include what you offer
    3. Include what makes you different from the competition
    4. Include any historical information you feel users would find interesting or helpful
    5. Focus on your business details

4) Business Photos

The average number of photos posted in GMB listings for Dentists, for example, is 12 (Source: Statista)

number of photos

To be competitive and extract more benefits than competing local businesses, we recommend posting above-average photos, so at a minimum, you should post 15 to get started. After that, add a photo or more every week/2 week, depending on the frequency you get them.

Now, you might ask yourself, “Self, how do I get more photos? I have already taken all the pictures I can think of?”. Not to worry, I’ve got you covered.

I’ve listed some great ways to increase your business’ photo counts. But, before I get into those, here is some vital information.

GMB has types of photos that you can add to your listing. Filling in as many of these types as you can is the goal.

Categories/types of GMB listing photos:

  • 360
  • *Video
  • Interior
  • Exterior
  • At work
  • Team
  • Identity

Guidelines for GMB listing photos:

  • Format: JPG or PNG
  • Size: Between 10 KB and 5 MB
  • Recommended Resolution: 720px tall, 720px wide
  • Quality: Well-lit, in focus, no excessive filtering
  • Should represent reality

And now, without further ado.

Ideas for GMB listing photos (no rocket science here):

  • Hold a contest, and to enter, your customers must take a picture at your office.
  • Take photos of the outside of your office from different angles.
  • Take photos of your staff members when new ones come on board.
  • Take photos during different events, e.g., for Easter, company picnics, or bbq’s
  • Take different group photos with your staff

Google’s Photo Tips on How to Improve Your Ranking in Local Search

add photos

5) Reviews

What Are Local Reviews?

An online local business review is a written sentiment left directly by a customer on any website or platform that supports this type of content. Yelp, Google, and Facebook are three major review platforms, but numerous other options exist.

Why Are Reviews Important?

Consumers are becoming more review-savvy, preferring businesses that regularly receive high volumes of high-scoring reviews.

In fact:

  • 82% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses
  • 91% of consumers say positive reviews make them more likely to use a business.
  • 76% trust online reviews as much as recommendations from family and friends
  • 48% of consumers only pay attention to reviews written within the past two weeks
  • 84% believe that reviews older than three months aren’t relevant
  • Businesses without five stars risk losing 12% of their customers
  • Only 53% of people would consider using a business with less than four stars

Most important factors in reviews

  1. How recent reviews are
  2. The business’s overall star rating
  3. How many reviews does a business have
  4. How legitimate reviews appear to me
  5. The sentiment of the existing reviews

Top ways to ask for a review

  1. In-person during the sale
  2. In an email
  3. Over the phone
  4. On a receipt
  5. In an SMS message
  • The average consumer reads ten reviews before feeling able to trust a business
  • Only 53% of people would consider using a business with less than four stars
  • 67% of consumers have now been asked to leave a review for a local business – with 24% of these being offered a discount, gift, or cash in return
[Source: BrightLocal]

Common Issues With Getting Reviews:

Many businesses take a passive approach to getting reviews which commonly produces:

  1. Zero or very few reviews
  2. Little or no recent reviews
  3. Significant gaps of time between reviews
  4. More negative reviews than desired

What does this mean for your business?

More local businesses are learning how valuable optimizing their efforts to receive positive reviews is, and they are putting processes in place to accomplish this. If you aren’t one of them, then you are losing customers to your competitors who are.

Google’s Review Tips on How to Improve Your Ranking in Local Search

manage and respond to reviews

Making the Most of Google My Business

I have added some areas that need to be optimized in Google My Business and how to accomplish this. It is important to note that your Google My Business listing information should be as complete as possible and take advantage of all relevant areas for your local business.

A well-optimized Google My Business listing helps make your business more competitive in the local search results and can significantly increase your qualified leads.

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