There are hundreds of SEO trends out there right now and one of the most persistent ones is local SEO. Similar to mobile-first indexing, it’s been pushed forward by the increasing figure of individuals who use Google on the move.
Every so often, Google is usually the first to support new search trends, by offering new SERP features. the Google 3-pack is one of such features, which brings local businesses under the light for search users. But to get in on the 3-pack, a complete Google My Business profile is necessary.
If you are looking forward to improving your SEO, there are two ways to complete your My Business profile: the right way and the wrong way. By learning the optimization process of Google My Business, you can easily capitalize on the growing local SEO trend.
An introduction to GMB (Google My Business)
Before diving headfirst into the whole debate of “how to optimize this Google feature”, it’s better to understand what it is. Google My Business feature improves local search results. Local business owners are encouraged to fill out a profile by the search engine giant, which leads to improved visibility.
It is as simple as creating a social media profile for your business, or an entry in a telephone directory, no rocket science. By using GMB, your information, for example, your contact details and business hours are made visible and accessible to people searching for you.
It’s a win-win proposition for search users, business owners, and Google alike. Google delivers great search results and search users find the information they want. At the very same time, local business owners such as you get increased SEO visibility on their part.
The basics of Google My Business
If you haven’t done so yet, you should consider taking a start by setting up a business profile. It’ free and easy, and has some real positive impacts for your business.
My Business will drive engagement with people who are searching for businesses like yours. You can make a start by providing rudimentary information about your business, including:
- Business hours
- The address, name and phone number (NAP) of your business
- Your website
By doing so, you would be able to add a description of about 750-characters which will tell people what your business actually is. Buttons that let people contact you instantly can easily be added to the profile. As a final touch, Google would recommend adding photos of your business which would comprise of:
- Images of your product or service, such as food and drink or hotel rooms
- Three interior shots of your business
- Three exterior shots of your business
- Photos of your staff serving the customers
Once done with the basic profile, it’s time to move on to Google My Business SEO.
How SEO deals with GMB
Given the basics of the My Business profile, a question might appear in your head about how it can be a help to improving your SEO efforts.
The answer is pretty simple, Google prioritizes My Business profiles, adding them to its local business 3-pack. For example, someone who searches for “gym near me,” Google uses My Business profiles to create the 3-pack. The more complete your GMB is, the higher your Google rank will be when determining who gets a spot in the 3-pack.
If your business profile is liked to your website, Google is also more likely to rate the website as dependable and pertinent. Bear in mind that one of the biggest trends in SEO centers around the hypothetical E-A-T score, which operates to rank trustworthiness.
GMB profiles provide businesses more control over the information that search users come across when searching for them. Also, better chances to highlight social proof are there, which is another main factor of modern SEO.
How can I optimize Google My Business (GMB)?
By now, you might be well aware of the plenty of SEO opportunities that My Business platform offers. The question is, how do you make the most of them?
Much like the certain tactics used to improve on-page SEO, numerous Google My Business optimization techniques can be used effectively.
Develop a sense of trust with up-to-date contact details
As obvious as it is, outdated information is bad for your SEO ranking. People searching to find the information they need about you will have a hard time finding it if your info is outdated.
For instance, you run an ice cream parlor. The operating hours of your business in winters are more likely to be different from the working hours you have in the summertime. If its November and you have left your summer schedule up, some ice cream fans might arrive long after you’re closed.
Google My Business gives solves this by giving you an easy way to make sure Google always has your most up-to-date information. If your operating hours go through a change, all you have to do is simply update your GMB profile to indicate them.
Similarly, if you change your business phone number or move location, you can simply update the information on your profile so anybody who is searching about you or businesses like you, gets the most current and precise details.
In a fast-paced era like this, information is outdated quickly, and users do not generally trust a post from 2016 while they live in 2020. With Google My Business updating your info is so quick and easy, even adding your holiday hours is a breeze.
Manage social proof
Once you are done with filling out your Google My Business profile, your customers can leave you a review about an experience with you on Google reviews. In fact, one should encourage them to do so as they are helpful in the evaluation of your own performance as well as the management of social proof. You can either ask your customers in-store for a review or ask for one in your customer newsletters.
Google reviews act as your starred ratings, appearing with your GMB. Google averages the ratings given by your customers, and this average rating pops up when somebody searches for your business. Search user can then go through reviews and see what kind of feedback other customers have about you.
Getting reviews enhances your social proof. Search users and would-be customers can better decide whether they want to contact you or not. Since social proofs have been proven to be helpful to people, Google prioritizes it as an element of its algorithm.
Keep in mind that every customer isn’t going to give you a glowing, 5-star review, though. What can we do about bad reviews then?
Your GMB profile can be used as a space to engage with customers. If a customer posts a 1-star review, you can respond to them and help settle their objections. Apart from helping your SEO, this also gives you a chance to connect with your customers and offer them some excellent service.
Engaging an audience with GMB
Another step towards optimizing your My Business profile is utilizing it as a podium to connect with your customers. Adding your contact particulars is one step toward connecting with people. Replying to customer reviews, whether good and bad, is another.
Google will also let you connect your social media profiles to your GMB profile. What this does is when someone looks up your business, they also automatically find your Twitter feed or Facebook page. This helps them look for more detailed information or stay in the loop.
Although, Google can only add social media profiles to GMB profiles if the following criteria are met:
- The business name is supposed to be consistent between GMB and social media platforms
- Your social media accounts should be verified on platforms that provide verification
- Usage of structured social profile markup on your business website is necessary
Structured data is among the biggest current trends in SEO. This rule highlights Google’s preference for it. Consider adding it to your SEO strategy if you’re not using structured data yet.
Google’s Q&A feature is another great feature to consider. Using this feature, you can deal with your potential customer’s queries. By answering questions regularly, you can create a database of information for potential customers and search users.
As a business owner, you can further add answers to common questions to your Q&A database. Google will then display the answers for search users. Thus they won’t even have to visit your website to find what they’re looking for.
Develop your brand with Google Posts
No matter how many updates and techniques come, Content is still the king in the SEO world. Google Posts provide you a great chance to add some to your GMB profile. With this feature, you can easily add quick news updates and offers to your profile.
It looks like Google is testing some features that will make Posts an even bigger opportunity for business owners looking to improve their SEO. Recently, Posts have been emerging as “related search” suggestions. Google also incorporates up to three Posts in their knowledge panel results.
Furthermore, it feels like Google is prioritizing offer-style Posts. These posts underline a sale or deal from your business. Offer-style posts can help promote more engagements from your audience.
Posts also offer an opportunity to show off some personality to your audience. Thus they can be considered as another way to develop a steady brand personality across your online presence.
Other quick tips about GMB
Developing a brand and generating reviews can take some time so be patient. Here are a few other tips and tricks that might help you optimize your GMB right now:
- Update old and outdated NAPs and cross-check them with other online citations
- Get a Google My Business short name for yourself and direct people straight to your profile
- Choose a suitable category and subcategory for your business
Bear in mind that Google constantly refines its tools. This means that you should continue to audit your GMB profile every now and then. Updating it and refining the information you provide to your potential customers is always a great idea.
Stay updated with emerging GMB trends. As Google continues to muck about, the best practices for GMB SEO tend to change too. Stay in the lead by checking back with us for more tips, tricks, and trends at Digitally Up.
Ashar Jamil is a founder and head of growth of digital marketing agency, Digitally Up. He has helped hundreds of businesses grow their revenue through digital marketing.