Last Updated on June 1, 2021
If you are a local business looking to generate more leads for your business, then a Google my business listing could be a solution.
A Google my business or GMB listing for short is a way for local businesses to show up on the search results page when someone is looking for a product or service that you sell in your local area.
A GMB listing can send targeted traffic to your website that’s highly likely to convert. The only bad point about a GMB listing is that there are only three slots available for any search.
Competing for the top 3 spots can be difficult, but with some effort and knowing how to optimize your profile, you have a good chance of doing so. With over 26% of searches being local and over 3.5 billion searches being performed every day, that’s a lot of customers you could be missing out on.
In this article, we will show you how to optimize your GMB listing to generate more sales for your business.
If you don’t have a GMB listing, head over to Google.com/business to register for one. When registering your business, you will need to verify it via a postcard, so make sure you enter the right address.
When you have verified your address, you can make a complete profile and optimize it so you can be found online.
Filling out your profile
Filling out your profile as much as you can sound like obvious advice, but there are so many places you can fit information in that sometimes it can get overwhelming for a business owner to know what parts are the most important.
When filling out your profile, you should make sure the following sections are complete:
- Business name.
- Business address.
- Business phone number.
- Business email.
- Opening times.
- Special opening times.
- Products and services.
- Business category.
- Business photos.
The information above may take you an hour or two to get together, but it will be worth it. Take your time filling out these details and make sure there are no mistakes here.
Keeping your NAP consistent
When filling out your listing, you will need to check for any spelling errors as Google likes your name, address, and phone number to be consistent across the internet. This is referred to as your NAP data.
Your NAP data should follow the same format on your listing, website, and other external websites/citations. The naming conventions of your NAP data also has to be very strict. If your business is located on “Wilmslow Street,” then you should write “Wilmslow Street” every time rather than “Wilmslow St.”
The abbreviation doesn’t change much for humans, but for machines, it’s harder for them to tell. Now a business can still rank if these NAP citations are not 100% the same but try to get them all consistent for the best results.
The real problem starts where you have moved addresses and still have old data showing your old address. Now you have two addresses, and this creates inconsistent data. The best solution is to run your business through software such as ahrefs or SEMRush to find all of your backlinks pointing at your website and then change these citations to your new address.
If this sounds like too much work, then you may want to hire an SEO agency or freelancer to help you, it shouldn’t cost too much to fix, and it will give you a shot of ranking in the map pack.
Choosing the right category
Choosing the right category to list your business sounds obvious, but it’s also a big part of GMB optimization that many people get wrong. Picking the wrong category for your listing will significantly affect where you can rank in the map pack.
Choosing your category may seem like an easy choice, and most business owners don’t give this section any thought. However, If you select the wrong category, your chances of ranking are very low.
An IT Support company may choose the “computer” category or “Software category” as their business fits into both. Still, if you search for an “IT support company in London,” you will see that the top listings all use the “IT Support and Services” category.
Google is showing you what they expect to rank, so use the same category as the top-ranking competitors.
Getting reviews for your GMB listing is not only going to help your business rank higher in the map pack, but it’s also going to convert more visitors to paying customers. Having more reviews is an excellent way of increasing the trust of potential customers.
Unfortunately, Google doesn’t make it easy to get reviews for your business, so you have to go through a few steps before getting a link you can share with your customers to review you.
To get a shareable link for your business go to Google Maps and search for your business name. When it shows up click on the reviews option and then copy the URL address bar at the top of the page. This will look something like the following:
The above is for a McDonald’s restaurant in London. Your code will be slightly different.
If you wanted to send the code above to customers to write a review, there is a good chance that none of them would do it. Look at the URL. It looks spammy and could potentially be a threat to their computer system.
To get around this, we are going to need to shorten the URL.
There are many URL shorteners out there, so Google “URL shortener” and choose one that works for you.
Run your URL through the shortener, and you should now have a link that looks like the following:
The above URL/website is fictional, but it shows the difference in code and how trustworthy that link looks compared to the first one.
Now that you have shortened your URL, you can send it out to past clients, suppliers, friends, family, and even employees to get reviews so people can know what it’s like to work with your business.
Tracking your listing
With everything in search engine marketing, you will need to track and test all of your changes to see if they positively affect your Google listing. For this, you will need local tracking software that tracks search positions in the map pack rather than tracking keyword positions that other SEO software tracks.
When you track your rankings, you can then see if the changes made to your GMB profile are having a positive or negative effect. Without monitoring your rankings, you are just guessing, and you could be spending too much time on things that don’t work.
Posting 5 times a week on your GMB profile could be overkill, and posting once may not be enough, but without tracking, you won’t know.
Building landing pages
If you want to rank well in different city areas, you will need to create landing pages, so Google knows you service those areas.
Going back to the IT Support example, if you were to target IT support in London, you would get traffic to your website if you ranked in the top 3 map pack results. However, GMB is location-based, so someone in a different part of London may not see your listing at all. To get around this, you need to create geolocation website pages along with GEO relevant content.
Someone in Covent Garden may see you as the number 1 ranked result in the map pack, but someone in Peckham may not even see your business at all. In this instance, you would create an “IT Support in Peckham” page on your website and embed your Google map within that page.
This is a technique many people don’t talk about, which is very effective in helping your business rank in additional areas of a City that will increase your organic website traffic without too much effort.
When creating Geo relevant landing pages, it’s essential to create thin content, and what I mean by this is don’t create 15 location pages and only change the name of the location in the content. These can be seen as doorway pages by Google and can harm your search engine rankings. All of your pages should be unique and offer something valuable to your website visitors.
Creating content, especially geo-relevant content, is going to help both your organic rankings along with your GMB listing rankings. Creating geo-relevant content can be difficult in some industries as it looks out of place within a website, but if you can fit it in, it will help.
If you owned a boutique hotel and wanted to create geo content, you could create blog posts such as:
- The best family days out in London.
- Ten best places to eat in Mayfair.
- Affordable family days out in East London.
By creating Geo relevant content, you allow Google to know what your website is about, and it also allows you to bring in more search traffic to your website.
For more competitive industries and locations, you will need to build links to your website. These links are often called citation links for local businesses, as you are getting your business listed on websites such as Yelp.com.
Getting citations to your business isn’t too hard. All you have to do is manually enter your details and make sure they are consistent in each citation. If you would like to learn more about citation building, check out this guide.
Citations are one of the easiest ways to build links, and in non-competitive areas, along with the optimizations above, will be enough to get your business ranking in the map pack.
You will need to build backlinks through your website for more difficult areas as you would with a website targeting national and international keywords. Building these types of links often requires good content and effort to promote that content through email outreach.
Ahrefs have a guide on link building which is an excellent start for anyone trying to build links other than citations.
Optimizing your GMB listing can take some effort, but if you put the time in, you will get organic traffic to your website, which is highly likely to convert to sales and help your business grow.
It can also take time to rank your GMB listing if your competitors have more authority and an older business than yours. For this reason, it’s essential to have patience and track your results so you can see you are heading in the right direction. You may not get first page rankings right away, but if you monitor your progress and keep working on your content, links, and constantly tweaking your profile, you will get there eventually.