Google My Business is a free business profile that you can set up on Google. Sounds simple enough, right?
It is; at least on the surface…
The truth is that Google My Business (GMB for short) is actually quite nuanced. Seemingly-small details can have a large impact on your rankings.
But before we jump into all of that, let’s talk about why GMB is so important to ranking in Google and getting in front of your customers.
Google My Business is Vital to SEO Success Because…
Let me share some quick facts with you:
- GMB is the #1 ranking factor for the Local Pack
- 82% of local marketing experts (including myself) say that GMB optimization is a “very effective” tactic for improving rankings
- 68% of local marketing experts say that GMB is more important now than it was, even just a year ago
The fact is, that for better or worse, Google shows preference to businesses that use their tools. So a business using GMB will always rank better than a business that doesn’t.
And a business that optimizes their GMB will rank better than a business that does not.
How to Optimize Your Google My Business Profile
So how do you optimize your GMB? The first thing you need to do is set up a GMB profile. You can do this by going to business.google.com and following the prompts.
In order to verify your listing, Google will send you a postcard in the mail. That postcard will have a code on it. You then use that code to verify your listing.
Once that’s done, there are 4 things that you absolutely need to get right:
- Your Business’s name, address, and phone number (we marketers refer to this as the “NAP”)
- The website
- Any photos that you have (especially your Cover and Logo photos)
- Your business category
Optimizing Your Business Category
Aside from actually having a GMB profile the most important element of that profile is: your business category.
You can view or set your business category, by logging into your business profile via the URL noted above, then navigating to “Info”.
Beneath your business name, you’ll see your business categories. The one on top of that list is your primary business category, and that’s the one we’re most concerned with.
You need to set that so that it reflects what your business actually does and how your customers think of your business.
See the screenshot on the next page to see how your business category shows up online…
A great way to determine whether your primary business category is optimized is to research your competitors.
See what their primary business category. If you notice that all your top-ranking competitors are using a specific business category, use that for your business as well.
A Warning: Don’t be Different Just for the Sake of Standing out.
That’s not how Google’s algorithms work!
Now, the rule-of-thumb when it comes to your GMB profile is this:
The more information you provide, the better.
Making your profile as complete as possible (including your hours of operation, service area, services, etc.) is important in helping you achieve a higher ranking.
Here are a few other areas that you should focus on in your GMB profile:
- Your business description
- Your “attributes”
- Posts (short blurbs about your business)
- Reviews! (covered in detail in a later post)
The Emerging Importance of GMB Chat
Google recently announced a new feature which they’ve implemented:
Direct chat, via Google My Business.
This means that when people search for your business, they simply click the “CHAT” icon to connect.
This feature promises to provide a better user-experience, without having to sending them off of Google’s website.
You’ll want to take advantage of the chat feature…
If you have an active, high-quality chat; if your customers are giving high ratings to that chat experience; who do you think Google is going to prioritize? Your business, or a business that isn’t even using the feature?
Google is going to prioritize your business.
How much of an impact is this really going to have? Consider the chart below:
Now what this shows is: for this particular client, their Google My Business showed up in 6,430 searches. About 8% of those were direct searches: people who searched for the business by name. Right now, GMB Chat is showing up for those users – about 515 searches.
However, all of that has changed…
As of June 2021, GMB Chat shows up for Discovery Search as well!
For this client, that means that their numbers will go from 515 to 6,301! That’s an increase of 1,223%!
So what does this mean for you? It means that you need to be watching your chat! What happens if a user reaches out to you via chat and you don’t see it until the next day?
That lead is gone.
Right now there are two big ways that you can keep a close eye on your GMB chat:
- Install the Google My Business app on your smart-phone, and make sure that you have notifications turned on so that you can respond as soon as possible
- Use an automated chat service that utilizes AI to respond immediately and intelligently to user questions.
If You’re Interested In Using Automated Chat…
Using an automated chat service will take the stress and responsibility off of your shoulders. It will allow you to follow up with captured leads at your convenience.
If you’re interested in learning more about having an automated service manage your GMB chat for you, visit www.epowet.com/seoautomation and see how you can capture those leads, even as you sleep!