Having an accurate and up-to-date Google My Business profile is essential to maintaining a professional and well-established online presence. We look at the steps you need to take to ensure your profile is fully optimised.
Google’s free Google My Business (GMB) profile gives a snapshot of your business, its best features, and its highlights. This allows potential customers to engage with your business, learn more, and find the services they need. Think of it as an opportunity to give the very best first impression if people are searching your brand name or looking for businesses close to them.
With this profile, Google has given you control of what users see when they search for your business. Using Google My Business can increase your chances of showing up on Google Maps and other organic local searches. This is why using it is a great tool for SEO as part of a location-based strategy.
To begin, if you don’t have a Google or Gmail account, you’ll need to make one first in order to claim your business listing. If your business has been around for a while, Google may have already listed it. Google tries to provide the best information it can about your business, but this may not always be accurate. To get started, visit Google My Business.
People want information immediately and often search via their mobile phones. Many use ‘zero-click’ searches, where they get the information they need from Google without actually clicking links to websites. These consumers will be interacting with your My Google Business profile rather than your website itself.
Optimised Google My Business profiles can increase your visibility to your targeted audience, whilst helping consumers choose you over competitors. Optimisation can be used to really highlight the benefits of your company over others and offer answers to any consumer queries at the first point of contact.
When searching, the brief description that appears under your business name in your My Business Profile is written by Google to ensure platform-wide consistency. However, Google has also included a ‘from the business’ section which shows up on your GMB dashboard and this can be written by you.
It is important to complete your business description as it allows you to best encapsulate the atmosphere and mission of your business as it will be seen by searchers for whom this may be their first interaction with your business.
As this may be the first exposure someone has to your business, your profile needs to be accurate to demonstrate professionalism. You must ensure that your business name, address, and other listings match those on your website. You should also make sure to keep your contact info and opening times up to date to offer customers the most accurate information possible. Amendments can be made for seasonal changes, Bank Holidays, or even changes due to the recent Covid-19 restrictions.
On your Google My Business Profile, Google offers a set number of categories that you can select to best explain your business and its services. It is important to select the right category which explains exactly what your business is.
After you have selected the category which represents your main service, you can choose secondary categories to promote your other services. By including an accurate category and subcategory, you will increase your chances of appearing in the local results for searches relevant to your business.
Alongside selecting the relevant categories for your business, adding attributes is another great way to show your customers the specifics of your services. Examples of attributes include whether a restaurant has indoor seating or offers takeaway; whether a business has free Wi-Fi; if a shop accepts credit cards; or how accessible the building is to those requiring wheelchair access.
Newer features allow more attributes to be included, such as highlighting black-owned and women-led businesses on their profile. You can fully customise your attributes by selecting from Google’s attribute list.
You want to grab a searcher’s attention, and the perfect way of doing this is by including images. It has been found that businesses that use photos on their listing receive 35% more clicks through to their websites than businesses that don’t.
All photos should follow Google’s best practices:
Format: JPG or PNG
Size: Between 10KB and 5MB
Minimum resolution: 720px tall, 720px wide
Quality: The photo should be in focus and well-lit, and have no alterations or excessive use of filters. The image should represent reality.
The cover photo for your business should encapsulate your brand’s personality. It sits at the top of your business profile and will catch the attention of users. The cover photo is cropped to fit a 16:9 aspect ratio, so select a photo that works well for this.
Additional photos can showcase your products and services, whilst giving customers a better understanding of the feel and in-store experience of your business. Google will also include a map location image and a photo of the outside of the building from their database.
Depending on the nature of your business, your My Google Business Profile can be optimised with a variety of additional features.
For example, if you are a business that relies on customer’s making appointments (a hairdressers, salon, health services, etc), you can use Google’s booking button feature. This allows people to directly book an appointment with your business from your Google My Business listing.
Restaurants or salons can also include menus, retailers can include a section for ‘best products’, and hotels can include star ratings. Additional features are a great way to make interacting with your business easier for potential clients and are attractive to those ‘zero-click’ internet users.
Your My Google Business Profile has its own messaging capabilities to increase the ease at which you can interact with clients. To do this, you must enable the messaging features on the messaging tab of your Google My Business dashboard.
You will then be given the option to install this messenger on your device. Once done, you can easily access messages sent to your business profile. You will also be given the feature for customers to send a text to your phone directly from your Google Business Profile.
When finding a new business through a Google search, users often rely on reviews from other customers to guide them to credible companies. As such, when optimising your Google Business Profile, you should encourage your customers to leave reviews and even photos of your business to encourage others to engage with your business.
Reviews add credibility to your GMB profile, whilst customer photos can give a more ‘authentic’ impression of your business. Responding to reviews (both positive and negative) is also important as it allows engagement with customers and shows you are responsive.
Answering questions from potential clients and customers is another key way of maximising engagement through your GMB. In addition, it is important to answer these questions because, whilst anyone can ask a question, anyone can answer too. This means that if you do not reply, others may, providing inaccurate information which may end up linked to your profile. By answering often, you can make sure all questions are provided with accurate responses which highlight your business attributes.
Posting on your Google My Business profile not only keeps your online presence fresh, but also lets you directly engage with your audience. When using search engines rather than social media or other posting platforms, consumers have a higher intent as they are looking for a product or service. Due to this, they are more likely to engage with your Google posts.
In your updates, you can include visuals, offers, events, products and services. You can also include links in your posts, but these must be quality links from trusted sources in order to maintain your online trustworthiness and authority. These posts can then be published directly to your Google My Business profile.
All of the above tips encourage engagement and signal to potential clients that you are an active and trustworthy business. Once you have set up and optimised your Google My Business profile, it is integral that you maintain it.
Post regularly, check and respond to Q&As or reviews, and make sure your business information is always accurate and relevant. Google has implemented new features over the years, so staying on top of these, will ensure that you are using your account to its full potential.