How To Optimize Your Google My Business Listing: Using GMB Features to Beat Competitors
The more you use GMB's features to promote your business, the more likely it is you will engage potential customers — and that your business will show up in search rankings, writes Steady Demand's Ben Fisher.
Running a local business is tough. You face a lot of challenges. One of those challenges is online businesses. Competing with online e-commerce sites is a challenge — but you do have one advantage that those online-only stores don’t have: You can claim a Google My Business listing – and they can’t.
Every local business that qualifies should claim and verify their local business on Google My Business (GMB). Verifying your Google My Business listing can increase the likelihood of your business showing up in Google’s Local Pack and Google Maps. (Now, there are limited spots, so it doesn’t guarantee that you’ll show up, but it helps.)
Qualifying local businesses can claim this free Google listing. Google My Business allows you to include basic information about your company, like your name, address, phone number (NAP), hours of operation and other basic info about your company.
The great thing is that Google is constantly adding NEW features to Google My Business making it an even more robust platform for you to show off your business. And the even better news? The more you use these features to promote your business, the more likely it is you will engage potential customers and the more likely it is that your business will show up in search rankings.
Do you want to learn more about these new GMB enhancements that will make your Google My Business Listing stand out among the crowd? Let’s get started.
Several years ago, when Google My Business was connected to Google’s social platform, Goggle+, you were allowed to enter a business description. This was GREAT because you could optimize your business description for keywords, tell your potential customers why your business was different and give more details than just the boring name, address, phone number, business hours, etc.
Recently Google began to allow business owners to add business descriptions again! This is good news for all business owners and if you haven’t added your business description to your GMB listing yet, login to your Google My Business Dashboard and get going.
Keep in mind that you need to keep your business description brief — 750 characters. Additionally, it can take up to three days for your description to be published and Google will review it for quality, so no keyword stuffing! Make your description a quality description.
Another new feature recently added is the Services option. If you offer Services, Google lets you list those services right on your Google My Business listing. Below is an example from a Massage Spa. You can add a main “Section,” an “Item,” a “Price,” and then a “Description of the Item” which can be up to 1,000 characters.
If you offer any types of services, like oil change companies, car repair, manicurist, chiropractors, dentists, hair stylists, lawncare companies, carpet cleaners, etc. you could essentially list your services (with prices) in your Google My Business listing, and if you optimize your listing correctly, people viewing your listing could make a decision on the spot – and give you a call right there!
Google Posts are the equivalent of mini social posts that show up in your Google My Business listing (in the Knowledge Panel and on Google Maps) when people search for your business name. You can make a GMB Post by adding an image, a Call to Action (CTA) and include a link to a landing page, a page on your website – or any other URL link.
You can create posts that encourages people to Buy, Learn More, Book [an appointment], Get Offer, et cetera.
If you have an upcoming event – like a sale or company fundraiser – you can create an event, with a start date and an end date. Normal posts stay “live” for seven days (however, the “old” posts will still be seen in a carousel-like feature). When it’s time to create a new Post, Google will send you a reminder (thank you, Google!)
If you create an event Post, your event Post will go dark after the event is over.
When it comes to the images in your post, make sure you use quality images. It’s best to use pictures from your company vs. stock photos (everyone loves to see pictures from a real company instead of stock pictures.)
The best image size for Google Posts is 750 x 750. Try to center the main image in the photo so that it still looks okay if it gets cropped. Do not use an image smaller than 250 x 250 (Google will reject it.) Keep in mind that if you have words on your photo or image, that text could get cut off on mobile devices. So if possible, stick with just an image that makes an impact all on its own and tell the story of what you have to offer in the text below the image.
Questions & Answers
Questions & Answers is another relatively new feature to Google My Business. Just like it sounds, Questions & Answers lets people ask questions about your business and you — or anyone else on the internet — can answer those questions. What does that mean to you as a business owner? You need to stay on top of the questions people are asking to make sure that YOU are the one answering the questions correctly. Since anybody can answer any question, you want to ensure that the answers provided is correct – and the correct answers should come from you.
What do you do if you find that somebody has given an inaccurate answer? Go to the Google My Business forum and ask a Google Top Contributor for help.
Online reviews are very important for any business. It can seem uncomfortable at first to ask for reviews from customers, but consumer research has shown that 68% of customers will leave an online review if the business just asks them to. (So the odds of people leaving a review for your business are stacked in your favor!)
Online reviews that are left on your Google My Business listing AND third-party reviews appear in your company’s Knowledge Panel in search. In the example below, you will see that Google is showing not only Google My Business reviews, but they are also showing reviews that were left on third-party sites: Facebook, Groupon and OpenTell.
The fact that Google is putting so much emphasis on reviews should tell you just how important reviews are and that it’s totally important to YOUR business.
Reviews can help your business stand out among a sea of search results. Reviews are also a KNOWN local ranking factor. To get a review on Google, ask your customers to search for your name in Google and they will see your listing appear in the right-hand side (the knowledge-panel) and they will see the option to leave a review.
They simply need to click on “Google Reviews.”
And they will then be given the option to write a review:
After you start getting reviews, please be sure to respond to all the reviews — even the negative reviews.
Photos & Videos
People are visual. Google My Business allows you to add photos AND now 30-second videos to your Google My Business listing.
You can photos — which Google openly tells you increases engagement — and now you can upload videos! Login to your dashboard and select the Photos option and you will see where you can add photos and videos.
It’s important to note that Google wants to see pictures and videos from your business. They do NOT want marketing videos with stock images. In fact, Google can remove your videos if the primary subject of the content is not related to the business location. Also, keep in mind that it can take up to 24 hours for the video to display in your Google My Business listing.
One other thing to be aware of…Your customers can also upload photos and videos of your business, too! (Again, if you see any inappropriate videos or photos, flag them and if they’re not taken down, head on over to the Google My Business forum and ask the help from a Top Contributor.)
Here are some Google My Business video guidelines:
- Duration: Up to 30 seconds long
- File size: Up to 100 MB
- Resolution: 720p or higher
Tip of the Iceberg
Now, this is only the tip of the iceberg of the features that Google My Business offers you – and there are bound to be more to come. So log in to Google My Business frequently and see what’s new and build out your company’s profile! Go get started today.
** Ben Fisher is the founder and VP of marketing at Steady Demand.