Google My Business (GMB) is a free tool that helps local businesses generate leads from Google. A GMB page can also help to increase your visibility in Google local search. According to a Google study, 50% of consumers who conducted a local search on their smartphone visited a store within a day. This underscores the importance of a Google My Business page for local businesses.
You only need to optimize the page once, and then you can spend just an hour a week uploading photos, videos and posts. Optimizing your GMB page is critically important if you want to be featured in the local 3–pack and generate free leads for your business. Google loves a very active GMB page, and you’ll increase your chances of being featured in the 3-pack by keeping the page actively updated.
If you’re looking for some practical tips that you can use to optimize your Google My Business listing, then you’ll love this infographic.
Here are the essential tips from the infographic to create a well-optimized Google My Business page. I’ve also created a handy table of contents to help you jump directly to a specific topic.
Optimizing Your GMB Listing:
- Verify Your Business
- Your GMB Name
- Name Length
- Hours of Business
- Phone Number
- Email Address
- Profile Completion
- Service Area
- Things to Avoid
1. Verify Your Business
When you click on the verify button, Google will send a postcard which contains a PIN number to your business address. This could take up to ten working days to arrive. Once you get this postcard, simply head back to your Google My Business page and type it in to verify your listing.
2. Your Google My Business Name
Getting your Google My Business name right is absolutely essential. Your business name does not necessarily have to be what you call your business.
Avoid the temptation to of keyword stuffing your company name in a bid to achieve a higher ranking. Doing so would be against Google’s terms of service, and will get your listing suspended.
Examples of keyword stuffed business names:
- “Lucy’s Wedding Dresses – Wedding Dresses & Gowns. Cheap Bridal Shop”
- “Joe’s Plumbing – Central Heating, Leaking Taps, Boiler Installation.”
- “Bob’s Travel Agency: London, Paris, New York – Hotels, Flights & more.”
While it’s not advisable to stuff extra keywords to a business name, in some cases you can rename your business name to contain your target keywords, which would be a more optimized name for your business.
For example, if you are an electrician based in Hendon, London, you could choose to call yourself Hendon Plumbing & Heating and build your brand around that name. This is going to more closely match what people search for because people in Hendon are more likely to search for “Hendon Plumber”, rather than something like “London Plumber”. It would be smart to start building a brand around that query.
3. Name Length
The maximum number of characters you’re allowed to use in the “business name” of your Google My Business page is 80 characters. However, this does that mean it’s OK to use up to 80 characters in your business name.
The ideal character length of your business name is 40 characters including spaces. This means that if your official business name is 80 characters or more, you will have to abbreviate it to 40 characters or less before you use it as the name of your Google My Business page.
If your official business name for some reason happens to be more than 40 characters long, you’ll run into difficulty on other directory sites that limit the number of characters you can use in the name field.
Different directories have different character limits. For example, directories like AngiesList.com has a 50-character limit for your business name, and Kudzu.com only lets you use 40 characters. Even if you are not listed on these sites, what can happen is they’ll receive data on your business from other websites, and will truncate your business name if it exceeds 40 or 50 characters.
Everywhere on the internet you are listed with your business name, address and phone number needs to be identical.
You can add up to 5 categories as long as they are relevant to what you do as a business. If you find that your niche business doesn’t fit into any of the provided categories, look for a broader category that is as close as possible to your business because Google will not allow you to create a specific more category for your business. Just make sure the categories you pick are relevant to what you do. If you pick non-relevant categories and your listings show up but people aren’t clicking on you, it could actually hurt the performance of your listing over time.
It is important to have a page on your website for each category you select on your Google My Business page. This will help to increase the relevance of your business to that category, which will boost your ranking in Google Maps.
5. GMB Posts
Posts are one of the latest features that Google has added to Google My Business listings. You can now make daily announcements or status updates, promote events and showcase your newest products and sales through these posts. They generally last for 7 days, so you should make a post at least once a week to ensure that you always have a post on your page.
When a prospective customer does a brand search for your business on Google, your Post shows up in your business’ Knowledge Panel. Here’s an example:
You can write a post of up to 300 words, and include an attention-grabbing image. The ideal image size is 750x750px. The minimum size is 250×250. Writing engaging posts can help enhance your GMB listing and increase customer engagement with your profile. Be sure to include your target keyword every time you create a post. In addition, always aim to include an engaging call-to-action. Google gives you several options to choose from:
Google also provides the option to syndicate your post to Facebook and Twitter.
6. Your Website
One common mistake that local businesses make when adding their website to their Google My Business listing is adding their home page, which doesn’t always contain their contact details. You need to point your GMB page to the page on your site that contains your NAP details, which is almost always your contact page.
As already mentioned, the information on your contact page must match what is on your Google My Business page. If your NAP information is also on your home page, then you could add your home page instead of your contact page, otherwise you should add the specific page with your NAP details. Note that when you setup your directory listings, they should always point to the page with your NAP details.
7. Hours of Business
Google doesn’t particularly enjoy displaying hours for a business as “open 24 hours”. In fact, this could affect your search ranking, especially in mobile search. Unless your business really is open 24 hours, Google prefers that you specify your opening hours, and those hours need to be consistent across the rest of your citations on the web.
8. Phone Number
Adding a valid landline to your Google My Business listing adds to your credibility as a genuine business because Google can use this to tie your business to the local area. If you have multiple offices or want to serve multiple locations, it is recommended that you setup different regional phone numbers through a VOIP routing service.
This will allow you to setup a local phone number with an area code of your choice. You can then redirect that number to your mobile phone. Avoid using a 1-800 number or national phone number. It needs to be a local phone number.
9. Email Address
When signing up for Google My Business, the account you use should be tied to your company domain, not your personal account. For example, Peter@LondonPlumbing.com, rather than LondonPlumbing@Gmail.com. In other words, use an email matching domain to register your account. Using a company email address lends to your overall credibility.
10. Profile completion
Completing your Google My Business profile is absolutely essential. Google wants to collect as much info as possible about your business so they’re going to penalize any business that hasn’t completed their profile. This is why it is essential that you fill in all your business information thoroughly including clear, long, excellent descriptions (basic and enhanced information) wherever applicable.
11. Service Area
Only enter this if you serve customers at their location (service area businesses). Some businesses serve customers both at their place of business and at their customer’s location.
Be sure to enter the cities, postal codes or regions that you service. Note that no matter how big a service area you set, it is still unlikely to appear in a search result greater than 20 miles away.
As already mentioned, it is absolutely essential that citations for your business are in exactly the same format wherever those listings appear on the internet. Establish the same format you’re using on your website, and stick to it. You can see how your business is listed on Google, Bing and other major local search engines by visiting getlisted.org.
Essentially, locking down the NAP and other business details should be the very first phase in any successful local SEO campaign. NAP consistency is one of the most critical elements of ranking in local search results.
For example, for the purposes of Google My Business, the following business names on different directories will be viewed as different companies:
- Hamilton & Sons Ltd
- Hamilton & Son Ltd
- Hamilton & Sons
- Hamilton & Sons Limited
13. Your Description
Enter a compelling description of your company in a way that clearly and succinctly describes what you do, the benefits you bring to customers and employees and prospects, and what you offer as a company. Your use of search engine keywords and phrases is important.
When filling out your description, specialties and products and services, use the same keywords that you use for your website. Include your target keywords and phrases, but avoid keyword stuffing. Use thematically related LSI keywords. Be sure to add your value proposition to the headline.
Photos are super-important for your Google My Business listing. According to Bright Local, 60% of consumers say images in local listings play a key role in their buying decisions.
Business photos are so important because they help to establish credibility with your business, and Google puts a lot of weight on ‘original’ business photographs. Avoid using stock photos because Google will delete them.
Here are different types of photos you can take and use to optimize your listing:
- Exterior Photos: Take pictures of the outside of your building.
- Interior Photos: If you receive clients at your location, take a few photos of the inside of your office or store. If you actually serve customers at your location, you can capture photos of customers being served.
- Product Photos: If you sell products, showcase your most popular products.
- Team Photos: Show photos of your staff at work.
If you don’t have the budget for a professional photograph, you can use photos taken on your smartphone. If you work outside or have members of staff that work in the field, you can encourage them to take photos while they’re out in the field working.
Google’s preferred photo dimensions:
- Format: JPG or PNG
- Size: Between 10 KB and 5MB
- Minimum resolution: 720px x 720px
- Quality: The photos shoul have no significant alterations or use of filters, an should be in focus and well lit.
360 Degree Photos
Google provides the option of uploading a 360 view of the inside of your business. You can hire a local Google “Trusted Photographer” through the Street View site to take a 360 virtual tour of your business and include it to your listing.
Google also provides an app called Google Street View that you can use to take full pictures of the outside and the inside of your business. This will add a lot of credibility and trust to your listing, and help to increase your ranking in Google Maps.
Your business should also have at least 5 videos (e.g. walk-throughs, virtual tours, customer testimonials, CEO talk, etc). You can also put together a commercial style video that’s discussing a service, an overview of the business itself, etc. Note that Google requires you to upload your videos to the page, rather than linking to them from video sharing sites such as YouTube.
16. Multiple Locations
If you serve multiple locations, create a landing page for each location rather than using your home page for each location. So if you service 4 different cities, and you have a different listing for each city, add a separate landing page for each of those listings.
The best place to have reviews is on your Google My Business page. You need at least 5 reviews before those reviews start to show on your GMB page. However, you need at least 10 reviews to start ranking based on your reviews. This will however depend on how many reviews your competitors have.
All things equal, a business with more reviews will rank higher than its competitors in local search. Reading about the real-life experiences of past customers is compelling social proof and can be a powerful influence to the purchasing decision.
One thing to note is that you can use reviews to optimize for relevant, long tail keywords. If some of your customers have left reviews for your business that include certain keywords and location, those reviews can increase your organic ranking for those keywords in that location.
When showing results, Google will show any keywords used in a search query in bold. This underscores why it is important to guide your customers when they are reviewing your business to ensure that you get the best out of your reviews. It is also important to respond to the reviews you’ve received.
18. Getting Reviews From Customers
The easiest way to get reviews from customers on your Google Your Business page is to send a link to your customers. When people click on the button, they can leave reviews on the page.
You’ll have no control over the reviews, and that is exactly how it should be. This way you get authentic reviews and a good understanding of the service you are delivering to your customers. Linking to a review site where your customers can go and leave independent reviews will not go unnoticed by the search engines.
Things to Avoid
- Violating Google’s Suggestions & TOS
- Using 800 Numbers
- Using Phone Number Tracking
- P.O. / UPS Boxes
- Multiple Place Pages / location
- Duplicate Phone # on Multiple Place Pages
- Not 100% complete
- Lack of Pictures / Social / Reviews
If you have any issues with your Google My Business page, click here for the official Google My Business Support Community.