The Benefits of Google My Business for Local SEO

March 18th, 2021 by Robyn Hannah
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With recent lockdown restrictions local SEO has become more important than ever. Having a localised SEO strategy has always been important for brick and mortar businesses. However, with people looking increasingly closer to home to fulfil their user needs, larger companies should also look to develop a more localised SEO strategy if they wish to compete in the search results for their local area.

Like any marketing strategy, there is no one magic tactic that will get instant results. However, optimising your Google My Business (GMB) account should definitely be at the top of your local SEO checklist. In fact, according to a recent Moz survey, Google My Business is the biggest contributor to local and small business SEO success.

So, what is Google My Business and what are its potential business benefits?

What is Google My Business

My Business curates the listings that appear in Google Maps and the search results when a user is searching for a particular business “near me.”

If you are a business owner, you can create an account and control how your dashboard appears in Google Maps and the organic search results. With an account, you can manage your listing by adding your business’ contact details, opening hours, website and social media links, photos and more. It is also a great way to manage and gain customer reviews.

How Does It Work?

Google My Business works through an accumulation of different ranking factors. However, the three most important ones are:

  • Relevance
  • Distance
  • Prominence

Relevance

The first ranking factor is fairly obvious. Google is only going to rank your business listing if it thinks that your business is relevant to the user’s intent.

The easiest way to make sure that your business meets this criterion is to provide very clear and accurate information. Don’t be cryptic or vague.

Distance

This ranking factor goes back to Google My Business most commonly being used for users searching for services near them. You can’t rank for a local search in an area you’re not in.

Be clear about where your shop or service is located. For example, don’t list your business in central London if you are based in Essex. While you may think this will open your business up to a wider audience, Google will not respond well to inaccuracy.

It can sometimes be hard to rank in competitive areas and the exact way Google determines which businesses to show is unclear. However, being honest and creating localised content within your My Business listing, website and social media channels will likely stand you in good stead.

Prominence

Lastly, Google will take activity surrounding your account into consideration so engagement is key.

This can be achieved through reviews, events and localised content. Make sure to keep on top of this by engaging with your reviews and uploading up-to-date content and photographs.

This should be done in correlation with your website and social media channels in order to build the authority of all your channels and platforms on Google. However, be careful not to simply copy and paste the exact same content across all of your platforms, as this will achieve the opposite of your desired results.

It is also advantageous to have a high-quality back link profile, as this will signal to Google that your listing is well regarded and, therefore, valuable.

How to Optimise your Google My Business Listing

There are lots of features you can use to optimise your GMB listing, many of which came out in 2020 in light of Covid-19. Keeping Relevance, Distance and Prominence in mind, there are a few key areas that you should look to optimise.

Claim your Listing

If you have not already done so, claim your Google My Business listing. Quite often businesses will already have a listing, even if they have not set it up themselves.

If this is the case for your business, claim your listing so that you can start to control its content and interact with your customer reviews.

Categories

  • Your primary category has been shown to have the greatest influence over rankings, so make sure it is your most valuable service
  • You can then add up to 10 categories in total
  • Within each category you can list individual services, take advantage of this so that you are optimising your account to perform for as many related queries as possible

Business Description

  • Complete a keyword rich business description that accurately describes your services
  •  You have 750 characters, 250 are displayed before the users need to click ‘show more’
  • Make sure your first 250 characters are keyword rich, but not stuffed, and that your entire description accurately reflects your business (remember: Relevance, Distance and Prominence)
  • Ensure that this information is synonymous with your website and social media channels

Opening Hours

  • Ensure that you have included opening hours on your GMB listings
  • In light of Coivd-19, you can now list business as ‘Temporarily Closed’. If this is relevant to to your business, ensure that this feature is used so that you can avoid misleading or disappointing customers

Website and Social Channels

  • Ensure that you have included links to your business’ website and social media channels
  • Also provide contact numbers if relevant

 Logo, Photos and Videos

  • Ensure that your logo has been added to your account
  • Regularly upload new photos and videos that accurately reflect your business. Key ones to include are:
    • Company branded images e.g. logo
    • Images or videos of your shop/ office (interior and exterior)
    • Images of staff
    • Images of board members
    • Images or videos of events
  • Ensure all media is in line with Google Best Practices

Google Posts

  • Posts are the easiest way to keep your GMB regularly updated
  • Choose the most relevant post template, these include:
    • What’s New
    • Events
    • Offers
    • Products
  • Within your post, include short, snappy and keyword rich text (300 characters is enough), visuals and a clear Call to Action (CTA).
  • You can also now add Covid-19 posts. These posts are specifically labelled as ‘Covid-19 Updates from the Business’ and will show above all the other posts on your GMB listing. Remember to remove them if they are no longer relevant.
  • You can now also automatically share the same Posts across multiple office locations/ chain listings if the accounts are linked. This a new feature that may not last post pandemic.

Add Special Attributes

  • Special attributes are visual emojis that communicate key information about your business to users/ customers
  • Take the opportunity to easily get across key information about your business or tell user’s more about your brand/ story
  • Monitor your chosen attributes and edit them if and when you need to
  • Some examples of special attributes are:
    • Health and Safety Features e.g. Masks required
    • Take away/ delivery service
    • Wheel chair access
    • Black owned business
    • Women-led business

Reviews

  • Reviews are one of the most important features on Google My Business. It helps to attract users and also indicates authority to Google.
  • After helping a customer, ask if they would mind leaving you a review on your listing.
  • Make sure that you engage with all your reviews ideally, replying to them in a comment but always liking their review at the very least.

Other Top Tips

  • Use schema.org data
  • Use the Product Catalogue to showcase your products if you are a small/ medium business
  • Build your profile’s back links by creating citations or listings in high quality forums or directories
  • Make sure that you are regularly checking and updating all information provided. Remember, engagement is key!

How do I know if it’s working?

You can see how your customers interact with your listing through My Business Insights. Insights will help you gain understanding into the customer journey by presenting you with data on:

  • How customers found your listing
  • Their (customer’s) actions
  • Direction requests
  • Phone calls

You can also configure your GMB account to your Google Analytics account to see what proportion of your organic search traffic came from your GMB account.

However, hopefully more so than anything else, the business benefits of GMB will be clear in the form of more customers coming through your door!

To find other local SEO tips, why not take a look at our other online marketing services?

Photo Credit: Elle Cartier


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