Do you want to know one of the simplest ways to gain traffic and customers? It’s claiming and optimizing your Google My Business (GMB) listing.
For this piece, I’ll be referring to it as Google My Business or GMB because that’s how so many people know it.
GMB lets you list your business’s operating information, reviews, posts, and so much more.
To that end, you should consider a few things before diving into how to claim your business on Google. For example:
- What are your customers finding when they search for your business online?
- If they need to know your phone number, how quickly can they access it?
- If they want to know if you have parking available, how will they find out?
You need to ensure this information is readily available to consumers before reaching your website.
Although your website likely already has all these details, GMB takes it to the next level. The search engine indexes the content you provide for consistency across Google Search and Maps (Google Local Guides can also review and edit your listings for consistency).
Let’s take a look at Stateside’s GMB listing as a quick example. Stateside is a restaurant in Seattle serving global cuisine. From their GMB profile, you can get directions, reserve a table, view the menu, or see reviews (highlighted red boxes) with a few clicks.
However, it’s not just a place to find basic information about your business.
When you optimize Google My Business, it acts as a powerful tool that can increase your revenue and provide valuable insights about your customers.
In this post, I explain its importance and how you use GMB optimization to generate more sales.
The Number One Mistake Business Owners Make with Google My Business
Let’s face it. Google dominates search.
According to Statcounter, approximately 92% of all searches happen on Google.
To put things into perspective, that’s up to a whopping nine billion searches per day.
The kicker? Most people don’t get past Google’s first page of search results.
A study examined the number of click-throughs for each Google search result and found the top three organic results received almost 70 percent of all clicks on the first page.
In other words, your customers find what they need on Google’s first page.
Although there are other ways to get your business to show up on the first page of Google, Google My Business optimization is an incredibly valuable (and easy) tool to use that helps you:
- Control, index, and display pertinent business information
- Interact with potential customers and manage your online review reputation
- Curate customer photos, videos, and other user-generated content
- Gather insights regarding how your customers are arriving on your site
The signals from Google My Business refer to the information and activities you provide on your profile as a business. They play an important role in your overall SEO strategy because Google algorithms use them to determine how your business ranks in the local SERP results.
However, many local retailers haven’t claimed their free Google My Business account despite these advantages.
This is surprising because a Google study found that “76 percent of consumers who conducted a local search on their smartphone visited a store within a day.”
There is an enormous upside to using Google My Business, and claiming your business only takes a few steps.
To start, visit https://www.google.com/business.
Next, follow the prompts and input the basic information (business name and type, address, phone number, website) about your business.
Then, you’ll be required to verify your account. Typically, Google chooses the way you can do this. In the example below, you are asked to submit a video of your business, or you can choose to verify later.
This step is necessary to unlock all GMB features.
After adding your company information, you can access your dashboard to customize your profile.
Don’t stop there, though. You’re not done!
Most companies make this mistake. They claim their Google My Business account, add the bare minimum details, and abandon it.
They’re leaving money on the table.
You need to do some Google My Business optimization.
For example, you can add your:
- services and business hours
- messaging feature so your customers can get in touch for free
- business description
- photos of your location or products
Claiming the account is just the start. You can even claim some free advertising credits just for signing up! There are so many ways you can use it.
When you optimize your Google My Business profile, it can lead to increased sales and improved customer loyalty.
How to Claim a Business on Google
It’s easier than you might think to claim your business on Google. There are two methods you can choose.
The first way is to click the blue “Get Business Profile” button.
This takes you to Google My Business Manager.
- Here, click on the blue “Add Business” on the right-hand side. You have the choice to add a single business or import multiple businesses.
- Once you’ve selected, Google takes you to a page headed “Start Building your Business Profile.” Here, add your business name and category. Click the blue “Next” button.
- Choose whether you want to add a physical location. Click “Next.”
- Then add the areas you serve your customers (deliveries, etc.) This step is optional. Click “Next.”
- Add your location, and click on “Next.”
- Provide your phone number and website(optional). Hit “Next.”
- Start the verification process by adding your mailing address. Click “Next” or choose the “Verify Later” button.
Now, either continue the verification process or begin customizing your profile with more details (opening hours, etc.)
The other way to sign up for Google My Business is with Google Maps. Just add your business to Google Maps by:
- Adding your address to the search bar. Go to Business Profile from the left menu and select “Add your business.”
- Right-click on the map (click anywhere). Select “Add your business.”
- Go to the top left, click the menu, and “Add your business.”
Then complete the on-screen verification instructions.
Alternatively, you can claim your Google my business page by:
- Opening Google Maps and adding your business name into the search bar.
- Find your business name and click on it.
- Click the “Claim this business” button and choose “manage now”. Or select another business by choosing “I own or manage another business.”
Finally, pick your verification option and complete the steps.
You’re all done!
Google Business Profile Optimization Tips
That’s the basics covered, so you’re good to go. Well, almost. Setting up your Google My Business profile is a great start. However, to really get your name out there, you need to do some serious GMB optimization.
I’ve got you. Here are some tips to make the most of your online profile.
1. Ensure Your Information Is Accurate, Comprehensive, and Up-to-Date
There are many different parts of your Google My Business listing, so let’s start with your core business information:
- Phone Number
Google My Business requests your name, address, and phone number (otherwise known as NAP) to begin the listing.
Google indexes this information in Search and Maps, providing a foundation for your local SEO and GMB optimization.
Keep your information consistent with the info on your website. Why? Because a GBP profile is the top local SEO ranking factor, according to Brightlocal.
When inputting your address, ensure it matches the correct coordinates on the map and include the same zip code (5-digit vs. hyphenated 9-digit code) provided on your website.
Additionally, it’s better to have a local number than a national or call center option.
After you’ve provided NAP, you can focus on two crucial pieces of your listing: your business category and your company attributes.
These areas in your Google My Business profile require you to give specific details about your business type.
This part is an ideal opportunity to start Google My Business optimization by adding keywords to your business category and attributes.
Be careful, though.
I don’t recommend you stuff your listing with keywords.
Google My Business prohibits that type of behavior. It may be seen as spam by Google, resulting in a penalty or even being removed from search results.
Let’s take a look at a good example below:
While your category is meant to be very specific, attributes can paint a clearer picture of your business and the experience you provide.
It’s beneficial to browse the list of 4,000 business categories to ensure you capture your company’s correct classification.
Remember to be specific. It sounds obvious, but don’t put “Cosmetology” if you run a “Nail Salon.”
Attributes allow business owners to expand on their capabilities in ways that might not be apparent from the selected business category.
For example, does your restaurant have a patio or bar seating? Is it kid-friendly?
What are the amenities in your apartment complex? Tennis courts? Indoor pool?
Does your coffee shop offer free Wi-Fi? Public restrooms?
Add these attributes to answer your customer’s questions and provide potential visitors with a better understanding of your business’ capabilities and offerings. Here’s an example:
After your basic information is complete, you can move on and personalize the visual aspect of your listing.
Why’s that important?
What’s the first thing your customers notice when searching for your business?
Your profile picture.
No listing is complete without a photo; plus, it also gives your credibility a boost.
According to Google, adding images to your GBP profile helps your business stand out from others, and it helps your profile look its best.
Adding images to your Google My Business profile aids the purchasing decision too.
Google My Business encourages you to upload a profile photo, cover photo, and video to showcase your business. Each has its purpose shown below:
Google also suggests adding photos of your:
- Workplace, so customers can see the type of work you do
- Common areas
If you serve food, add images of the food and drink you serve along with a typical menu.
You can feature user-generated content too.
Someone snapped and posted a great pic of your flagship entrée?
Use it as your profile picture by selecting it under the “Photos tagged of your business” option.
Encouraging your customers to add photos of their interactions with your business can lead to a plentiful gallery of user-generated content on your listing.
2. Craft a Compelling Business Description
Your Google My Business profile is often the first impression potential customers have of your business. That means your descriptions must grab attention and draw people in.
By following these tips, you can craft a compelling business description that engages your audience and encourages them to choose your business.
- Know Your Target Audience: By understanding your target audience, you can tailor your business description to their needs and interests. Start by creating a customer persona to “talk” to your ideal buyer. Highlight the benefits and solutions your business provides specifically for them.
- Be Concise and Clear: Use clear language and avoid jargon or technical terms that may turn your audience off. Use short paragraphs or bullet points to improve readability and explain clearly what your business does and why consumers should buy from you.
- Showcase Your Unique Selling Proposition: What sets your business apart from the competition? Highlight your unique features, products, or services that make you stand out. Explain how you add value or solve a problem for your customers.
- Tell Your Story: Storytelling helps consumers connect with you, so include information about your journey, values, and mission. Make it personal and relatable to create an emotional connection with your audience.
- Use Keywords Strategically: Optimize your Google My Business profile. This helps improve your visibility in search results and attract the right audience. Do keyword research and include them in titles, descriptions, alt tags, etc.
- Highlight Customer Testimonials: Include positive reviews or testimonials from satisfied customers. Select compelling quotes that showcase the value and service you offer that your customers can’t help but shout about.
- Include a Strong Call-to-Action: Whether it’s visiting your website, contacting you, or making a purchase, guide your audience towards the desired action. Use action verbs and create a sense of excitement.
- Proofread and Edit: Ensure your business description is error-free and polished. Typos and grammatical errors can make your business appear unprofessional.
- Update Regularly: If you introduce new products, services, or special offers, add them to your description. Regular updates show that your business is active and current.
- Use a Conversational Tone: Write in a friendly and conversational tone. Also, connect with your audience on a personal level. Show your personality and let your passion for your business shine through.
That’s your written description completed. Now it’s time to capture imaginations with some user-generated visual content.
3. Encourage User-Generated Visual Content
Encouraging user-generated visual content for your Google My Business profile can be a great way to showcase your business and attract more customers.
It’s a hugely popular part of marketers’ digital marketing strategies, giving your business credibility, and it can increase conversions.
Here’s how you can encourage your customers to contribute visual content:
1. Ask for it: Just ask straight out. You can post on your GMB profile asking your customers to share photos or videos of their experiences with your business. Alternatively, you include a call-to-action in your emails or social media posts inviting your customers to share their photos.
2. Make it easy: The easier it is to add user-generated visual content, the more likely your customers will share it. Add a link to your GMB profile where customers can upload their photos and videos; provide clear instructions for uploading photos on your social media channels.
3. Offer incentives: An incentive is almost guaranteed to get people to share. The incentives don’t have to be huge, just a token to show appreciation. You could offer a discount or freebie to customers who share photos or videos on your GMB profile. Contests are always popular.
4. Highlight user-generated visual content: Show your appreciation for your customers by highlighting their visual content on your Google My Business profile. Create a dedicated section on your GMB profile to showcase customer photos and videos. You can also share their visual content on your social media channels and tag contributors in the post.
By implementing these strategies, you can encourage your customers to share their visual content on your GMB profile, which can help you build a strong online presence and attract more customers. Check out this great example of user generated content from the Empire State Building in New York, over 700,000 people have shared their photographs at this iconic location.
4. Ask for Reviews (and Respond to Them)
Reviews are the lifeblood of local search.
It’s a really simple equation:
Good reviews = sales. More good reviews = more sales.
Bad reviews can also present you with an opportunity.
Almost everyone likes a second opinion. That’s why 98 percent of people read reviews before purchasing.
The frequency of searches for reviews is increasing, too. A 2023 survey shows 32 percent of consumers search for local businesses several times per week.
How do you get reviews from your customers, though?
It’s simple. You ask them!
Some sites discourage this, but Google My Business actively encourages it. You can send a link to your customers in a few easy steps.
Customers can also leave reviews by signing into their Google account, or you can create and share a link to leave reviews in emails, chat interactions, or receipts.
Open www.google.com/maps in a new web browser.
In the top left corner, search the name of your company. (This is also a great opportunity to check if your address is correct on your Google My Business dashboard.)
After selecting your business, click the menu option in the top-left corner.
Click “Share or Embed Map.”
Google Maps then generates a link for you to copy or share via social media platforms, text, and email.
After you gather reviews on your listing, you need to respond to them.
All of them.
Every last one of them.
The good. The bad. The neutral.
Take time to write a message to each reviewer using the Google My Business dashboard, and be sure to quickly (and positively) respond to negative reviews.
Why am I emphasizing the importance of answering negative reviews? Because 45 percent of people are more likely to visit a business that responds to them.
If your reviews arrive with a perfect 5-star rating, this is your opportunity to turn a customer into a passionate supporter of your business.
Whether you’re a national company or a local flower shop (as shown below), it’s crucial to reach out and acknowledge the experiences your customers have with your brand.
If things are bad, this is your opportunity to make things right. Donatos Pizza monitored its reviews in Columbus, Ohio, and leaped at the chance to enhance a customer’s experience.
Upon receiving a neutral 3-star review, the owner actively reached out to see how to “raise that 3-star review to a 5-star review.”
Now, that’s customer service.
5. Speak Directly to Your Customers through Google My Business Messages
What if your customers can’t find something on your listing or website?
They are going to want to contact you. But how?
You might be thinking, “Simple. I’ve included my phone number in my Google My Business listing.
Sometimes your customers don’t want to call you, though.
In fact, recent statistics show “90 percent of customers would rather receive a text message than a phone call.”
That’s why mobile messaging can be a highly effective part of your marketing strategy.
It can lead to increased customer engagement and can help close the sale.
Studies show direct SMS messaging even has a higher conversion rate than mobile advertising.
That’s why Google introduced its messaging feature as a solution.
It means you can activate this feature and communicate one-on-one with your customers, answering questions, fielding comments, and increasing loyalty.
By activating the Google My Business messaging feature, you unlock the option for customers to ask you a question via SMS straight from your GMB listing.
You can turn this feature on by clicking the “Accept Messaging” button in your Google My Business dashboard.
You have complete control to turn this feature on and off and can update the number as needed.
Google also calculates your response time and shows it on your listing. This is averaged from the length of time it takes you to respond to inquiries.
Finally, you can add a “Welcome Message” from your business profile in Google Maps or from your profile dashboard. This is what users receive when they start a message to you. Here’s how:
For instance, a sample message could read, “Thank you for contacting us. We appreciate the ability to serve you and will respond to your request momentarily.”
With the feature activated and ready to go, you get an SMS text message whenever someone asks a question via the message button on your listing.
You can then directly respond in the form of a text message.
This feature fosters a closer connection between your business and customers, helping you to appear more transparent. In turn, this can lead to increased credibility and sales.
However, this service only effectively shares information with customers who actively inquire.
Google also has the option to share news and updates on your listing for those who may be browsing passively.
Let’s look at how you can promote special offers and events for further Google My Business optimization.
6. Create and Promote Special Offers and Events
Google My Business comes with some built-in features to help you spread the word about your special events.
Here are some ways you can use it:
Creating special offers: Add offers to your GMB profile using the Google My Business Offers option. Include your offer’s title, description, promo code, and start and end dates. You can also include a call-to-action button that leads users to your website. Here’s a recent example from Kesté Pizza e Vino:
Creating events: Similarly, on the “Posts” tab, you can select “Event” to create an event on your Google Business Profile. Here, you can add a title, a description, start and end dates and times, and location details for the event. You can also add photos, videos, and a call-to-action button.
Promoting offers and events through Google search: Once you’ve created your special offers and events, they will appear on your Google Business Profile. These offers and events may also be eligible to appear as a rich snippet in Google search results when users search for keywords related to your business. This can increase your visibility and drive traffic to your website.
Promoting offers and events through Google Maps: Similarly, users who search for your business on Google Maps can see your offers and events on your Google Business Profile. Helping to attract customers to your physical location.
Promoting offers and events through social media: You can also share your special offers and events on your social media accounts. When you post a new offer or event on your Google Business Profile, you can share it directly to your Facebook, Twitter, or other social media pages. This helps you reach a larger audience and increase engagement with your business.
More recent features include job posts and product posts.
7. Add Posts to Share Business Updates
Now that I’ve shown you how to promote special offers and events on your Google My Business listing, let’s focus on the content you create.
This is where Google Posts come in.
This feature allows you to share content about your business in various ways. Some examples include:
- Highlighting a new line of fall clothing with various product images
- Showcasing an upcoming event, you are trying to promote
- Using a gif to relive a game-winning shot with your audience
- Sharing a text update on a recent company advancement
Adding posts on your Google Business Profile can positively impact rankings and SEO, helping boost your Google My Business optimization. Here are a few ways how:
Increased Engagement: Adding content to your Google Business Profile equals extra engagement with your brand. This engagement sends out positive signals to Google and can improve your search rankings.
Updated Content: Regularly posting fresh and relevant content on your Google Business Profile, such as news, events, and promotions, can help Google recognize your business as active and up-to-date.
Improved Local SEO: Posting on your Google Business Profile can also help improve your local ranking. By incorporating relevant keywords and location-specific information for additional GMB optimization, your business can appear higher in local search results.
Increased Click-Through Rate: Posting on your Google Business Profile can also increase the click-through rate to your website and encourage users to take specific actions like visiting your website or making a purchase.
Overall, regularly posting on your Google Business Profile can help increase engagement, improve local ranking, and enhance your overall SEO performance.
The New York Yankees is a great example of how a brand uses Google Posts to promote highlights of their games.
If you search Google, you see recent game results, watch recaps, and see scheduled games at a glance.
Google Posts allows you to add text, photos, gifs, and even call-to-action buttons, including:
- Sign up
- Learn more
- Get Offer
Here’s an Example from Olive Garden with an “order online” CTA.
You can begin creating posts after you have verified your Google My Business account. Once the verification is complete, your “Posts” option will appear on the left-hand menu.
After clicking “create post,” you can add text and visuals.
When creating your post, you should consider:
- Google allows a maximum of 1,500 characters per post. However, the ideal amount is 100. Most people scroll through their options quickly, so it makes sense to keep your posts clear, concise, and punchy.
- The entire text post will show on mobile if no CTA button is used.
- The image you select should be a high-quality representation of your business and should be 814px x 610px.
- Speak directly to your audience. Don’t use industry jargon. Instead, focus on sharing content that will move your audience to engage with the post.
- Google provides insights (more on that in a bit) and engagement metrics for each post, but setting up UTM parameters is also a good idea.
After clicking “publish,” you can check out your post on your listing.
Now, it is ready and waiting for views from everyone searching for your business. Make sure you review it within a week of publishing it since Google Posts disappear after a time.
Google Posts disappear after six months unless you set a shorter time frame. That’s why it’s important to be timely and hyper-specific when crafting your posts.
Consider having a strategy in place and drafting an editorial calendar designated for your Google Post content.
That way, you can better integrate posts into your marketing plan and examine their impact on your business.
8. Track Customer Paths Through Google My Business Insights (Profile Metrics)
As with any marketing tactic, it’s important to measure the impact of your Google My Business listing.
Google has built-in tools to help with that.
As part of the changes to Google My Business, Insights have undergone a revamp to Performance metrics,
Here are the main differences between the two, courtesy of this table from Agency Analytics.
Let’s start with the most important question: How are your customers finding you?
They are using two types of searches: direct and discovery.
Direct searches show that your customers know about your company and are using your business name or address to find you.
Discovery searches involve searching for the business type or category—not necessarily the business’ name. This is common for people who aren’t familiar with your company.
Once you figure out how they find your listing, you’ll want to understand what they do with it.
Are they visiting your website?
Browsing through your photos?
While setting up UTM parameters for links is important, Google My Business also provides an in-depth look at your customers’ actions in your listing.
Google My Business tracks user actions in their insights dashboard, which can help you understand what your customers find valuable in your listing.
There are many ways customers can find your business. Google My Business positions your essential business information in front of the eyes of potential customers looking for your product, service, or experience.
GMB helps with local SEO, offers a chance to engage with your customers via reviews or posts, and provides valuable insights on your customers’ purchasing paths.
Think of this article as your Google My Business optimization checklist and use it to get the most from this free and valuable tool.
Not claiming and optimizing your Google My Business listing is like saying, “No thanks,” to someone offering you a free digital sign for your restaurant right off a highway exit.
If you want help setting up your Google My Business account or with your digital strategy in general, we are here for you!
Do you use Google My Business? How does it help you?
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