How To Optimize Your Google My Business Listing (Step By Step Guide)

In this post I’m going to show you step by step how to optimize your Google My Business Listing.

You’ve got your Google My Business Listing set up. Great!

Think you’re done with your local marketing now and you can put your feet up?

Not so fast.

Adding your business to Google My Business is only first step. Sure, it means you’ve got an advantage over less savvy competitors, but there’s so much you can do with your listing to optimize it and make sure you really stand out from the crowd.

So the real question is, what do you do next?

That’s what you’re going to learn in this post. I’m going to walk you through how to optimize your Google My Business listing step by step.

With competition tightening it’s more important than ever to make sure your brand and your business stand out.

Local Search & The Google 3 Pack

When you do any sort of local search for a business, this is what you’re going to see in the search results:

Right now, at the top of the page, Google displays a map and three businesses, then a list results. This map and business listing is the “Google Maps 3 Pack.”

So why does that matter for you?

First, the brands that get highlighted in this three pack are the brands that see the vast majority of clicks. They are the brands that have done a great job of both optimizing their local SEO (search engine optimization) and their business listings.

This is something that we highlighted in our B2B research where we looked at the reasons why some websites get top rankings. The main four factors were:

  • Well optimized pages which include the industry and location in the metatags
  • Number of Google My Business Reviews
  • Number of Pages
  • Number of Websites Linking to you

If you don’t want to go through the whole report we’ve prepared a summary B2B management report.

So you can see that getting Google Reviews is one important factor and we’ll be looking at that in a moment.

So the brands that appear in the 3 pack are the ones you have to compete against. You can probably recognize some of your competitors up there.

The other reason why it matters is because this listing used to feature 7 brands. That means there’s even more competition to get featured.

Now, here’s the good news: most local businesses haven’t even claimed their listings. So by doing that you’re already a leg up on the competition. With a little tweaking you can improve your standing.

Also a quick note for those who were using Google Places or a Google+ site for your brand, these have been updated and switched over to My Business Listing.

If you haven’t claimed your listing yet, stop right now and do that first. You can learn how to do it right here. It’s completely free.

For those of you who already have a listing, let’s get optimizing!

Adding Business Info To Google My Business

This should seem self explanatory and for good reason. But even these little details matter when optimizing your listing.

The first thing you want make sure is correct in your listing is your business name, address, and phone number (called NAP).

Many businesses don’t even get this far. When it comes to your phone number, here’s a tip, include your local listing first before a toll free option. This will help you rank higher.

Also add as much information about your company as possible. That includes your business hours and your website address (URL) too.

Take a look at this example from a yoga studio. With their hours listed, customers can also see how long people tend to stay, and the busiest time of day.

If you have a chain or business with multiple locations, you can add them all at once using list view. Find out more about that here.

Adding Your Name, Address & Phone (NAP) To Your Website

Hey, wait a minute, isn’t this supposed to be about My Business Listing?

Yes, but one big factor in improving your overall ranking is your site. Especially when it comes to your NAP information. The fact of the matter is, Google’s algorithms are more advanced than ever. So they don’t solely pay attention to keyword information anymore.

This is where your website comes in. Be sure to include your NAP on your website where you can.

If you run a barber shop with a number of locations create a page on your site for each of them that includes their specific NAP. Even better if you can also embed a Google map of the location on each page as well.

The same goes with services. If you run a luxury mechanics shop that services BMWs, Mercedes, and Land Rovers, make a separate page for each service. Include your name, address, and phone number on each just has you have them in your My Business Listing.

Add Images To Your Google My Business Listing

Images are more important than ever when it comes to My Business Listings. If you think you can get away with having a single image, or worse yet, no images in your listing, think again.

This is one area where taking the time to upload a lot of images can dramatically improve your listing.

Your listing will give you the option for a bunch of different types of images. Use them all.

The easiest images will be your interior and exterior photos. These will help your customer both find your business (very important) and get a feel of the atmosphere too.

There are also options to add images for team members and products, or menu items. Be sure to include these too. And remember, any sort of business can have images.

Look at these examples:

It should be obvious for a restaurant to use lots of images. This one does a great job of including images of dishes plus the interior.

Here’s another.

A mechanic business can’t compete with delicious menu items, obviously. But they can show you their team members, what their premises look like, and images of them under the bonnet at work.

If you want to get really professional with your images, you can hire someone who is Google approved to take them for you. This includes the 360 degree views too.

Creating Categories In Google My Business

Categories are another often overlooked part of a business listing. Yet, they are very important to getting found by customers. The problem for a lot of businesses is they either ignore categories all together or they chose the incorrect ones for their businesses.

According to Google, you want to select categories that finish this statement: “This business IS a …” rather that “This business does…”

So what we mean here is you want to be specific as to the products or services you offer, but not the features your business has.

You want to be sure you use the right categories. Google uses categories as a basis for its recommendations to people’s searches. So, if you use the wrong category, your business won’t be among those recommended by Google in a search. That means you’ll likely lose potential business.

For example, there’s a big difference between people searching for a bakery and a steak house. Both fall under eating and drinking establishments but the categories are quite different. You would not want a potential customer who would love your scones to miss out on your business because you choose the wrong category.

You can find a list of the most common categories Google uses here.

Getting Reviews In Google My Business

Online reviews are the lifeblood of local businesses today. Not sure that’s true?

Well, check out these numbers from a 2016 survey done by Bright Local:

  • 84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation
  • 74% of consumers say that positive reviews make them trust a local business more
  • 90% of consumers read less than 10 reviews before forming an opinion about a business

Convinced?

You can see how important it is to have lots of positive reviews about your business. And, keep in mind, reviews are one of the top ranking factors Google looks at.

The more positive reviews your business has, the better chances of it appearing in the Google Maps 3 Pack.

Look at the 27 five star reviews from this accountancy firm. There’s no doubt seeing all those positive reviews sways potential customers:

The great news is Google is fine with you asking your customers to leave reviews for you. In fact, from that same survey above they found “70% of customers will leave a review for a business if asked.”

So, it’s time to start asking your customers for reviews, especially if you don’t have any yet. You can encourage them to write a review from the “Review” option on your listing.

Better yet, you can make it easy by making your own review link (follow the instructions here). If you’ve got your customers emails, send them a note with that link and ask for a review.

You might also want to check out our blog post on how to get more reviews for your local business.

Get NAP Citations For Your Business

The final place you want to focus on to optimize your listing is with your NAP citations. According to Moz, “Citations are defined as mentions of your business name and address on other webpages—even if there is no link to your website.”

Remember when we said keeping your NAP information consistent was so important? Well, this is yet another reason why. To check and make sure your listing is consistent, try this tool.

To get a better ranking on Google, you want to grab as many citations as you can. This will help separate you from the competition and stand out.

Ok, so how do you get citations?

There are hundreds of sites out there that you can have your business listed to that will help with your citations. For those in service industries like restaurants or hotels, you also want to be these sites:

  • Yelp
  • Foursquare
  • TripAdvisor

For even more options, this site has a good list to get started.

This image does a good job of highlighting just how many citations can go into a listing:

What you need to do is go to each of these sites, create accounts and include your business NAP. Yes, it can get a bit tedious and time consuming, but you don’t have to do everything at once. Focus on the biggest sites and do a few a day.

Also consider connecting locally.

Your area might have a business directory or a chamber of commerce, ask to be included on these sites. Team up with other local business that offer complementary services and exchange website links and information.

Wrap Up

Google My Business can play a central role for any business determined to be the number one in their town or area.

If you follow through on optimizing each of the categories we’ve shown, there’s little doubt you’ll see your rankings rise.

With continued effort and keeping an eye on the moves of your competition getting listed in the coveted Google Maps 3 Pack should be an achievable aim.

So are you going to optimize your Google My Business listing or have you done that already – share your experiences in the comments below.

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2 Comments

  1. 1

    I have found that getting people to leave Google reviews is a little harder than just asking. A lot of users get lost trying to find out where to leave the review for Google. What link do you share specifically to get people to leave reviews seamlessly for Google My Business?

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