Having a Google My Business (GMB) listing is crucial for any local business looking to drive leads and sales in 2023. With over 1 billion active monthly users, Google is where most customers turn when searching for local businesses like yours. In fact, according to surveys, 76% of users have looked online for a local business in the past 24 hours.
But with more and more competitors popping up, how can you make sure your business stands out in the local search results?
The key is optimizing your Google My Business listing.
When fully optimized, your GMB profile serves as a mini website where customers can learn about your business, contact you, find directions, read reviews, and ultimately decide to become a paying customer.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk through everything you need to know about optimizing your GMB listing including:
- Claiming and verifying your GMB profile
- Adding key business information
- Using posts and responding to reviews
- Monitoring insights and analytics
- Leveraging GMB for local SEO
Follow along and you’ll have the tools to turn your GMB listing into an invaluable asset that brings in new customers every single day. With a rock-solid GMB foundation, your local business will be primed for success in 2023 and beyond.
Claiming and Verifying your GMB Listing
Before you can start optimizing your GMB profile, you first need to make sure you have access to it.
There are two scenarios when it comes to GMB listings:
- There is an existing GMB listing for your business that needs to be claimed. This happens if someone else (like a previous owner or customer) created a listing for your business.
- You need to create a new GMB listing from scratch. This applies if your business has never had a GMB presence before.
Either way, the process involves two main steps:
Claiming your GMB Listing
- Go to google.com/business and search for your business name.
- If your business appears, click “Claim this business” and follow the instructions. You’ll need to verify you are an owner or representative.
- If your business doesn’t appear, click “Create your listing” to make a new one from scratch.
- Tip: Make sure you are claiming the correct listing for your actual business location.
Verifying your GMB Listing
Google needs to make sure you are the legitimate owner of the business before giving you full access. There are a few ways to verify:
- By postcard. Google mails a postcard with a PIN code to your business address. Enter the code when prompted to verify.
- By phone. Google calls the business phone number and gives a verification code over the phone.
- By email. Google emails the business email address with a link to verify.
- Instant verification. If you have another Google product like Ads linked to your account, verification may happen instantly.
- Tip: The postcard method is most foolproof if available. Phone and email verifications can fail if numbers/emails are outdated.
Once verified, you will have full access to your GMB listing and can begin optimizing!
Some common issues that may come up:
- Wrong business category. Make sure Google has your business categorized correctly.
- Multiple listings. If duplicates come up, you can request merging into a single listing.
- Unverified listings. If stuck in verification, you can request a new postcard or call Google support.
- Access issues. If previous owners still control the listing, you may need to file a request proving ownership.
With some patience and persistence, you can get through the claim and verification process. Having that access will allow you to fully optimize your GMB presence.
Optimizing Your GMB Profile
Once your GMB listing is claimed and verified, it’s time to optimize your profile to attract more customers.
Your GMB profile has several key sections to fill out in order to stand out.
Completing Your Business Information
Make sure the following information is filled out accurately:
- Business name and address: Match your actual business name and street address.
- Phone number: Add your real, working business number customers can call.
- Website: Add a link to your business website to drive traffic.
- Business hours: List your accurate hours for each day of the week.
- Business category: Choose the category that best fits your products/services.
- Services and Products: List all offerings you provide to customers.
- Business attributes: Select attributes like payment options, amenities, languages spoken, etc.
- COVID-19 update: Share any COVID-related changes like safety policies.
Adding High-Quality Photos
Photos give customers a visual preview of your business. Aim to add:
- Exterior photos showing storefront and signage
- Interior photos highlighting seating areas, products, services
- Product/menu photos presenting specific offerings
- Staff photos to showcase owners and employees
- Ensure photos are well-lit, high resolution, and appealing
Tip: Add at least 10 photos to start and increase over time.
Posting Regular Updates
Posting helps keep your listing active and engaging. Share:
- Special offers and promotions
- Upcoming events and activities
- Interesting business news and updates
- Industry-relevant articles and tips
- Behind-the-scenes photos and videos
Tip: Post 1-2 times per week as a general guideline.
Responding to Reviews
Reviews influence your visibility, so promptly respond to any new reviews:
- Thank customers for positive reviews
- Address concerns raised in negative reviews
- Remain professional in all responses
- Ask happy customers to post photos and additional reviews
Tip: Set up email notifications for new reviews.
Optimizing these key elements provides a comprehensive view of your business to attract nearby customers. Keep your listing updated as your business grows and changes.
Monitoring and Improving Your GMB Listing
You’ve claimed, verified, and optimized your GMB profile. But your work isn’t done!
To maintain and improve your listing, you need to monitor its performance and continue enhancing it over time.
Using GMB Insights
Google My Business provides an analytics dashboard called “Insights” to track key metrics:
- Views: Number of times your listing was viewed
- Actions: Phone calls, directions, website clicks
- Customers: New vs returning visitors
- Searches: How customers found your listing
Review insights regularly to see what’s working. Try promotions when views or actions decline.
Monitoring and Responding to Q&A
Customers can ask questions and you can publicly respond on your GMB listing.
- Check and reply to Q&A frequently to build engagement.
- Add visuals like photos and videos to make responses more helpful.
Keeping Business Info Updated
Double check your:
- Phone number
Update anything that has changed.
Encouraging Suggested Edits
GMB lets customers suggest edits to your listing.
- Respond quickly if incorrect info is suggested.
- Thank customers for contributing accurate edits.
Staying on top of your listing ensures customers see accurate details. A little regular maintenance goes a long way!
Leveraging GMB for Local SEO
Optimizing your Google My Business listing not only improves your GMB presence, it also helps your overall local SEO. Here are some ways to leverage GMB to rank higher in local search results:
Ensure your GMB listing has the same:
- Phone number
As your website and other listings across the web. This NAP consistency helps search engines connect your GMB profile with your website.
Get Links to Your GMB Listing
- Encourage customers to link to your GMB listing on their websites.
- List your GMB URL on online directories and citation sites.
- Embed a Google Map with your GMB pin on your website.
Inbound links signal to Google that your listing is reputable.
Drive Website Traffic
- Include your website URL prominently on your GMB profile.
- Share website content and offers in your GMB posts.
- Respond to Q&A questions by pointing customers to relevant website pages.
This helps send local traffic to your site.
See if GMB helps drive conversions:
- Install tracking phone number from GMB on your website.
- Use UTM campaign tags to track website traffic from GMB.
- See if conversions increase when promoting offers on GMB.
Measuring ROI helps focus your optimization efforts.
A complete local SEO strategy incorporates your GMB listing with your website and other listings. Keeping everything in sync gives customers a consistent experience wherever they find your business online.
Optimizing your Google My Business listing is an ongoing process, but a rewarding one for your local business.
By now, you should have a complete GMB profile claimed and verified in your name. Make sure to double check that all your key business information is filled out accurately.
Keep posting regular updates like events, offers, and news to bring customers back to your listing. Respond promptly to any new customer reviews and questions.
Monitor your GMB insights dashboard periodically to see how your listing is performing. Are views and actions increasing? What content seems to resonate most with customers?
Tie your GMB optimization efforts into your broader local SEO strategy. Drive website traffic from your listing and track conversions. Get links to your GMB profile from relevant sites.
The more time you put into your Google My Business optimization, the more you’ll get out of this free tool. With a fully optimized GMB listing, you make it easy for nearby customers to learn about your business and become paying clients.
To recap, the key steps covered in this guide included:
- Claiming and verifying your GMB listing
- Adding complete business information
- Posting regular updates and responding to reviews
- Monitoring insights and encouraging user edits
- Leveraging GMB for local SEO
Follow these best practices, and your GMB profile will work hard to attract customers 24/7.