How many times have you used the “near me” search on Google and you selected a local business that looks credible? And have you ever wondered how those businesses get listed at the top of the coveted “near me” searches?
The answer is Google Business Profile optimization (GBP).
Your GBP is a snapshot of your business, highlighting all of its key features in an attempt to get customers to engage with your company or website. And the best part is that your GBP is completely FREE!
Optimizing your GBP can increase engagement, boost local rankings, and convert more customers. Unfortunately, many business owners don’t understand how to optimize their GBP, which is crucial for making themselves look appealing to potential customers and Google.
This post will look at the best practices to help your GBP rank highly in “near me” searches.
Getting Your Google Business Profile Ready for Posting
As a business owner, you understand that time is money. However, skimping out on completing your GBP will inevitably damage your Google ranking, which is the last thing you want for your business.
Once you’ve set up your GBP account, you should complete the following sections:
Hours (including holiday hours)
Your website should already contain this information. Consistency across these fields is essential. In other words, “Street” and “St” should appear consistently throughout all business entries on the internet because the search engine looks for credibility in this aspect.
Five more sections of your GBP should be completed, but these will take more time:
Category and attributes
From the business description
Products and services
Questions and answers (owner-generated)
- Photos and Videos
Although we could write full articles on each of these categories and how to optimize them, for now, we’ll focus on the section that causes the most confusion for business owners – business descriptions.
Writing Your Business Description
Often, entrepreneurs end up repurposing parts of their GBP to fill out the business description. If you use this approach, your GBP will appear repetitive and suggest keyword stuffing (which is damaging to your Google rankings).
Instead, focus on the business description to set yourself apart from your competition. Think of it as an SEO magnet as well. What keywords will potential customers use? How can you make your business sound like a logical answer to your customer’s question?
Google allows 750 characters for this section. Ensure you use all of them and include all of your keywords in the first 250 characters. You can repurpose your mission statement or core values for inspiration, but do not simply copy/paste them. Do not include any links in this section, either!
Include Photos and Videos
A common yet influential part of your GBP that often gets overlooked is optimizing your photos and videos for Google searches. One of the most significant pieces of imagery for your GBP is your logo. No other image will get as much exposure or have as much impact as this one. Next, you will need to upload a photo for your cover page. It is important that the cover photo of your GBP showcases your brand’s personality. Aside from that, interior photos also help customers to gain a deeper understanding of what an in-store experience is like for your business.
Let us now take a look at videos and the importance that they have on your GBP in the future. Videos are one of the most popular forms of media on the Internet. This is because they are extremely effective at telling a story or explaining something that might otherwise be difficult to interpret or explain. Taking advantage of videos on your GBP will help you to engage your customers and give them a better understanding of who you are and what you do.
There are many other examples of photos that you can upload for your GBP, including:
- Products and services that your business offers.
- The employees of your company working and/or assisting customers.
- Your business’ exterior and parking availability.
The last aspect of the Google Business Profile optimization that can be challenging for many businesses is the review section – despite its importance.
Google understands reviews are one of the most influential factors driving business engagement. As a result, the top three businesses on Google Maps (the “local 3-pack”) typically have multiple positive reviews.
It’s crucial to rank in those top three results since these businesses get a lot of traffic from search engines.
But how can you increase your review score when it is completely voluntary?
The first step to increasing your review score is simply asking your customers to leave a Google review. A recent study found that a whopping 62 percent of customers choose to leave a review when asked. It is also wise to provide your customers with a review shortcut link, as that will make following up easier.
It is imperative to respond to your Google reviews, regardless of their star rating. Engaged businesses will be seen as more credible by Google, which will boost your ranking. In addition to encouraging other customers to leave a review, responding shows new customers that you care about their needs.
Wrapping It All Up
There’s no denying that setting up a Google Business Profile can be daunting, but it is one of the key factors Google uses to determine whether your business will rank on Google Maps or get buried in the depths of page five.
A properly optimized GBP is well worth your time. It can increase local traffic to your website and help drive the engagement you need to gain lifetime customers.