A few weeks ago I wrote about how with SEO, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. One step in SEO, one that ironically might not increase your ranking much (if at all), is to fully optimize your Google My Business listing. Claiming your listing should be one of the first things done by any business, as soon as they get started. None of the Google My Business settings will do much to increase your ranking for search terms, but they can play a key role in getting users to explore your company and go to your website.
Before we jump into the key things to look at on your Google My Business (GMB) listing, there are a couple things to remember. Even though GMB is obviously through Google, there is no promise that anything done on your GMB listing will improve your website search ranking. In fact, many people will tell you that it holds no bearings on your ranking. So why take the time to fill it out? It’s all about providing as much relevant and quality content to users as we can. GMB is simply another tool to help get that done. As with anything when it comes to SEO – we are never going to do anything to attempt to trick Google into getting a better ranking, GMB profile optimization included. We are simply providing more details and key information to our prospective clients. This is not a time to game the search engine or find a cheesy way to stuff keywords. That said, let’s look at a few parts of GMB.
When starting out, you’ll need to claim your GMB listing, based on your company name. You’ll need a Google account in order to claim your listing. Any business should have an account of something like companyName@gmail.com. It’s not only a free account, but there are several great tools available with the Google account. Once your signed in and the account is claimed, you’re ready to start optimizing your listing. If you find out that your business is already listed, do not duplicate or make a second listing. Take the time to find out who the account owner is or go through the proper process with Google to reclaim the GMB listing.
When you’re entering the information for your business, many of the fields are pretty straight forward. Things like company name, address, hours of operation, and business description are all quick and easy to fill out. Remember, this is not a place to attempt to trick Google. For example, when entering your company name, you might be tempted to add some modifiers or additional keywords. If your business name is Green Bay Towing, don’t add a modifier of “Best” and list your business at “Best Green Bay Towing.” Don’t stuff any additional keywords and say something like “Best Green Bay Towing, available 24/7”. Google has stated very clearly they only want the business name to be listed. And since we will never attempt to trick Google, stick to just the company name.
When entering a category, start with your primary category – the category that defines your business more than any other. For Full Scope Creative, that is “Website designer.” After you list the primary category, you can add up to 9 other secondary categories. For Full SCope Creative that would be things like Graphic designer, Marketing Agency, Web hosting company, and Internet Marketing service. You can list up to 9, but don’t stretch it and add in a category that doesn’t really fit. Again, your GMB listing will not help your ranking, and is only there to provide more details to users who find your listing.
It’s very tempting to do a little keyword stuffing in your business description. But, as I’m sure you’ve already caught on, it won’t do any good. We’re simply providing a little more information to a user to help encourage them to click the link and come to our site. Keyword stuffing is a horrible idea for your website, so it certainly won’t do you any good on your GMB listing either. Provide the needed description that will answer a few questions for clients and prove that you are a legitimate business and able to help with what they are searching for.
There is a place to upload photos through GMB as well. There is a place to upload your logo and a cover photo. The logo you upload should be square, ideally 720px wide and 720px tall. The cover photo that you upload, should be 1024px wide and 576px tall. The cover photo will likely be placed next to the map showcasing either your physical brick and mortar location or the geographic area you cover. In this section, you can also upload other key photos that showcase the work that your business can do. A great starting point is either pictures of the product you sell, technicians doing the services your company provides, or the layout of your store. Be sure not to upload any stock photos. Google is not a huge fan of stock photos, so uploading them here could be viewed as an attempt to trick Google – which we never do.
Another great feature of GMB, especially for dealing with things like COVID-19, is setting different health and safety attributes. You can list if your staff wear masks, if clients are required to wear a mask at your location, if staff cleans and disinfects between visits, and more. It’s one more chance to provide key information and resources to our clients that can help encourage them to click to our site or come to our businesses.
One of my favorite features of GMB, is being able to see the reviews your business is getting on Google. You can easily see the review, the star rating, and who left the review. You can also reply to each review. Your reply to reviews is nothing that will increase your search ranking in any way, so no need to keyword stuff. In fact, make it as personal of a message to that user as you can. Thank them by name, comment on something they said. When Full Scope Creative has a review, I’ll mention the reviewers name and reference something from the project we worked on. It’s not an attempt to game the search engines, it’s all about building a tighter connection with my clients. Leaving a reply to your reviews is a great way to show other users that you are engaged in your business and are ready to help them out as well.
Google My Business is a great free resource to use for your business and your site. Claiming it, should be one of the first things you do when you start your business. Even though all the work that goes in to fully optimizing your listing won’t have a direct impact on your search ranking, it can have a huge impact on getting more users to your site. SEO is not about doing any one thing right, and with Google My Business, it won’t even have an effect on SEO. Google My Business is one of the key parts to SEO, that when all grouped together, makes the whole greater than the sum of its parts.