If you own a business that provides a service or sells a product, you should have a Google Business Profile (GBP). This is especially true if you have a physical storefront, but online-only businesses will also benefit from a GBP. A GBP is your first impression to the majority of your customers. Therefore, it is crucial that your business profile has accurate information, consistent reviews with responses, and is fully fleshed out to boost your local SEO and level of customer relationship.
Where to begin?
Just like with any business listing, the first step is to claim your business on Google. Once you have that taken care of, it’s time to start on the basics. Name, address, website, and phone number are the first few boxes you need to check off. If any of these are inaccurate, it will crush your local SEO.
Next, you must ensure you have selected the appropriate categories for your business. This allows you to add all the services your business provides, or as another example, you can fully flesh out a menu if your business is a restaurant. There is more on this below.
Consumers are more likely to engage with a business if there are visuals of said business. Therefore, you should make sure your GBP has plenty of pictures of the outside and inside of your business.
Further into the Weeds
After your initial setup, you may be thinking you can move on to other things. Not so fast, my friend; if you really want to boost your local SEO, the finer details will give you an advantage over your competitors.
One thing you may not know is how important the Q&A section is for your business. Anyone on the internet can post a question to your profile, and anyone else can answer it. It would be tough to decide what would be worse, unanswered questions from your customers or incorrect information about your business. By setting up questions and answering them yourselves, you can prevent many of these potential headaches. You can also use them to include key terms that people often use when looking for a business like yours.
Another important area you may be overlooking is your list of services. Google will allow you to place your business in up to ten different categories. This will help you in keyword search and give you more options when listing services you offer.
For example, if you own a dry cleaning business and provide minor alterations or wedding dress preservation, you can add this directly to your business profile. These are often updates you only need to make periodically as you change your business over time.
Lastly, you can post directly to your business profile just as you would on a social media platform. These pictures and videos can include captions, which can include more keywords, to help Google index them better across local search. This also indicates to Google that you have a more active profile and are therefore more likely to have more accurate information.
Reviews, Reviews, Reviews
Arguably the most important part of your GBP is your review section. This is where your customers will look first when your business pops up on their search results. Any business below a 4.0 rating will not appear in any search that begins with “best (anything) near me.” Google will not necessarily rank businesses based on their overall rating either. You may see a business with a 4.3 rating appear above a business with a 4.6 rating. This ranking could be due to a paid ad or because the business with a lower rating has a more optimized business profile.
How do your reviews factor into this? Google looks at how often you receive and respond to reviews, the keywords used in reviews, and the potential to spot spam reviews. So if you are hoping to get a quick boost in your rating, do not immediately email your entire customer base for a review. A huge, one-time uptick in reviews will be red-flagged by Google and could have harsher consequences than the original poor rating.
A better practice would be implementing a system to request a review from your recent customers. A simple example would be having your employees ask a customer in person at the end of their experience with you for a review. You can also use a platform like Reputation.com to manage your entire profile, including requesting and responding to reviews.
One final thought, you cannot remove negative reviews from your GBP. However, you can report reviews, questions, answers, and anything else from the public that is inappropriate or threatening to you and your business.
Stay tuned to this blog for further updates and tips on optimizing your business listings.