Whether your business is a small, local brick-and-mortar store or one with a large, booming online presence, search engine optimization (SEO) is essential. SEO involves the process of increasing the traffic to your website by improving your website’s ranking on search engine results pages. There are a number of best practices that will help your ranking grow, but one of the easiest and quickest is to ensure your Google My Business page is set up for success.

optimize Google My Business Location

What is Google My Business?

If you’ve ever searched for a business on Google, you’ve interacted with Google My Business. It’s the window that appears in the right margin of search results that includes important information about a business such as company name, address, hours, phone, photos, ratings, reviews, and more. This is known as the “Knowledge Panel.” It gives interested parties a glimpse into your business and establishes a clear point of contact. Google My Business is free to use and is integrated into other Google services such as maps and the general search engine queries.

When you utilize Google My Business correctly, you’ll reap a number of SEO benefits that effectively push your website closer to the coveted #1 ranking. This is primarily beneficial for local organic searches, as it shows people in your area all of the information they want and need when looking for a local company they can trust. When the right keywords are utilized, Google My Business listings will even appear above the search results—giving your company the reputability it needs to bring in more business. The SEO benefits when using Google My Business extend to increased keyword association, stronger reporting insights, a more engaged customer base, and more.

If you want to increase traffic to your website or local store, maximize conversions, and grow your profits, then you need to utilize Google My Business. In this article, we’ll explore the best Google My Business tips to maximize SEO for a small business and get your company the visibility it needs to thrive.

Setting Up Your Business Profile

To use Google My Business, you need to start by creating and setting up a profile. If you already have an online presence, it’s likely that you’ll already be indexed. Visit https://business.google.com/ to check and to start the process. If it’s already indexed, you need to claim it. If it’s not, you can start a profile by creating a new company listing.

Google makes things easy. You just need to follow the steps and enter the corresponding information. The more you include, the better your listing will be so don’t afraid to go into detail.

Once you’ve entered all of your information, you need to verify it. Since you’re verifying a company, this process isn’t instantaneously achieved. Instead, you have to wait until you receive a postcard at your business’ physical address. Google sends one to your listed address to ensure that the information is accurate and reliable. The postcard will have a verification code that you can use to enter online and finalize your Google My Business profile set up. While it’s a bit of a longer process, it’s effective at weeding out all of the attempts from illegitimate businesses to create profiles and overtake search engines.

Google My Business Set Up Troubleshooting

Some businesses are able to verify their listing via telephone, but you’ll need to contact Google My Business to discuss your specific situation. Most often, this occurs for people who have a business with multiple locations or one that is franchised. If you run into any problems, you’ll need to call Google My Business to sort things out. You can find more information about the verification process here.

Another frustrating bump in the road is when you go set up your profile and it says that your business has already been claimed. It doesn’t happen too often, but it’s not unheard of. These instances are usually because your company either already has a profile and there was a previous owner that listed it or the name of your company has been used in the past. Regardless of the reason, you can simply request access through the set up page. The current owner of your listing will accept, deny, or ignore your request.

If it’s accepted, you’re all set. If it’s denied, you can look into appealing it. If it’s ignored, you can usually continue on to claim your listing without any response.

A Business location on Google Maps

Remember to fill out your business profile completely in your Google My Business account. Verify everything is accurate including your website url, address, email and categories relevant to your business.

Google My Business Tips to Maximize SEO

Now that you’ve got a verified, working business listing, you’ll want to do everything possible to optimize it for the best results. Check out these tips to get the most out of your Google My Business page.

1. Fill out your profile completely

There are a lot of different fields available to fill in during the set up and customization process of Google My Business—don’t skip any of them. Google loves information overload and the more you provide, the better your listing will be. Leaving too many fields blank raises questions of legitimacy both for Google and prospective customers. However, if there are fields that you simply cannot answer, it’s better to leave them blank than to enter false or misleading information. You can always come back to any fields and enter more information once you have more clarification.

2. Make sure everything is accurate

As we mentioned, it is more important to enter accurate information than just filling in things for the sake of filling them in. You need accuracy if you want to improve your SEO. You also need consistency. If you have your business’ information listed anywhere else online, make sure that it’s exactly the same as in your Google My Business listing. This is crucial for SEO strategies.

Double check everything for accuracy and if you find that there is conflicting information across multiple sites, make the necessary changes. Your phone number, website URL, address, and business name all need to be exactly the same. If one site includes Inc. and one does not, make a decision about which one you’ll use and update the other accordingly. The more accurate and consistent your information is, the better you’ll rank.

3. Create different categories

Once you finished setting up your profile, you’ll be prompted to enter different categories on your listing. There is a primary category, which describes your business, and additional categories, which allow more information about specifics of your business. Utilize both.

When filling out the information in these categories, aim to use keywords that are tailored to your business and ones that rank well. This helps people see exactly what you do while giving Google another reason to boost your rankings. Create as many or as few additional categories as you see fit.

4. Stay up to date with Google Posts

Recently, Google has added a more social aspect to Google My Business listings by utilizing posts. These allow you to speak to your audience about what’s happening with your business right now. Posts can include promotions, company events, special offers, product releases, questionnaires, holiday announcements, etc. Use this function to stand apart from your competition and keep everything up to date. User engagement is a huge determinant in ranking and will help improve your visibility and approachability. Posts also give people a preview of your company without having to go through the effort of loading your webpage.

5. Always ask for reviews and include them in your listing

Reviews are a powerful tool—arguably the most powerful one of all. People trust what other people have to say, even if they are strangers on the Internet. Not only will including reviews get you more business, it will drastically improve your overall SEO ranking. This is because Google’s algorithm favors a company that has visible reviews.

Positive reviews are obviously preferred, but diverse reviews also help you rise in the ranks. This doesn’t mean negative reviews will help you, but it shouldn’t seem like your reviews were computer generated or paid for. To get more reviews on your Google My Business page, reach out to any clients that you’ve done business with or are currently working with. More often than not, people are happy to leave a review—especially if their experience was positive.

If you ever receive a negative review, don’t ignore it. Instead, respond professionally and make a conscious effort to try and resolve whatever problem the customer had. When people see that you’ve made an effort and you’re dedicated to excellent customer service, they’re more likely to look past a few negative reviews here and there.

It doesn’t matter what kind of business you run, if you want to get more customers, you need a Google My Business page that’s optimized for SEO. Don’t forget to review any SEO audits you can acquire. While this process can seem overwhelming at first, Google makes it easy to walk through the steps and customize your page. Whenever your business incurs a change, don’t forget to head to your listing, and other online references, to make any necessary updates. If you ever need help creating your Google My Business listing, or are looking to improve your overall SEO efforts, Operation Technology is here to help with affordable SEO for businesses.

About the Author: Brad Fogel

Bradley Fogel is a professional web designer and SEO consultant. Bradley has been working in the digital marketing field for over 20 years and is the CEO of Operation Technology, a digital marketing agency based in Chicago, IL. Starting his own company was something he had always wanted to do. It has been very rewarding to him seeing the team at Operation Technology helping small local businesses to large national clients with their digital marketing needs. His passion is developing strong online strategies for clients while making new connections within the industry. Brad’s background also includes a PMP certification from the Project Management Institute. Learn more about Brad Fogel.