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Optimizing Your Google My Business Listing

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Introduction

How well you rank in a Google Local Searches is dependent on three important factors

– Relevance
– Distance
– Prominence

We cannot do much about how near or far a searcher is from your business location so let’s delve into the other two factors first.

Relevance
Relevance refers to how well your local listing matches with what someone is searching for. Adding complete and detailed business information will help Google better understand your business and match your listing to relevant searches.

There are two types of relevance, geo-relevance and topical relevance.

Geo-relevance is determined by use of zip codes, addresses and further defined by longitude and latitude

Topical Relevance (also called Keyword or Search Term Relevance) is enhanced if a webpage has the search term in the

1. title
2. content
3. category

Increasing Your Listings Relevance

Your GMB Content Should be Keyword Optimized.

* Make sure your GMB Categories are correct.
* Be sure to include geo-identifiers like zips, neighborhoods, GPS coordinates in supporting content like your GMB site and posts and services sections
* Keyword and Geo Optimize the Location Page
* Keyword and Geo Optimize Photos and Media
* Create Relationships between your Facebook page, Twitter account.

Prominence

Prominence refers to how well-known your business is on the Internet. Prominence is based on information that Google has about a business from across the web (like links, articles, and directories).

Improving Your Prominence comes down to:

* Building More social profiles such as Facebook and Twitter
* Getting More Citations and Directory Listings
* Build Relevant Backlinks website or GMB Listings
* Getting More and Better GMB Reviews
* Getting More and Better 3rd Party Reviews, Yelp etc
* Having a highly Ranked Website and social accounts

Distance

There is not much we can do about where Google thinks the searcher is but if we optimize for both prominence and relevance this will go some way to reduce the effects of distance.

Google My Business (GMB) is the most important online listing for any local business. It drives the local business search results on Google search, maps, Google Assistant (voice search) and more.

Optimizing your Google My Business listing is critical not only for getting new customers, but helping repeat customers do business with you.

This checklist for Google My Business reflects the best practices recommended by the most well-respected local search experts in the world.

Optimizing Your Google My Business Listing Checklist.

For further information check out Google’s guide to editing your business information here.

If you have fully completed your Business Profile as detailed in the previous section then much of this checklist will already have been completed.

Business name

Use the same business name as on your signs, business cards and legal documents.
Do NOT spam your business name with cities, search terms, taglines or anything else. It is against Google’s terms of service and could lead to listing problems or suspension in the future.

NOTE: If you are a new business and have not yet chosen your business name, try and use a unique name that is unlikely to be confused with other similar businesses.

Business Categories

Make sure the primary category best represents your business. It is the only one that people see on your business listing. Take advantage of additional categories and add another two or three subcategories but only if they apply to your business. Adding non-relevant subcategories may harm your ranking.

NOTES: The categories that are available are set by Google themselves and vary from country to country and by language. You can find a full, up to date list of available countries by country and languabe on this website, which you may find helpful.

Business Location – Only enter a physical address if customers actually visit your place of business. Use a free tool like Smarty Streets to make sure your address is properly formatted, valid and complete. You can also check the latitude and longitude and other data connected with your address.
Put the physical street address in the first line and put suite numbers in the second line.

Service Areas

Only enter this if you serve customers at their location (service area business). Some businesses serve customers both at their place of business and at their customer’s location (hybrid business).
Enter the cities, postal codes or regions that you service. Note that no matter how big a service area you set, it is still unlikely to appear in a search result greater than 20 miles away.

Business Hours – Enter your regular hours of operation when customers can actually do business with you.
Add special hours for holidays, special closures, or other times when your business is not open.
If you are a seasonal business, remove all operating hours when closed, and re-enter them when you open again.

Phone Numbers

Use a local phone number, if you can, to bet the best local search results.

Call Tracking – If you use a call tracking number for your Google My Business listing then use the call tracking number in the “Primary Phone” field.
Add your primary, local phone number as an “Additional Phone”.
Add toll-free and secondary phone numbers as “Additional Phone” fields.

No Call Tracking – Use your primary, local phone number in the “Primary Phone” field and add toll-free and secondary phone numbers as “Additional Phone” fields.

Google Ads Local Extensions Phone – With Google Ads, you can have a “location extension” that allows you to show a different phone number than the one used in your normal Google My Business listing. This is particularly useful if you are using call tracking for Google Ads. If you leave this field blank, Google Ads location extensions will use the primary phone number in your Google My Business listing.
Use a local phone number in order to show in local search results.

URLs

Properly format your URLs:

– All URLs must be live at the time you enter them into Google My Business.
– Use https:// or http:// and include or omit the www as appropriate. Always use the same URL format wherever you use it i.e. directories etc.
– This is an advanced technique but you can add Google Analytics UTM tracking codes to your URL. This helps you see in Google Analytics how many people came to your website from your GMB listing. 1) Go the Google Campaign URL Builder, 2) Copy and paste your website URL, 3) Use Google as the campaign source, 4) Use local as the campaign medium, 5) Use a location ID as the campaign name. If you only have one location, just use something like 1 as the campaign name. This helps differentiate traffic on your website for various locations, 6) Use primary, appointment, menu, etc. as the content variable as appropriate.
– Use primary, appointment, menu, etc. as the content variable as appropriate.

Website URLs
For single location businesses, use the homepage of your website.
For multi-location businesses, use the specific page for each location.

Appointment URL
This is important for all businesses that normally carry out work by appointment. Adding this to your GMB can improve your ranking as it signals to Google that you are a serious business.
Use this to link to your contact page or an online appointment system.
Certain types of businesses can instead use Reserve with Google to integrate specific booking systems into their Google My Business account.

Menu URLs (Restaurants)
Restaurants can also add a special URL to link to their menu.
Must link to a page on your website. Links directly to PDFs are not supported.
Instead of linking to the menu on your website, restaurants may want to directly add their menu to the GMB listing.

Booking and Ordering Service URLs
Certain booking and ordering links may appear in your listing automatically. These are done through Google’s partnerships with 3rd party providers and you cannot directly edit them in your GMB listing.
To remove or fix these links, you must contact the specific 3rd party provider and make your request.

Services / Menu / Products

Services
These are only available for certain types of service businesses (dentists, attorneys, insurance agents, hotels, marketing agencies, and others) and only shows up for end users in the Google Maps app at the time of writing, so this may change.

Services businesses can choose from suggested types of services (for example, plumbers may see “Install faucet” or “Repair toilet” as services to add). If the type of service isn’t listed, they can add their own custom services.

– Create a separate service for each specific service you offer
– Enter the appropriate name and price of each service, if applicable.
– Add a description for each service of up to 300 characters. Take advantage of this space to describe each service and include relevant search terms where necessary.

Menu
Only available for restaurant-type businesses.
Only shows up for end users in the Google Maps app right now.
Use this in addition to a link to your menu on your website.
Create separate sections for each section of your menu.
Create a separate menu items within each section.
Enter the appropriate name and price of each menu item.
Use the same description of your menu item as you do in your actual menu up to 1000 characters.

Products
Only available for certain types of retail-oriented businesses.
It may not be practical to include every product or product category that your business carries. Focus on just the most important products and categories.
Create separate collections for each product category you’d like to feature.
Enter the collection name.
Add a collection description up to 1000 characters. Take advantage of this space to describe each collection / product category using rich keywords.
Create individual products within each categories.
Enter the product name and price (price ranges are not supported).
Add a product description up to 1000 characters. We recommend using the same description that you would use in your product catalog.

Business Attributes

What are Google My Business Attributes?

Business owners can specify specific services, features, or other qualities about their business to allow their listings to show up in relevant local searches. Attributes appear in your business listing in search results and on Google Maps. Some attributes, such as “Women-led” and “Outdoor seating”, show up as badge icons in mobile listings.

You can select many attributes yourself. For example, if you own a restaurant, you have the ability to select attributes that describe your restaurant’s services or atmosphere. If you are only open during the evenings, then you may want to select “Dinner Only” as an attribute. You should also specify that you do not serve Breakfast and Brunch, because you should strive to make your Google My Business profile as accurate as possible.

Attributes vary by business category and can include items like: Women Owned, Wheelchair Accessible, Restroom, Languages Spoken, Outdoor Seating, Happy Hour, etc.

– Go to your listing in Google My Business.
– Click “Info” and then click “Attributes”.
– Select as many attributes as apply to your business. Do not spam these attributes as Google has been known to confirm these by asking Google users to submit subjective attributes (see below).

User-Defined Attributes (Subjective Attributes)

Subjective attributes are crowd-sourced from people Google believes might know about your business. Google asks questions like “Is there a wheelchair accessible entrance here?” “Is the parking here free?” and even asks people which images they think are more helpful.

You cannot control the subjective attributes Google asks about your business, nor the responses that people might give.
Certain types of businesses can monitor subjective attributes by using the Insights tab in your Google My Business listing.

Attributes

Business Description

The business description is an open text area that you can use to tell potential customers more about your business. It appears in both desktop and mobile web search, but does not appear on the Google Maps app.

– Go to your listing in Google My Business.
– Click “Info” and then click “Description”.
– You can write a description of up to 750 characters, however, only the first 244 characters display on your Google listing unless the visitor clicks “More”.

Recommendations for business descriptions:

– Think about what your customers would want to know most about your business. Pretend they know nothing about you.
– Use the most important terms that potential customers might be looking for, but do not keyword stuff. It is not believed that Google uses the description field as a factor in search rankings. However, a well-written description could help convert someone looking at your listing into a customer.
– Don’t use all-caps, emojis or other “gimmicky character use”.
– Do not focus on promotions, prices or sales. Tell people about your business instead.
– Do not use any URLs.

Multi Location Business

tore Codes

A specific ID for each location used to help organize listings for multi-location businesses. This is required for bulk upload listings on Google My Business.  Each store code must be unique, have no spaces or special characters, and a maximum of 64 characters.

To add/edit store codes individually:

– Go to your listing in Google My Business.
– Click “Info” and then in the “Advanced information” section click “Store code”.
-To add/edit store codes in bulk:
– Download your locations to a spreadsheet.
– Enter store codes into the spreadsheet, but do NOT change the address of any location.
– Re-upload the spreadsheet with new store codes.

Labels
Labels (tags) help multi-location businesses organize their listings. You can search for labels within the Google My Business dashboard and use them in Google Ads. For example, you might use geographic regions as labels, or use a store type like “Full Service” or “Limited Service”. You can assign up to 10 labels per location. Each label can be 50 characters and can include spaces, but should not include special characters.

To add/edit labels:

– Go to your listing in Google My Business.
– Click “Info” and then in the “Advanced information” section click “Labels”.
– Add as many labels as you need for each listing.

Photos

Photos, videos and virtual tours are an important part of your Google My Business listing. They represent your business to potential customers so you want to give them the best impression possible for your business. According to Google, “Businesses with photos receive 42% more requests for driving directions to their location from users on Google, and 35% more clicks through to their websites than businesses that don’t have photos.” You should upload your own images, whenever possible, as your images have a better chance of displaying on your listing instead of images that Google users upload. Finally, photos, videos and virtual tours encourage engagement with your listing, a key ranking factor on Google.

General Notes

– Images you upload will not appear on your public listing until you verify your listing.
– Images that appear on your listing are a combination of ones you upload and ones that the public uploads.
– If you have more than 10 locations, you can upload photos in bulk with a spreadsheet.
– All images should JPG/PNG format, no larger than 10MB and no smaller than 720×720 pixels.
– Use high quality photos. Firstly don’t worry about large photos, you are using Google’s servers, which are huge. These images are the first impression that many people will have about your business. Photos should be in focus and well lit, and have no significant alterations or excessive use of filters.
– If possible, get a professional or expert to take your photos required.
– Rename some the images using the search terms or keywords that you want to be found for. For example for a pest control company based in Findlay, Ohio the search terms might be
pest control Findlay
flea infestation findlay
how to get rid of bed bugs
pest control phone number Findlay
— Avoid promotional or other non-natural text on your images.
– Do not use stock photography. Those may be flagged and removed.

Uploading Photos to Your GMB Listing

Logos – these should be square. If your logo isn’t square, use a photo editing  tool to adjust the canvas size to make it square, preferably with a white background outside the borders of the logo itself. Photo Size: 250 x 250 pixels (minimum 120 x 120; maximum 5200 x 5300)

Cover photo – This should be the primary photo that you’d prefer to represent your business. Photo Size: 1080 x 608 pixels (minimum 480 x 270; maximum 2120 x 1192)

Exterior And Interior photos – If you have a physical location, upload at least three photos of the outside and inside of your business using different angles, different times of day, etc. so that people get a feel for the location.

Photos at work. Upload at least three photos showing you working with your customers and the various services you provide.

Team photos – Upload at least three photos of your team. The goal is to give potential customers a feel for the people they’ll be interacting with at your business.

Products, Food & Drink etc. – Depending on the type of business you have, there may be other photo categories available to you. The goal is to provide potential customers with a feel for the products, food & drink, common areas, or rooms that your business may offer.

How to Set Which Photo Shows First on Your GMB Listing

Unfortunately you cannot actually set which photo appears as the primary photo in your GMB listing. Google’s algorithms determine which photo will appear and the order of your other photos. But you can influence these algorithms.
Upload the image that you want as your cover photo. Again, this doesn’t guarantee that image will be selected by Google as the primary photo, but it does tell Google that is the image you’d prefer.

Google looks at behavioral signals from its users to help determine which photos best represent your businesses. If you upload a compelling cover photo, people will interact with it more (views, etc.) which tells Google that it’s an important photo.
In addition, Google will ask actually ask people which photo best represents your business and factor that information into the order of your photos.

How to Remove Photos from Your Listing

You can only remove images that you have uploaded to your own listing:

– Click the “Photos” tab and find the image that you want to remove.
– Click on the image, then click the “trash” icon in the upper-right corner.

You cannot remove images that others have uploaded about your business, however, you can flag them for potential removal. Google will only remove images if they violate Googles Map User Contributed Content Policy. They won’t remove an image just because you may not like it.

To flag a user-contributed image:

– Click the “Photos” tab, the click the “By customer” top tab.
– Click on the image, then click the “flag” icon in the upper-right corner.
– Complete and submit the content violation form.
– There is no guarantee that Google will remove the image or notify you, so check back occasionally.
– If you cannot get the image removed by flagging it and believe it does violate Google’s contributed content policy, you may need to escalate to Google My Business support.

Previous Setting Up Your Google My Business Profile.
Next The Google My Business Website
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