SEO is complex. The number of moving parts that determine how well your website will rank include:
- Your online presence (websites, social media, etc.)
- Other people’s perception of you (reviews, social noise, etc.)
- Other websites’ interactions with you (links, NAP citations, etc.)
- Google’s constantly changing algorithm
…and more. Google My Business (GMB) is just one of these many moving parts. It is, however, a very important moving part, and one that can pretty easily be optimized to boost your ranking, especially for local searches.
In this brief guide, we’re going to break down what GMB is, how to set it up, why it’s important to SEO, and a few tips on optimizing it to get the best bang for your buck. GMB is free, so technically the bang to buck ratio is…infinite? That could be wrong (I’m no mathematician), but it sure seems like good value.
What is Google My Business?
Google My Business is a tool created by Google to manage your business presence across Google platforms.
There are, broadly speaking, three things you can do with GMB. The first is to manage your information with Google. That means you can adjust your name, address, and phone number (NAP), as well as your hours of operation, a description of your business, photos, and more.
GMB also allows you to interact with customers. Your GMB affects the results your customers see when they search for your business or related keywords (more on that later). Customers can also review your company directly on your GMB page, which will look something like this:
*Clicking the link in the red box brings up a “leave a review” prompt
Finally, GMB unlocks a ton of analytics for you, including how your customers found you in searches, and how many of them click the phone number CTA to call you. The analytics are pretty feature-dense.
Setting Up Your GMB
Google is in the business of, well, knowing about your business. And every business. And everything they can possibly know about. It’s a good business.
To set up your GMB, follow this link. From there, you’ll type your business name into the search field. You’ll get one of three different results:
- The business is already managed. That means that you’ve already got a GMB, or someone else has already registered, in which case you can report that person to Google (if they’re not a legitimate owner/representative)
- The business is listed with GMB, but is not managed. You can then register to manage the account.
- The business is unlisted, in which case you must click “Add your business to Google”
From here, there are a number of steps you have to take, including verifying your business (through postcards or other means), uploading photos, and giving Google your NAP information, hours of operation, what category your business is in, and a brief description. For more information, check out this brief tutorial, made by Google themselves.
I’m hungry and I feel like going out to eat. Where should I go? Let’s look for restaurants near me.
Well, would you look at that? Before my text-based search results, I get a cute little pack of three GMB-based local business results (not seen here is a map showing where all of those restaurants are in relation to my location).
We can clearly see:
- The restaurant’s NAP information
- How far they are from my location
- Whether or not the restaurant is open
- Photos of their food
- Other relevant info (dine in/take-out/delivery, cuisine type, etc.)
SEO is about driving customers to your business. This “3-Pack” (or “snack pack”) comes up before your other search results and provides customers with relevant info. What’s more, clicking one of the items on the 3-Pack gives you an expanded view, similar to the First Rank GMB listing above. There’s even more detailed information on that listing, complete with CTAs to encourage viewers to interact more meaningfully with that business.
Getting your business listed before anything else in a way that encourages customers actively looking for your products/services to interact with you!? For free?! That’s good stuff!!
Other SEO Benefits
GMB and the 3-Pack don’t just work in tandem – they can boost your site’s organic rankings, too. Take a look at Moz’s local search ranking factors – it’s a bit out of date, but you’ll see that GMB is responsible for a lot of your organic local ranking as well.
What’s more, the frequency with which searchers interact meaningfully with your business has an impact on your search rankings. When you’re getting a lot of positive reviews (which GMB helps with) or when people are booking with you or visiting your website, it’s a sign that your site is relevant and a useful search result.
Optimizing your GMB
Google is so keen on you using GMB that they explicitly tell you that it can improve your local ranking, and provide instructions on how to do so. Here’s a brief summary on what you can do:
- Keep your NAP and hours of operation up to date
- Add photos
- Use Google Posts to keep your customers current about business activities
- Respond to reviews (positive or negative) in a timely manner
There are a number of other optimization steps you can take. Make sure keywords that you’re looking to rank for, including the city you’re in, can be found in your business description – ideally, in the first 250 words. Make sure you’re following Google’s business description guidelines, and avoid keyword stuffing.
You’ll also need to make sure your business category is accurate – if you’re not sure, check your competitors’ categories!
Here at First Rank, we can boost your SEO from the ground up – optimizing your GMB is only the beginning.
…Or for SEO in any other locality, really. We’re local SEO experts.