How To Completely Optimize Your Google Business Profile Listing And Enhance Your Digital Presence
Also formerly known as Google My Business. 🙂
If you want more leads and phone calls, you need to take the time to properly set up this completely free listing. You gotta play the game. You gotta satisfy the algorithms. But also aim to help out your prospective customer or client as much as possible at the same time. Finding that balance is a superpower.
This article is meant to be read — not skimmed. I don't enjoy playing the game of trying to come up with headlines that suck you in. I'd rather type these words out as if I'm speaking to you, directly. As if you were sitting right in front of me.
You probably already know this stuff by heart, but in case you don't, write down the following information before getting started:
- Legal business name
- You should use the exact legal name of the company for the sake of search engine optimization (SEO)
- Business address
- If you have multiple locations, each should have their own listing. (You can still manage all of them under one hood.) If you have a brick and mortar operation, list your physical location.
- Business phone
- Just the primary phone# for now. You don't need to include all additional phone numbers on your business listings.
- Company email address
- Please use a valid email
- Typical business hours
- Include any relevant special hours. No one likes showing up to a closed restaurant when Google told them they were open! 🥴
- Business description*
- Keep this to three sentences, maximum. Stay away from talking about you and what you do. Instead, focus on what you can do for them. Talk in terms of how it'll directly benefit them. You'll use this for your bios/intros of other business citations too.
- Business categories
- Primary category
- Secondary category
All of this information is crucial for ranking as high as you possibly can in the search engines. You want to strive to provide the most relevant, useful information for the sake of your potential customers/clients... but there's also a game to be played when it comes to pleasing the algorithms.
You must not have any inconsistent business information floating around out there on the web. Each one that is inconsistent harms your Google My Business profile (and company website) ranking because you *could* be ranking higher if that information was accurate.
What is a Google Business Profile?
aka Google My Business or GMB
A Google Business Profile (or Google My Business/GMB listing) is basically like a Company Facebook Page except for Google. 🙂
On this profile you can publish company updates, post photos, generate leads, etc... all that good stuff. Instead of thinking of it as a Facebook Page, think of it as a glorified landing page.
Click here to see how Google themselves talk about this product.
This page/profile is completely free to own and manage. Every business owner should be creating one of these for themselves (or claiming the one that's already out there). This is a Google product. If you want to rank higher in their search engine, you have to play their game. A beautifully-optimized listing will always outrank one that's incomplete. Google even ranks these profiles higher than their traditional organic search results! There's literally nothing but upside here. It costs nothing and you have the potential to easily rank #1 in your local area.
If you need help with this, email firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line "Google Business Profile help".
How to claim your listing
Google knows so much about us. That's really no secret. Honestly, they probably already know what I'll have for supper tomorrow night. Sometimes, they'll auto-populate a Google My Business listing. Say a company has been doing business at the same location for the past 10 years. Google is going to be able to pick up on that and determine there's an actual business there. This makes it really easy for business owners to come in and quickly create their business listing.
Do this on desktop (not mobile):
- Search your company name on Google Maps, again on desktop
- If you're lucky, you'll see the "Claim this business" link (click it!)
- You're on the fast-track to getting your new profile claimed and verified 🙂
Verifying your listing
The link above takes you to Google's help article for verifying your business listing. You must verify your listing to gain full control of it.
If you're trying to set all this up for the first time, it's usually best to get the info straight from the source! (Not that I don't love having you here... just want to make it as easy as possible for you 😎)
Most businesses verify by mail — You'll find the instructions for this when you go to claim your listing. It's silly how simple they've made this process. I always find it a bit strange when business owners aren't clamoring to fill out their Google Business Profile.
But, this is the 21st century, so there are other options too:
- Search Console
- If you've never heard of this before, now is not the time to learn 🥴
- Video recording
Properly filling out your brand's entire profile
aka *optimizing* the page 🙂
Properly filling out any profile on any platform will greatly please the algorithms. This should come as no surprise to anyone.
Your goal is to provide the most relevant, useful information available for your target audience. If you achieve this, you're rewarded with a higher search ranking. This should also come as no surprise.
Fill out your profile(s) completely. Set time aside to do this so you can do a good job with it. Don't try to cut corners either. Craft each word with your dream customer or client in mind and you'll do just fine.
Not sure how to craft a good company bio? Email email@example.com for help. Use subject line "Company bio help".
Getting creative with keyword targeting so potential customers can easily find you
(Think SEO; search engine optimization)
In 2020, there were 6.9 billion Google searches conducted every single day (2.5 trillion per year).
Whenever people have a problem they need to solve, they turn to Google search. If you're able to grab one of the top positions on the first page, you'll unlock opportunity you had no idea even existed.
Do this exercise with me:
Try to put yourself in your potential customer's shoes. I mean really try. Take 60 seconds... close your eyes... and try to imagine what your potential customer is thinking about right before they buy from you or hire you.
Now... think about what they'd be searching into Google when they want to find someone who sells what you sell (or offer).
Write down three of these.
What are three different keywords that your potential customer would pop into Google to have your Google My Business profile pop up right there at the top?
Write down three of these on a piece of paper (or just email them to yourself).
Use these three keywords as your basis for what you'll write about in the "About Me" section.
Be strategic (not cringey) about how you place these keywords/phrases throughout. Remember, you're aiming to provide the most relevant, helpful information to your prospects... but you're also trying to please the algorithms. Finding a healthy balance between those two is worth a lot of money.
Publish posts regularly
Every single business on this planet would benefit by publishing content regularly. Content is one of those beautiful asymmetrical designs. Meaning: There's virtually no downside and limitless upside. No risk, all gravy. (If you do it right.)
The more you publish these business posts, the more people *get to know you*. Folks won't do business with people/brands/companies they don't know. The more you publish, the more of an opportunity that have to get to know you. As they get to know you better, they start trusting you. Once this happens, buckle up. Content marketing is one of the most powerful, profitable, tedious, demanding, and satisfying of them all. (Of course, in my humble opinion.)
Build the habit of publishing regularly to your profile
Just focus on setting the habit in the beginning. Once the habit is set, it'll be a piece of cake... it always is. We just have to get to the point of it becoming a habit. 🙂
(Btw, a year from now, you'll wish you would've started building this habit today. Just start.)
Set a reasonable publishing goal
Make it easy for you to accomplish this goal at first – we're trying to manufacture momentum here! Aim for 3 posts per week for the first month, increase it to 4 posts per week in month two, and then 5 in month three. Within 90 days you'll be publishing valuable content to your audience every single day. Let people see what's going on behind the scenes. Show them before/after photos on recent projects. This is how you let people in. This is how you give people the opportunity to get to know you (and ultimately call on you when they need your product/service!).
Embrace photos, seriously
Take the energy from the section just above this one and embrace photos. Whatever you can take a picture of, do it! (Business-related of course !!)
Google wants to show the best, most relevant information to its users. Their algorithm deems a profile with photos to be more attractive and more relevant than one without them. This does not mean a profile without photos *can't* rank higher than one with them... but if it's a close call with the algorithms, the nod will always go to the one with the best photos on it.
Include photos with your regular postings and you're knocking out two birds with one stone. 🙂
Businesses with photos receive more attention.
Businesses with photos will always outcompete the ones without.
Monitor your insights/analytics
You get a treasure trove of insight with just this free Google My Business listing. It's insane. You can see exactly what people are searching to find you (this will help you optimize even more down the road).
Below is a screenshot of the insights/performance on my mom's Google My Business listing.
This is 5 months worth of data. I wasn't able to grab the date in the screenshot.
My mom's company is "Custom Maids". A residential cleaning company in Bay City, Michigan. Coming in at #3 is something called a branded keyword search. This means someone went to Google specifically with the intent of contacting my mom's company. Branded keywords are your golden keys. Branded keywords are earned, though. It takes time to build such a reputation and brand awareness.
See what people are searching to trigger your listing
If there are non-relevant keywords showing up, figure out why your Google My Business Profile would be triggered (maybe it's something you're saying in your about/bio section). If non-relevant keywords are showing up, you should remove them. This is valuable, valuable digital real estate. Remove the non-relevant information to make room for more of the relevant pieces. You'll be able to quickly tell if a keyword is relevant or not. The point here is to stay on top of monitoring this insight because it gives you great insight to continuously optimize.
This should come as no secret to anyone with a pulse, but you're after relevant searches here. Eliminate anything irrelevant.
This is also a great opportunity for me to encourage you to install Google Analytics on your website if you haven't already.
Focus on capturing honest customer reviews
Earlier, I mentioned content marketing is one of those magical asymmetric designs. Well, so is a good customer review generating system.
The more (good) reviews you have the more you're rewarded with a higher search engine ranking.
The higher you rank in the search engine, the more eyes you'll have on you.
The more eyes you have on you, the more business you'll earn.
You get the point.
How to avoid bad reviews
After you deliver your product or service, be proactive about collecting their honest feedback. This practice will help you nip the majority of the problems in the bud. It's impossible to completely avoid all bad reviews (some people just love to air out their complaints online, and, sometimes, you're the target). Things happen; mistakes happen. It's ok. But the earlier you try to rectify the problem, the better off you are.
Pro tip: Instead of just asking your customer to leave an honest review, send them a personal email and ask them what you could have done to earn a 5-star review. Be genuine. Ask them what they think you could've done better. Oftentimes, they'll turn right around and lather you with compliments (that you can then screenshot and file away to publish on your website late!). And then they'll feel compelled to skip over to Google and rave about you for all to see.
You're not going to avoid all negative reviews, but this simple practice can save a ton of headaches.
Also, don't even THINK about buying fake reviews, ever. You could literally compromise your company's entire digital reputation. It's literally never worth the risk.
Build a reliable system for generating online reviews
You need a reliable system/process in place that works even while you're not. You're golden if you can automate this whole process (while making it seem not automated). Don't bribe people to leave 5 star reviews. Encourage people to leave their most honest review. You can bribe folks for 5 star reviews all day long, but, at the end of the day, you're only cheating yourself. If you encourage folks to leave honest reviews, you'll find where your weaknesses are and be able to continuously improve.
The more reviews you get, the more feedback you have to improve your product/service.
Happy customers = a huge competitive advantage.
Encourage satisfied customers to leave an online review. Point them to Google, Facebook, Yelp, YP.com, or whichever platform you decide to focus on for reviews.
Screenshots of emails, text messages, and DMs pull a ton of weight too. Social proof is huge. Dedicate a page to your website to a gallery of all these screenshots of happy customers. Simply screenshot the message, hide all personally identifiable information, and email it to yourself (and save in a folder). Then, once/week take 30 minutes or so to publish all of those screenshots/images to both your website and your Google Business Profile (GMB listing). These screenshots hold as much weight as the Google reviews (in the eyes of your potential customers anyway). I'm not sure if algorithms can read the text in a screenshot or not. Difficult to say if these screenshots help your search engine ranking, but they definitely pull a ton of weight in the eyes of your prospective customers/clients.
As you continue to improve, you'll earn more + better customer reviews. Before you know it, you'll have built a flywheel of momentum. (Pro tip: Try to implement flywheel concepts in any possible aspect of your business. Read more on this here.)
How to ethically boost your search engine ranking even further
Remember the whole help people; satisfy algorithms bit from earlier? This come into play, big time.
Giving yourself this boost is very straightforward, but many seem to neglect this powerful method.
Build a strong portfolio of business listing citations to boost your overall online presence
You need to build yourself a portfolio of credible, reputable business listing citations (often referred to as just "citations").
Citations are an online reference to a business that features the business' name, address, and phone number (NAP). via SEJ
Every business citation must be consistent across every directory.
A Google My Business profile (or GMB) is just one citation. And there are probably tens of thousands of directories out there. The tricky part is determining which are the most credible. If you place yourself on a scammy website, it could harm your search engine reputation for some time.
If you'd like the complete list of our 150+ reputable directories that you should be on, email me directly: firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line "DIY directories". If you truly get the importance of this and need someone to handle this for you, we will find a way to help you.
How to use your profile to get customers
- Fill out your profile, completely. Use every bit of real estate you're given.
- Publish posts regularly
- Publish pictures with your posts
- Encourage happy customers to leave an honest online review
If you set the habit of doing 2-4, you will be extremely satisfied 12 months from now. It's hard work building that kind of consistency. But those who are able to push through are always rewarded.
Pro Tip: Share your posts on your company's Facebook Page too. If you really want to juice this up, use that same post for inspiration for a blog post. This way, you're using the same piece of content for 3 different, powerful marketing channels.