Does your business depend on foot traffic? If so, you might be relying heavily on advertisements and signs to bring in local customers. The thing is, online searches and search engine optimization are also important. After all, when a potential customer wants to find a product or service like yours, they probably head straight for Google.
That’s where Google My Business comes in. This tool allows you to create a better online presence for your company. That way, you’re more likely to show up in search results for customers in your area. When you have a complete profile, Google is more likely to send you free web traffic — which means more foot traffic and increased profits.
Want to see it in action? Run a search for “fast food restaurants” in Google. At the top of the search results page, you’ll see a map with fast food restaurants marked. Below that, you’ll see listings for local restaurants. That’s because these restaurants filled out their business profiles, so Google knows that they meet your needs. That’s the power of Google business listings — it puts your business in front of customers that want what you’re selling.
What is Local Search?
Local search is simply a Google search that’s targeted to a specific location. These searches happen in a few different ways. Imagine that a customer in your area is looking for a shoe store. What do they do to find it? They might:
- Run a Google search for “shoe store near me”
- Type “shoe store” into Google maps
- Search Google for “shoe store”
- Search Google for “shoe store in [city name]”
Google’s goal is to help searchers find what they’re looking for — so, in each of these cases, it returns a list of results that are located near the user or the user’s specified location. Instead of returning a random list of shoe stores, it would give the customer a list of nearby shoe stores.
What does that mean for your business? If you can figure out how to get your company to show up in those local results, you can bring in more customers.
Benefits of Local Search Optimization
Search engine optimization (SEO) helps your business show up in Google results for specific keywords. Local SEO, on the other hand, helps your company show up when customers near you are searching for the types of products and services you offer. In short, it combines your regular SEO activities with location-specific information.
As a business owner, you know that marketing and social media marketing are inherently a gamble — you never know when a person will actually follow through, visit your store, and make a purchase. With local SEO, on the other hand, you can reach customers who have a high buying intent intent. In other words, when a customer is looking for a specific business type near them, it’s usually because they’re ready to buy. When they do come in to your store, they’re probably more likely to spend money.
Are you working with a limited budget? Local SEO is a great option. It’s free, so you can boost your company’s visibility without spending a dime of your marketing budget.
Why Google My Business is a Crucial Part of Your SEO Toolkit
One of the most important parts of local SEO is ensuring that all of your online business listings are accurate and consistent. Why? If even one piece of information — especially your address and opening hours — is incorrect, it can confuse potential customers.
Imagine that a customer finds your business listing online. They click on your phone number, but the number is wrong. Or, they see your hours online and head to your business, only to find that it’s closed. What do they do next? Head straight for a competitor.
That’s Where Google’s local business profiles come in. This tool allows you to create and manage your business listing on Google, so you can always ensure that your information is correct. When you create a business profile, it updates across all of Google’s properties — including the Google search engine and Google Maps. What’s more, it helps your business show up above the main search results, so customers can find you easily.
Since Google gets the vast majority of internet searches, it’s well worth your while to use Google business profiles as a key part of your local SEO strategy.
How to Create a New Profile on Google for Business
Before you can create a Google profile for your business, you need a Gmail account. You can use your personal Gmail address, but it’s not always the best option — after all, your employees may need to update your listing in the future, and you might not want to give out access to your personal account. A better option is to create a Gmail address for your business.
Once you have a Gmail account, take the following steps to create a listing for your business:
- Visit the Google My Business page
- Click the Manage Now button and sign in to your Google Account
- Enter your business name, address, and contact information
- Choose a category for your business. It’s important to choose the category that best matches your business; Google uses this information to show your listing to the right customers.
After these initial steps, Google will ask you to verify your business. In most cases, you’ll need to verify by mail. Google will send a postcard with a verification code to your business address; when it arrives, you can sign in to your account and enter the code to complete the process. In some cases, Google offers other verification methods, including phone and email. Do you use Google Search Console to manage your company’s website? If you create your business listing with the same email, you might even qualify for instant verification.
Once you’re verified, it’s time to set up your business profile in your Google account. When a customer finds your business through a location-based search, this is the information they’ll see. It’s important to keep your profile up-to-date, especially when it comes to business hours.
In your business profile, you can:
- Enter your opening hours
- Upload photos of your location and your products
- Answer customer questions
- Post about current sales
How to Maintain Your Google Business Profile
You’ve set up your business profile — now what? To get the most from your Google listing, it’s important to keep your profile updated. That way, customers always see current information. Are you changing your opening or closing hours as the seasons change? Make sure that’s reflected in your profile. The same goes for your address and phone number.
It’s also a good idea to pop in frequently to answer your customer’s questions. You can even pin frequently-asked queries to the top of your profile so they’re visible to everyone. If you’re having a sale or an event, use the Posts feature to promote it to customers. These posts appear in your profile, giving past customers a reason to come back. They can also give you an edge over competitors.
When Google displays your profile, you might notice that your company’s Google star rating shows up. This score is based on customer reviews, and it can impact how potential buyers view your business. Have you gotten a negative review? You can use your business profile to respond to the reviewer to apologize and explain how you’re correcting the problem.
Do you use Google Analytics to track your SEO results? Google has a similar tool for business profiles, called Insights. Here, you can find valuable information to help improve your profile. For example, Insights lets you see how many people request driving directions to your location after they see your profile. Even better, it gives you a heat map to tell you where the bulk of your customers are located. With that information, you can improve all aspects of your marketing, from social media marketing and digital ad targeting to print advertising.
When you’re trying to improve search engine optimization for your local area, a Google business profile can help. By keeping your profile updated, you can bring in more customers and improve sales.
Want some help setting this up?
We are happy to help you set-up your Google My Business profile and make sure it is configured in a way that will drive traffic to your business.