5 Best Practices for Optimizing your Google My Business Local Listing
Google My Business, or Google Local listings, is sometimes referred to as “the king of local citations”. Google My Business listings are one of the first pieces to show on any local Google Search, and the same profile also populates Google Maps and Google Assistant inquiries. With the world relying more and more heavily on GPS, voice search, and other automated features, it’s more important than ever that you establish your company’s place in your community by optimizing your digital presence on Google’s platforms. In this blog, we will be discussing the 5 Best Practices for Optimizing and Maintaining your Google My Business (GMB) listings profile. If you don’t already have a GMB listing for your business, please visit Google Support: Sign Up and Verify Your Business to get started with claiming and setting up your local listing.
Using Google My Business Strategically
As a local company in the Denver area, Denverdata Web does a great deal of our business in our local area. For this reason, we’re always working to gain as much exposure as possible in the city of Denver and in the RiNo Denver neighborhood. Along with maintaining our own GMB listing, we also work to optimize local listings for our customers.
For local companies like ours and that of our clients, using local citation tools such as Google My Business is an essential practice. If you’re not using local listings, your business is missing out on huge opportunities to get in front of potential clients everyday. Additionally, if your GMB listing is not properly optimized, you may also be missing out on exposure, leads, phone calls, and walk-in visits for your business.
Best Practices For Optimizing Your GMB Listing
Google My Business has a variety of capabilities and features to help you provide more information about your business to search engine users. Compared to other local listings sites, the platform is also lightweight and easy to use.
While we recommend taking the time to utilize each of the features Google My Business has to offer, we also know that as a busy business owner, you want to know which steps in setting up your local listing are the most important. You don’t want to spend time filling out endless bits of information unless you can be assured the results will be beneficial. For this reason, we’ve summarized a list of five best practices for optimizing your Google My Business listing.
#1) Your company’s NAP information, including website
Your business’s NAP information refers to the name, street address and/or website address, and a phone number where your customers can reach you. It is recommended that you always include your website address. However, there are several service-area businesses or companies without a storefront that will not be required to include a street address.
Consistency is key!
It’s important to be precise and consistent with how you fill out your business’s NAP information. You’ll want this information to look the same for your GMB as it does on your website and on other local listings. Consistency is important so that your customers can easily identify your business listing and also so you can build a good off-site SEO presence.
Common NAP blunders
Your website’s prefix refers to what is set before your domain name (https://www. http://, etc). It can vary from website to website depending on your SSL and whether your site uses a www. subdomain. It’s important to note that even though your site may still load properly if you type it in with the wrong prefix, it is crucial to enter the domain information exactly when you add your website address into GMB. Using your correct website address will help your user avoid experiencing redirects, which can slow down the navigation process and lead to more visitation drop-offs.
Street Address consistency - St. vs Street, Ave. vs Avenue, etc
This one might seem trivial for some, but making sure the street address of your business is entered the same across different local listings as well as on your website is important. Especially over time, being consistent with your company’s information can make a significant impact in your SEO presence.
Incorrect or “stuffed” business name
“Keyword stuffing” refers to the inferior SEO practice of cramming keywords into places keywords don’t belong. It should be avoided when entering your business name, as it can lead to Google suspending or unverifying your listing. An example of a keyword stuffed business name might be “Marty’s Pizza (Fresh, Italian, Cheesy, Delivery, Take Out, We Sell Calzones Too!)”. We’ll go over where you can use keywords strategically in your GMB listing a little later. However, keyword stuffing your business name is not the correct way to do this.
#2) Business Categories
Google My Business allows you to choose from a preset list of up to ten categories for your local listing. Choosing the correct categories will help ensure Google shows your listings in the correct scenarios and will also help customers find your business more easily with relevant searches.
Select all relevant categories
While it may seem obvious, it is important that you choose all relevant categories for your company. For example, at Denverdata Web, we offer website development and design as our main service, but also marketing and advertising, marketing consulting, web hosting and more. We've chosen Web Design as our primary category, followed by our other services.
Your primary category is important
Google My Business uses your primary category to prioritize search results accordingly, so while you can choose several business categories, it’s essential that your primary category is properly selected. The primary category should encompass all or most of what your business provides, while the additional categories that follow can either be subcategories or additional services.
#3) From the Business
GMB’s From the Business is a freeform section where you can enter your personalized company description. Using a maximum of 750 characters, you can use this section to provide a brief, keyword-rich description of your business, what you offer, and a call-to-action (CTA).
Keywords live here
Over the years, Google has come to favor content-based keyword methods above keyword list formats. The best practice for keyword integration in your GMB listing is to create a readable and informative company description to include in your From the Business section. Along with keywords, including your company’s slogan or statement along with any geomodifier keywords (primary city/area of business) will also be beneficial towards your overall SEO efforts.
#4) Photos, Logos and Videos
One of the most popular Google My Business features is the Photos section. Oftentimes, it will be one of the very first places a Google user looks when they visit your GMB listing. For this reason, it’s important to include several high-quality photos of your business location, your staff, impressive work you’ve performed, and other photos demonstrating the quality and culture your company encompasses.
Google’s Photo Guidelines
The types of photos your company uses for listings may vary greatly depending on the type of business and the services offered. However, Google’s basic guidelines include using at least three variations of each image type that is relevant for your company. Image types include: ○ Exterior photos of your property
○ Interior photos of your property
○ Team photos
○ Product photos
○ Photos at work
○ Common areas
○ Food & drink photos (for restaurants, coffee shops, etc)
○ Rooms (for hotels, apartments, etc)
#5) Reviews & Reputation Management
Most GMB users will agree that Reviews are the most powerful feature of your Google My Business listing. Your GMB listing’s review count and average play a key factor in how Google chooses to place and show your listing in relative search results. Not to mention, reviews can be the deciding factor in a potential customer’s choice in whether or not to choose your company.
Respond to all reviews, good or bad
While Google will not allow you to add, edit or remove reviews from your Google My Business listing, it’s highly recommended that you read and reply to all customer reviews. Doing so will allow you to make a personal connection with the reviewer and will also help to show potential customers that your company is interactive and involved with its customers. In the event of a bad review, a professional and timely response addressing the customer’s concern can be an effective way to lead the poster change or remove the bad review. In many cases, offering the customer a solution or a way to “make it right” can help to smooth thing over and also let others view how your company might handle a negative situation.
Use Keywords in review responses
As mentioned earlier, Google has been steadily moving towards favoring more content-based keyword methods. That being said, Google’s algorithms will scan your GMB listing’s reviews for keywords when deciding whether to show your listing for relevant search terms. Though it can be difficult or tricky to bring in customer reviews that use targeted keywords, you can still use those targeted keywords in your responses.
For example, if one of our customers at Denverdata Web left a review simply stating:
“Love my marketing campaigns. Thanks DDW!”
A clever response on our part might be:
“Thanks so much for choosing Denverdata Web’s digital marketing services! One of our top goals is to provide high-quality PPC ad campaigns for fellow Denver-area local businesses like yours. We’re so glad you’re happy with your paid search campaigns and we’re thrilled to hear your company is getting conversions from your Google text ads. Looking forward to working with you again in the future.”
As you can read above, the keywords used are relevant and targeted for a specific service. However, the response still flows well and is readable. Responding to reviews this way, especially if done consistently, can help with both client relations and SEO efforts.
Report reviews that violate policy
As mentioned above, Google will not allow you to add, edit or remove reviews. However, occasionally you may run across a review that violates policy and therefore can be flagged for removal.
Common review violations
○ Offensive Content: Reviews containing hateful language about an employee, overuse of profanity, etc.
○ Conflicts of interest: Disgruntled employee reviews, competitor reviews posted to manipulate ratings.
○ Restricted Content: Reviews containing unrelated links, phone numbers, or endorsements.
○ Off-Topic: Reviews concerning the neighborhood around the business, reviews complaining about the company’s name/logo/slogan, other non-service related issues.
Flagging a review is not a guarantee
It’s important to reiterate that flagging a review will only lead to removal if the review truly violates a Google policy. The best practice for handling other types of poor reviews is to respond to the customer offering a solution. When you report a review for violating policy, your request gets put into a queue. From there, Google will either be able to verify if the review violates policy via algorithm, or it may go through to be reviewed manually by a GMB rep. In either case, Google can either accept the flagged review and remove it, or reject the flagged review and keep it. If your flagged review is rejected and you are still convinced that the review violates policy, you can also submit a contact form to Google My Business for any further communication about the issue.
Optimized local listings make a difference!
Now that you know the basics about how to optimize your Google My Business listings, know you can also apply the same principles to other local listings platforms. Optimization and consistency across listings is ideal for both ease of customer browsing as well as SEO. Please be mindful that it may take a few weeks or months for your newly optimized GMB listing to see increased traction, especially if you’ve made quite a few changes. However, if maintained and updated accordingly over time, local listings help you make a strong connection with your customers as well as helping your company keep a positive and interactive online presence.
For a detailed how-to walkthrough on GMB Best Practices, view our Tutorial Video above or on our YouTube channel . To learn more about Denverdata Web’s Digital Marketing services, visit our Digital Marketing and SEO service page or reach out to our team at 303-534-1745.