Updated: May 13
One of the best marketing resources for local businesses in Cedar Rapids, Marion, & Hiawatha, Iowa is a Google My Business page (formerly known as Google Places). These pages are completely free. Well-executed, they can be a major business boost to your marketing efforts.
It might even be the biggest boost for your local SEO.
If you’re still unsure about how Googly My Business works, and why you need to have a page set up, Google has a one-minute long video that walks you through all of it. You can view it here.
Your Google My Business Page Checklist
If you’re reading this, you probably have a website and you are wondering how to use it more effectively to generate more leads.
You probably also have a presence on Google and Yelp. But you might not be getting everything you can out of them. So we decided to put together this easy checklist for Google My Business so that you can optimize your Google My Business page fast. If you can find just an hour or two this week to do some marketing, you can end up with a better-optimized Google My Business account.
Let’s do this!
1. Confirm your address is correct and consistent.
Duh, captain obvious! But, actually, it’s the consistency part that’s critical. The way local search works, it’s critical to have all the listings for your business use the exact same address. That means, down to using “St.” or “Street”. It really does matter.
Don’t have a brick-and-mortar location? No worries. Here are Google’s instructions for setting up a service area instead.
2. Check your business hours are correct.
It’s not uncommon for businesses to change their hours once or twice a year. If you haven’t logged into your Google My Business account even in a few months, you should log into now just to confirm those hours are still accurate.
3. Make sure you have the right primary category selected.
Google has pre-determined categories for you to select. For most businesses, this is easy. For others, it can be complex. If it’s a puzzle for you, check out Google’s guidelines on picking the right categories here. Here is Google’s basic description about why your categories are important and how to select the right one:
Categories help your customers find accurate, specific results for services they’re interested in. In order to keep your business information accurate and live, make sure that you: Use as few categories as possible to describe your overall core business from the provided list. Choose categories that are as specific as possible, but representative of your main business. Do not use categories solely as keywords or to describe attributes of your business. Do not use categories that pertain to other businesses that are nearby or related, such as a business physically contained within your business or an entity that contains your business.
4. Add as many photos as possible.
Photos make a big difference. They telegraph a lot of information about your business. If you aren’t getting any results from your Google My Business page, and you don’t have any pictures (or few pictures, or so-so pictures), that might be the first thing to fix. Alsom make sure that the file name of your pictures include your keyword and city/state. Every little area you can use to include a few keywords is worth it.
A photograph of yourself
Photos of staff
Photos of the checkout area or the reception desk
Photos of your facilities or your retail area
2-3 photos of customers being helped
2-3 photos of what you’re really known for.
5. Add a 360-degree view or a “virtual tour” of your business.
If you know Google maps, you’ll be familiar with “street view”, which lets you see a location through a 360-degree photograph. That’s exactly what business view or virtual tour is, except it’s a view of the inside of your business. This is great for your brick-and-mortar locations. You can add a business view by hiring a Google-approved photographer through Google Street View.
6. Write a complete and informative Introduction.
This is the area where you describe your business. One great thing you should take advantage of here is, you can include links back to your website. Using a few carefully chosen keywords might be smart, too.
Follow the rules of easy-to-read web copy:
Use bullet points wherever possible
Keep paragraphs short
7. Ask for genuine reviews.
Unlike Yelp, where you can be penalized for asking for reviews, Google lets you ask customers for reviews. This helps you with the search engines because it can improve your rankings. It also – of course – helps you with real people. The more reviews you have and the more positive they are, the more people will feel comfortable doing business with you.
You can read more about why online reviews are so important here: Why Online Reviews Matter for SEO
8. Respond to the reviews you already have.
It’s okay to say “thank you” for some of the nice reviews. However, you will want to pay particular attention to the negative ones. Negative reviews can actually have positive business effects if they are handled correctly. They’re an opportunity to improve your business. Online reviews can show you some valuable – and missed – insights about your business.
Those nine items are enough to make your Google My Business page stand out and attract new customers. You could continue by adding a few videos, hooking up Google Analytics, and checking your Google My Business Insights (their version of analytics) every so often. Make sure your page doesn’t go stale. Always keep it relevant and accurate!
Answer in the Comments:
Do you understand these 9 steps and why we’re doing them? If not, please ask your questions in the comment box below or click here to contact us!