Why Google Business Profile Optimization Matters
Date: June 2, 2022
Google Business Profiles
There are many resources out there on how to optimize your Google Business Profile (formerly “Google My Business”) but few advise on why to do so. Why go through the steps?
If your business serves a local area, Google plays a huge role in how customers find you. This goes for both service area businesses (SABs) like HVAC, electricians and contractors that serve a specific radius, as well as companies with a physical office location where business is conducted (e.g. law firm offices, retail stores, medical offices).
If you’ve ever searched for a service or even a particular product, odds are you have encountered that block of three local businesses at the very top of the search engine results page (SERP). This is the ‘Local Pack’ and besides paid advertisements, it’s the very first thing a potential customer sees in their search result. The local pack is even more prominent on mobile devices, which make up a larger percentage of online traffic year-over-year. This placement at the top of the SERP, and attaining it, is a key factor that can draw in new customers to your business.
Claim & Verify
Odds are that this step has probably already been done by you, someone at your company or a third-party marketer you may be working with. It’s still important to go over as it’s a critical step. Claiming and verifying your Google Business Profile does two things: (1) it tells Google your company is engaged and cares about its online presence and (2) it allows you to make edits on the fly as needed (like if business hours change). Having hands-on, verified access ensures you have full control over what is put out there on your business’s profile. This is also incredibly important when it comes to responding to reviews. We’ll touch on that shortly.
If There’s An Empty Space, Fill It Out
When assessing the different data fields available to you in the Google Business Profile dashboard, have the mindset of “If Google thinks these aspects are important for potential customers, they probably are.” Google’s local search algorithm is a bit different from the traditional algorithm that dictates everything else you find below the Local Pack and ads on Page 1 of any search. The local algorithm takes a lot of factors into account – and what you fill out is a key part of that. Certain fields such as “Primary Category”, “Additional Categories” and “Services” can make or break landing the coveted top three businesses in specific searches (or if you end up just outside of it). It also helps you focus on the customers you’re targeting. Here’s an example: If you manage a broad family law firm but divorce cases are specifically driving the most business and revenue out of all the different sub-practices under the family law umbrella, set your primary category as “Divorce Lawyer” and keep “Family Law Attorney” under “Additional Categories.” Measures like this will help you match specific search intent for those who already know exactly what they want.
Other Items To Keep In Mind
Your business description is also a very important field many skip over when populating data into their profile. Be meticulous with your contact information. Google allows various ways for people to contact you: links to your main website as well as designating a specific link to set up an appointment. The fields can vary depending on your business’s industry, so keep that in mind as well. Ensure the right links are in the right spots so inbound lead traffic is accounted for exactly as you intended.
Reviews play a large factor in the local algorithm as well. Depending on what businesses are in proximity to the individual searching, the local pack displayed in the search results will show companies with more favorable scores. Some may have lower scores than the other two but they may have a much higher overall quantity of reviewers who contributed to that score. In the aggregate, the volume of reviews and overall average score help get your company to the very top of the local pack. Also, if you see competitors with a perfect 5/5 review score, don’t let that intimidate you. It’s been widely argued in studies that the average consumer often finds a perfect score to be a bit questionable, while another business with a 4.8 or 4.7 with more total reviews seemed like a better choice.
Going back to the importance of claiming and verifying – a verified business owner (or manager) has the capability of responding to reviews. This is incredibly important. Here’s a direct quote from Google on the matter:
“When you reply to reviews, it shows that you value your customers and their feedback. High-quality, positive reviews from your customers can improve your business visibility and increase the likelihood that a shopper will visit your location.”
I personally consider responding to reviews another spoke in the wheel of “optimization” because it serves as an added signal to Google that you’re an engaged business entity that is hands-on with their online presence. Furthermore, responding to negative reviews, and doing so in a timely fashion, will speak volumes. It can sometimes be intimidating to craft a good response to a negative review, but the thing to keep in mind as you write it is this: write it so it addresses the individual who left the review but the bigger picture is that this response will be seen by any future potential customers. A calm and reasonable response will outweigh an outlier’s negative review depending on the context of the situation. Potential customers will see that you addressed the negative feedback right away and did so in a professional manner. This measure paints a much better picture than having a negative review hang out there unanswered for months (or, sometimes, years).
The Google Business Profile is a fluid product that’s always changing. New business categories show up in the available preset options every few months as Google sees the need for them. Google had to implement new data fields at the beginning of COVID-19 so businesses across every industry (especially places like restaurants and retail) could pivot and show what steps were being taken to ensure the safety of their staff as well as their clients.
Like many others in SEO, I’m disheartened when one states they are a Google Business Profile “expert.” You can’t be an expert in something that is always changing. Be knowledgeable, aware, and have the flexibility to adjust as needed. Those aspects are vital in the online marketing world as a whole. And if you can’t figure something out, just Google it.
Need Guidance Setting Up and Managing Your Google Business Profile?
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