Learn how to improve your rankings by optimising your Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business) with our ten-point checklist.
The Ultimate Google Business Profile Optimisation Checklist
Author: Marcin Gabryel, SEO Specialist
Google determines local rankings based on a combination of three core factors: relevance, distance and prominence. For instance, a business that’s closest to the searcher may not always rank highest. Instead, Google’s algorithms may prioritise a competitor that is further away if it feels that business better serves what the user may be looking for.
With this in mind, it’s crucial that you’re able to provide Google with the most accurate and relevant information as possible. To do this, you need to claim and optimise your Google Business Profile.
What is the Google Business Profile?
The Google Business Profile (aka Google My Business) is a free platform from Google which allows webmasters to manage how their business appears on Google Search and Google Maps.
You can set up your profile here.
Why Should You Optimise Your Profile?
The main reason you should optimise your Google Business profile is that it improves your local ranking on Google.
Google uses your profile as a means to measure the distance and relevance of your business for the user’s search queries. In addition, optimising your profile and maintaining it sends a signal to Google that you’re actively striving to provide your prospective customers valuable information about your organisation.
A well optimised profile also has the added benefit of providing a better and more meaningful experience for your customers. Providing accurate information and seeing great customer reviews on your business profile builds trust and increases engagement as users are more likely to convert into customers.
Optimised vs Un-Optimised Google Business Profile
Before going through the checklist, let’s take a look at a comparison between an optimised and un-optimised Google Business Profile.
Ask yourself, as a searcher, which of the above two listings are you more likely to choose?
How to Optimise Your Google Business Profile: A Checklist
Follow the below steps to optimise your Google Business Profile listing:
01. Optimise Your Business Description
You can write a business description that is up to 750 characters long to provide “useful information on services and products offered, as well as the mission and history of your business”.
When writing your business description, remember:
- To encapsulate your business within the first 250 or so characters and leave the rest to provide additional information on what you do and what sets your business apart from your competitors
- To optimise the description with potential keywords that your customers may use to find you
- Not to provide misleading or innate information about your business
- Not to include promotional copy about sales or prices i.e. “Everything on sale, -50%”
- Not to include any hyperlinks or HTML code
The business description is one of the first things that customers will likely read when they see your Google Business Profile, so it’s crucial that you get it right by following the above tips.
02. Enter Complete & Accurate Data
Providing as much complete and accurate data to your Google Business Profile as possible will make it easier for Google to match your listing with the right searches.
You want to make sure that your prospective customers (and users) know:
- What you do – pick the most relevant Business Category and ensure you outline the Products & Services that you offer too.
- Where you are – add your physical address to your Business Profile.
- When you operate – enter your operating hours accurately and ensure you account for any special holidays. This gives customers the confidence that your business will be open if they’re planning a visit.
- How to reach you – include your contact information (phone number, email address, social media accounts etc).
03. Ensure NAP Accuracy & Consistency
One of the most basic but important elements of your Business profile is your NAP (name, address, phone number). These three elements must be accurate and consistent with any other mentions or listings of your business across the web.
If your signage, business cards and website list your business name as “The Ice Cream Company”, then that’s what your business name on your profile should read.
- Do not abbreviate or adapt your name to something like “The Ice Cream Co”.
- Do not add location names like “The Ice Cream Company London” unless it’s specially a part of your brand name.
- Do not optimise your business name with keywords like “The Best Ice Cream Company in London”, this goes against Google’s guidelines and is considered as spam.
04. Manage & Respond to Reviews
Which of the following businesses are you more likely to visit from these results? The two with reviews or the one without?
Google understands that reviews influence the customer’s decision to make a purchase or visit a business. With this in mind, the search engine uses reviews to measure relevance and prominence when determining local rankings.
Prospective customers can leave reviews about your business on your profile.
Google also highlights specific terms that it feels are relevant in bold.
You have the ability to respond to these reviews and manage the narrative.
Here are some things to note when managing and responding to the reviews on your Google Business Profile:
- Make it as easy as possible for customers to leave reviews – Generate a Google Review link which you can then embed within online receipts or within your web pages.
- Don’t just reply to the positive reviews – Although the number of positive reviews is considered as a metric to increase your rankability on Google, it’s understood that businesses will get some negative reviews. Responding to reviews shows that you care about your customers’ feedback and that you strive to provide the best possible service or product.
- Don’t incentivise customers to leave reviews – Offering discounts or gifts for customers who leave reviews goes against Google’s guidelines. The reviews left on your profile should be honest and organic.
05. Add Photos
As the saying goes, “a picture is worth a thousand words”. The same applies to your business profile on Google.
Google allows you to upload :
- A Logo – this is used when you reply to a review or add more photos
- A Cover Photo – this should showcase your business in the best light as it’ll be shown in your listing on Google Maps and Google Search
- Business Photos – these are the images that you upload to visually represent the products/services you offer.
Uploading relevant photos is encouraged as it:
- Allows you to show off your products and services and let “customers peek inside your business”.
- Ensures that you maintain a level of control of how your business is perceived in your profile – this is because anyone can add photos to your profile.
- Makes your profile more visually appealing and improve conversion i.e. people are more likely to
Check out Google’s guidelines on what kind of photos can be uploaded to your profile.
06. Answer Customer Queries
In addition to leaving reviews, Google also allows users to ask questions related to your business via the Questions & answers section.
These questions appear on your profile and importantly, anyone can answer them. For example, you can see that the question below was answered by another potential customer of this establishment.
Here’s what you can do to optimise this section of your profile:
- Answer your own questions – Get ahead of the curve and pre-empt any questions you feel users may have about your products or service so that you can also provide the most suitable answer.
- Set up alerts – whenever a user asks a question, you’ll get notified so that you can answer it as soon as possible.
- Optimise questions and answers for your keywords – include keywords within your questions and answers as this may help increase your profile’s chances of appearing with the search results for that query.
07. Publish Google Posts to Improve Conversion
Just like you would on your other social media platforms, it’s important to make use of Google’s Posts feature to publish updates about your business: promotions, sales, special opening hours, events etc.
Regularly publishing on your Google Business Profile has several advantages:
- You’re showing Google that your page is alive and active
- You’re providing useful information about your business to your customers
- You’re increasing your chances of turning users into customers as your profile becomes more “clickable”.
- You’re showing off your brand personality to both Google and your customers
The posts will appear under the Updates section on your profile:
Here’re some tips to follow when publishing posts:
- Post regularly – apart from showing Google you’re actively using your profile to provide the best experience, posting regularly is important because some types of posts have an expiry of seven days.
- Include CTAs (Calls to Actions) – adding links to relevant pages or products will help convert users into customers.
- Make use of the different types of updates – you can choose from a range of post types including What’s new (for general announcements), Offers (for promotions), Events (for in-store events) and Products (to promote your offerings).
08. Enable Messaging
Enabling the Messaging feature on your profile allows your prospective customers to send you a text message to your phone directly from your Google Business Profile via the “Chat” function.
This way, you can instantly answer any questions users may have about your business.
Here are some important things to know about the Message feature:
- Any messages you get will appear in your Business Profile on Google.
- You’ll also receive notifications for incoming messages directly on your phone.
- You can choose the automated welcome message that your customers will see when they message you.
- You can send photos to your customers from the chat.
- Google may deactivate the chat feature on your profile if you fail to reply to messages within 24 hours.
- Google displays your average response times to customers on Google Maps and Google Search i.e. “Usually responds in a few minutes” o “Usually responds in a day”.
Find out more about how to install and set up Messaging on your profile here.
09. Check Your Competition for Niche Specific GMB Features
Different types of businesses will have different features made available to them on their profile.
For example, if you have a restaurant or beauty salon, you can set up bookings so that customers can book a table or appointment directly from the profile, without having to call you or click onto your website.
Looking at your direct competitor’s profiles will give you an insight into potential missed opportunities.
Align your Google Business Profile with theirs to give yourself the best chance to increase your visibility in Google Search and Google Maps.
10. Keep Your Business Profile Up to Date
Like a plant, your Google Business Profile shouldn’t be something that you water once, and leave alone.
It’s something that you should continually monitor, update and maintain. Remember to:
- Update your NAP if they change
- Update your operating hours on special holidays
- Add photos on a regular basis
- Respond to any reviews that are left on your profile
- Respond to Q&As left on your profile
- Respond to messages sent to you via the Messaging feature
- Publish posts on a regular basis
- Keep an eye on your competitors profiles to see what you may be missing out
The Bottom Line
In this checklist, you’ve learnt how to optimise the core elements of your Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business). This is one of the most important signals that Google uses to determine local rankings, so it’s vital that you optimise and maintain it regularly.
If you’re looking for an SEO partner to drive your local business’ organic growth, don’t hesitate to reach out.
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