As you likely know, one of the easiest ways to garner new clients and customers is to make sure you can be easily found online. Yet, even as simple as that idea is, few small business owners actually take action to make it happen. According to a recent report, only about 28 percent of small businesses utilize search engine optimization (SEO) as a marketing tool. In many industries, this number is much smaller. 

Of course, one of the main reasons SEO isn’t utilized like it should be is that it’s time-consuming. Fully optimizing your site and your general online presence can take weeks to accomplish, and results often take months to become apparent. Though getting into the technical SEO aspects of your site can seem like a costly endeavor, especially if you hire an expert, there’s one aspect that’s relatively easy to optimize: your Google My Business listing.  

Not only is this aspect rather easy to optimize, it’s also incredibly powerful. Your Google My Business listing is what appears when someone searches for your site. It could even help you rank better and be the prominent result when someone searches for an industry-related keyword. If you have a local storefront where customers can shop, you could also rank well on Google Maps by optimizing your listing. 

So how do you optimize your Google My Business listing? It all starts with a claim. 

  1. Claim or Create Your Listing

Depending on how long your business has been around, there could already be a Google My Business listing created. If this is the case, you simply need to claim it. Go to the Business page, and create your account. Then, search for your business. If there is an existing listing, simply click the option to claim it. If no listing exists, you can easily create one from scratch.  

Whether starting from scratch or claiming an already-existing listing, you’ll get a dialog box in which you can fill in your business information. Here, you will need to make sure all the information is accurate and grammatically correct, down to the capitalization of the street name (you’ll also need to make sure you use the same iteration of your address that you have on your site — i.e. Main Street or Main St.). 

Within this box, you should indicate what kind of business you have from the drop-down menu. Then, switch to card view to indicate whether or not you deliver goods or services to customers. You can select what areas you service, and you can also indicate whether you also serve customers at your business address. If the answer is yes, you can set your hours and have your complete address appear on your listing. 

Once you’ve established all of this information, be sure to save it. 

  1. Get It Verified

Once you have ensured every single detail is accurate, you’ll need to verify your listing. There are a few ways to do this, but the most common (and the easiest) way to do so is by mail. Google will send you a postcard with a unique code on it. Once you receive it, you will need to input that code following the steps provided on the postcard.  

It’s important to note that your listing will not appear until you verify your address. Google wants to ensure that your address is correct, and that you receive mail there. This is to make sure false listings don’t take over search results, misleading potential customers and diluting the effectiveness of search results.  

As soon as you verify your listing, it will officially be live.  

  1. Make Sure These Elements Are Included

Though a barebones Google My Business listing could potentially rank, the more information you can provide, the better. Here are some elements you’ll want to make sure are included: 

Industry Keywords 

Just like with any other kind of SEO work, having proper keywords in your listing is crucial. On your listing, you are given the opportunity to provide a short snippet about your business. Rather than saying you’re a “local dog sitter,” you’d be better off saying you’re a “Tuscan-based pet service company that offers dog sitting, dog walking, grooming and more.” 

Accurate Updates 

If you change your operating hours, be sure you update your listing to reflect that. Moreover, if you expand or shrink your product or service offerings, be sure to also include that. Any kind of detail you can include, do so. Don’t take anything for granted — the more data, the better. 

Plenty of Photos 

Your potential customers want to see what your business is all about. Photos are a great way to do that. At minimum, you should have a high-resolution logo image so customers can quickly identify you, and a cover photo that showcases your company culture. You should also add photos showing your actual products or services, your storefront, your employees and more so customers know what to expect when doing business with you. 

  1. Monitor Your Insights

One of the best aspects of Google My Business is the insights it provides. Perhaps most importantly, you can see how customers find your listing. This is divided into two categories: direct search and discovery. Direct search means they’re searching specifically for your business, while discovery means they found you via keywords. If your direct search far outweighs discovery, you may need to re-evaluate the keywords in your listing. 

You can also see where customers are finding you. If you run a brick-and-mortar storefront, this is especially important. You can see how many customers are finding you on regular Google searches, and how many find you via Google Maps. You can also analyze when people are finding you, and perhaps adjust your store hours accordingly. For example, if your coffee shop doesn’t open until 8, but people are searching for local coffee shops at 6, you may want to open earlier. 

There are plenty of other insights, such as customer actions (looking for directions, going through to your website, etc.) and how often your photos are being viewed. All of these tools can be an immense help in your pursuit to fully optimize your Google My Business listing.  

Let Company.com Help with Local Search Optimization 

Of all the services we offer to small businesses, perhaps local search optimization is one of the most important. After all, if customers can’t find you, what’s the point? Let us help you get found and selected over your competitors. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you, and to start a free trial of our premium software package.