How to Optimize a Google My Business Listing

How to Optimize a Google My Business Listing

This is an edited excerpt of the ‘Optimizing a Google My Business Listing’ lesson from Niki Mosier’s free ‘Google My Business Management 101’ course in BrightLocal Academy

Having a well-optimized Google My Business (GMB) listing can make a huge difference in how a business shows up in search results. Here we’re going to walk through all of the different areas of a Google My Business listing that can be optimized. 

Name, Address and Phone Number (NAP)

It’s important to make sure that there’s consistency in how your name, address, and phone number appears across the web. Creating and optimizing your GMB listing is a great time to double-check that all this information is correct. There are some useful tools that let you check far and wide on the web, BrightLocal being one of them. 

GMB NAP

Google My Business Categories

Your primary category is very important in how you show up in Google Maps. Your secondary categories are also important. This is a good place to use GMBspy; a tool that shows you what secondary categories competitors are using on their listings. 

GMB Categories

Another important thing to remember about categories is that you can switch them up seasonally. For example, a bike shop that sells bikes in the summer and skies and snowboardes in the winter, would want to switch their categories seasonally to accurately reflect what type of business they’re doing. 

Business Hours

One of the most important areas to make sure you keep up-to-date is the Business Hours section. 

One of the changes GMB made due to COVID-19 is the ability to now add hours for specific services or areas of a business. This option, and the categories for additional hours, depends on the primary category of your listing. 

GMB Hours

It’s also important to keep your Special Hours up-to-date for holidays and other events. I know from experience, especially when traveling, that it can be really frustrating to think that a business is open on a holiday, and then show up to find that it’s actually closed. 

Website URL

The website that you link to from your GMB listing can make a big difference in how that listing shows up in local search results. 

If you have a single location business like Bella’s Bakery, linking to the home page is a good idea. However, for businesses with multiple locations like Target or Tesco, linking to the actual location page for the location is better practice. If you’re a restaurant, or you allow booking of services, you can also add URLs to your main menu or your booking page. 

GMB URL

It’s also a good idea to add UTM tags to any URLs, so you can accurately track traffic to that URL from the GMB listing. My pal and fellow BrightLocal course leader Claire Carlile has created an amazingly helpful guide to all things UTM related for GMB. I highly recommend bookmarking it. 

Service Area

The Service Area section of GMB is often misunderstood. Use this section if you serve customers at their location, like a plumber. If your business serves customers both at your physical location and the customer’s location, enter both a business location and service areas in this section. Only enter the cities, zipcodes or regions that you actually serve. It’s important to note that no matter how big of a service area you set, you’re still not likely to show up in areas more than 20 miles away. 

GMB Service Areas

Business Description

The Business Description is really the only large open text area that you have on the GMB listing to talk about your business. This space allows for 750 characters, however only the first 244 will show up unless the user clicks on the ‘More’ button. 

This is the place where you really want to highlight what you want people to know about your business. Think about writing the description for someone that might not know anything about your business or the services it offers. It’s important to avoid being salesy or promotional in this area. While there’s little evidence that the business description is a GMB ranking factor, it’s still important to use best practices like avoiding all caps and other gimmicky attention-grabbing tactics. 

GMB Business Description

Another thing that I would recommend is changing your Business Description seasonally, especially if your business changes. For example, there’s a business here in Colorado that focuses on ski and snowboard sales and rentals in the winter season, but in the summer months they sell patio furniture. So changing their Business Description to match that is beneficial to them. 

Services, Menus, and Products

The Services, Menus, and Products feature is highly underused in my opinion. Adding a list of services, or having products on your GMB listing, can be a great way to get more website traffic and revenue. 

However, the ability to add services, a menu, or products in a GMB listing is only available for certain types of businesses such as restaurants. So if you don’t see any of those options in your listing, that’s likely the reason why. Service businesses, such as doctors, dentists, and marketing agencies, should get the option to list services. My partner, for example, runs photography experiences, her listing has the option to add both products and services. 

GMB services and products

Let’s start with services. 

Services

To access the services section, you can select it from the menu on the left or go to the Info tab, and then scroll down a bit. 

GMB products

Your primary and secondary categories will automatically show up for you to add services under those. You can also add additional categories from this screen at the same time.

GMB services

To add a service, simply add the service that pops up, or add a custom service based on what that business offers. The description for each service can contain 1,000 characters, so definitely take advantage of that space to be descriptive and use relevant keywords. 

GMB Services

Products

The process to add a product is pretty similar to adding a GMB post, if that’s something you already have experience with. 

GMB Products

Follow this simple checklist and you should be good to go:

  • Add a high-quality photo – I personally recommend using a solid color background with your products. 
  • Assign the product or relevant category. 
  • Set a price or a price range for the product. 
  • Give the product a description – you have 1,000 characters here, so be descriptive. 
  • Choose a button option. Remember to add a UTM tag to the URL for accurate tracking. 

GMB Products

I’ve personally seen pretty good revenue success from products added to a GMB listing. A CBD client I worked with saw an average of $600 to $800 a month in revenue from products just in their GMB listings. 

Business Attributes

Business Attributes can be another confusing GMB feature, as they can be either business-defined or user-defined. Business-defined attributes are objective, and give searchers more detail about what they can expect. Examples would be ‘women-owned’, ‘wheelchair accessible’, or ‘outdoor seating’.

To add them, just go to the Info tab in the dashboard, and click on Attributes. You can also add these in bulk using the bulk spreadsheet upload option. 

GMB Business Attributes

GMB Attributes

User-defined attributes are subjective. They’re crowd sourced from people that Google thinks might have more information, most likely people that have visited that listing in real life. You can’t control the subjective attributes Google asks about your business nor the responses that people might give. 

Photos

Photos are one of the most important parts about optimizing your GMB listing. 

According to Google, businesses with photos received:

  • 42% more requests for driving directions to their locations from users than listings that don’t have photos. 
  • 35% more clicks to their business websites than businesses that don’t have photos. 

Photos give searchers a first-hand look at what to expect when visiting a location. I personally find photos super helpful when I’m looking for somewhere like a hotel or if I’m trying to scope out the parking situation somewhere. Regularly uploading your own photos is important because it gives them the chance to show up first over user-uploaded photos.

And speaking of user-uploads, we know that Google is a fan of user-generated content, so encouraging customers to upload photos is also a good marketing tactic. 

GMB Photos

If you’re unsure about what types of photos you should try and take, here are some ideas:

  • Photos of the team at work – this can apply to any business type from dog groomers to plumbers out in the field.
  • Interior and exterior photos of the business.
  • Photos of products, if the business offers products versus services.

Here’s a checklist, of helpful things to remember when uploading GMB photos:

  • Photos should be in the JPEG or PNG format. 
  • Photos should be 10 megabytes and a minimum of 720 by 720 pixels. 
  • The logo photo on the listing should be square. 
  • The cover photo should be the primary photo that represents your business the best. 
  • Don’t use stock photos – those could get flagged and removed by Google. 

Posts

GMB posts are another sometimes misunderstood area of Google My Business, but they can be really beneficial. With GMB posts you can manage and create posts from both the dashboard or the Google My Business app. 

GMB Posts

There are a few different types of posts. There’s the ‘What’s New’ type of posts. Those tend to be just general information, and they used to expire after seven days before falling off of the GMB listing completely. However, that’s not the case anymore – ‘What’s New’ posts now stay up indefinitely but do get pushed down by each new post that is made. 

‘What’s New’ posts are definitely the most versatile. You get 1,500 characters, there’s a multitude of call to action buttons, and they’re visible on desktop, mobile, and in the Google My Business app. So if you’re just adding something informational about your business, I would definitely use a ‘What’s New’ post. 

What's new posts GMB

Another post type is ‘Event’ posts. With these you can specify a start and an end time, and apply to one day or multiple days. Again, you get 1,500 characters as well as the option to add photos. 

Event Posts GMB

A thumbnail preview will show up in the knowledge panel for all ‘Event’ and ‘Offer’ posts. This is nice because it allows people to get a really quick snapshot for that post. 

GMB event post

Another post type is ‘Offer’ posts. These are really helpful if you are running a sale or a promotion as you can add coupon codes and discount codes. They also use a start and end date, so the post will only show up when that offer is valid. 

GMB Offer POsts

‘Offer’ posts have a little orangish yellow tag on them which show people that there is a specific offer there. Again, these are visible on desktop, and mobile and in the Google Maps app.

Offer posts GMB

There are also ‘Product’ posts which are pretty self-explanatory. They’re similar to adding a product to your GMB listing, but this time in the form of a post. 

GMB Product Posts

Obviously, if you’re managing multiple locations sometimes even just adding one post can be a daunting process. That’s where a tool like Postamatic from the team at Two Octobers with Noah Lerner is really helpful because it helps you to manage posts at scale. 

Q&A

Google My Business Q&A is a feature that popped up a few years ago. A lot of people don’t realize that you can actually add your own questions to this section without getting penalized.

GMB Q&AGMB Q&A

Also, businesses can actually thumbs up and thumbs down their own questions. The question with the most thumbs up will show up on the knowledge panel without having to click the ‘View more’ button.

GMB Thumbsup

If you have a question that a lot of people ask on your website or on the phone, definitely put those on your GMB Q&A. I’d recommend having three to five questions that are similar to the ones you have on your FAQ page on your website. You can also update these seasonally, so post any changes on your Q&A, give it a thumbs up, and get some friends or co-workers at different IP addresses to also give it a thumbs up, that way it will be the most prominent Q&A. 

GMB Q&A is also a great place to monitor for leads, especially if you monitor regularly. For example, if somebody asks an auto shop if they do brake work, then that person could potentially be looking to use that auto shop. If somebody is monitoring that Q&A and responds right away, and saying something like “Yep we do brake work. We have appointments this week, give us a call” they can potentially get a lead from that Q&A. 

It’s also important to monitor Q&A because anybody can ask and answer questions, and you want to make sure that people are getting the most accurate information possible about your business. 

Want to learn more? Head over to BrightLocal Academy and enrol on Niki’s ‘Google My Business Management 101’ course for free!

Google My Business Management 101

Niki Mosier
About the author
Niki Mosier has been working in SEO for over 10 years, primarily focused on local and technical SEO. She has spent most of her career agency side, working with clients across a variety of verticals. Most recently, Niki made the move to an in-house head of SEO role. Niki also offers SEO consulting and training services and you can sometimes find her speaking at a conference or two.

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