By: Katie Shore Sep 26/2019

When you’re looking to grow your business online, a Google my Business listing can be an invaluable tool for new customers to find you within search engine results pages (or, as we like to call them, SERPs). If you want to turn searches from local users into new customers, Google My Business is an excellent place to start. Keep reading to learn more about what Google My Business is, how to create and optimize a listing, and why it is such an important component to your online presence.

What does Google My Business do?

A Google My Business profile is the listing that appears for local search queries. A local search query generally contains the words “near me” or a specific location. For example, if you were a cupcake shop in Toronto, your profile has a chance of appearing within searches for “cupcakes near me” from users in your area or in searches for “cupcakes Toronto” from just about anywhere. Your profile can also appear when users search your business name.

There are so many advantages to having a fully optimized Google My Business profile running; we always recommend that our clients have a profile. Some of our favourite things about it are:

  • It increases your visibility in local search results: Almost half of Google search queries are answered without clicking on any search results; the query is answered by the information on the page. A Google My Business profile takes up a lot of real estate on the users’ screens, making it more visible and thus more likely to be the answer to the question that users are looking to answer.
  • Shows your business on Google Maps: Have you ever been super hungry and used Google Maps to find the closest, most delicious place to eat right now? Your business profile appearing in Google Maps means that you’re more likely to appear to local customers who need your services now.
  • Tells Google who you are: A Google My Business profile has a lot of room to tell the search engine a lot about your business. This isn’t just about providing your name, address, and phone number; you can specify the industry that you operate, the specific areas that your business operates in, and more. The more information you provide, the better that Google understands your business, which increases your chance of appearing within search results.
  • Social Proof: Your Google My Business is connected to any Google reviews that your business may have gathered over the years. People don’t trust Google specifically; they trust other people who have vouched for a business. Showing off your average review ranking is social proof that your business is credible.

How to create a Google My Business listing

Now that you know the benefits of having a Google My Business profile, it’s time to set up your own! One of the best things about Google My Business that you can easily set it up yourself and start bringing in that local search traffic. Here’s a quick guide about setting up your listing.

  • Go to this link and enter all of the information that you need. There are a lot of ways to confirm your business’ identity to Google, but most commonly, you’ll input your business name and address and they’ll send a security code to that address. This is their way of confirming that you are who you say and that you’re giving a legitimate business location. This code usually arrives within two weeks. You can also have them call your business and give you your security code over the phone.
  • Once you’ve entered your security code, it’s time to fill out your profile! Make sure that you’re giving the right name, address, phone number, and hours of operation; if any of these things change, it is essential that you update your profile. We recommend filling out as much information as you can so that Google can learn more about your business and match it with the best possible search queries.
  • Jazz it up with some photos, which will draw the users’ eyes to your profile on the screen. Your profile allows you to specify what certain photos are – for example, your logo – so you can show off different components of your business.

You might be wondering what all of this will cost you in time and money. One of the best things about Google My Business is that it is completely free and the entire profile shouldn’t take you more than an hour to fill out.

Characteristics of High-Quality Listings

Now you’ve filled out your Google My Business profile. How can you give your listing an edge over your competitors’, so that your profile will be in the top spot for all local searches? Here are some of our top tips for the best possible results in Google My Business.

  • We mentioned this above, but it’s worth mentioning twice; fill out as much of your profile as possible. Many businesses stop at just having their Name, Address, and Phone Number on their profile. Here are some things that will make your business really stand out.
    • Fill out every single location that we serve. You might be a Toronto-based cupcake shop, but you’re more than happy to cater a wedding in Kitchener or Mississauga. Google and your customers won’t know this unless you fill out the location portion of your profile.
    • Most businesses don’t just do one thing. Make sure you fill out the Services section with your entire service offering so that Google knows every service you provide and can make your business appear for searches that may not be directly related to what you do.
    • You can create posts on Google My Business much as you do on social media. If you’re holding an event or have a special promotion, put it within your Google My Business posts; this provides further opportunity to appear in search.
  • Make sure that your business has high-quality images. Visual appeal is important, and you have a very short time to make an impression on a potential customer. Make sure that the pictures in your profile are current and visually communicate why they should pick your business.
  • Start asking your customers for reviews. Social proof is so important to communicate to new customers that you’re the best option for what they’re looking for. Who knows that better than your most loyal customers? Don’t hesitate to ask for Google reviews so you can boost your star rating and gain instant credibility to local searches.

The profile is just the beginning…

Having an optimized Google My Business profile is one of the best steps that you can take towards preparing your business’ Local SEO and bringing in new local customers. If you’re interested in further optimizing for Local SEO, check out our downloadable guide to ensure your business is front and center when people are searching for you!