I refer to a business’s Google My Business listing in every SEO review I provide. The information it contains is critical to how businesses and their websites get seen by prospective clients. This information also provides insights to Google, who uses it when deciding where a site should come up in search results. While these listings are not a direct part of a website, they are a critically important part of your marketing nonetheless.
What is a Google My Business Listing?
When you’re online and you search for a local business, a big box usually comes up on your right. That’s a Google My Business (GMB) listing. GMB listings are Google’s attempt at being the go-to place for all info on the intenet, and I think they’ve achieved that. If pet parents want to find a resource, whether it be a sitter, or a trainer, or a food delivery service, “googling” is the best way to find it. A typical GMB listing looks like mine, to the right. It has the company name, address, phone number, website, map, hours (especially helpful around holidays) and all relevant info. It also has reviews, which help prospective clients make informed decisions.
Why do you need a GMB Listing?
You need a GMB listing for two reasons: it helps prospective clients find you, and it helps your website rise in search rankings.
1. Your GMB listing is the new version of old-fashioned yellow pages ads. Businesses list their contact info, and what they do, and where they do it, and hope that clients contact them. But it’s actually better than old ads, because this information comes up more quickly than when we had physical phone books, and also that we can make changes on a moments’ notice. Prospective clients can also get more information on us by clicking to our websites or reading our reviews. And if you think about it, resources are now found differently: we used to look for new plumbers, for example, by looking under “plumbers” in a directory, then narrowing our search to those who are located close to us. Now, we can search online for “plumbers near me” and we’re presented with a bunch of choices, some of which we’ve never seen before but who are within a neighboring area. THIS is why your correct location is a big part of your GMB: it brings in new clients, many of whom will be new to you.
2. So how does your GMB affect your site? The obvious answer is that visitors will hopefully click from your GMB to your website. That’s cool, but the connection is a lot more involved than that. Google uses the information in your GMB as “ranking factors,” which means it helps (or not) your website come up higher in search rankings. How? By Google looking at your address, and your phone number (that’s why they need to be consistent between the two), and your reviews. Google looks to see if your reviews are positive and if they include your keywords, if reviews come in consistently, and if your product or service is included in your GMB title (among many other things).
How do you Get a GMB Listing?
In line with what Google does with many of its tools, GMB listings are free. All you need to do is go online and start the process.** Once you upload your information and they verify it (via phone or postcard), you’re golden.
When filling out the online information, be sure to include everything they request, including your logo and photos of humans with pets. And be extra careful that the info you enter is consistent with the info on your website; for example, if your business is on 83rd Street, do not put 83rd St. on your site and 83rd Street on your GMB. This goes for your phone number as well. Don’t have a local number on one and an 800 number on the other. Google loves consistency and rewards it!
To illustrate the problem with this, imagine you are looking for a dog groomer in your area. If you live in a city, there are probably many options, but since Google takes location into consideration, you may not end up seeing the info for a nearby shop. So if a groomer is around the corner, but Google doesn’t know that, it won’t suggest it. So please take this into consideration when completing or updating your GMB: if you don’t tell Google where you are, you may miss out on business.
** There is a chance that a GMB listing already exists for your business. Someone may uploaded the business name and address, thereby creating the listing, but not taken “ownership. The best way to find out is to search your business name and then your location (so for me, “Pet Sitter SEO NJ”) and see if you come up. If you do (and if you or an associate didn’t create the listing), then you will be asked to “claim this listing.” by clicking that link, you will be taken to a sign up for the GMB listing, and proceed as above.
Google My Business listings are a vital, required marketing tool for your business. Having one increase calls to your business, and visits to your website. Keeping all your information current is a key element, and helps your business in the long run.
This article was originally posted on July 26, 2017 and was updated October 17, 2017.