By adopting and maintaining a more active approach to your Google business listing, you could increase the number of people who view your website by as much as 400%, the number of clicks by 140%, and the number of inbound phone calls by 100% — all within a single year! We know because our clients did just that.
Keep reading to learn the simple steps you can take to see the same kind of growth.
A Google Listing Is a Basic Necessity
Optimizing your Google business listing can significantly increase the visibility of and traffic to your website, which means if you don’t have a Google listing, you need one — and fast. I have it on good authority that this whole Google thing is a pretty big deal, so if you haven’t set up your business listing yet, you’re already behind your competition. Statistics show that in the last year, Google owned 87% of search engine market share. That is a lot of people who could find you and your business, but the first step is being there to be found!
Let’s say you are looking for the best ribs in town, so you Google (because you’re in the 87% majority) “best ribs in Grand Rapids, Michigan.” The results will include a map and three listings.
These are the Google business listings, and they are your golden ticket to the top spot in search. Even the most well-written, relevant, and optimized webpage cannot outrank a good business listing, but you need to do more than just have a listing. It’s what you do with it that will make the difference between showing up as one of the first three results and being relegated to the useless second or third page of results. No offense to the fine people who rank on the lower pages of Google, but you might as well be on the Moon.
Setting Up Your Google Business Listing
Before you create your listing, check to make sure one doesn’t already exist. It’s common that multiple listings for the same business are floating around out there. Maybe you had an intern three years ago who made one; maybe you set one up yourself and completely forgot about it; or maybe one just showed up, and you have no idea how it got there. Either way, do a quick search to see what comes back. If a listing already exists, you may need to claim it (see instructions here) or simply log into your Google account and access it.
If you don’t have one already, setting up your listing is incredibly simple. Just to go business.google.com and click “Setup Now.” Here are a few best practices for establishing and optimizing your Google listing.
List Your Name Properly
This might seem like common sense, but you need to list your business name as your actual business name. Don’t try to cheat the system by cramming in extraneous keywords. If your business is “Bob’s BBQ,” put “Bob’s BBQ.” Don’t put “Bob’s BBQ – Best Ribs in Town” to try to show up for that search. It is against Google’s policies, and there is nothing stopping someone from going in and telling Google to change it.
That’s right: Other people can call the Google police on your listing. Take a look at the Lafleur business listing below. You’ll notice the “Suggest an edit” link under the phone number. Anybody can click that and submit a suggested change. So, if we tried to change our name to “Best Marketing Agency in the Universe” one of our competitors could easily go and submit a request for it to be changed back.
Choose Your Categories Wisely
Google wants your category to be as specific as possible, so choose the category that best represents your company. We are a digital marketing agency, so the categories that best fit our business model are “Marketing Agency” and “Internet Marketing Service.” That’s it. We didn’t include anything about advertising or public relations or consulting because, at our core, we are a digital marketing company. If we were to include other categories, that wouldn’t include any value for us. If we listed “Traditional Advertising Agency,” someone looking for a traditional advertising agency would visit our site, see what we do, and quickly search for somebody else. Not only would that not help the user, but it would signal Google that we are not a relevant search result.
Complete All Required Information
Including the phone number and address is the bare minimum, but don’t get lazy. Add your hours and a link to your website. Complete the business description, select as many attributes that Google will allow, and add your opening date.
Get Your Listing Found
Creating your listing is just the beginning. Now you need to get it seen. We have achieved major success in increasing the visibility of our clients’ listings by taking a few simple actions on a consistent basis. The operative term here is consistency. Doing this for a few weeks, or even a few months, will produce limited results. Like anything in your marketing plan, maintaining your Google listing needs to be a long-term commitment. Don’t expect to update your listing today and be flooded with phone calls tomorrow. By consistently updating your listing over time, however, you could increase the number of people who find your listing by literally thousands of people per year.
Add Pictures and Videos Regularly
It has become increasingly clear that people on the internet would rather look at pictures or watch a video than read something. (Except for you of course! Make sure to check out our other blogs as well!) People want to see what you have to offer before they make a decision. For somebody like Bob’s BBQ, this is simple. Just keep posting pictures of mouth-watering ribs, and hungry people will come. For our legal clients, or anybody who doesn’t produce a physical product, this might sound more difficult — but it’s not: You are the product, so add pictures of you and your staff.
RELATED: Video Killed the Analog Star: Great Video, Ideal Clients
Look at the number of images viewed for some of our legal clients and how they increased over one year by adding pictures of everyday happenings around the office. We added an average of one picture or video per week over the last year to achieve these results.
Not only are pictures of your team effective, pictures of your building work great too! Google wants to know what the building itself looks like — both inside and out. Take a few pictures of your office from the outside. Get a few shots of your name on the door. Snap a few pics of your lobby. Google loves images like these! They give an accurate idea of what your office looks like and what users can expect when they get there, which goes a long way in making them comfortable in their decision-making process.The proof is in the numbers. If you think nobody is going to click through pictures of you and your staff eating cake at Phil’s birthday lunch, think again. People love Phil (and cake).
RELATED: Digital Marketing’s Role in Potential Client Decision-Making
Utilize Posts to Promote Content and Other Updates
Beyond adding your contact info and business description to your listing, you can add short-term posts that can live on your listing for up to a month. For ourselves and our clients, we regularly use posts as a vehicle to promote new content.
Depending on your business type, you can promote new services, offer discounts, or share events. The nature of our clients’ businesses typically doesn’t lend itself to offering coupons or sales, so we update these posts twice per week with a different piece of original content.
In March 2018, Google changed their reporting measurement of what they consider a view of a post, which drastically reduced the number of reported views per post. However, even after this adjustment, our clients average 131 post views per month.
Ask For Reviews
The easiest way to get reviews is to ask for them outright. This might feel awkward or unnatural, but when it comes to getting reviews for your Google listing, being direct is the most effective approach. Asking for reviews should be part of your client interaction protocols. Not everybody will leave a review, but a steady stream of a few reviews here or there will add up over time.
If you’re still on the fence about asking for reviews, ask for feedback instead. Let your customers know you appreciate their business and would love for them to leave their honest feedback on Google. This makes them more likely to leave a better description of their experience (which will include more possible keywords) rather than simply giving 5 stars and saying thanks.
Having a good stable of reviews goes beyond vanity. Google looks at reviews for search keywords and displays them prominently in results. Going back to our search for “Best Ribs in Grand Rapids,” when we expand the search to look at more than just the first three results, reviews are shown with relevant keywords in bold. This allows you to show up in search for keywords even if they aren’t necessarily in your business name or category.
RELATED: Negative Reviews: Sticks, Stones, and Solutions
Long-Term Results of an Optimized Google Listing
Through these combined efforts executed consistently over time, we have considerably increased the number of people who see our clients’ Google listings at a steady rate. Take a look at the year-over-year views some of our clients’ Google listings have received.
Ranking higher is great and views are good, but views don’t pay the bills if they don’t turn into clients. The good news is that more visibility leads to more people clicking through to your website and calling your office. Here are the number of website visits and phone calls for the same four clients over the past year:How would you like to have your name in front of several thousand more people at this time next year?
Contact LaFleur for Help Creating or Optimizing Your Google Business ListingThere you have it! More views, more visitors to your website, and more phone calls from a simple update that you can make in mere minutes. Again, although it is simple, it’s not a quick fix that will spike the number of inbound leads overnight. That said, when implemented as part of your overall marketing strategy, an optimized Google business listing is probably the easiest and cheapest (don’t forget that Google listings are free!) way to increase your visibility and ultimately increase your business.
At LaFleur, we’ve taken the time to learn and perfect the seemingly minor details that can make a major difference in your digital marketing efforts, leading to better leads and clients. If you’re interested in improving your Google listing, updating your content marketing strategy, or just learning more about our general approach to successful campaigns, please contact us by completing this brief online form or calling (888) 222-1512.