In today’s unpredictable world, we shouldn’t be surprised that Google threw us another curveball before 2021 wrapped up. Still, many were shocked when Google announced a major change to its online business listings service—Google My Business (GMB) has officially renamed itself to Google Business Profile (GBP).
The rebrand mostly impacts how and where business listings are updated on Google. Small or single-location organizations will be encouraged to set up a GBP and edit their listings directly in Google Maps or Google Search. Larger multi-location businesses will transition to an updated interface called Google Profile Manager.
Google Business Profile is another reminder that online search keeps evolving. With this reminder, we encourage you to take a renewed look at their online listings and local SEO strategy. As 2022 begins and visibility on Google Maps becomes more essential than ever, do more than setting up your GBP—optimize your Google Maps listing so your business ranks above the rest.
Why Google Maps Matters for a Local SEO Business Strategy
Whether you own a tiny mom-and-pop retail business or you’re the marketing manager at a worldwide restaurant enterprise, local SEO matters. No matter the size, business success comes down to people walking through your doors and buying products. These days, that means landing a top spot on Google Maps.
Before a potential customer can buy something from your business, they have to find it—and Google is the undisputed king when it comes to online search. As of October 2021, Google makes up an incredible 91.66% of search engine inquiries according to Statcounter. Furthermore, over 80% of major purchases now begin online.
If you’re not taking Google Maps and Google Business Profile seriously, you’re invisible to countless potential customers.
Thankfully, optimizing your current Google Maps and GBP listings—or getting started altogether—is easier than you might think. With a small time investment and a consistently updated online presence, you’ll be making the coveted local 3-pack or map pack, those top three highlighted listings on Google Maps, in no time.
1. Add Your Business to Google Maps with Google Business Profile
First, make sure potential customers can find your business on local search which means getting listed on Google Maps. With 23.42 million app downloads in 2020 according to Statista, Google Maps is by far the most popular mapping app in the U.S. with Waze coming in second at 11.22 million downloads.
If your business isn’t listed on Google Maps, it’s free and simple to do. Create a Google Business Profile account and follow the steps. In minutes, you’ll be listed on Google Maps, Google Search, and other online platforms.
Can you already see your business name on Google Maps? This doesn’t mean that you’re properly listed!
If you or a team member never set up the listing through Google, then who knows where that information is getting pulled from. As online listing accuracy is key to higher rankings—not to mention people easily finding your business—be sure that you are in full control of your company’s online presence.
2. Claim Your Google Maps Listing
Once you’re listed on Google Maps, take the next step by officially claiming your business—a key step in building online visibility. According to Search Engine Journal, a claimed business gets 7 times more clicks than an unclaimed listing and is 70% more likely to attract customers to their location!
With a claimed listing on Google, you add credibility and authority to your online presence. It signals that the business itself personally monitors, filters, and posts accurate information. As anyone can add reviews, pictures, and even edit a business’s information on Google, it’s critical to keep an eagle eye on your profile.
By claiming your listing, you will receive alerts whenever an update is made. That way, you can quickly correct any inaccuracies—or pat yourself on the back after reading another 5-star review (and then thank that customer for the kind words).
NOTE: Google recently announced that businesses with a single location can only make edits via their Google Search results page. For access to edit via the dashboard, you must have multiple locations.
To claim your Google Maps listing:
- Make sure that your business has been added to Google Maps (as explained above)
- Open Google Maps
- Search for your business
- Find your business, and click it to open the listing
- Click the button labeled, “Claim This Business”
- Choose a verification method
- Get verified!
3. Build an Accurate, In-Depth Online Business Listing
A great local SEO-optimized business listing on Google Maps takes more than your name, phone number, category, and address—the four fields required to create a listing. To start rising in the ranks and converting customers, always remember the NAPWCHD:
To increase your chances of getting found online, include all of the above business details on your Google Maps listing. Each item in your company’s NAPWCHD needs to be accurate, updated when necessary (don’t forget to change your holiday hours), and 100% identical between different locations and on other listing platforms like Yelp and Facebook.
Your company name on every Google listing should exactly match your store signage and the business name as written in your official GBP documentation. It’s also against Google’s best practices to add location modifiers (i.e. Subway-North Beach) to your business listing. Doing so could even get your account suspended.
For example, envision you’re updating the Google Map listings for Noodles & Company. If “Noodles & Company” is the officially documented business name, ensure no locations or listings use deviations like “Noodles & Co.”, “Noodles and Company,” or “Noodles & Company-Kansas City.”
Not only does consistency make Google happy while boosting your search rankings and online visibility; it also strengthens your branding across multiple locations adding to name recognition and overall trustworthiness.
4. Add Great Photos and Videos To Your Google Maps Listing
Though helpful, words and rankings alone will rarely sell a burger or a handbag. Customers want to see what your business offers before walking through the door—and images are the ideal way to advertise yourself on Google Maps.
As a verified business on GBP, it’s easy to add photos, brand logos, and videos directly from any device and via social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. You can even add a cover photo to your profile which adds one more attention-grabbing way to lure in buyers. All of these will appear on your Google Maps profile.
By regularly adding high-quality photos to your Google Business Profile, you’ll do more than entice curious buyers. As anyone can add photos to your profile, consistently posting your own images pushes down user-sourced content to better highlight your own high-quality photography.
5. Encourage Customers to Leave Positive Google Reviews
Don’t be shy about asking customers to leave a review on Google Maps. Simply ask verbally after a successful purchase, add a short note encouraging reviews on the receipt, or include messaging on an email or text blast. It takes seconds but can create a lasting impact.
Positive online ratings and reviews are incredibly critical to success in today’s competitive online marketplace. A better online reputation also encourages higher rankings on Google Maps and Google Search—including landing on that golden 3-pack.
Online user reviews appear next to search results for your business. An extensive collection of reviews offers people an inside look at everything from cleanliness to product quality to customer experience. With this transparency, buyers feel better about choosing your brand over your competitors.
It’s also important to respond to every online review—the good, the bad, and the ugly. For one, it shows that you truly care about what customers think of your business. If the review is great, genuinely thank them for their kind response. If it’s neutral, ask what would make their next trip a 5-star experience. If it’s negative, express empathy, apologize and do what you can to make it right for the reviewer and for future customers.
6. Eliminate and Merge Duplicate Google Map Listings
Sometimes, a single business address acquires multiple Google Maps listings. There are many reasons why this happens from an address change to corporate-level miscommunication. Or, if a listing has poor data or information, Google can create its own improved version as a near duplicate without notifying the business itself.
Whatever the reason, duplicates are never good for online visibility. Essentially, both listings will compete with each other and bring down local SEO and Google Map rankings. It also can create confusion for potential customers.
If your business has duplicate Google Maps listings, you need to consolidate them now—and doing so takes multiple steps and assistance from Google itself. It might sound like a hassle, but it’s worth it.
First, you have to remove the duplicate location from Google Maps:
- Sign onto your Business Profile Manager Account
- Click “Manage Locations”
- Check the boxes for the locations you want to be removed
- Click “Actions”
- Click “Remove locations”
Occasionally, depending on how the duplicate listing was created, you’ll have to submit a request to Google to officially get it removed:
- Open Google Maps
- Select the duplicate you want to remove
- Click “Suggest an Edit”
- Click Close or remove.
- Click Duplicate of another place
- If listed, choose the correct location
- Click “Submit” and Google should quickly respond to your request
You’re not done yet. Removing the listing only eliminates it from your account, not Google itself. To remove the duplicate listing entirely, you’ll have to merge it with your live listing or ask Google to delete it from their index. Both steps require reaching out to Google support.
Once your locations have been consolidated, it’ll be easier for potential customers—and for Google—to direct people to your store. If you’re part of a mid-size or enterprise business, this can be a daunting task but it’s worth the effort. Check out a listings management service to help your team optimize your listings in no time.
7. Write an Inviting, Customer-Focused Description
If you’re intimidated by writing your business description on Google, we get it. How do you sum up an entire organization within the 750 character limit while simultaneously enticing customers to choose you over the competition?
First off, slip into the mindset of your target customer. From their perspective, consider what makes your company really stand above the rest. Generic simplicity like “great burgers and fries” just won’t cut it in today’s competitive and diverse marketplace.
Instead, ask your customer-minded self questions like—why is the product unique? What are the most popular offerings? How is the environment comfortable, trendy, friendly, romantic, or exciting? Who are the regular customers? Why should your audience choose your business over the others?
With answers in hand, you’ll be equipped with a fantastic, informative list ready to be crafted into an alluring description. Here’s an example of a wonderful Google description from Southern comfort food chain, Tupelo Honey.
“Tupelo Honey is a revival of Southern food and traditions rooted in the Carolina Mountains we call home. We craft brunches, lunches and suppers that bring family and friends around the table and allow for conversations and cocktails to linger longer than usual.”
NOTE: Google doesn’t allow URLs or display links and highly discourages the mention of offers, promotions, sales, etc. within business descriptions.
8. Keep Content (and Ideas) Fresh on Google Maps and Beyond
Nobody likes to see the same photos or posts over and over again. Neither does Google’s algorithm. Instead, Google prioritizes businesses that are active online.
It’s essential to regularly update and post new content on your Google Business Profile such as photos, review responses, and Google updates, etc. As Google connects your entire online presence, be sure to do the same for your main website, blogs, and social media.
Staying fresh matters for your local SEO strategy. Digital trends move rapidly, and Google Business Profile likely won’t be the last major change you’ll see this year. By keeping a pulse on these trends and actively staying ahead of the competition, expect to see your online rankings rise while your business thrives.
Like our tips and tricks but don’t have the time to properly manage your online business listings? Connect with Chatmeter and discover how our all-in-one local SEO software supports some of North America’s largest enterprise brands to boost revenue through better online visibility. Start with our free, instant brand audit to discover how visible your brand is online.