Business owners find themselves constantly pulled in multiple directions as they try to balance the competing needs of their businesses. They must find a way to secure new employees to meet demand while keeping an eye on workforce projections for slow parts of the year. On the finance front, they worry simultaneously about managing costs and looking for ways to get customers to spend more. Of course, one thing that helps with almost all problems is a steady stream of new and repeat customers. Making it easy for customers to find you is the first step on that path. It begins with optimizing your Google Business Profile. If you’re unsure how to optimize your Google Business Profile, keep reading for a breakdown of the essential elements.
Get Your NAP Right on the Profile
No, we’re talking about getting a little midday rest. Your NAP is your business’s:
- Phone number
This might seem a no-brainer, but has your business ever used a different phone number? Did you ever operate out of a different location? Very few things ever die online, which makes it unfortunately easy for wrong information to crop up, even on Google. Maybe even especially on Google.
If that old information still exists online, particularly on sites like Yelp or Foursquare, there’s a decent chance it will crop up on someone’s search. That’s a great way to lose a potential customer and end up with negative reviews online.
That’s why it’s critical not only to get it right on Google but also to correct it anywhere else you have a business citation.
Make Sure Your Hours Are Right
Many businesses adjusted their business hours during the pandemic at physical and online locations. Now that most businesses are open to the public again, many businesses changed their hours again. Businesses are pretty good about ensuring the hours listed at their locations are correct but neglect to adjust them online.
This is another great way to lose potential customers if your online listings state that you’re online only or delivery only, no one will show up at your storefront. On the flip side, what if you used to run later hours and stopped during the pandemic? If you never change those hours online, you risk people showing up after you close for the night. Either way, you end up with some unhappy people.
Business Description and Categories
Your next areas of concern are your business description and category/subcategory selections. While Google cracks down hard on promotional talk in business descriptions, it’s still an opportunity to hook potential customers. Minimally, you must describe what your business offers regarding products or services. If you run a restaurant, get specific about what kind of restaurant it is. Is it a family dining burger establishment or French fine dining? If you can find a way to work it in, consider adding a bit about your business mission or your history. Are you the longest-running men’s clothing store in the city? Mention that.
Next up are the category selections. Google provides a pretty comprehensive list of potential business categories or subcategories. Spend some time looking at the options. Don’t just pick one and call it a day. Pick all of the categories that apply to your business. Remember, Google shows results to people based at least partially on the relevance of your listing. The more specific their queries get, the less likely general categories will appear relevant to the search. This can be an opportunity to sneak in some keywords related to your business; just make sure the keywords don’t overwhelm the purpose of the description.
Photos Are Your Friend
Photos are another one of the key answers to the problem of how to optimize your Google Business profile. It’s one of the nice ways that Google lets you optimize because it gives you a staggering level of control. Businesses that use good images typically see higher click-through rates, calls, and direction requests. Of course, those results typically show up with a higher number of pictures, so don’t be stingy.
While you may not go so far as to hire a professional photographer to take pictures of your business, you can take as much time as you need to take good pictures on your own. Take the job seriously. Break out that dusty old tripod that has been living in your closet since that photography class you took back in college. Look at your phone if you don’t have a good DSLR or mirrorless camera. Newer smartphone cameras come with a mind-boggling number of megapixels. Plus, you can pick up a smartphone attachment for a tripod on the cheap.
Get several shots of your interior and exterior, some staff pictures, and especially some of your products if you sell products.
Much like categories, Google lets you select from a meaningful list of business attributes. You should take the time to look through all the options because there is a relevance factor at work in search results. Some people prefer to use businesses that are, for example, women-led or veteran-led. Others look for things like wheelchair accessibility, outdoor seating, available WiFi, and even specific payment options. More boxes you can tick, the more people you can potentially reach in the search results. Just make sure that your business can back up those claims. If you can’t, and someone shows up looking for a specific feature, there is a good chance they’ll call you out about it online.
Encourage Customer Reviews and Reply
By now, you’re probably familiar with the concept of social proof. If not, it means that real people back up claims found online or those made by a business. Reviews are a kind of social proof. If you claim that you provide a specific product or a specific experience at your business, reviews will – with luck – back up those claims. You should make a point of asking your customers to leave reviews about your business on Google.
Once people do leave reviews, you should respond to each one. If the review does nothing but sings your praises, leave a response saying how happy you are that they had such a great experience. If someone points out an issue they experienced, respond and let them know what you plan to do about it. This does double duty of showing that human beings are paying attention to the reviews, which customers like, and that you’ll take action when things go wrong, which customers also like.
Post On Your Google Business Profile
Another potential answer to the question of how to optimize your Google Business Profile is through posting on your Google Business Profile. These posts aren’t typically as long or deep as well-constructed blog posts, but it is new content. Google loves fresh content. You can use these posts more like news briefs. For example, you can write about an upcoming sale or event. If you run a restaurant, you can talk about new specials that are coming to the menu or simply changes to the menu. If you’re making a big change in leadership, you can mention the new person coming on board.
Optimizing for Success
Optimizing your Google Business Profile is more than just getting another listing online. It’s a way for you to generate new business through search relevance. When you build out your profile, list attributes, write a great description, and choose the right categories, it makes it easy for people to find you while they’re out and about. That means more people coming through the door and more revenue to add to the bottom line.
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