Updated: May 10, 2018
About 90% of worldwide web searches happen on Google. So if you want to maximize your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and increase your chances of showing up at the top of searches, setting up and optimizing your Google My Business (GMB) listing is a critically important first step.
This is a free listing that qualifying local businesses can claim and it offers tremendous impact for companies seeking local exposure. If you’ve been in business for several years or more, you may already have a GMB, but what most companies don’t realize is that there are many new features you can use to optimize your listing and many reasons to frequently check it to ensure it stays accurate. Here’s how.
First off: yes, using Google My Business is free. And, no, a GMB listing doesn’t replace your business’s website. Google My Business complements your existing website by giving your business a public identity and presence with a listing on Google, the most popular search engine in the world. If you still don’t have a website in today’s day and age or yours needs a refresh, we can help you!
Starting Your Google My Business Listing
To get started, visit https://www.google.com/business and click start now.
Sign in and enter your business information. If there is already a listing for your business, it will notify you. It may also notify you that someone else already claimed your business. If that happens, follow these steps.
Some basic but crucial tips for optimizing your listing:
Enter Complete and Specific Data for Your Listing
SEO works by finding the most relevant results for searches, and therefore the more detailed and accurate your information, the more likely you are to match a search and show up in the listings. Being as specific as possible with your category of business is especially important in helping with SEO. It’s also important to ensure that the information on your website and GMB listing is identical (address, hours, contact info, etc...). So complete ALL the information Google asks for. If you don’t, someone else could. Many business owners don’t realize that anyone can suggest a change to your business listing — and that includes competitors. When someone clicks on your GMB listing, they can see a “Suggest an edit” option:
If someone clicks on that option they can actually edit your listing. This is just one of the reasons why it is important to log in regularly to your GMB dashboard to make sure everything is accurate. You'll see a notification that changes are pending if anyone has made a change that requires your approval. Google also encourages viewers to add information about your business by getting them to “answer quick questions.” This “user-generated content” might be good for the internet, but it could be very bad for you! So take control and fully complete your profile yourself.
SEO works by searching the web for results that match the keywords or phrases that a consumer types into the search bar. So utilizing typical keywords and search phrases for your industry in your listing (just as you should on your website) can be incredibly helpful to get your company to show up in search results. Think of what consumers would search for and include those words in your listing (ex: “best hair salon Vancouver”).
Manage Your Photos Properly
Photos can help your Google My Business listing performance more than you expect. Google research shows that businesses with photos on their listings receive 42% more requests for driving directions on Google Maps and 35% more click-throughs to their websites than businesses that without photos.
The image that will get the most exposure and deliver the most impact for your listing is the Profile Photo. Therefore try not to simply use your brand logo, but rather an appealing image that will spark consumer interest. What is the best, high quality photo that represents your business and what you offer?
Other images that should be added to your GMB listing are:
Logo image: Google recommends businesses use their logo to help customers identify your business with a square-sized image.
Cover photo: Cover photos should really showcase a brand page’s personality (think Facebook cover photo). It’s the large photo featured at the top of the brand’s Google+ page, it will always be cropped to fit a 16:9 aspect ratio.
Other photos: Additional photos and videos can and should be added to your listing. The photos that you have already used to represent your company on your website would be a good place to start selecting from. Photos of the inside and outside of your salon or spa, great shots of the work you and your team have created, and even professional bio photos of your staff members will all serve you better and increase the clicks and contacts you get from potential customers.
All photos should follow Google best practices:
Format: JPG or PNG
Size: Between 10KB and 5MB
Minimum resolution: 720px tall, 720px wide
Quality: The photo should be in focus and well-lit, and have no alterations or excessive use of filters. The image should represent reality.
Manage & Respond to Customer Reviews
Reviews are important in so many ways. Not only are they today’s version of word of mouth and highly viewed by consumers to create an opinion about your business, but numerous, high quality reviews from multiple review sites will help your SEO and increase your visibility in search results.
The first best practice is to encourage all customers who have had a positive experience with your company to provide feedback. Check out our article about best tips on how to increase your online reviews. One technique that you can use specifically for Google reviews is to encourage customers to leave feedback by creating a link they can click to write reviews for your business.
The second best practice is to respond quickly to ALL reviews, whether positive or negative. This demonstrates that your company is attentive to consumers and values their feedback, both of which imply that you offer world-class customer experience in your salon or spa.
It’s important to recognize that Google won’t display your business or its edits until the business is verified. You also can’t access any page insights/analytical information or business reviews.
Verification typically takes about 10-12 days, in which Google will send you a verification code postcard that, once you receive, you verify with the enclosed code and your business will officially be live.
Now that you’ve read and can master the Google My Business Listing fundamentals, read Part 2 of this series to learn how to capitalize on the extra, free features that GMB offers!
Looking for more Instagram and social media tips for salons and spas? Check out the rest of our Resource Library for valuable content to help grow your salon or spa business!