Everyone knows Google for being mostly used for web search results, but the tech giant is also known for its analytics and other tools, all of which can help businesses thrive. Proprietary technology like Google Analytics, Google My Business and Get Your Business Online help businesses form an online presence from the bottom up. Getting the most from your website isn’t just about climbing Google rankings nationally – local rankings and reviews can make or break your business.

One in five online searches are local, according to Google, one of the best ways to boost sales is to get your business seen by customers nearby to you. Google My Business is free, easy to use and a must for any small company wanting to promote its services to a local market.

So what is Google My Business and how does it work?

Google My Business is a local search tool that organises results around specific locations. Business owners submit a profile and when a potential customer looks for a specific business sector in their area, a list of local businesses will come up.

Businesses must have a Google account to register, but once a profile is submitted and verified, a listing is normally up and running within a few days. Google My Business puts your business information in Search, Maps and Google Plus so that customers can find you, no matter what device they’re using.

Keywords to help customers find you

The best way to get your business out there is to put together an effective description of your business. Just like a normal website, a Google My Business listing is subject to Google’s own search engine spiders, so it’s important to create a relevant, SEO-friendly profile of your company using appropriate keywords and tags.

It’s all about knowing how your customers will search for you. For example, if you’re a high-end London jewellery retailer, you might want to include the words designer, or boutique, to make your profile more specific. There are no rules – you simply need to think about how your potential customers would try and find you.

Push up your ranking on Google

Rankings in local listings will depend on two factors:

  • How close your company is to the area specified in the search
  • How close your business is to the person searching

User interaction with your profile will help make your listing more prominent. The aim is to get as many customers as possible clicking on your link as Google sees this as relevance and will organise results accordingly. Your position on the results page should improve.

Customer reviews on Google

Customer reviews also have a big impact. The more good reviews the better so always encourage buyers to leave comments about your service or product.

Another way to influence rankings is to register with other reliable local online directories such as Yelp, Yell and Thomson local. Google will look at other trusted sites for mentions of your business name and its details to assess the quality and relevance of your firm to a search.

Updating your business profile is important in order to make sure that content stays relevant. Over time, tastes and trends change, so you need to make sure that your keywords remain accurate and relevant. Check your profile at least every quarter, and preferably once a month, to keep on top of things.

 Update your info

This should seem self-explanatory by now and for good reason. But even these little details matter when optimising your listing. The first thing you want to make sure is correct in your listing is your business name, address, and phone number (called NAP). Many businesses don’t even get this far. When it comes to your phone number, here’s a tip, include your local listing first before a toll-free option. This will help you rank higher.

You should add as much information about your company as possible. That includes your business hours and your website address (URL) too. If you have a chain or business with multiple locations, you can add them all at once using list view. The fact of the matter is, Google’s algorithms are more advanced than ever. So they don’t solely pay attention to keyword information anymore. This is where your website comes in. Be sure to include your NAP on your website where you can.

Add Images to Your Google My Business Listing

Images are more important than ever when it comes to My Business Listings. If you think you can get away with having a single image, or worse yet, no images in your listing, think again. This is one area where taking the time to upload a lot of images can dramatically improve your listing.

Your listing will give you the option for a bunch of different types of images. Use them all. The easiest images will be your interior and exterior photos. These will help your customer both find your business (very important) and get a feel for the atmosphere too.

There are also options to add images for team members and products or menu items. Be sure to include these too. And remember, any sort of business can have images.