Google My Business is a great tool to attract local customers. It’s a totally free tool and has a lot of potentials to generate foot traffic, website traffic, leads, sales, reviews.
Unfortunately, it’s not enough to just create an account because your competitors have GMBs as well. We need to create an account that will rank at the top of Google search results and attract customers. That’s where we need to use different optimization tactics that are proven to be effective for the vast variety of businesses.
Instead of telling you the theory behind Google My Business ranking factors let’s take a look at the highest-ranking business in the Toronto area and figure out what tactics they use to be successful.
Examples listed below are top results in Toronto area.
Standout with pictures.
I like images on the Town Barber GMB page, take a look for inspiration. These pictures create a super friendly and manly vibe, the right mix for your local barbershop.
Mi Hermano is one of my favourite barbershops in Toronto. They send more upscale vibes with professional pictures. Think of your target audience and the brand you are trying to build online. Prices, audience, interior, services, branding, pictures – everything has to match.
I know it’s an obvious rule but for some reason 90% of businesses on Google don’t fully leverage this tactic.
Fill as much information as possible
Google My Business constantly updates a lot of optional fields that give additional information to users. Google algorithm wants to push the most complete results to the top.
In the screenshot above I searched for Latin food restaurant in Toronto. Google has a couple of interesting fields for every business category. I like this business listing because it gives me a lot of different options to get in touch with them: Website, Call, Doordash, skipthedishes, ubereats.com.
- I can visit their website
- Directly call them and book a table
- I see the address
- I like the health and safety section where they mention monitoring measures in place
- Order – awesome section where I see how you can order something home
In the screenshot above I found a competitor of La Bonita restaurant. Restaurant El Rancho.
Additional important sections :
- Restaurant description – it’s a great way to show the uniqueness of your business and stand out from the crowd. Don’t just say “Colombian restaurant” or “Latin food restaurant” It’s a first introduction that people see when they find your business.
- Menu – great addition from the user journey perspective. You can check the menu before making a decision. Same way when restaurants leave a menu outside. Evrything that improves customer user journey moves you closer to convincing them to spend money at your place
- Reservation – as well as menu on the home page helps to find valuable information faster
It won’t take too much of your time to fill these fields but will greatly benefit you in the long run. I don’t want to list all the optional fields. I just want to show that the majority of businesses neglect a lot of them.
Encourage customers to leave a review
In the screenshot above I searched for a restaurant. The most powerful Google ranking factor is proximity therefore all these top results are very close to me.
But besides proximity, we can notice that all top results have at least a couple of dozens of reviews. Reviews do affect ranking, especially first 30-40 reviews will give you a significant boost in google ranking. We also notice that beyond 30-40 reviews the additional 5 starts won’t give you as much boost as the first 30-40 ones.
How to gather reviews
It may seem to be time consuming to leave a review for even the happiest of your customers. That’s why there are a couple of shortcuts you can use:
Google review section embedded in your website
Create a google review section on your website where people can click on a button and get redirected directly to writing a review. These screenshots below is a popular google review widget.
Email signature with embedded link in it
You can input an image similar to the below one and embed a link to your review page. These guys wrote a step-by-step guide on how to do it. It’s a great tactic if you’re in a service industry and email your clients a lot. Maybe you send them e-receipts? Such an email signature would be a great addition to your review efforts.
Review collection automation
You can automate emails and text messages. There are plenty of companies out there that offer Google review collection systems. Companies such as Arrivala create help you to collect reviews and keep track of your efforts. Google for more companies.
If you want to scale your review efforts you should look at the automated solutions. No need to pay extra if you already have a CRM. Simply set up an email + text campaign that gets triggered when a customer pays you or work is finished.
Automation comes handy when you have multiple locations and each location has Google My Business.
Respond to Google reviews
- Respond to ALL the reviews.
- Respond to Good, bad, neutral. It’s great to see when the owner/manager monitors the customer’s opinion and actively engages with them in such a transparent way.
- An engaged owner who responds to all reviews encourages people to leave more reviews.
Post on Google My Business
From the screenshot above you can see that a lot of business owners use GMB posts to attract customers and give updates (COVID example)
Right now Google has 5 distinct types of posts available:
- What’s new – great for any business that has something exciting to share
- Events – great for fitness or some entertainment business
- Offers – I think can be good for services
- Welcome Offer – for anyone
- Products – from the screenshot above you can see it can be pizza or fitness equipment
Monitor your Google My Business Insights
Management thinker Peter Drucker is often quoted as saying that “you can’t manage what you can’t measure.” It perfectly applies to Google My Business optimization efforts.
- You can see in how many searches you GMB appeared in a specific date range.
- You can view data over multiple months to see trends.
- Compare your appearance on Search vs Maps
- Look for spikes of traffic, how it correlates with marketing and/or optimization efforts
GMB has very interesting competitive data. In the screenshot above GMB shows photo views vs your competitors. This section would be super useful for restaurants. You want to have attractive pictures so people want to view them. This data can shed a light on customer interactions.
Besides overall traffic and its source you can see what actions people take on your business profile.
Don’t stress out trying to be perfect, you simply have to be a little bit better than your competitors. Allocate one hour every week improving/managing your Google My Business account and you will see the first changes in a couple of months.
Here’s a comprehensive article on full-scale local google optimization. It’s more time-consuming than just GMB but can to even greater results.