In 2009, Google began serving local results in general search queries. Now in 2019, local results have risen to the top in visibility and importance for local businesses. With algorithm changes emphasizing the most relevant results from Google’s services rather than from independent web pages, an optimized Google My Business (GMB) page is an important tactic within a local retailer’s SEO strategy.
The most prominent local results are served in the Google local pack, pulled from Google My Business pages. Appearing in the local pack has benefits for all local businesses, but the local retail business has a lot to gain from optimizing a GMB page for local pack exposure. It’s a shot at achieving prominent visibility in a search for a relevant keyword for no money.
Google My Business listings are free to set up and have no limit on the number of photos, offers and services you can post. You cannot pay for increased ranking, but a business appears in the local pack based on the quality of your page’s information as it compares with the general query. The only thing you need to invest is time.
Here are a few ways retail shops can optimize Google My Business for local SEO success:
Claim your Business
Any local retailer can claim a GMB listing for free even if your store front is not yet open for business. Once a business is claimed you can also set up multiple locations, if applicable.
Input Accurate Information
Entering accurate information into a GMB page will ensure a listing is matched with relevant queries. You can update your business information from the left sidebar under Info.
Among some important things to include are:
Categories: Select from Google’s predetermined categories so they can define a business. You can select multiple categories. For instance, if you’re optimizing a GMB page for a small shop that sells high-end baby clothes and accessories you may choose Baby Store, Boutique and Children’s Clothing Store as your categories. Be specific with your categories.
Hours: Enter normal weekly hours, as well as special holiday hours or closings. Accurate hours give users confidence that a business will be available when they need your product.
Photos: Adding a visual can have a huge influence on users visiting a location. Include the logo, product images, photos of the retail space from the customer’s perspective, and employees and customers in action. All these images will help portray the atmosphere of the business and give users an idea of what to expect. Follow Google’s guidelines for image size and format. Keep in mind that customers can also upload images of a business.
Respond to Reviews
Reviews help drive business to a store front. When it comes down to choosing between one business and another competitor close by, reviews are often the decision maker for a prospective customer. To start gathering reviews, businesses should encourage customers to leave reviews on its GMB page – especially loyal customers.
Also, a business must respond to reviews – especially negative reviews. This allows prospective customers see the level of customer service with which the business operates. If there’s a complaint it should be briefly addressed and the customer should be invited to contact the business directly through messaging, email or phone so they can rectify the problem.
Enable Mobile Messaging
Messaging through GMB provides an easy way for customers to contact merchants. Messages can come to a business via SMS or in the GMB App. Google is always concerned with engagement and responsiveness so if messaging is enabled, response time for inquiries needs to be quick.
Show In-Stock Products
A newer GMB feature is a product tab for mobile view. This is still in BETA and is only available to certain business categories. Local retail stores may not have services to provide (which can be added under info), but there are certainly products to be marketed. Each product can display a name, description, price and photo. It’s yet another way to set user expectations before they enter a store.
As shown above, outdoor outfitter Cabela’s highlights various product categories using this feature.
Check back Frequently
Many businesses set up a profile and forget about it. However, Google frequently releases new features for GMB which can assist in building credibility and appearing in local searches, when filled out accurately. Taking advantage of new features can distinguish your business from your competitors. Visiting a GMB page regularly to review business information and check on new features is important for achieving local SEO success.