8 Easy Google Business Optimizations for 2023
Running a successful business today means maximizing exposure through online channels. From your website, blog articles, or social media channels, every component of your business’s web presence matters. One of the main challenges a business owner faces is directing that online traffic into exposure, engagement, and eventually a conversion.
This is where your Google Business profile (formerly Google My Business) comes into play. Your company’s Google Business Profile serves as a metaphorical billboard in digital form that steers prospects to your online content, moves them through the sales funnel and ultimately converts them into paying customers.
In the last few years alone “near me’ and “close by” searches have increased 900%. On top of that 42% of all local searches done on Google involve a click on the map pack. Investing in your GBP profile is going to greatly expand your ability to reach customers near you.
To maximize the impact of your business listing here are 8 quick wins to help you optimize your Google Business profile for 2023.
Fill out Your Entire Google Business Profile
This is one of the easiest and quickest things to fix but is an issue that we see regularly. Giving Google as much information about your business as possible is going to provide your listing with long term rankings benefits.
Here are some reasons why filling out your entire Google Business profile is important:
Increase Visibility in Local Search: Google uses information from your Google Business profile to determine for what and where your business should appear in local search results. Leaving out important categories will mean you want show up at all for certain searches.
Provide Valuable Information to Customers: Your Google Business profile is often the first point of contact that potential customers have with your business. Accurate information is going to help qualify a potential customers before they even contact you.
Improve Customer Engagement: Your Google Business profile allows customers to engage with your business by calling you, leave reviews, book appointments or live chat with your business. In fact, Google states customers 50% more likely to consider purchasing from businesses and 70% more likely to visit a business with a completed profile.
Stand out From Competitors: By providing complete and accurate information, businesses can stand out from competitors who may have incomplete or inaccurate information on their Google Business profile. This can help to attract more local customers to your business and according to Google, customers are 2.7 times more likely to consider a business reputable if they find a complete Business Profile on Google Search and Maps.
Some areas that many businesses regularly miss include:
- Full business description
- Service Area
- Additional business categories
- Services Offered
- In-store Products
- Images and videos of the business and services
- Opening Date
- Business hours and holiday hours
- Select Attributes (Women owned, etc)
Even if there currently isn’t a correlation between rankings and some current GBP profile feature, that doesn’t mean it will stay that way. Back in 2018 Google released predefined services that could be added to your listing. It wasn’t until 2022 that that feature started influencing local map pack rankings.
Using Proper Local Business Schema/Structured Data
Schema markup is a standardized code that can be added to a website to help search engines understand the content and context of the information on the page. Schema provides a clear and consistent way to communicate specific details about a website to Google.
For local businesses, schema markup is particularly important because it helps search engines understand the location of the business, hours of operation, pricing range, aggregate reviews and the services or products offered. This information can be used to display relevant results to users who are searching for local businesses or services.
Providing more detailed and comprehensive information to Google can increase your local search visibility dramatically. This can ultimately lead to increased website traffic, more leads, and higher sales for the business.
Here are some types of schema you should consider including on your local business:
- Organization Schema: This schema markup helps search engines understand your business name, address, phone number, and other important information.
- Local Business Schema: This schema markup provides additional information about your business, including your business type, opening hours, reviews, and more.
- Event Schema: If your business hosts local events, adding event schema can help search engines display your event details prominently in search results.
- Product Schema: If you sell products, adding product schema can help search engines display your product details prominently in search results.
- Review Schema: If your business has customer reviews, adding review schema can help search engines display your ratings and reviews prominently in search results.
- FAQ Schema: If your website has frequently asked questions, adding FAQ schema can help search engines display your answers directly in search results.
The final step is to crawl and test the schema markup with the use of Google’s Rich Result Tester or the Schema Markup Validator from Schema.org.
Page Level Local Backlinks
Backlinks from other websites still play an important role in Google’s local and organic algorithm. Local link signals now account for 17% of all GBP ranking factors.
Here are some reasons why link building is important for local SEO:
Increase Website Authority: Links from high-quality websites increase the authority of a business’s website, this can improve websites ability to rank and general and help new pages rank initially higher right from the start.
Improve Local Rankings: Google and other search engines use links as a ranking factor in local search results. By building high-quality links from local websites, businesses can improve their local search rankings and attract more local customers to their website.
Drive Referral Traffic: Links from other websites can drive referral traffic to a business’s website. This can help to increase brand awareness, attract more local customers, and ultimately increase local leads and sales.
Build Relationships with Other Local Businesses: Link building can also help businesses to build relationships with other local businesses. This can lead to potential partnerships, collaborations, and other opportunities that can help to grow the business.
For what is now a blended algorithm combining both website rankings and GMB signals; links stemming from local blogs, directories and even social media influencers will help bolster your SEO.
Here are some easy ways to find local backlink opportunities for your business.
- Partner with Other Local Businesses: Reach out to other businesses in your area and explore opportunities for collaboration. This can lead to backlinks from their websites.
- Sponsor Local Events: Find local events that align with your business and offer to sponsor them. Many events will include sponsor logos on their website with links to the sponsor’s website.
- Participate in Local Events: Participating in local events can help build relationships with other businesses and community members, which can lead to backlinks.
- Offer Discounts to Local Organizations: Offer discounts to local organizations such as schools, colleges, non-profits, or community groups. These organizations may include your business on their website with a link to your site.
Tracking with UTM Parameters
UTM parameters are best described as brief pieces of code that can be tacked onto links. The purpose of using UTM tags is to accurately measure your website traffic and calculate the value it’s bringing.
One major reason to use UTM parameters on your GBP profiles is to provide accurate attribution for the traffic coming from your profile. There have been well documented and reoccurring issues with Google attributing GBP traffic to your website. Google analytics tends to split mobile traffic from your profile into direct and desktop traffic into organic. This can cause a lot of issues when you are looking at traffic attribution later.
With UTMS you will be able to see what traffic is coming from your GBP profile and if it’s turning into an appointment, phone call or just bouncing off your website altogether.
There is no reason for you to be intimidated by the technical component of UTM parameters. These parameters are easier to implement than they look. Take a close look at a webpage URL and you’ll find the UTM parameters are often the text that comes after the “.com/?” section unless a URL shortener is applied.
All in all, nearly half a dozen UTM parameters exist. Most of the time the source, medium and campaign parameters are going to provide you with enough information to make actionable decisions on your local campaigns.
For the structure of your UTM parameters we recommend this format.
All in all, nearly half a dozen UTM parameters exist. Most of the time the source, medium and campaign categories are going to provide you with enough information to make actionable decisions on your local campaigns.
UTM parameters ultimately provide a transparent view of lead generation, conversions, traffic and more, ultimately clarifying how Google Business adds to the bottom line.
Setting up an Auto Verification (10+ Locations)
Verifying your Google Business Profile is the first step in showing in the snack pack. If you are a business with 10 more locations you may be eligible for bulk verification. If you manage business profiles for an enterprise size business setting up auto verification is going to be extremely important to your local strategy. Coordinating with people at a store on the other side of the country to get a code from a postcard just isn’t feasible.
Before you begin the process of setting up bulk listing verification you want to make sure your business type qualifies for it. The auto verification process is restricted to locations belonging to one business, ideally of the same overarching brand. Service area listings are not eligible currently. Agencies that manage several brands do not qualify for email bulk verification.
The process for bulk verification has several steps that can be found here.
Using a Citation Management Partner
Citations are references to your name, address, phone number and website (known as NAPW) across the network of websites that make up the local ecosystem. While citations don’t hold the same ranking value as in the past; the amount of and accuracy of your NAPW of across the local ecosystem still plays an important role in Google’s local algorithm. Current studies put citation amount and accuracy at around 13% of all ranking factors in 2023.
Making sure you have accurate NAPW info and at least the same number of citations as your competitors can be a quick and easy way to give your profile a rankings boost.
You have a few citation management options for your business:
Manually: This is an option for 90% of the listings out there but there are still some websites (like Whitepages) that will require a third-party service to add or edit your business information. This is going to be the most cost-effective option but is going to be time consuming. If you have a single business location this can be a good option for you. If you are building and tracking your citations manually here is a free citation tracker we made to help you on your journey.
Semi-Automated Citation Management: With this option you are going to get some of the listings created or updated with API pushes and then manually creating individual listings on other sites for at a small cost. The initial cost can be as little as $30 and cost $3-$4 dollars for each additional listing being created.
This is going to be a medium cost option and won’t require a monthly subscription. The benefit is you don’t have to do it. The downside is there will still be less citations created or managed than completely automated options. This can be a good option if you are in a less competitive niche and are willing to do some hands-on work managing things.
Fully Automated Citation Management: This is going to involve subscribing to a monthly service that can range between $300 – $500 a year per location. This will be the most expensive option but the process will be hands off and will manage the most listings. In addition to adding citations these services will actively manage the data on your GBP profile. A fully automated solution will allow you to manage reviews, schedule Google posts and automatically overwrite unauthorized changes made to the profile. If you manage an enterprise size brand this will be your best option.
Rebranding, mergers, acquisitions and changes in phone numbers are all aspects of your citations that will need to be updated. Whatever option you choose staying on top of changes to your listings keeping everything consistent will go a long way in increasing and maintaining your GBP profile rankings.
Using Geo-specific Content
Local content has become an increasingly important part of the local algorithm. Businesses that don’t have a local result in the SERPS for the City + Service they provide are going to have a difficult time showing up in the map pack. By crafting unique content that is optimized for local keywords, businesses can increase their visibility in local search results and attract more local visitors to their website.
We highly recommend creating a unique local content silo for your business locations. Most business listings will have a maximum rankings radius of 5 miles from its address. This is the geographic area you will need to digitally own with content to maximize your rankings.
If you are in a large city, try crafting local content that targets the smallest geographical area that you can. Instead writing content that targets “plumbers in City Name” target “plumbers in City Neighborhood”.
Some easy local content optimizations include adding the following:
- NAP and GBP map embed on local pages.
- Written directions from major roads.
- Geo optimized images.
- Neighborhoods served.
The strategic implementation of local identifiers ranging from city names, street names, zip codes, area, landmarks and local neighborhoods will not only provide you with better map pack rankings but also increased website traffic.
Generating Consistent Quality Reviews
Reviews are an important component to your business profile strategy. Google and other search engines use reviews as a ranking factor in local search results. By generating positive reviews, businesses can increase their visibility in local search results and attract more local customers to their website. According to Moz, roughly 9% of Google’s local search algorithm is driven by review signals.
In addition to being a major ranking factor; reviews play a major role in the customer purchasing process. According to a Brightlocal study 76% of consumers “regularly” read online reviews when browsing for local businesses and 87% of consumers used Google to evaluate local businesses.
Here are some easy ways to start generating reviews for your business:
- Ask in Person: Asking for reviews falls within Google’s business profile policies. Training staff to ask for reviews as a part of your operating processes is the fastest and easiest way to start generating reviews.
- Ask in Marketing Materials: If you don’t feel comfortable asking in person, take the opportunity to ask for reviews on instore material like posters, on your receipts, or on a card you mail with your product.
- Automate the Process: There are several out of the box options to start automating your review requests. Many CRM tools will provide some kind of email automation for review requests built in. Tools like Twilio can send out automated text messages for review requests.
Whatever way you use to generate reviews asking customers to be as specific as possible in their reviews can also provide you with better rankings. Reviews that contain keywords have been shown to increase local rankings for those terms.
Remember, generating reviews is important for local SEO because it can help businesses to improve their online reputation, increase their visibility in local search results, provide valuable feedback, and increase customer engagement. By actively encouraging customers to leave reviews, businesses can improve their local SEO efforts and attract more local customers to their business.
I hope you found our guide useful. Local search is constantly changing. Focusing on the basics can help you stay ahead of algorithm changes and product updates. If any of this seems like too much to handle we are here to help. MMMx is a team of local search experts that have helped hundreds of business owners publish, maintain and increase the rankings for thousands of business listings. Contact us today for a free local audit.