Trying to dominate local search in a professional industry is no walk in the park. Today’s digital landscape is more competitive than ever, and setting yourself apart from the crowd takes time and effort. But with a little hard work, it’s totally doable. We put together this short guide to help you get started.
A Step by Step Guide to Optimize Your Google Business Profile
The first and most important thing you need to do is make sure you have claimed your Google Business Profile. That will give you the control you need to manage all your Google information and lay the foundation for all your future Google efforts. The process is easy and straightforward.
- Navigate to business.google.com
- Search for your business by name and address
- Fill out basic information about your business
- Submit for verification
Once you’ve submitted to Google for verification, they will typically send you a postcard with a PIN within a few days to finalize the verification process. Google does this to ensure that only the right people have access to update and manage your Google listing. Plus, it’s kind of fun to get a postcard from Google.
Now that you have your Google Business Profile, you should take the time to optimize your listing so clients and search engines both love it.
1. Consistent Name, Address, and Phone Number
The consistency of your name, address, and phone number on your website and across all of your business listings is one of the most important factors that determine where you rank in local search.
The formatting of your name, address, and phone number should be the same everywhere it’s listed online. For example, if your business is listed as the ‘Law Office of John Doe’ or ‘John Doe, Attorney at Law’. Just pick one way and stick with it. The same goes for your address. If your address is 1234 Easy Street, you should either always spell out street or always abbreviate it. Don’t mix and match. It’s a little detail but will help position your listing for ranking success.
2. Upload High-Resolution Photos
Pictures on your Google Business Profile help tell a visual story about what it’s like to do business with you. Photos on your listing will help you get more interactions with future clients because they’ll recognize the area, see that they can trust you, and help them find your business in the real world.
3. Include Up-to-Date Hours of Operation
One key piece of information customers are looking for when they Google your business is whether or not you are open. Take the time to update your hours of operation and keep them updated. It is also important to include any variations that may occur. For example, if you have special holiday or seasonal hours.
4. Collect Reviews
The final step in optimizing your Google Business Profile is collecting reviews. Google factors in how many reviews you have, what your overall star rating is, and how frequently you have reviews coming in. Businesses that rank higher typically have a large number of reviews coming in on a consistent basis with a higher star rating.
Get Hundreds of Google Reviews
The best way to get clients to leave you a review on Google is simple. Just ask. According to research conducted by Podium, 77% of clients would be willing to leave a review if they were asked. But just because they would be willing to leave a review, it doesn’t mean that they will follow through. If you want to ensure a review is left you need to make it as easy as possible to do so.
Determine the Right Timing of the Invitation
One of the best times to ask for a review is when there’s some downtime in the client process. For example, for a financial advisor, a good time might be after they finish their consultation and the client is waiting at the front desk to pay for the meeting. Your client is just going to be sitting there anyway, so why not ask them to leave a review and walk them through the process? Identify when your perfect time is and try it.
Set the Expectation for the Review
After you’ve determined the right time to invite the client, now you can start setting expectations for what you want them to do. When setting expectations, you should let the client know:
- Why Google reviews are important for your business.
- How they will be receiving the invite (text or email).
- When they will be receiving the invite (and make sure that’s when they actually receive it).
Remove All Barriers
The harder it is for clients to leave reviews, the less likely they will be to leave one. That’s why you need to make it as easy as possible, and if you’ve implemented an online review management platform like Podium (watch a free demo at www.podium.com), you’re headed in the right direction.
Use Text Messages
As we mentioned before, text messages are an effective way to engage with your clients. Think about it. When was the last time you didn’t read a text message? Research has shown that text messages have a significantly higher open rate than emails. In fact, text messages have a 99% open rate with 90 percent of those messages being opened within three minutes. If you want your clients to give you an online review, send them a text.
Start Showing Up in Local Search Results
The beauty of local marketing is that anyone can do it. The downside is, showing up in local search results takes time, effort, and skill. By following the tips above, you’ll be well on your way to standing out among your local competitors.