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9 MIN READ

5 Steps to Optimizing Your Local Business’ GMB Listing

Written by Alec
@netvisits

Local SEO

Why is Google My Business So Important to Your Local Business?

As I mentioned in my previous article on how to create a Google My Business account GMB can be defined as below.

“Google My Business is the modern version of the Yellow Pages and serves as the foundation for search engine optimization for local businesses. With GMB you are able to add your business information to Google so that people looking locally for your services are able to find you.”

Ok so now we understand Google My Business’ role but you might still be wondering why is local search so important? When I thought about answering this question I realized the answer may be best presented by way of statistics that unveil local search’s true value.

5 Statistics That Show How Important Local Search is:

  1. 46% of all Google searches are looking for local information. (Source: GoGulf)
  2. 80% of local searches convert (Source: SEW)
  3. 72% of consumers that did a local search visited a store within five miles. (Source: HubSpot Marketing Statistics)
  4. 88% of searches for local businesses on a mobile device either call or visit the business within 24 hours. (Source: Nectafy)
  5. 92% of searchers will pick businesses on the first page of local search results. (Source: SEO Expert)

Steps to Optimize Your GMB Listing

Ok so now that we know, and by we I mean you, just how important being included in Google’s local search results is let’s get you on track to optimizing yours:

1) NAP Accuracy

NAP stands for Name Address and Phone Number and is one of the important areas in determining your ranking in Google’s local search results.

The basics of it are that wherever your name address and phone number appear online, also known as citations, they should all follow the same style and use the same verbiage as your Google My Business account. This also includes your NAP that is listed on your business’ website.

I’ve shown an example below of Google My Business on the left and Facebook on the right. See how the address and phone number are identical. It needs to be this way across all listings of your local business online. And, though it doesn’t show the name is also identical.

2) Choosing Your Local Business’ Categories

When choosing your main category and subsequent categories you need to be sure you are selecting the best options for your business. I’ve had clients that didn’t rank well for their main keywords and once their GMB categories were corrected they began popping up in the ranking reports.

In fact, in a survey held by Moz, it was found that the Google My Business categories you choose for your local business ranked #3 on the top factors that influence Google’s local rankings.

To ensure you are heading in the right direction when choosing your categories, below I have included Google’s guidelines.

GMB Category Guidelines

  • Use as few categories as possible to describe your overall core business from the provided list.
  • Choose categories that are as specific as possible, but representative of your main business.
    • Do not use categories solely as keywords or to describe attributes of your business.
    • Do not use categories that pertain to other businesses that are nearby or related, such as a business physically contained within your business or an entity that contains your business.

Source: Google Support

Below is a screenshot of some of the options that are available to dentists for example. As you can see, based on the options, the process is fairly straightforward. Keep in mind, you can also select multiple categories.

Here is what it looks like live in your GMB listing.

3) Crafting a Solid Business Description

Your Google My Business description is another area that needs to be completed. These haven’t always been available as they were once removed by Google. Luckily they are now back.

“Google My Business (GMB) recently brought back the business description field, which has caused those of us working in the local search industry to say “hooray” and raise eyebrows.” – Search Engine Land

Important to note, as with all areas within GMB are the guidelines to follow when optimizing your business description.


There has been debate over the years as to whether keywords in the description provide any ranking value, however, the consensus has been that it does not, until recently that is when this surfaced:

However, shortly after this Google updated the document and the suggestion that keywords in your Google My Business description would aid in your local rankings has been removed.

Here is Google’s description, with an example, of how you should write your descriptions:


Feel free to include keywords in your description so long as they are helpful in describing your business to your users.

Here are some important dos for your GMB descriptions:

    1. Keep it brief
    2. Include what you offer
    3. Include what makes you different from the competition
    4. Include any historical information you feel users would find interesting or helpful
    5. Focus on your business’ details

4) Business Photos

The average number of photos posted in GMB listings for Dentists for example is 12 (Source: Statista)

To be competitive and extract more benefits than competing local businesses we recommend posting above average amounts of photos so at a minimum you should post 15 to get you started. After that add a photo or more every week/2 weeks depending on the frequency in which you get them.

Now, you might be saying to yourself “Self, how do I get more photos, I have already taken all the pictures I can think of?”. Not to worry, I’ve got you covered.

I’ve listed some great ways to increase your business’ photo counts. But, before I get into those here is some important information.

GMB has types of photos that you can add to your listing. Filling in as many of these types as you can is the goal.

Categories/types of GMB listing photos:

  • 360
  • *Video
  • Interior
  • Exterior
  • At work
  • Team
  • Identity

Guidelines for GMB listing photos:

  • Format: JPG or PNG
  • Size: Between 10 KB and 5 MB
  • Recommended Resolution: 720px tall, 720px wide
  • Quality: Well lit, in focus, no excessive filtering
  • Should represent reality

And now, without further ado.

Ideas for GMB listing photos (no rocket science here):

  • Hold a contest and to enter your customers need to take a picture at your office.
  • Take photos of the outside of your office from different angles.
  • Take photos of your staff members when new ones come on board.
  • Take photos during different events eg. for Easter, company picnics or bbq’s
  • Take different group photos with your staff

Google’s Photo Tips on How to Improve Your Ranking in Local Search

5) Reviews

What Are Local Reviews?

An online local business review is a written sentiment left directly by a customer on any website or platform that supports this type of content. Yelp, Google, and Facebook are three of the major review platforms, but there are numerous other options.

Why Are Reviews Important?

Consumers are becoming more review-savvy, preferring businesses that receive high volumes of high-scoring reviews on a regular basis.

In fact:

  • 82% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses
  • 91% of consumers say that positive reviews make them more likely to use a business.
  • 76% trust online reviews as much as recommendations from family and friends
  • 48% of consumers only pay attention to reviews written within the past 2 weeks
  • 84% believe that reviews older than 3 months aren’t relevant
  • Businesses without 5 stars risk losing 12% of their customers
  • Only 53% of people would consider using a business with less than 4 stars

Most important factors in reviews

  1. How recent reviews are
  2. The business’s overall star rating
  3. How many reviews a business has
  4. How legitimate reviews appear to me
  5. The sentiment of the existing reviews

Top ways to ask for a review

  1. In-person during the sale
  2. In an email
  3. Over the phone
  4. On a receipt
  5. In an SMS message
  • The average consumer reads 10 reviews before feeling able to trust a business
  • Only 53% of people would consider using a business with less than 4 stars
  • 67% of consumers have now been asked to leave a review for a local business – with 24% of these being offered a discount, gift, or cash in return

[Source: BrightLocal]

Common Issues With Getting Reviews:

Many businesses take a passive approach to getting reviews which commonly produces:

  1. Zero or very few reviews
  2. Little or no recent reviews
  3. Large gaps of time between reviews
  4. More negative reviews than desired

What does this mean for your business?

More local businesses are learning just how valuable optimizing their efforts for receiving positive reviews is and they are putting processes in place to accomplish this. If you aren’t one of them then you are losing customers to your competitors who are.

Google’s Review Tips on How to Improve Your Ranking in Local Search

Making the Most of Google My Business

I have added some areas that need to be optimized in Google My Business and how to go about accomplishing this. It is important to note that your Google My Business listing information should be as complete as possible and taking advantage of all relevant areas for your local business.

Having a well-optimized Google My Business listing helps make your business more competitive in the local search results and can significantly increase your number of qualified leads.

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