Are you an owner of a physical business and wondering how to use the power of local SEO to maximize lead generation for your business?
The first thing any local business does when starting its SEO efforts is to conduct a Google my business SEO audit.
This audit helps local businesses understand their current online visibility and areas they need to work on to unfold possible issues leading to organic ranking opportunities for their website in Google search results.
We will cover every aspect of a perfectly optimized Google business profile and touch upon each checklist point of the free GMB audit template we will share with you in this article.
Status of Current Business Listing Profile in Google My Business
The first thing to look for when conducting a Google business profile audit is checking if your business has already created a Google My Business page.
Head over to Google Business Profile Manager and type the name of your business in the search box.
If your business appears in the dropdown list, then this indicates that your website already has a Google business profile established.
If no dropdown shows related to your business name, click “Add your business to Google” and fill in the required information to proceed with your account creation.
Information Verification of Your GMB Listing
If you already have a Google business profile and are not the one who set it up, double-check that the information on your GMB business listing is correct.
Data between your website and Google business listing must match since Google’s algorithm constantly evolves around providing users with accurate information.
Other cases where a Google My Business listing audit is necessary is if your business has changed important info, such as:
- Website URL,
- Business location address,
- Phone number,
- Business hours,
- Services or products offered,
- The appointment website link(if applicable).
While this doesn’t seem like an exhaustive task at first glance, imagine owning a hotel and having multiple target location pages for each place where you have a hotel.
Managing multiple business listings can become a real hassle; that’s why we tried to simplify the GMB audit process by offering a free Google My Business SEO checklist for helping local businesses like yours increase their organic online presence.
Download Our GMB Profile Audit Checklist for FREE
Tips on Picking Keyword-Rich Business Categories
Picking the categories of your local business is a straightforward task.
However, as SEO experts, we try to use every possibility we can get to optimize your GMB listing for local SEO. That’s why we take a deeper approach to pick business categories that are keyword rich.
This means that we try to pick categories that:
- Are relevant to your business and the services that you offer, and
- Have a monthly search volume.
That’s why we must check what business category our local competitors have used for their GMB listing.
While the primary category is most important to your GMB business profile, secondary categories also play a vital role in local SEO efforts.
A quick and easy way to spy on your competitor’s GMB categories is by using a free chrome extension called GMB crush.
In rare cases, primary categories and secondary categories are also displayed by local businesses in a very accessible manner on their GMB listing under the “explore categories” section.
In the example below, I used a perfectly optimized GMB listing from a dental clinic client dominating local rankings within the New York Manhattan area after committing to dental SEO campaigns.
Looking at the image of the categories above, all have something in common: the monthly search volume they get from Google search results of users around the internet.
This brings us to our next consideration when doing a Google My Business SEO audit, which we will cover in the following section.
The Importance of a Target Keyword for Local Rankings
One of the most critical aspects of business optimization for local ranking is including a high-volume target keyword in your GMB listing title.
Let’s take an example of a client who runs a plastic surgery clinic.
Let’s look at the best keyword for a plastic surgeon to include in his GMB listing title. It’s undoubtedly’ plastic surgery, which drives over 78,000 search volume per month and can easily incorporate into the title after your business name.
This local ranking factor will help your website gain more visibility.
Let’s take a further step into optimizing the GMB listing title and get more related keywords into the main title.
Suppose a plastic surgeon offers chin implants, liquid facelifts, and liposuction services. In that case, these can be included in the title because they all have volumes in the range of thousands of searches per month and can help your local search visibility.
Are you wondering what are the best keywords for your business to go after?
Get a done-for-you keyword research by ordering it on our SEO products page, and get it delivered straight to your inbox. Start unfolding organic keyword ranking opportunities for your business today.
Optimize Your Business Description
Writing a compelling business description for your GMB listing is an important ranking factor for local SEO.
That’s why we need to add relevant information that perfectly describes the problems that your firm solves, services offered, or products that it sells.
Before creating the business description text, we must do some additional keyword research and find some low-difficulty keywords that we can include in the description section.
Keyword difficulty is a metric developed by the SEO community that shows how difficult is to rank for a keyword based on a score scale of 1-100(the latter being more difficult). The keyword difficulty metric looks at the top ranking websites for a target keyword, and based on how authoritative those sites are they assign a keyword difficulty score.
Optimizing your business description on GMB profile will help further rank your website on Google maps and get more revenue.
Extra Optimization Tips for a Google My Business Audit that Very Few Use
Optimizing the main title of your Google business profile is only one piece of the giant local SEO audit puzzle.
Many other pieces need to be worked on to top local searches for target and related keywords with your website, which we will discuss in the following sections.
Google Business Profile Posts
Despite various points mentioned, our Google my business audit template checklist encourages you also to check if a GMB listing did add posts to their business profile.
Google business profile posts or Google posts, in short, are:
- social-feed updates,
- promotional offers,
- showcasing services or products that a business offers,
- a special event, and other information which are directly related to and controlled by your business.
To give you a glimpse of a perfectly optimized Google post, we included below an example from a dental business client.
Here the dental clinic added the services that they offer as products.
Each of these products, when clicked on, will show a short text snippet explaining what the product is about.
Additionally, there will be a ‘learn more’ button, which contains a specific website link of the dental clinic sharing more information on the particular services/products they offer patients.
Keyword Optimized Content for Service Pages
While the Google posts shown above are a great business optimization inclusion for a GMB listing, what makes it, even more SEO friendly is that these posts are all optimized for target keywords with high search volumes.
This helps the client receive organic traffic from search engine search results and contributes to the local SEO puzzle for higher rankings.
While optimizing content for keywords is the way to go, we must keep relevancy in mind and identify the keywords we want to write create content for which apply to our business goals.
Let’s take as an example the dental business client. If they didn’t provide dental implant services in their clinic, writing content on that topic wouldn’t make sense.
Local Citations for Your Google My Business Audit Process
There is no complete local SEO audit without checking if the client’s website is featured in relevant local directories.
Local directories collect business information on various firms in different industries.
People use specific filters to check for a business they need based on a particular location in these directory sites. So, when your business gets listed there, your chances of client conversions increase.
Despite the benefits these local citations have on customer acquisition, the more your website gets linked from these sites; the more authoritative your site will get.
This is yet another bonus and a critical ranking signal in SEO.
Local citations help you start creating a solid backlink profile for your website.
Competitor Local Businesses Analysis
Another strategy that can help us uncover SEO opportunities during the business audit in Google My Business is by checking what your local competitors are doing with their GMB listing.
It is easy to tell if a competitor has already optimized their Google My Business if their GMB listing contains the following:
- Optimized GMB title, including a target keyword,
- Optimized business description,
- High-quality images,
- Google reviews from customers,
- List of products and services,
- Appointment setter website link if applicable,
- Business operating hours,
- Competitor’s landing pages,
- Answered questions from potential customers,
- Competitors’ URL structure,
- Content marketing engagement(creating content for their website, videos, images, etc.)
The easy way to check your local competitors is by either doing a branded search on Google or typing in a keyword that is important to your business and see what pops up on the local pack search engine results and gaining insights.
Increase the Number of GMB Reviews
Another important local ranking factor when ranking high on Google maps is your business’s number of GMB reviews.
Positive Google reviews show search engines that your business has already satisfied customers and that they would recommend you.
You must also interact with customers that leave reviews on your GMB listing by thanking them for the kind words and showing appreciation.
While every local business aims for positive reviews, unpredicted things can happen, and someone could leave you a negative review.
In this case, it is vital that, like the positive client reviews, you also address the negative reviews.
This could be a simple reply such as “Sorry to hear that you haven’t had a pleasant experience with us, we will look into the issue you encountered and make sure that it won’t happen again in the future”.
Google reviews are a great way to connect with your new customers and show potential clients how much you care about them.
Google My Business Profile Photos
Another great way to build social proof for prospective clients is by adding images to your GMB listing.
Those images can be from your actual physical location from interior or exterior photos.
Make sure to include photos of happy patients or clients before and after treatments if you are a dentist, plastic surgeon or work on another industry where you deal mainly with patients.
Before people trust your services or products, they want to see your previous work or proof, so they know what they are in for.
This is best displayed by adding high-quality images to your GMB listing, and that’s why it’s such a vital ranking factor in local SEO and getting more sales.
Don’t Forget the Logo of Your Business
When doing a GMB audit, always check if you have included the logo of your business in your listing.
Having a logo indicates that you are a professional and take the branding of your business seriously.
When you log in to your Google Business Profile, head to ‘Edit profile > Logo > Choose the logo file > Upload’.
Add a Cover Photo to Your Google Business Profile
Another essential thing to look out for when doing a GMB audit report is adding a cover photo to your GMB profile.
The cover photo will appear in the Google search results when users search for your brand online, and your GMB listing will appear in the Google maps local pack.
This will be the first image that individual users will see when your site appears in the top local pack.
While this is true for most cases, beware that Google doesn’t guarantee that they will display your chosen cover photo as the first image on your GMB listing.
Sometimes Google picks an image from your GMB profile by default, so don’t be surprised if you see another image popping up.
To add a cover photo to your GMB profile, go to ‘Edit profile > Cover > Choose the cover image > Upload’.
Add a Video to Your GMB Listing
It’s no wonder that videos are becoming increasingly popular, especially with newer generations of youngsters.
Surprisingly TikTok has become the world’s most popular website surpassing Google for the first time.
So it is important to use a video to promote your business on your GMB listing and further increase the trust of potential customers in your target market.
Why is a Google My Business SEO Audit Important for Your Business?
If you have a business based on physical location, then having a healthy GMB profile is vital.
There are hundreds of ranking factors when it comes to SEO, and for local businesses having an optimized GMB profile is the number one priority for running a successful business.
We managed to get our clients thousands of leads by optimizing their GMB profiles. We even helped businesses from bankruptcy during Covid-19 when people had to turn their heads to SEO, finding an alternative to drive leads online.
If you haven’t set up or optimized your GMB profile yet, you are leaving money on the table.
Let us help you get the most out of your business growth opportunities.