You have a Google Business Profile page (formerly called a Google My Business page), but it’s ranking low in the local business search—which makes it more difficult for potential clients to find you. How do you optimize your Business Profile page? Unfortunately, no one knows exactly what Google’s algorithm is for ranking businesses in the local search—except Google.
That said, we have some major clues. In this article, I’ll show you seven ways to optimize your Business Profile page based on Google’s How to Improve Local Ranking page and a survey of local search experts.
Claim Your Business and Updates
If you don’t have a Business Profile page, you need to claim your business with Google and then follow their guidelines for filling out your business information. You can claim your business here.
Also, before we start optimizing, here are some important updates. In addition to the name change, Google no longer wants you to log in to the Business Profile page. Instead Google encourages you to manage your Business Profile page through a Google search or Google Maps.
It looks like this: You enter your business name in the Google search bar and hit search. At the top of the results page is a Business Profile listing. Find your business in that listing and then click on “edit your business information” to edit and update your Business Profile page. Currently, Google still allows you to manage your business information through signing in, but that will be discontinued. OK, time to optimize.
Tip #1: Make sure you have the appropriate primary category for your business.
This may seem like a waste of time, but, according to the survey of local search experts, having the appropriate primary category was the number-one factor affecting your Business Profile rankings.
The last time I typed “massage” into the primary category box, I could choose from “massage therapist.” “massage spa,” “Thai massage” and “sports massage.” Since my wife, Lisa, and I have a massage business with massage therapists working for us, our best choice is “massage therapist” because we don’t offer spa services. If you work for yourself and selected “massage spa” as your primary Business Profile category, you should reconsider your selection.
Tip #2: Have keywords in your Business Profile title.
It’s a safe bet to guess that “massage” is big keyword when Google users are looking for a massage. If your business is called Serenity Now without the word “massage” in it, don’t panic and don’t start adding keywords to your Business Profile name, so it reads something like: Serenity Now Massage Atlanta GA. That’s called keyword stuffing and Google doesn’t like that.
If it makes sense to add “massage” to your business name, do it and then use that name on your Business Profile page. If it doesn’t, don’t change anything because it’s important that your Business Profile name and your business name are the same for Google’s algorithm. Just make sure that you do all the other optimizing tips in this article.
Tip #3: Make sure that your pin on Google Maps is accurate.
How close a Google user is to your business location is a factor in Business Profile ranking. If your location pin on the map is off, you could be missing out on people who are near your business looking for a massage. Make sure your pin is where it should be by enlarging the map until you see the building of your location. Then put the pin on the building.
Our massage business is located in a pharmacy wellness center. So on the map I put the pin on the pharmacy, and no one has complained that Google Maps had landed them two streets down from our actual location. By the way, if new customers are sometimes struggling to find your office, check your pin on the map.
Tip #4: Make sure your NAP is right.
NAP stands for name, address and phone number. In Google’s eyes, if your Business Profile NAP is different from your website NAP, there’s a problem. First, make sure that your Business Profile NAP is correct. Then make your business website, Facebook page and other social media sites match your Business Profile NAP.
Years ago, I had major headaches with Google because our office was listed as “#105” on our Business Profile page and everywhere else, it was listed as “Suite #105.” Eventually, I made everything say “#105” and Google was happy.
Tip #5: Enter complete data.
Take the time to go back and check to make sure that you have filled everything out on your Business Profile page. You may have sped through the process and inadvertently missed something or you may have deliberately skipped things that required more time, like photos.
If you skipped photos, add them. Google likes them. When I checked my Business Profile stats, I can see why. A lot of people look at our photos. That makes sense. People want to see what our place looks like before they commit to a massage. Is it inviting? Is it clean? Is there a good vibe? Do the therapists look happy? Kind? Competent? All the information that is conveyed in pictures plays into the customer’s decision-making process.
Start taking pictures. You can also ask your clients to take pictures.
Posts, too, help paint the picture of your business in the eyes of the customer. In a post, either directly or indirectly, you’re telling the customer a lot about your business’s inner-workings. Are you sales-y or inviting? Are you giving helpful and valuable information or are you going through the motions?
Posts don’t have to be a time drain. Keep a Business Profile post short by simply making one point in the post. Here are some things you can post about: Massage specials, events coming up, massage business anniversary, self-massage tips, massage techniques that you do, the latest massage research, massage products, wellness classes that you offer, changes that are happening with your business, and COVID-19 policy updates. You can also post short videos on massage.
Finally, make sure your information is accurate, especially old information. Check your hours of operation. When you claimed your business on Google five years ago, you may have listed different work hours than what you’re currently offering.
Tip #6: Maintain and update your Business Profile listing
I’m good with Business Profile maintenance and updates when I make Business Profile part of my weekly marketing habit. Here’s what maintenance success looks like for me: Every Monday I write a new post because posts on Business Profile last just seven days. I also add a picture or two to my photos, and if there’s a holiday coming up, I fill out the holiday hours.
Tip #7: Pay attention and respond to reviews.
I try to respond to every review within 24 hours. Responding to reviews not only gets you points with Google, it also helps you build a positive image online.
Some experts advise using key words when responding to reviews. For instance: “Ana, I’m glad you enjoyed Sruthi’s deep tissue, trigger point massage.” “Deep tissue” and “trigger point massage” are the keywords. But, personally, I’d rather be “me” and have my business sound like “me” than sound like I’m doing keyword placement to curry favor with Google.
If you get a bad review, it’s not the end of the world. The first thing to do is to check to see if the review is legit. Was it from someone whom you, or someone in your business, worked on or interacted with? If not, then you’ll want to click the flag next to the review to report it to Google.
If it is a legit review, respond. When you respond, Google will know you are acknowledging that the review is legit. How should you respond to a bad review? In my opinion: Nicely. Acknowledge the issue(s) that the reviewer raised. Take responsibility for the things you should take responsibility for and explain how you’re going to make things right.
After you respond, you may want to contact the reviewer directly and see if you can do anything else to work things out. Ultimately, if you can win over that reviewer, you’ll have the opportunity to ask that person to remove the bad review.
Sometimes the reviewer is just wrong or mean. In that case, still respond nicely and state your position knowing that future customers are reading your response.
By the way, do you know what the sweet spot for trustworthiness is with reviews? It’s not 5. It’s actually between 4.2 and 4.5, according to Zane Clements, Business Profile specialist. So go ahead and tick some customers off to gain trustworthiness! I’m joking of course. The point is, don’t lose sleep if your perfect “5” gets dinged.
You don’t need to be a marketing expert to optimize your Business Profile page. In fact, you now have the same information the marketing experts use to improve Business Profile rankings for their clients. For now, stick with a game plan of providing complete information, updating your pictures, posts and holiday hours when needed, and responding to reviews.
Periodically check Google’s support center to see if Google changed the playbook. Here’s to climbing to the top of the local search pile!
About the Author
Mark Liskey, LMT, CNMT, is a massage therapist, massage CE provider and author of “The Pain-Free Massage Therapist,” a body-mechanics strategies and techniques book for eliminating pain in the massage room and extending massage careers. You can access free, instructional body-mechanics videos at painfreemassagetherapist.com. His articles for massagemag.com include “Stacked Vs. Unstacked Joints: The Body Mechanics Study That Matters.”