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If you are the owner of a local business with a physical location, whether you sell bolts or towels, you MUST have a profile on Google My Business.

It’s not something optional or like, “Yes, I’ll do it when I have five minutes.”

You must have a profile, and you must also take care of it and manage it effectively by following the techniques I will explain in this blog post.

You need to understand that even if you have a local business, potential customers will still look for you online.

They won’t necessarily search for your store’s name unless you’re already famous, but they will use more general phrases structured like this:

best + [PRODUCT CATEGORY] + in + [CITY NAME]

Such as:

  • “best restaurants in london”
  • “best sports stores in new york”
  • “best hotels in turin”



Yes, I know perfectly well that city names are written in uppercase, but these are examples of searches on Google, and few people capitalize when they want to quickly get information on Google.

Let’s assume someone searches on Google for the keyphrase “best restaurants in london.”

The first result that Google immediately provides them after Google Ads ads is a card that promotes the best corresponding Google My Business profile for that search (in our example, it will show the best restaurant in London).

Naturally, people are inclined to accept the first suggestion offered by Google, especially if there are many positive reviews.

But how does Google know that this restaurant is actually the best in London compared to all others?

Did Larry Page and Sergey Brin dine at all the restaurants in London and create a personal ranking?

Obviously not.

Google doesn’t know which restaurant is actually the best in London.

So, how does it promote that particular restaurant?

The answer is simple: Google promotes the best Google My Business profiles.

It doesn’t promote the best restaurants because Google has no idea which restaurants are actually the best.

A human can choose based on personal preferences, but behind Google, there’s an algorithm that can’t determine if one business is better than another.


Therefore, Google simply promotes the Google My Business profile that best matches the search query “best restaurants in london.”

This means that there is a process to create Google My Business cards that put your business at the top of the results in your city, and in this blog post, I will show you how to do it.

Before we go any further, though, I want to clarify one thing.

While what I’ve written is exciting and possible, of course, it will take time.

Becoming the first restaurant in London suggested by Google is akin to becoming the chief astrophysicist at NASA.

The bigger and wealthier the city, the harder it will be to excel.

However, this doesn’t mean it’s impossible, and always remember that success also lies in the journey to greatness.

If you do things as I suggest in this blog post, you will achieve more than satisfactory results even if you don’t become the top local business in your city.

Ok?

Well, enough talk, let’s get started.


How Google My Business Works


For those who may not have an idea and have never heard of it, Google My Business is a free service provided by Google, introduced in 2014 to replace Google Places.

It is a tool that enables businesses, shops, and local organizations to manage their online presence on Google.

When a customer searches for a commercial business on Google, the first results they obtain are Google My Business listings.

This tool allows customers to easily find your business and allows you to manage contact information, post updates and promotions, respond to reviews, and, most importantly, enhance your visibility on Google Search and Google Maps.

It’s somewhat akin to the social network for local businesses.

Whether you like it or not, you must meticulously maintain your Google My Business listing since it’s a Google property, and we all know how proud Google is of its products and how it rewards those who make the most of them.

So – in case it still needs emphasizing – if you have a local business, you must have a profile on Google My Business.


How to Create an Optimized Google My Business Profile


Now that we’ve understood what it is and how it works, let’s explore how to create our Google My Business listing and optimize it to improve its ranking within the search engine.

First, you need to create your business on Google, so open Google My Business homepage to create your business profile and follow the steps.

After you’ve established your business profile, here are the optimization steps you need to take to enhance your profile’s position in search engines.

Step 1: Provide As Much Information As Possible

To climb the search rankings, you must ensure that you outperform others in local searches.

To do this, your profile should be comprehensive and include information that, in most cases, your competitors have ignored because they consider it irrelevant.

While these details may be irrelevant to customers, they matter to Google.

Google consistently prioritizes business listings with more complete information.

Make sure to fill out the form in all its parts and clearly write “Not applicable to my business” if a feature doesn’t apply to your business.

It’s also crucial to regularly update all your profile information, both basic details and any other information you may deem unnecessary.

For instance, an outdated profile that hasn’t updated its operating hours or a change in the closing day indicates negligence.


Step 2: Monitoring Customer Reviews

Do I need to reiterate that reviews are essential and the most crucial tool for a business?

Well, I just did.

A high number of positive reviews is highly significant for Google’s algorithm, so it’s crucial to aim for as many positive reviews as possible.

However, as mere mortals, we must also be prepared to receive negative feedback.

As a local business, you can’t control every customer, so you must be willing to accept negative reviews from time to time.

There is, however, a way to address the issue.

Let’s say you’re a veterinarian: as I demonstrated and explained in the blog post How to Get Referrals“, someone might leave a negative review just because they saw dust on your desk, even though you just saved their dog’s life.

“Bobby is happy again thanks to Dr. [NAME], and we were all thrilled to hug him again! Too bad about the dust on the desk, a little more attention and cleanliness wouldn’t hurt… rating: โญ๏ธโญ๏ธ 2/5.”

Folks, it happens… there are many strange people in the world.

In any case, don’t be discouraged by negative reviews.

Try to respond well and reasonably.

Now, I’ll show you a review I found on Google My Business, where a girl gave a 1-star rating to a place for a truly unusual reason.

What you need to read and study is the response from the establishment’s manager.

We Italians are bad in almost all sectors – food aside – but sometimes we can be quite humorous.

Bad review with an epic response
Bad review with an epic response.
Source: Google Maps.

This is the translation of the review:

“As for the owner, it’s better not to talk about him. Both the place and the rest of the staff are in total decay. The staff seems like they were taken from the streets. What else can I say? More than a pub, it seems like a dump.”

And the response from the pub owner is:

“Dear ‘Miss’ Jessica(h), [Ending a female name with “h” is a mockery in Italy] I’m sorry, but you can’t leave a negative review on our pub just because your “boyfriend” (I’d say rightly so, at this point) dumped you and is currently dating one of our employees. Please come to our pub only for eating and drinking. We can’t provide psychological assistance here.”

The response is humorous, but keep in mind that you should use this tone only when you are absolutely right.

If the criticism or negative review is due to real shortcomings (such as employees mistreating customers or a lack of cleanliness), simply apologize and offer a gift to the reviewer and ask them to contact you to resolve the issue.


Now, let’s discuss what to do when you receive negative reviews from individuals who may be foolish or are focusing on aspects unrelated to your product or service.

Allow me to express something I’ve wanted to say for years.

Many so-called marketing experts suggest responding to negative reviews with the generic phrase “Thank you for your constructive criticism,” regardless of the situation, even when they attack us on things that have nothing to do with our work, as in the case of Miss Jessica(h).

…Have we gone mad?

I mean, let me understand… should I thank someone for giving me one star and irreparably damaging my most important marketing tool for something I didn’t do or for something that has nothing to do with my product or service?

Okay, we’ve completely lost our minds.

Anyone who teaches these things is a very dangerous person who should be banned from the internet.

Remember that a single negative review out of a thousand can overshadow the average rating.

“Thank you for your negative review and your constructive insults! My employees are thrilled to receive baseless criticism!”

Sometimes I wonder if I’m the crazy one going against the grain.

Now, I’ll say it again and again: if you’ve made a mistake and deserve criticism, it’s appropriate to respond by thanking the reviewer for their feedback and seeking a dialogue to resolve the situation and prevent negative word-of-mouth about your business.

On this, I won’t add anything else: if we make a mistake, it’s only fair to pay for it.

But when we’re right, responding with a “Thank you” to someone who is rude and unfounded in their defamation shows a lack of respect for us, our local business, and everyone who works for and with us.

If we’re right and the negative review against us is unjust, we shouldn’t ignore it.

Instead, we should get angry and confront those who have attacked us.

While remaining professional and avoiding insults and vulgarity, we should respond using a rather angry and aggressive tone.


For example:

“Your review is unjust, unwarranted, and entirely baseless. First of all, intentionally or not, you lied because things actually happened this way: […]. While I welcome constructive criticism, I won’t accept unfounded negative reviews that undermine my professionalism and my business’s credibility, as well as offend my employees. I will request Google My Business to remove your review by providing concrete evidence and report your profile.”

Furthermore, if the reviews contain personal insults, you can add this sentence to the end of the response you just saw:

“Due to the presence of personal insults against me in your review, I will contact my legal representative and consider taking legal action against you for defamation and insults.”

You’ll see that all your future customers who read your responses will think twice before leaving a negative review, no matter what happens.


Step 3: Enhance Your Google My Business Profile with Images

Now that I’ve vented and said something I’ve wanted to express for years, let’s move on to a more pleasant and relaxing topic: photos on your Google My Business profile.

I don’t want to bore you with the same old refrain: “photos matter.”

A Google My Business profile without images not only fails to capture the attention of potential customers (who will instead turn to a competitor that showcases photos of their business) but also has less chance of ranking higher in the SERP because it’s less comprehensive than others.

What kind of photos should you post?

There’s no limit to imagination.

There’s no limit to what you can photograph.

However, people particularly appreciate these types of images: generic customers inside your store, behind-the-scenes shots, and fun moments within your establishment.

Exactly the ones I showed you when I talked to you social media for local businesses.

Remember that the photos should accurately represent reality and should not be altered with filters or other effects.

They should also be of high quality, if possible.


Step 4: Create Compelling Posts and Increase Engagement

While images and videos are crucial for local businesses, it doesn’t mean that the classic written post has lost its effectiveness in communicating with potential customers.

In fact, the right combination of images, videos, and posts is the winning formula to boost audience engagement and enhance your SEO score.

What should you write?

Simply copy and paste your free content that you publish on your blog, as I explained in the dedicated blog post.

Step 5: Update Your Product Catalog on Your Google My Business Profile

It’s also crucial to meticulously maintain your product catalog as it is subject to SEO.

Include your evergreen products and remember to incorporate niche keywords in both the product names and descriptions.