Given that Google currently owns about 90% of the search market and receives over 63,000 queries a second, it should come as no surprise that having an accurate and fully built out Google My Business (GMB) listing is now absolutely essential for every single brick and mortar business, no matter how big or how small.
GMB is an indispensable (and free!) element of local SEO -- one that allows businesses to control the information in their online profiles, to manage and respond to reviews, to learn more about potential customers, and to rank higher in the SERPs. Quite simply, it allows people to more easily find and contact you.
However, despite the obvious benefits, there are still a considerable number of businesses that have yet to even claim their GMB listing, let alone optimize it. Although it can seem like an unfamiliar and overwhelming process -- yet another piece of online real estate that you need to update and manage -- it’s really quite easy. And trust us when we say that any work you do put into optimizing your GMB profile will be well worth the effort...we promise.
Before you can start optimizing, you first need to claim your listing. To do this, just find your property’s listing on Google and click the “Own this business?” link.
From there, Google will provide a step-by-step guide on how to claim your listing.
After claiming your listing, you’ll need to make sure that it’s verified. Simply go to the listings dashboard in GMB and hit the “Verify Now” button.
From there, you can select the method of verification you’d prefer. We typically recommend the postcard by mail verification. As the name suggests, a postcard will be sent to the address on the listing. Once the postcard gets to your property, all you need to do is enter the code on the card and -- voila! -- your listing is verified. Make sure to complete this crucial step so the edits you make on the backend of GMB actually show up in the search results.
Now that your listing is claimed and verified, it’s time to start optimizing! Here’s a 10-step checklist to help you get your listing in tip-top shape.
Make sure the business name in your GMB listing matches the business name on your website. GMB is not the place for keyword stuffing. Google’s algorithm is smarter than you might think and will catch any attempts at keyword stuffing. It will certainly know that your name isn’t “Digible Downtown Denver Apartments Near LoDo” and will penalize your listing for the offense.
Be sure the address in your listing is that of your leasing office, not some other location on your property. You may be surprised to find that your listing address is completely inaccurate and is taking visitors to the wrong place! Make it easy for potential renters to find and connect with your staff.
Include your LOCAL phone number on your listing. Avoid using tracking numbers, as they can make a listing look spammy to Google and prospective renters alike.
Add the hours your leasing office is open. After looking at hundreds of GMB listings from apartments across the country, a large number either have the wrong hours posted or include no hours at all. Adding your property’s office hours will help renters know when they can get in contact with your staff and when they can visit your property.
Make sure that your listing is under the category of apartment, apartment building, or apartment complex. Your GMB category is probably one of the most vital sections of your listing. It helps describe what the main purpose of your business is to users, and it also has an impact on where Google places your listing and how it determines if it is a fit for a user’s query. Prior to last fall, the only category that contained the keyword “apartment” and also allowed hours to show up for users was the category “Apartment Rental Agency.” However, thanks to some updates from Google, hours are showing up for all apartment listing categories. Double check to see that your listing category is up-to-date.
Make your listing more eye-catching by adding photos and videos. Have photos on your website gallery? Add them to your GMB listing! Google listings that have more pictures tend to get higher engagement and perform better within the SERPs, as compared to other listings that lack this visually appealing content.
Add products to your listing. This section can be as in-depth as you would like. You can insert every floor plan you offer as its own product card or you can simply use one product card to highlight all the floor plan options available at the property.
Pre-populate FAQs in your listings Q&A section. Think about the main questions your property is getting from prospective tenants. Add those questions (and your answers) into your GMB listing to help provide renters with more information about your property.
Use Google Posts regularly. Google Posts help contribute to your property’s SEO by generating more organic clicks and increasing traffic to other pages on your site. Plus, Google Posts help you claim more SERP real estate (for branded queries) and also provide future renters with fresh content on your property. If you need some help figuring out what to include in your Google Posts, check out our case studies about what images to use and how to utilize Offer Posts to help drive more traffic to your site.
Add a description of your property to your listing. This is a perfect place to highlight the property’s floor plan options, location, and any other notable features that may entice renters to discover more about your community.
More than 50% of Google queries are now zero-click searches, which means that it’s more important than ever to provide users with all the information that they might need directly in your GMB listing. So after you claim and optimize your profile, be sure to stay up-to-date with all things GMB by checking out resources like the Google My Business Announcement Section, by reading articles from digital industry leaders like Search Engine Land, or by subscribing to the Digible monthly newsletter.
And, as always, if you have any questions or want to talk more about GMB, just hit us up!