Your Google My Business listing and subsequent knowledge panel might have more impact than you think when it comes to selling the products and services your business offers. For a lot of local businesses their Google My Business listing actually drives more leads than their website does. Google isn’t replacing your website but it’s a good idea to be aware of the close relationship. If you don’t have the infrastructure in place to track phone calls and clicks from your GMB listing you should seriously consider changing that ( don’t rely on questionable insights from your Google dashboard ).

The majority of searchers these days are on a mobile device and they want information presented to them as quickly and easily as possible without the need for complicated navigation. In order to improve user experience Google made even more information accessible right from your business knowledge panel. This goes beyond staples like your phone number, address, and directions. Searchers can also read reviews, find additional menu links, read descriptions, and scope out your business amenities. In order to help you maximize your lead opportunities in a time where less customers are actually visiting your website I’ve put together this list of 5 simple Google My Business optimization tips for small and medium sized businesses.

1. Select The Most Relevant Category

Google’s algorithm for local pack and finder results is tri-modal which means it factors in proximity, relevance, and prominence when doing the math on which businesses to show. You’re pretty much stuck with your location but you can and should make the effort to improve the other two elements. The best way to show Google that you’re the best dealer for the job is to have the right category on your listing. Sure you can always find something generic as your primary category but you can most likely be more specific than that. For example if you’re a roofer you can choose “roofing contractor” instead of just “contractor”. Don’t forget to fill in some subcategories as well, you can have up to 10 categories for your listing.

2. Let Customers SMS / Text You

Do you have a phone number that allows customers to text you? Why not give them that option right from your knowledge panel in search. If you go to your GMB dashboard you’ll see an option for messaging that allows you to verify and activate a chat feature for your customers. Once activated it only shows up on mobile but it will make it even easier for your customers to get in touch. We all know how much people love to text!

3. Generate Reviews

Some businesses do a really nice job of reputation management and others just don’t seem to get how essential it is. Not only do reviews factor into the rankings for local search but they also have a serious impact on user behaviour. According to a Bright Local study 85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. 77% of consumers think that reviews older than 3 months are no longer relevant. In a 2017 study they also found that 20% more local searchers will call a business after reading just one positive review. Those are just a few of the compelling reasons you need great reviews for your business. Google might not be the only review platform that matters for your dealership but it’s arguably the most important. Depending on your industry there might also be other specific platforms that your customers use to evaluate their options. One example is HomeStars if you provide any kind of home service.

4. Add A Menu Or Contact URL

Remember what I said earlier about mobile users not wanting to navigate your site to find what they’re looking for? The menu url in your dashboard is just another opportunity to make their experience a little easier. This option isn’t available for all categories but if it is you’ll see that secondary url option when you edit your website link from the GMB dashboard.

5. Take Advantage Of Google Posts

Google posts are another element that can deliver small ranking benefits if used regularly but that’s not where their power lies. Your knowledge panel likely shows up for any type of branded search related to your business and that’s a lot of opportunities to drive awareness with your audience. Forget the home page slider on your website that everyone ignores, if you want to promote your current sale, event, latest blog post then a Google post is the perfect way to create some extra attention.

6. Review Your Dashboard Regularly

One thing local business owners don’t seem to realize is that they don’t have complete control of their dashboard. Google makes the final call on things like your primary listing photo and anybody can suggest edits to your business information. Google will notify you in the dashboard if you have any updates that need to be reviewed. However if you neglect your listing you could end up presenting inaccurate information to your customers like business hours and contact details that might cost you money.

By implementing these 6 simple tips your local business will be generating more leads than ever, even if customers never look at your website once!