Keywords are an excellent and potentially free way to get potential customers or leads to find your Google Business Profile (GBP), formerly Google My Business, leading to more clicks, calls, interactions, sales, and even reviews. By understanding how keywords can help your company and use them properly, you can watch your GBP insights skyrocket.
- What are keywords?
- Why should I care about keywords?
- Where to add keywords to my Google Business Profile (GBP)
- How to find keywords for my Google Business Profile
- Keyword Research for Businesses
- How to see if my keywords are bringing my business traffic?
What are keywords?
Keywords are a word, string of words, phrases, or a question that users enter into a search engine to produce a search engine results page (SERP) that yields a list of businesses, content, and websites related to the search term.
Let’s say you own an Italian restaurant. When people search “Italian restaurant near me” or “Italian restaurant in Scranton, PA”, you want your GBP profile to be the first to show up.
The keywords in those phrases would be “Italian,” “Italian restaurant,” “restaurant,” “near me” (which uses the user’s location to produce results), and “Scranton PA”.
However, you might have the area’s best eggplant parmesan, an array of different kinds of pasta, and an extensive wine collection. In that case, you’d also want your GBP to show up when people search “eggplant parmesan near me,” “pasta in Scranton,” “wine menu near me”… the list goes on.
These are all keywords you would want to make a list of and include in areas of your Google Business Profile: description, services, posts, Q&A, reviews.
Why should I care about keywords?
Unfortunately, there is no way to pay your way to the top of the SERP. It is possible to pay for pay-per-click (PPC) advertising and target a specific keyword, but a competitor can outbid you, taking your ad spot, and it can get costly.
If you want free, organic local traffic to increase the visibility of your Google Business account, learning how to do basic keyword research can help not only improve how many times your GBP is viewed, but also clicks, calls, interactions with your website, quotes, sales, reviews, and even repeat customers.
A well-done GBP profile shows potential customers that you care about your business. Google sides with the users searching for your business and shows them the most relevant, high-quality, accurate results. In other words, if you’re looking for a digital marketing company and search “digital marketing near me,” Google wants to show you the best and most reliable digital marketers in your area. On the other hand, you want to be the one Google chooses.
How does Google choose who’s at the top of the SERP? Keywords are one of the first steps.
Keywords show Google not only what your business offers or sells but also where you’re located and how fantastic your services are (i.e., reviews- “This is the best digital marketing agency near me!”).
Google has an algorithm that has become exponentially smarter at determining search intention to yield the best possible results in the past decade. With that being said, they want to see your business appeal to humans, not the Google algorithm.
Where to add keywords to my Google Business Profile (GBP)
The description on your GBP should show people what your business is, where you are, why they should choose you, and how you’re different from your competitors. Unfortunately, at 750 characters, you have a short period of time to fully explain your company, which means every word counts.
Google offers a list of content guidelines for writing your Google Business local listing’s description.
- The first 250 characters of your description are what most people read- make them count.
- Make it readable! Stuffing keywords into your description makes it difficult for people to read and puts you at risk of being penalized by Google.
- DO include anything relevant to your business. If you offer a service that people in your area might search for but is not known just by reviewing your business name, include it!(refer back to the example about the Italian Restaurant)
- Ensure all of the content is accurate- don’t add keywords for services you don’t provide to gain visibility. Google can pick up on this, and customers may leave a poor review if they discover the service they want is not available.
- Avoid misspellings and use proper grammar. Use Google’s auto spell check, or a free tool like Grammarly, to double-check your writing.
- No links (i.e., website) – your GBP will already link to your business
- No promotions (i.e., 50% off!) – this is what posts are for
- Review your competitors’ GBP profiles. Compare & contrast
When setting up your Google Business Profile, you will be prompted to add a list of services your company offers. This can be edited at any time by going back into the Google Business Profile manager. These services will automatically serve as a searchable keyword for customers looking for your service.
EXAMPLE: A cleaning company might offer the following services: commercial cleaning, residential cleaning, laundry service, carpet cleaning, window cleaning, disinfecting service, etc. Each of these services are keywords.
Only add services that you currently offer. Even if you used to provide a service or will offer one soon, it is against Google’s policy because it is not accurate at the time of the search. This is also why frequently updating your GBP is important.
Reviews aren’t just for customers to write- they also give businesses the opportunity to reply and add additional keywords to optimize their Google Business Profile.
In fact, reviews are free exposure when the reviewer adds (likely unintentionally) keywords into the review. By responding, you can add in any relevant words or services that may help Google and people viewing your GBP to understand your company better.
EXAMPLE: A customer leaves a review for a nail salon, “These are the best nails I’ve ever gotten! I can’t wait to go back!”. “Best nails” now serves as a potential searchable keyword. When someone searches, “best nails in *your area*,” your company might show.
As the business owner, you can expand on the reply by saying something like, “Thank you *reviewer*! Your continued support means a lot to *business name* as we strive to provide the best manicure and pedicure services in Northeast PA. We look forward to seeing you soon!” — By replying, you’ve now added new keywords to your GBP — “manicure,” “pedicure,” “Northeast PA.”
Posts are a great way to show both Google and people that your business is consistent, active, and updated. It’s recommended to make posts 1x a week, and they can let the public know about new services/products, promotions, events, COVID-19 updates, and offers. This is a great way to add new keywords and update old ones.
Google Business Profile’s Q&A or frequently asked questions section is an easy way to plug in keywords and answer helpful questions to the public. One of the positives of the Q&A is that Google allows businesses to ask and answer their questions so that you can prompt certain keywords.
EXAMPLE: Let’s say you are the business owner of an urgent care. A popular search term/keyword might be “24-hour urgent care”, in which case you can ask the question “Is *Business Name* open 24 hours?” and then answer “Yes, *Business Name* is a 24-hour urgent care”.
How to find keywords for my Google Business Profile
Search for keywords on Google- Basic Keyword Discovery
One of the easiest ways to find keywords is to use Google’s search engine. You can start by searching your service, or if you’re not sure of exactly what to call the service you offer, try searching for a competitor.
If you scroll down to find your competitors’ businesses, you can find the main category of service they offer underneath the name. For example, if you search for “cleaning company,” the service categories you might find are “commercial cleaning service,” “carpet cleaning service,” “residential cleaning service,” and so on. Make a list of these for your research, as they can all serve as keywords.
Make a note of any keywords or phrases that competitors include that you might be able to utilize or any keywords that they are lacking that might set you apart. If you scroll down to the bottom of the page (or sometimes found in the middle), you will see a list of “Related Searches.” Make a list of any keywords or phrases you might be related to.
If you see a question under related searches, is it a question you can answer in your Q&A section of the GBP profile?
Keyword Research for Businesses
Now that you have a basic understanding of how to discover keywords using a search engine, it’s important to understand other important aspects of keyword research.
First, how do I know if enough people are searching for this keyword? Just because Google shows you results doesn’t mean other people are actively searching for it. Using the following tools, you can easily find the information you’re looking for:
(FOR PPC) Google Ads – Keyword Planner
Create a free business account and find basic information on keywords such as volume (how many people search that keyword) & CPC (estimated cost per click for PPC ads). Then, find related keywords and export them to a list for easy access.
(FOR VIEWING TRENDS) Google Trends
Research trends in keywords for free using Google Trends. The website compiles data to make easy comparisons between search terms. It can show you volume and similar search phrases, among other features.
SEMrush’s guide to using Google Trends for keyword research
Although the free version is limited, it will do just fine for researching keywords for your Google Business Profile. View different insights, find search volume, keyword difficulty (KD) (how difficult it’ll be to rank for that specific keyword and why), CPC, trends, and even the search intent (do customers want to purchase a product? find information? Look for a brand?).
💡 TIP: Don’t necessarily stray away from keywords with lower search volume. Remember, for Google Business Profile, you’re targeting local SEO, which utilizes local search terms related to the location and proximity of the user searching the keyword. You might notice that if you plug a keyword in one of the keyword research websites, it’ll show no search traffic. Occasionally, the search traffic is too low for the 3rd party websites to yield information. Don’t fret! If you know that it’s relevant to your business.
How to see if my keywords are bringing my business traffic?
As previously mentioned, Google wants to help you. Google has “Insights” via their Google Business Profile Manager that allows you to view data on your Google Business Profile. View the following:
- How do customers find your listing
- Search queries (what are people searching to lead to you?)
- Where customers find you on Google (PPC, Organic, Related)
- Customer actions
- Direction requests via GBP local listing
- How many customers called you from your GBP- phone calls
- How customers react to your photos
- What your business is known for
Taking notes on what customers are searching for, what posts are doing better than the others, and learning what customers want to see will help you better optimize your Google Business local listing using keywords.
Hopefully, by the end of this article, you will understand what keywords are, why they’re so important, how you can use keywords in your Google Business Profile, and how to do primary research for keywords with a few resources to get you started. As with anything, it’s something that can take some time to get the hang of- so don’t give up & continue to watch your traffic grow.