By Matt Aldrich, founder of Pet Engine Marketing and 2022 SuperZoo speaker
No, I’m not talking about TikTok! I’m not talking about Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn or Snapchat.
I’m talking about Google – specifically, your Google Business listing.
In 2022, “Google My Business” changed its name to “Google Business Profile.” While the name change may not mean very much, Google Business Profile has become the single most critical component of a strong online presence for pet retailers. Google has continued to evolve the Business Profile, and the current iteration is a streamlined website that can tell pet parents almost all of the pertinent information they would need to choose your store over other local competition.
In this article, I’m going to dig deeper into the Google Business Profile: why it’s important, what you need to do to optimize it and how to measure and track your improvements.
Why Is Your Google Business Listing Important?
As far as digital assets go, I would wager that there are none more important or cost-effective as your Google Business Profile. You have the opportunity to own your local market for your products and services for a total cost of $0. Consider that as of 2022:
- Google currently owns approximately 86% of the search engine market
- The #1 Google search result gets approximately 32% of all clicks
- 58% of all searches come from mobile
- Results on the second page of Google get less than 1% of total clicks
- 93% of online experiences begin with a search engine
Let’s consider an example.
Sally visits a local rescue organization or shelter with the intention of “just looking” at the dogs available. Oscar, a lovable dog looking for his best friend, takes an immediate liking to Sally, and vice versa. Sally’s heart melts, Oscar jumps into Sally’s car to find his forever home, and we have a happy ending for both!
However, Sally realizes she wasn’t 100% ready, and now needs everything to support Oscar right away! That includes food, treats, a collar, leash or harness, crate, poop bags, grooming supplies, etc. Oscar will also need to be groomed regularly.
Sally pulls out her smartphone and searches for “pet supplies near me.” She sees three results in the map that are close to her:
- Competitor Pet Store #1 – They’re open, but they have 3.2 stars on 49 reviews, and based on the photos it looks kind of musty, and instant messaging isn’t available.
- Your Pet Store – 4.8 rating on 312 reviews, hours and location are up to date, messaging is turned on so Sally can ask if you carry the products she needs, she can see that you offer grooming services, and she sees that your business is woman-owned as well (Sally loves that).
- Competitor Pet Store #2 – There’s no information here other than an address, so the listing is incomplete.
If you’re Sally, where are you going to find Oscar’s supplies? The choice is clear: She’s going to YOUR pet store, but that buying decision is primarily due to a few factors:
- Your store’s proximity to Sally’s location
- Your store’s Business Profile category matches with the search terms (“pet supplies near me”)
- Your Business Profile is filled out, up to date, accurate and informative
As the business owner, you can’t do very much about the proximity of your store to the searcher, but you can do your best to ensure that your Google Business Profile is optimized to take advantage of the opportunity presented by thousands of new pet parents who need pet supplies in your area every year.
How to Optimize Your Google Business Listing
I’m sure you’re wondering, “How do I make my Google Business Profile stand out from my local competitors in a crowded market?” Let’s get started optimizing your Google Business Profile.
None of this is particularly complicated, nor does it require a great deal of creativity or technical savviness. Your Google Business Profile is meant to display information quickly and easily for customers, and Google has worked to make editing your profile quick and easy as well. You can now make all your necessary edits directly on the search engine results page.
1. Verify Your Business Listing
If you haven’t already, step one is to verify your business listing. Click “verify now” and you’ll be presented with verification options that include a postcard, email (if available), phone call (if available), or Google Search Console (if available). Verifying your business listing lets Google know that the person who operates the business is the same person as the one operating the Business Profile.
2. Basic Business Information
Your name, address and phone number (here’s an acronym: NAP!) should be consistent across all your online assets. That includes your Google Business Profile, other social media platforms and website. While you’re at it, make sure your business hours, service areas (neighborhood, neighboring areas, city, etc.), website and other links (booking/ordering/appointments) are accurate as well.
3. Business Category
Your business category is one of the single most important fields you can fill out. Make sure that your primary category is your main means of business – if you are a retailer with grooming, make sure you put “pet supplies store” as your primary category and “pet groomer” as an additional category. Your primary category is the only category that people see on your business listing, so it absolutely impacts your search rankings.
Add as many additional categories as you like, so long as they apply to your business. Don’t use categories if they don’t directly apply to your business – you can be punished by Google for this kind of behavior!
4. Business Attributes
A newer feature of your Google Business listing is your “business attributes.” Here, you can include items like “woman-owned,” “wheelchair-accessible,” “black-owned” or other various identifiers.
5. Add Your Services and/or Products
You can add your various services and products to your Google Business Profile. That way, if pet parents search for a specific brand of food, or they’re looking for de-shedding for a 125lb. dog, they’ll find your business if you offer these specific products or services. Make sure you create a separate service for each specific service you offer. Take advantage of the description field to describe services using appropriate search terms and keywords.
For your products, it may not be practical to add every single item, so consider adding just the most important products or categories and organize them into collections. Some e-commerce websites can integrate with your Google Business Profile to take care of this task for you.
6. Turn on Messaging
Remember Sally and Oscar? Sally has a few friends who are pet parents, and they all recommend getting a different brand of food for Oscar. She doesn’t know how to decide, and she needs some help. So, when she searches for pet supplies on Google, she sees that out of the three results, your store is the only one that has messaging turned on.
To customers like Sally, that’s like an open door – whereas the other results without messaging enabled are a closed door. She’s going to walk through that open door. She might inquire about product availability, service offerings or prices. When you turn on messaging, Sally can reach a human faster and easier.
7. Gather Photos and Reviews
Once you’ve finished setting up your Google Business Profile, the good news is that usually there’s very little that you need to continue to work on moving forward! The two areas that are important to stay active on are on photos and reviews. It’s a good idea to signal to Google that you’re active on your Business Listing by adding one to five new photos every week. This can be pets in your store, new products, new displays, items on sale, events – anything, basically!
The second piece that’s important to stay on top of is your reviews. You should work to gather reviews as often as you can and respond to every single review. Yes, every single review, even the bad ones, even the ones that don’t have any words, even the ones that don’t make much sense. It tells Google that you’re active, and it tells pet parents that you care about your customers!
Measuring Success With Your Google Business Listing
Now that you’ve got your Business Profile squeaky clean and updated, it’s time to reap the rewards. What do those rewards look like? How do you measure them?
The primary indicators of your profile’s success online are called “customer actions.” There are four kinds of customer actions: directions, clicks, calls and messages. In the Settings section of your Business Profile, you can enable Insights from your Google Business listing to be sent to you to track these metrics, along with lots of other cool information on your Profile’s visibility on a weekly, monthly, or quarterly basis. You can use an online service or a simple Excel sheet to track this data every month to see how your Business Profile is trending over time.
Your Google Business Profile is your storefront in the digital world. From their phone or computer, customers can see if the lights are on and doors open, they can ask you if you carry certain products, they can place orders, they can book grooming appointments, they can learn about what makes your pet store unique and so much more.
But they can only do all those things if you set yourself up for success! How many pet parents are choosing your competition because of an outdated Google Business Profile?
Interested in learning more? Visit Matt Aldrich’s educational session at SuperZoo: “Invest 1 Hour on Google to Double Your In-Store Traffic: Tips, Tactics, and Techniques You Can Implement Today to Improve Your SEO” at 10:00 – 11:00 am on August 23, 2022.
Add an Education Pass to your SuperZoo registration today!
About Matt Aldrich
Matt Aldrich is the founder of Pet Engine Marketing, a marketing agency for local, independent pet stores. Pet Engine Marketing specializes in social media management, search engine optimization, email marketing, event promotion, websites and more.
To learn more visit his website at PetEngineMarketing.com or join his private Facebook Group: Marketing Help For Pet Businesses.
Subscribe to the WPA365 Newsletter
Savvy pet retailers can stay up to date on the latest content for pet professionals by signing up for the WPA365 monthly newsletter. Find advice, industry updates and more — curated for your needs. Complete the form below to subscribe!