Written by: Samantha Russell
The majority of us “Google” when we are searching online. This offers a benefit to both consumers and businesses, as Google gives you the opportunity to rank higher. While tools like Google Analytics, Google Trends, and Google Search Console allow businesses to understand how their site can rank better.
Google Business Profile is another free tool on this list. It’s not only incredibly beneficial to financial advisors but something we consider a necessity. This is because Google Business Profile (GBP) is your company’s most visible asset for local search.
According to Google, half of all the individuals who conduct a search for a local business will visit that business within 24 hours. But, if you don’t claim your Google Business Profile, Google will attempt to provide the best information about your business, which may not always be accurate.
By claiming your GBP profile, you can verify and edit all the information about your business on Google and make the connection you need for prospects to find your financial services firm.
7 Ways to Optimize Your Google Business Profile
The seven steps below will ensure you stand out in local search and outshine the competition.
1. Claim Your Google Business Profile
The first step to optimizing your Google Business Profile is to claim it if you haven’t already. GBP is a free and user-friendly tool where you can manage your financial planning business’ digital presence for both Google Search and Google Maps. If you already have a Google account, you can use this to claim your business listing. If you don’t have a Google or Gmail account, you’ll have to go through the process of creating one first in order to claim your business profile.
By utilizing this platform, you can choose what Google users see when they search for your business, as well as better understand your customers and prospects through insights on how they search for you and from where. By creating a GBP page, you ultimately enhance your SEO, local search, brand and overall business.
You can start the process of claiming your profile by clicking here and going through the verification process.
Once verification is complete, Google will send you a postcard with a unique PIN number to your firm’s physical location. Working with many advisors, we realize that a large majority of practices are remote and use a PO or UPS box. It’s important to note that PO and UPS boxes are strictly prohibited by Google. Instead, when claiming your account, use your personal home address. Don’t worry – this can be masked or hidden in your business listing once verified.
This first step is one of the most important steps in optimizing your GBP listing. It may seem tedious, but it is essential as this is how Google is able to verify that businesses are legitimate.
Categories are used to describe your business and connect you to customers searching for the services you offer. By categorizing your business appropriately, you are increasing your chances of appearing in the top results for relevant searches, which can aid in gaining new clients.
Google auto-populates these categories, so you won’t be able to create your own. However, they offer plenty of specific categories for the financial services industry. You can choose from options such as financial planner, financial consultant, and investment service to describe your work and multiple categories are allowed.
Keep in mind that your primary category should describe your overall business. You will be able to add additional categories to describe more specific services and products to those searching.
In addition to categories, As of March 2018, businesses now also have the ability to add a business description to their Google Business Profile. This short business description will show up in the local knowledge panel in search or in Google Maps results for the business.
3. Business Description
Once logged into your Google Business Profile account, click on the “Info” button on the menu bar to the left. You’ll then see that one of the new sections is labeled “Add a business description.” Click on the pencil icon next to that field, and a menu will come up, letting you enter a brief description of your business. You’ll have to be brief here, as you only have 750 characters to work with. Even though you need to keep it short and sweet, make sure that you are including relevant keywords in your GBP description.
Think about the words that customers would use when they are trying to find your business and include those, similar to knowing you would include keywords in blog posts and throughout your website.
4. Add Photos
There is no doubt that photos are more engaging than text, and therefore they should be a must on your GBP page. In fact, businesses that use photos on their listing receive 35% more clicks through to their websites than businesses that don’t.
A picture truly is worth a thousand words and can convey many characteristics of your business that text cannot. Is this team professional? Is the office inviting? What will it be like to work with this firm? Use images to convey your brand and answer these questions in a different way.
You should load high-quality photos into GBP that reflect your professionalism. These pictures should capture your team’s personality, your work setting, as well as the interior and exterior of your office space. This is a great way to encourage virtual visitors to get to know you and your business.
Because we know the impact photos have in marketing a financial services business, we recommend adding at least 3-6 photos to your Google Business Profile for optimal performance. GBP now also offers virtual tours, so you can also consider hiring a Google-approved photographer to create a 360-degree virtual tour of your space for prospects.
Below, Obermeyer Wood Investment Counsel, LLP includes pictures of their team, building, and logo photos on their Google Business Profile.
When you are first creating a GBP page, Google will ask you to search for your business. If your business is already listed, make sure you claim it as your own. This ensures you are not duplicating your efforts or your locations.
Another way to localize your GBP page is to list a phone number with a local area code. Not only does this allow GBP to validate your listing, but it also appeals to local prospects who may be more inclined to work with local financial advisors.
Lastly, your NAP (name, address, and phone) and listing information should be consistent across all online platforms. This includes GBP, your website, and social media. This is incredibly important for GBP and your target audience.
6. Get Reviews
How often do you check reviews online? Every time I am looking for a new restaurant or buying a product on Amazon, reviews are my savior! If prospects are interested in working with your firm, housing reviews on your GBP can be a great way to build trust and give them a more personal testimony of your work.
88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
Not only do reviews help people get an idea of what it would be like to work with you, but they also help your GBP page rankings. If your page has 20 or more reviews, Google is more likely to show your page in the mapped listings over a page that doesn’t have any reviews. Reviews are great for optimizing your Google Business Profile.
Advisors can see customer reviews as hazards or opportunities. The SEC’s Division of Investment Management issued guidance to assist firms in this, and the bottom line is: “an investment advisor’s or investment adviser representative’s (IAR’s) publication of all of the testimonials about the investment advisor or IAR from an independent social media site on the investment advisor’s or IAR’s own social media site or website would not implicate the concern underlying the testimonial rule.”
It seems that if an advisor has no control over the content of the third-party review, the reviewer is not compensated in any way, the advisor publishes all reviews, positive and negative, and refrains from promotion on the pages where such testimonials appear, then the advisor will be in compliance.
7. Set Your Service Areas
We get this question a lot: “I’m virtual and can serve clients throughout the U.S.” Great! Just recently, Google rolled out the option to list multiple service areas within your Google Business Profile separate from your physical business location. Be sure to set your service area to a region, city, or zip code, and apply multiple service areas if it’s applicable to your business so that Google can rank them equally.
Related: 5 Real-Life Advisor Marketing Tactics That Bring Results