Did you know that Google holds over 90 percent of the world’s search engine market share? This means when consumers search online, nine times out of ten, they use Google to do so. But how can you improve your funeral home’s chances of appearing in potential customers’ Google search results when they search for “funeral home near me?” You have the control to create or optimize your existing Google Business Profile.
Keep reading to learn what a Google Business Profile is, why it’s important and the 10 steps you can take to manage your Google Business Profile to increase your funeral home’s visibility in Google search results and connect with more families in your community.
What Is A Google Business Profile?
A Google Business Profile (GBP) – formerly known as Google My Business – is a free business listing service that local businesses can use to manage their presence on Google Search and Google Maps. Google describes GBP as “an easy-to-use tool for businesses and organizations to manage their online presence across Google, including Search and Maps. To help customers find your business, and to tell them your story, you can verify your business and edit your business information.”
According to Google, you can create a GBP if your business either has a physical location that customers can visit or is a service-area business that visits and works at its customers’ locations. Due to its free nature, setting up or optimizing your GBP listing is one of the quickest and most efficient ways to start generating more traction with families in your community.
Why Is A Google Business Profile Important?
A GBP offers many benefits that can increase your funeral home’s visibility and make it easier for consumers to locate your business’s information. Accurate listings with current information can help consumers in many ways. Consumers can:
- Easily find important information about your funeral home
- Quickly compare and contrast different funeral homes in the community
- Check out photos, reviews and offers from nearby funeral homes
- Ask questions and provide feedback to help local businesses improve
Your funeral home's GBP listing strongly impacts your rankings in Google’s local search results – in fact, it’s the number one local ranking factor. When you claim and verify your GBP listing, your listing becomes eligible to appear in Google search results, and you can share important information about your funeral home. Your listing also becomes eligible to appear in Google Maps searches and Google’s 3-pack–the top three most relevant GBP listings with a map. (Sometimes an ad may also appear in Google’s 3-pack.)
Example of Google’s 3-pack for the Search Query “funeral home near me” in Des Moines, Iowa
As zero-click searches become more prevalent–meaning a consumer finds all the information they need to take action right in search results as opposed to clicking through to a website–having a GBP listing is crucial. You could miss out on valuable opportunities to connect with more consumers in your community without one.
How to Manage Your Google Business Profile In 10 Steps
Before you can manage your GBP listing, make sure you either claim or create your listing and verify it with Google. Once you’ve verified your listing, you can begin setting up your new listing or optimizing your existing one.
1. Make Sure Your NAP Is Current
Your NAP information stands for Name, Address and Phone–your business’s basic information. To perform well in local search results and ensure your consumers have a positive experience using your GBP listing, you must provide accurate information. It should reflect what you use on your funeral home’s signage, printed materials and across your website.
Have you ever tried to call a business from Google search results or request driving directions to their place of business, only to find that their phone number is no longer in service or their listed address took you to the wrong location? Always double check your information and review your profile regularly to keep your NAP details up to date.
2. Add A Business Category and Subcategories
To further describe your business to Google and consumers and improve your rankings for relevant search queries, you can select a category and subcategories. Your primary category should reflect what is most important to your business.
For example, if your funeral home offers pet services, you may not want to list that as your primary category because you may provide other services. This would also limit your business’s visibility in search results because a funeral home that offers pet services is much more niche. In this scenario, you would benefit from selecting “funeral home” as your primary category and choosing “pet cemetery” or “pet funeral service” as subcategories. This strategy would enable you to appear in broader search queries like “funeral home near me” and narrower search queries like “pet funeral providers near me.” Other funeral-profession related categories include:
- Funeral director
- Funeral celebrant service
- Cremation service
Your GBP’s category and subcategories help you to showcase different areas of your business. If you want to feature specific products or services more in depth, you can use GBP’s Products feature.
3. Write A Compelling Business Description
The next step to creating a complete profile is writing a compelling business description (up to 750 characters). This is the best place to tell consumers more about your funeral home and what makes it unique. Use content from your website’s About page, refer to your funeral home’s mission statement and share your history. Refer to Google’s Business Profile guidelines for more information.
4. Add Photos
Adding photos to your GBP will help your funeral home stand out in Google search results and help consumers become more familiar with your business and staff before they visit your facility in person. According to Google, “Businesses with photos receive 42% more requests for driving directions to their location from users on Google, and 35% more clicks through to their websites than businesses that don’t have photos.” When deciding which photos to add to your listing, remember to use clear, high-quality images that accurately represent your funeral home and staff. Google recommends adding the following photos:
- At least three great exterior photos to help customers recognize your business
- At least three great interior photos to show customers what your business feels like inside
- At least three photos of products you sell
- At least three photos that are representative of the services you offer
- At least one photo of each of your common areas
- At least three photos showing your management team and your employees
Remember to add new photos and remove outdated ones regularly to ensure you provide consumers with a true representation of your business. You can also refer to Google’s photo and video guidelines for more details.
5. Generate Reviews
Google reviews can positively–or negatively–affect consumers’ perceptions of your funeral home, and they can influence your rankings in search results. The best way to ensure you earn and maintain positive reviews is to continue providing great customer service and asking customers to share their experiences! According to BrightLocal’s Consumer Review Survey, “67% [of survey respondents] will consider leaving a review for a positive experience, while 40% will consider leaving a review for a negative experience.”
Using Text-Based Aftercare from Homesteaders Solutions is a great way to collect valuable reviews from the families you serve. Our text-based aftercare program–staffed with live text message responders–creates a thoughtful dialogue with families in the first 12 months after their loss. Skilled service specialists interact with families on your funeral home’s behalf, so the benefits they receive reflect positively on you and your business.
Families who engage with the program often provide positive online reviews after interacting with an aftercare specialist. In fact, the average partner funeral home earns 16 five-star reviews within the first week and 97% of partner funeral homes are ranked #1 in their market on Google. Aftercare programs like this allow you to continue the conversation with families after the funeral and increase your online visibility for more preneed and at-need opportunities.
For every review you receive, remember to respond to the customer’s review in a timely manner to thank them for their feedback and offer additional assistance if needed. If you set aside time to respond, your customers and other consumers will see that you care about their experience. In fact, the same study from BrightLocal revealed that “89% of consumers are ‘highly’ or ‘fairly’ likely to use a business that responds to all of its online reviews” and “57% [of consumers] say they would be ‘not very’ or ‘not at all’ likely to use a business that doesn’t respond to reviews at all.”
6. Create Regular Google Posts
Google Posts are very similar to posting on your funeral home’s social media channels–a Google Post is an update about your business and it has no expiration date. Using posts not only makes your GBP more ‘clickable’ for consumers, but it also gives them more insight into your funeral home’s most recent updates, upcoming events, promotional offers, new products or services and future holiday hours. Learn more about the different post types from Google.
7. Use Products to Feature Your Products and Services
With GBP’s Products feature, you can showcase your funeral home’s various products and services. Homesteaders’ customer Iles Funeral Homes in Iowa uses Products to inform consumers in Google search results about their various services and flower and gift arrangements. Each product or service item includes a link to their website with more information.
Example of Products in a GBP Listing
Example of Full Product Gallery in GBP Listing
8. Answer Your Customers’ FAQs
Your GBP listing is often the first interaction a consumer has with your funeral home, so it’s essential to monitor it regularly to ensure you’re providing consumers with the best customer service experience. One feature that consumers can interact with is the Questions & answers section. Within this section, consumers can ask a question publicly. Other consumers can view and answer their questions, so it’s imperative that you or someone from your staff provide a helpful response to avoid the spread of inaccurate information.
Example of Consumer Question and Funeral Home Owner’s Response Using GBP Listing’s Q&A Feature
9. Use the Messaging Feature for Customer Inquiries
Some consumers may not feel comfortable posting their questions or providing feedback publicly on your GBP listing–GBP’s Messaging feature gives them a way to privately reach out to your funeral home with questions. The Messaging feature can also serve as another customer service channel, so, if you choose to turn this feature on, it’s essential that you also have a designated staff member to monitor and respond to consumers’ questions. Learn more about how to set up and read and reply to messages from your GBP listing.
10. Review Your Profile Regularly
The last step to optimizing your GBP listing is to set aside time each week or month to make sure your business information is up to date and you have provided helpful responses to customer reviews and questions. If you need any assistance setting up or optimizing your GBP listing, contact your Homesteaders account executive. And if you’re interested in reading about GBP more in depth, check out BrightLocal’s complete guide.