If you’re a brick-and-mortar or local business – you sell products or services in a physical location, or you offer services in a specific geographic area – you can’t afford to miss out on using Google My Business. But if you haven’t set your listing up yet or aren’t sure how to use it to its fullest potential, don’t worry – we’ve got your complete guide to Google My Business right here.
What is Google My Business?
Google has become the most-used method of local search. Your business won’t reach its full potential and get to maximum brand awareness without a Google My Business (GMB) page. It’s a free tool that allows you control over how your business appears in Google Maps and Google Search. And it’s available for any business that has some sort of face-to-face interactions with customers, even if you don’t have a physical storefront. For example, a house painting company might not have an office where they can meet customers, but they’re still eligible for a Google My Business account.
GMB lets you update and customize your contact details and hours of operation, monitor and respond to reviews, and add pictures of your business. Your GMB listing comes with the added benefit of access to data on how people are searching for and finding you. It helps your customers find you, and helps you find customers.
What Google My Business Does
Online search is now the way a majority of people looking for a local shop or service do their research. In 2018, over 86% of customers read reviews for local businesses. And by the time people search for what you offer, most of them are ready to make a purchase.
Think of Google My Business as the new and digital Yellow Pages. Your customers need to be able to find you and know how to get in touch when they’re standing in their driveway in front of their locked door, frantically Googling “locksmith near me.” If your Google My Business listing is missing, out-of-date, or inaccurate, you’ve just missed that easy sales opportunity.
When your reviews outnumber those of your competitors, you don’t have to spend as many of your precious ad dollars to beat them in search results. Google recognizes a more frequently reviewed business as being more trustworthy, more credible, and more important to the user. This brings your local search rankings higher and higher with no ad spend at all. It’s a worthy investment of your time.
How to Manage Google My Business
Managing your Google My Business account starts by logging into your Google account for your business. If you don’t already have a Google account for your business, you need to create one. Then you have to verify that you really own the business you’re claiming (a good safety mechanism so no one but you can claim this valuable resource). Google provides you with several options to claim your business, so choose the one that works best for you.
Now that your business has been claimed, you’re ready to start editing your listing and adding information to your profile. Head to your Google My Business dashboard to get started. Be sure to add the most important pieces of information to your listing.
Name, Address, Phone Number
Often referred to as your NAP, this is the most critical information to get correct (and keep updated) in your GMB listing. If these are incorrect, your customers won’t be able to find you or contact you. So triple-check you have accurate information here.
Your potential customers can’t find you if they don’t know where you are. For businesses with a physical location, this information is pretty simple to add. If you have multiple locations, you need to create a listing for each one.
Google has a huge number of very specific categories for businesses. So take time to find the one that most accurately reflects your business. And if you have multiple locations, Google recommends choosing the exact same category for each location for consistency.
You can add a description of your business that’s up to 750 words long in Google My Business. This is another chance to get some of that great local SEO juice, so be sure to include a compelling and well-written description with a keyword or two that describes your business. It’s basically a short pitch for your business to potential customers, so make sure it’s error-free and doesn’t read like spam.
Photos and Videos
Adding photos (and videos, if you have them) to your GMB listing is a powerful lure for customers. After all, what’s more appealing – a blank listing of a local bar, or a series of well-lit pictures of your cozy and bustling establishment? Photos draw the eye of customers and help you stand out in the crowded local search game.
Managing Google Reviews
Google reviews are critical to how potential customers will view your business. Your overall ranking is clear with just a glance at the number of stars next to your name. And having great reviews boosts your local search rankings too. How can you excel at the ratings game? A few simple techniques will help.
Respond to reviews regularly. It can help to assign a staff member to look at your reviews and respond weekly, or you can do it yourself. The key is not to let feedback sit unanswered for too long – customers won’t feel you’re engaged.
Respond to both negative and positive reviews politely and professionally. It causes more damage for your business if you spout off a torrent of unprofessional emotion in response to a negative review than the damage caused by the review itself. And while your reviews should be polite, they should also be genuine – don’t just repeatedly copy and paste the same reply or you will sound like a robot. Genuine engagement leads to more trust from potential consumers.
You can manage your reviews right from your Google My Business profile, and keep on top of reviews that still need a reply. You can also set up email alerts when you receive a review so you can stay timely in your replies.
Push the Positive
To get more positive reviews, you can encourage customers to review you on Google after they have purchased a product or used your services if they were a satisfied customer (you don’t want to actively encourage the disgruntled ones to leave reviews). If you have a method for collecting email addresses from your customers during transactions, you can email them after with a link to review you on Google. The more satisfied customers you can get to leave a review, the more your ratings will climb.
Harness the Power of Google
Setting up and claiming your Google My Business profile is an essential way to grow your local business. If you want to get expert digital marketing guidance to take your business to the next level, including optimizing your Google My Business page and your local SEO efforts, give ContentFirst.Marketing a call today. Schedule your free business review and learn how we can get you measurable results for your business.