Roughly 97% of all search engine users search for local businesses online. In fact, we rely on Google for virtually everything. Think about it—when was the last time you physically called a business to get their hours of operation, location, or to place an order? Ok, maybe to place an order. We have spent a lot of time cooped up lately.
Despite these facts, only about half of the local businesses out there are taking advantage of this golden digital marketing opportunity—the golden opportunity being Google My Business (GMB) listings.
Trust us when we say if your business doesn’t have a Google My Business listing, you’re missing out. There are a plethora of reasons to start using this free real estate from Google. (We’re just thrilled to be able to use the word “plethora”)To learn more about GMB, how it can benefit your business and how you can leverage it to your advantage, keep reading.
What Exactly Is Google My Business?
Google My Business is a free tool that allows local business owners to create, market, and manage their listing right on Google Search and Google Maps. The listing itself displays your business name, address, contact information, hours of operation, website link, and other important information about your business.
Most business owners don’t realize that creating a GMB listing is a crucial part of their local SEO marketing strategy. This is because GMB works by first creating your listing and having Google verify it. From there, you’re essentially creating a simple website (some would say “mini” site) that when done correctly, will drive more customers to your business.
For example, when someone searches for products or services, the first things that typically come up on the search engine results page (SERPs) are the Google Ads. These are the listings that say “Ad” beside them. Under those listings, you often get the map listings. This is what allows potential new customers to learn more about your business within a matter of seconds. It’s often referred to as the “Three Pack” but Google experiments with putting ads in this section as well.
How to Use GMB to Your Advantage
GMB listings come with a host of benefits for your business. These benefits include but are not limited to:
- More visibility for your web presence in the search results
- The ability to collect and respond to reviews
- The ability to post offers and info about your business
- An increase in web traffic and sales
- It helps people understand your business location
- It’s essential for your local marketing
- FREE ADVERTISING
All of these things will benefit your SEO marketing efforts as well as your bottom line. Now, here’s how to get started and how to leverage GMB to your advantage:
Set Up Your Listing
The first thing you need to do is to make sure you have a Gmail account. If you are “that guy” that is still holding on to your Mindspring or AOL email, it’s time to come on into this century. You’ll need a Gmail account to either create or claim your Google My Business page. There are step-by-step instructions on the Google My Business website, but basically, you need to verify all of your business information and confirm your ownership of your Google My Business account
We cannot stress this enough: Make sure ALL your information is accurate. Inaccurate information will cause your GMB listing to get pushed down the ranks where it’ll be virtually invisible to potential customers.
The initial setup of your GMB listing will require you to get verified before the listing goes live. This means you’ll have to wait for Google to send you a postcard with a verification code which takes a few days after your initial setup. Once you get the code, simply go back in, enter that code and you should go live shortly after that.
You’ll also want to create a GMB short name. Your short name will be unique to your business and serve as an easy way for your customers to search for you. It’ll look like this:
Make sure to choose something that represents your business name, brand, or location, so it can easily be associated with your business and no one else’s.
Lastly, Google offers over 2,300 business categories that allow business owners to choose from to optimize their listing. Make sure you choose the best category for your business and write a short description that includes relevant keywords and additional links.
Upload High-Quality Photos and Videos
High-quality and realistic photos of your business equal transparency to your potential customers. Your customers want to see what your business and products look like because this will determine their likeliness to visit you or spend their money elsewhere.
Plus, there’s the added incentive that Google wants to make sure you’re a legitimate business. That’s why you should always add photos of your signage, the outside of your business, and pictures of the inside. Your GMB listing is subject to review at times and the reviewers will look. at these pictures to help determine if you are a real business.
To give your potential customers the ultimate experience, use the best photos possible that show your storefront, your displays, your products, and especially your team in action. You’ll also want to update these photos frequently to keep your potential and recurring customers up to date.
Respond to ALL Customer Reviews
Online customer reviews are the tried and true method of gaining trust. At least 76% of all consumers rely on other customer reviews to make their purchase decisions.
Think of your online business reviews as personal recommendations you’d get from a close friend or family member. Not only do you want to encourage positive reviews, but you also MUST respond to them—whether they’re positive or negative—to show that you care about each individual customer.
By actively responding to all customer reviews, you build a relationship with your customer base, which also creates trust before they even walk through your doors.
The real reason you want to respond to all the reviews is that this is an expectation from Google and some might even say that is one of the indicators that you have an active GMB listing. The reward for that? Eh, it just might be more visibility.
Interact With Your Customers
GMB also has a unique feature that’s often overlooked. That feature is Google My Business messages.
This feature allows you to engage with your customers in real-time, kind of like a text message. You’ll have to manually activate this feature, but once you do, this service becomes an extension of your customer support system. They can reach out to your business and ask any questions they may have, which is something that will greatly influence their purchase decisions.
Take Advantage of Google Posts
Google Posts is another overlooked feature of GMB that allows you to keep customers up to date on the happenings of your business.
These posts come up directly in the form of a feed on your GMB profile. On this feed, your customers can engage with your business by leaving comments and sharing posts to their network. This feed can also be used to share photos, videos, and links.
Best of all, you can customize it by adding call-to-action buttons that encourage visitors to sign up for a subscription service, take advantage of a deal, make a purchase, or click a link to your main business website.
Review GMB Insights
Big data has become the bread and butter for businesses of all sizes across all industries. This is because data analytics give you an advantageous insight into everything your customer base does and why.
By using Google My Business Insights, you can take an in-depth look at the actions taking place on your local listing and use that information to make your future marketing decisions.
Here are a few things you’ll learn through your GMB profile:
- The number of phone calls that were placed by viewers that visited your listing
- The different actions recurring and potential customers are carrying out on your listing
- Where on Google customers are finding your listing, i.e., Google Search vs. Google Maps
- Where customers are located based on the geolocation of their search queries
- Whether or not customers are directly searching for your business or discovering it as part of a broader search
- The keywords and relevant terms being used during a search that led to your GMB listing
Being able to see the search terms that people are using to get to your GMB listing is incredibly important since relevant content that builds authority and trust is created around these search terms.
With GMB Insights, you can also find out what your business is “known for,” according to Google. This serves as a qualitative metric that’s generated by customer reviews and opinions posted on your listing, which can render your business as trustworthy, customer forward, fast and efficient, etc.
You can also use this metric to guide your future marketing decisions as it allows you to get a better understanding of your customer base’s pain points.
Get Help With Your GMB Today
Google My Business is something that your business really shouldn’t go without. Not only will it help your local SEO efforts, but it’ll increase your sales over time. Not to mention, it’s free marketing, so why not leverage it?
If you’re looking for more ways to improve your online presence, we can help you. Contact the staff at Make It Loud today to learn more about what we can do for your business in terms of digital marketing and web design.