What Is This Google My Business Stuff & Why You Should Care?
Every business owner has the same issue.
It’s a simple fact. If your customers don’t know your business name and what you do, they won’t call you.
Because of this, achieving visibility on Google as a local business has never been more vital for the survival, growth, and success of your business. As many as four out of five consumers use search engines to find local businesses. (That fifth guy is still trying to get his dial-up modem to work.)
If you don’t have a strong local SEO strategy, you are waving goodbye to 80% of your customers. Google My Business is the most effective local SEO tool you can use and should be a crucial part of your strategy.
What is Google My Business?
If you’ve done any internet searching, chances are you’ve come across Google My Business (GMB- formerly known as Google Local and Google Places, and they’ll probably change the name again here in a month or two just to keep you thoroughly confused, but hey, they’re Google.). For example, if you’re feeling hungry and search for “burger places near me,” then the businesses with a Google My Business profile that best fit this query will appear at the top of the results page, displayed on a map.
The free Google listing is geared towards local searches making it ideal for brick and mortar shops. Google My Business makes it easy to see vital information about your business, such as the hours, address, and phone number. It also allows you to encourage and interact with reviewers and show photos of your enterprise.
Depending on the information you provide, your listing can appear in several different ways on the search engine.
General Knowledge Panel
This is the result when someone searches specifically for your business. The General Knowledge Panel sits at the top right of the screen on a desktop and at the top of the screen on a mobile phone. It displays your key information including, address, phone number, website link, and link to directions on Google Maps.
Google Local Pack
These are the three businesses that appear under the map when a user runs a local search. In most search results on desktop/laptop, you get 3 Google Ads at the top followed by the “3-Pack” followed by 10 organic listings and rounded out with 3 more Google Ads.
Completely filling out your GMB listing and using it actively helps your business have a fighting chance of showing up in the 3 pack for certain searches.
Google Maps assists people in looking for directions. It will also help users discover nearby businesses and locations. Having your GMB listing complete helps people find your business when they need your services.
Why You Should Be Using Google My Business
Google My Business offers local small businesses many benefits and the best part, is that you get these benefits for free. All you have to do is to follow Google’s guidelines (which are actually pretty straightforward) and think of this listing as an active part of marketing your business.
Your GMB listing helps you reach new customers and find some that you might have missed otherwise. In addition, customers will be able to find their information quickly and easily. Let’s look at why Google My Business should be one of your Digital Marketing Strategy foundations.
Boost Your SEO
Recently, Google searches that include the phrase “near me” have increased by over 500 percent. People want to find their goods and services where they live.
For local searches, Google will show GMB profiles a much higher percentage of time if your profile is properly filled out. It is vital to have a Google My Business listing to get access to this traffic. Local searches in Google have up to an 80 percent conversion rate, making this a tool your business can’t afford to ignore.
Plus, Google has a tendency to reward users of their toys, so…
Get Shown On Listings Your Normally Couldn’t
The only way to appear on Google Maps or the Local pack is to have a Google My Business Listing. You also run the chance of having the Knowledge Panel showing incorrect information or being sparsely populated without a listing, if it appears at all.
These listings stand out and catch the attention of users. If you’re not using GMB, you are missing out on a lot of visibility and clicks for your website. Who can afford that?
Be Seen on Google Maps
Google uses GMB listings to populate maps. In short, if you want to appear on Google Maps when people search, you’re going to need a listing. Convinced yet? C’mon man!
Collect and Display Reviews
Google My Business will allow you to collect customer reviews and show off the quality of your goods and services to potential customers. Don’t underestimate the power of online reviews for your business.
More and more customers want to see social proof from independent reviewers before deciding to purchase. A five-star review stands out, and displaying many good reviews builds trust and can be a very persuasive selling tool.
On top of this, reviews are critical when it comes to local pack rankings. You can’t afford to be the only business not showing strong reviews.
Gain Insights Into Your Business
Google My Business can help you see what is going on inside your business in a way that other platforms can’t. You will be able to see the number of views your profile, photos, and posts receive. Your audience demographics can also be broken down into age, gender, and country. In addition, businesses can monitor which search query people are using to find them and the number of clicks, phone calls, and direction queries that result. This information can drive the future strategic planning for your business.
Google My Business is Free
Did we mention that Google My Business is completely free to set up? I’m pretty sure we did, but it’s worth mentioning again. There are no subscriptions or levels of service. The tool is available to all businesses, and you can get started straight away. So whether it’s a large multinational or a corner store, everyone gets access to the same tool and opportunities. It is a tool that levels the playing field for small and local businesses.
How to Set Up Google My Business
Google looks for businesses, websites, and listings that provide users with the best online and offline experiences. It does this by delivering what it believes to be the most relevant search results.
For this reason, a Google My Business profile that is complete with information is essential to boost performance. Google can spot a pertinent answer to a search query and rank it accordingly. To gain more visits, clicks, and ultimately sales, a profile needs to be regularly updated and optimized. So, let’s start at the very beginning.
Sign Up For an Account and Claim Your Business
To begin, claim your business on Google. If your company has a Google My Business profile but doesn’t own it, you can claim it via Google. For a brand new enterprise, you can sign up and create your profile.
Step 1 – Log in to the Google Account (Gmail account) you want to be associated with your business, or create a new account if you don’t already have one. If you can, try to keep all your Google toys under one roof- Gmail, GMB, Google Analytics, Google Search Console, etc.
Step 2 – Go to google.com/business and select “start now” in the top right-hand corner or open a new tab and type “Google My Business” into the search box & hit the first link.
Step 3 – Enter your business name and follow the prompts.
Step 4 – Put your business address in. This should be the place where you serve customers, for example, a shopfront. If you are a service that visits on-site or doesn’t have an office where you can see customers, leave the address blank and check the box ‘I deliver goods and services.” For those working from home who don’t wish to display their address, check “hide my address, only show region.” To finalize this section, select your delivery area.
Step 5 – Choose your business category. In this section, you’re telling Google which type of customers should see your listing. It is important to be as accurate as possible when selecting the category.
Step 6 – Enter your business phone number or website.
Step 7 – Choose your verification option. If you’re not ready to verify yet, select “Try a different method” and then “Later.”
Verify Your Account
Once you have ensured that all your business information is correct, you are ready for the next step. Google wants to verify that you are the owner of a business that exists. Let’s find a preferred method.
If Google Business Console has previously verified your business, you can verify instantly via email. Don’t hold your breath for this method of verification, but we have seen it happen. One of our guys swears he saw Bigfoot once too.
Step 1 – Sign in to Google My Business using the same account you verified with Google Business Console. You should note that not all business categories are eligible for instant verification. If you don’t get a notification asking you to verify the account, you’ll have to use a different method.
This is far and away the most common form of verifying your GMB listing. Supposedly, once you click “Send”, you’ll get the postcard in 5 business days. You can only fill out so much information up to this point, and your listing will not “go live” until verification.
So begins the waiting game. You’re waiting on a neat little postcard with verification credentials right on there for the world to see. Once you have those magic numbers, go back and login back into your GMb listing and look for the “Verify” button on your initial dashboard.
Step 1 – Sign in to Google My Business and choose the business you want to verify.
Step 2 – Make sure all the addresses are correct. You also have the option to add a contact name to who the postcard will be addressed.
Step 3 – Click “mail,” and the postcard should be with you within five days. Don’t make any alterations to your account while waiting for the card to arrive. Doing that will add a lot of time to the process.
Step 4 – Once you receive the postcard, log in to Google My Business and select the location you’re verifying, and hit “verify now.”
Step 5 – Enter the five-digit code on your postcard in the Code field and hit “submit.”
Google allows some eligible businesses to verify over the phone. If you have access to this option, you’ll see a “verify by phone” option when you start the process. We’re not entirely sure what you have to do to be “eligible”, but for us, we’re thinking things like “have high-fived a leprechaun” or “been the big spoon for a Grizzly”.
Step 1 – Sign in to Google My Business and select the business you want to verify.
Step 2 – Make sure the phone number is correct and select “verify by phone.”
Step 3 – Enter the code that Google texts to you.
Google will allow some businesses to verify by email, but again, this is right up there with “and also been abducted by aliens” status. If you can access this, you will see the “verify by email” option at the beginning of the process.
Step 1 – Sign in to Google My Business and choose the business you wish to verify.
Step 2 – Ensure you entered the correct email address and then select “verify by email.”
Step 3 – Check your email for an email from Google My Business and click the verification button.
Optimize Your Google My Business Listing
Once you’ve added as much information as you can to your listing, it’s time to look for a few extras that will give your local SEO that extra boost. The simplest place to start is to make sure there are no blank spaces in your profile; fill in everything. We’re happy to help with this fairly tedious process. We like tedious. It makes us feel useful.
Optimize By Using Google Posts
Google loves active profiles that provide value to users. Choose posts from the left-hand menu and start posting. You can publish on any topic you might think customers will be interested in. Upcoming sales or events, part of a recent blog post, or holiday greetings would all make good starting points for posts.
You only have 300 words or so which lightens the burden of what you have to write. Plus, we’re not aware of anyone winning a Pulizter with their GMB posts (yet), so develop a strategy and go with it, but the more you use that element, the more you’re increasing your visibility.
Add Photos To Your Listing
According to Google, listing with photos receive 35 percent more clicks to their website and 40 percent more requests for driving directions in Google Maps.
A cover photo and a profile photo are the bare minimum you should have. However, extra images will make your listing more engaging. An exterior of a storefront or product shots never go astray.
The reality is that Google wants to make sure you’re a legitimate business. They really want to see pictures of the outside of your business, any signage, pictures of staff, etc. The more you can add these along with “before and after” pictures, etc., the better it is for your visibility.
Reply to Reviews
Just like the rest of Google’s world, there is an algorithm involved. Part of what they look for to better rank you is how often you respond to reviews (good and bad).
Begin by putting in place a system to request reviews (at their happiest with you). It should come as no surprise that businesses that ask for reviews actually get more than those that don’t. Remember, when you get your customers to leave reviews, that actually helps improve your visibility
Once you start getting more, make sure you respond appropriately, professionally, and when and if you ever get a bad review, respond in a way that helps your business vs gets you on CNN. It probably goes without saying that getting into an argument with a bad reviewer really is a losing proposition.
Just remember what you look for when reading negative reviews- that the company responded professionally and took responsibility where appropriate.
Can You Have Multiple Google My Business Listings?
If you have more than one business location, then you can create multiple listings. You can’t, however, create more than one listing for a single location. That’s just one of the ways that people have tried to game the system and doing so risks retribution from Google like suspending all your listings.
It’s their rules. We’re all just visitors.
If your business has different parts at the same location, it may be possible to create more than one listing. A car dealership may create a listing for car sales and another one for spare parts.
Drive Local SEO Success With Google My Business
The boost that Google My Business provides to local visibility is profound. Get the basics, such as completing all information right, and you have already laid the foundations for your future success.
But you need to keep going back to your profile. It’s not a “set it and forget it” situation. Using all the features GMB makes available to you will get you ahead of your competitors, many of whom fill in the basics and never revisit their listings.
The owner of an active profile that engages with its audience will soon find that they begin to fill with five-star reviews. They’ll also find that they’re at the top of the local Search Engine Results Pages.
If you want help with this or any other aspect of your digital marketing, call the staff at Make It Loud today. From doing all the work for you or consulting to help you make the magic happen, we’re here to help you grow your business.