If you are a business owner with a presence in the online space then you’ve probably heard of Google My Business. If you are a search engine user then you’ve probably taken advantage of the service without knowing what it is.
Google My Business is a tool to manage search engine results page listings that allow businesses to boost their visibility. They are particularly good for businesses building their local SEO. A Google My Business account allows you to claim ownership of and manage your Business Profile (in other words your Google business listing) and to unlock additional features offered by Google.
This article will explain exactly what Google My Business is, why it’s so important for everyone to take advantage of the service, how to set one up and how to optimise your listing.
What is Google My Business?
As mentioned in the introduction, Google My Business allows you to manage your business profile on Google which is what appears in the search engine results pages and on Google Maps.
The purpose of a Google My Business profile is to boost your position in the search results. It is a completely free service, and the only requirement is that you must have a presence in the real world, i.e. you must be a shop, restaurant, repair service, personal service etc.
Google My Business is a fantastic tool if you are a new business as it is a key local SEO tool.
As we’ll explain later on in this article, setting up a Google My Business profile is not complicated and through a few verification methods, anyone can do it.
Why do you need Google My Business?
These days, in order to succeed in real-world, you have to have a strong presence in the online world. Users trust Google reviews for absolutely everything. From doctors and hairdressers to restaurants and hotels, the influence of the online space on people’s decisions is huge. So the benefits of a good online presence are obvious and very worth it.
There are several reasons why every business should have a Google My Business account, but here is a list of the tops ones:
- Increased visibility: Google My Business puts your site in front of the users who need to see it. If you own an Italian restaurant and a search engine user who is close by Googles “Italian food near me,” then you need to be one of the top results they see. It is a simple way to convert a view into business and without being present online, a huge percentage of customers won’t even know you’re there.
- Keeping customers up-to-date: Google business listings are a great way to communicate with customers. If you have a special on, have changed details about your location or opening hours, or are temporarily closed (very important during the COVID-19 era), customers need to know. The wrong information can lead to bad impressions. Customers remember bad experiences such as turning up to a closed bar when Google results said you would be open.
- Boost confidence: According to a post by Hootsuite, customers are 70% more likely to visit a business with a Google My Business listing and businesses with complete listings are twice as likely to earn customer trust. These numbers speak for themselves. In order to gain credibility and the trust of your customers, they need to be able to know who you are and what quality of business you offer. Google business listings provide that guarantee to customers before they make the effort to step out their front door.
- Better customer experience: With the blend of keeping customers up-to-date and the boost of confidence with customers, the overall good experience of your customers will rise. Repeated good experiences coverts to repeated sales, and is a win for all parties.
How ‘Google My Business’ helps with SEO and local marketing
Google My Business is the perfect marketing tool for any business. The service is free so can be utilised by everyone, including small or new businesses. If you’ve invested in your business, chances are you have already employed several SEO techniques, so here’s one more.
Google My Business helps with SEO by:
- Targeting your information: The aim of Google My Business is to connect the right customers with the right businesses, and they rely on keywords to do this. Just like with all search results, your business will be matched to customers who are looking for specific terms. You can add keywords in the description of your business, your response to questions or reviews, or any promotional material you post.
- Building trust: Google My Business allows customers to leave reviews for your service. Google takes note of these reviews and rewards the highest starred businesses with high positions in the search engine results pages.
- Maintaining accurate information: Google loves an accurate and up-to-date site. It doesn’t want to lead its users to dead ends. Google My Business allows you to add details about your business so make sure you have accurate information about location, opening hours, and contact details.
- Creating activity: Activity draws the attention of the search engine. Using Google My Business creates a buzz around your site through clicks, reviews and images.
The best thing Google My Business does for local marketing is the connection it offers to customers close by. By providing your address, opening hours, contact details and product information, Google can match you with the customers most likely to use your service.
How to set up Google My Business
Setting up a Google My Business account is easy, and anyone can do it.
To set up a Google My Business account go to www.google.com/business and click “Manage now.” Follow the steps to create your account but remember that having a My Business account doesn’t create a Business Profile – you need to do that separately and then link the two to manage it.
To set up a Google My Business listing follow these steps:
- Go to google.com/business again, and select “start now” which should appear in the top right-hand corner of the page.
- Enter your business name and address.
- Select the type of service you offer i.e. if you are a delivery service and the area you cater to.
- Next, choose your business category so Google knows what customers should find you.
- Add your contact details like website address, email and phone number.
- Verify (which we will explain in a minute).
Once you have your Google Business account and Google Business profile, you need to locate the profile on Google Maps and choose the “claim this business” option.
Google uses a verification system to manage Business listings. There are several ways to verify your business including:
- Postcard: Google provides you with the option to have the verification delivered to your business address. Once you receive the card with your five-digit verification code, you need to log into your Google My Business account, select the “verify now” option and enter the code. If you don’t receive your postcard or you lose it, you can request another code.
- Instant: instant verification is not available for all business types. These instant verifications can be sent either by phone or email.
- Bulk: If your business operates in more than 10 locations, Google allows you to verify them all in one go. Instead of receiving a verification code, you will need to fill out a form and submit it to Google. In your Google My Business account under the verification tab, you need to select the “chain” option. This is where you will find the verification form. It can take up to a week for Google to review and process your business.
How to optimise your Google listing
Having a Google listing doesn’t guarantee top results. It takes skill and commitment to excel in search engine results pages, but there are some simple things you can do to optimise your listing without too much stress on your part.
The first way to optimise your listing is images and photos. They don’t say a picture says a thousand words for no reason, and when you have very limited space for words a picture can be your best tool. According to a post by The Online marketing Gurus, “Businesses with photos receive 42% more requests for driving directions to their location from users on Google, and 35% more clicks through to their website than businesses that don’t have photos.”
Your Google My Business profile will allow you to add a logo and a cover photo, so your brand is recognizable. You also have the option to add photos of your location, your products, food or menus. Make sure you choose high-quality pictures, so you look professional.
Just like with images, videos allow you to say or show something to a customer directly that words can’t convey.
Some of the best performing content online are short videos (two minutes or under) as they receive the most engagement.
The key with videos is to make sure they are professional, relevant, and valuable to your business. Some ideas for videos include a tour of your business (restaurant, store etc), a showcase of some of your favourite or new-in products, or an example of the service you provide.
Your video should be engaging and leave a customer feeling excited or inspired to visit you. It should be unique and filmed in your business with your employees (no stock footage allowed!).
Google has the capacity to recognise and remove poor quality or copied videos, so make sure you put some effort into this marketing tool.
Finish your video with a call to action so viewers know what to do once they are done watching your video.
It might seem daunting for the thing you’ve invested so much time and money in to be reviewed by strangers on the internet, but you should consider it your superpower. Not only can reviews be a free marketing tool to draw more customers to your business, but they are also an opportunity for your business to grow.
People trust reviews they see online, sometimes more than reviews from people they know, so encourage customers to leave reviews by asking for them or offering incentives. The best time to ask for a review is following a good experience.
Good or bad, reviews benefit from a response. Show your customers that you value their feedback by taking the time to engage with them. Customers love feeling like they are important to you, so be appreciative and brand appropriate with your response. You should also pay close attention to questions that customers ask in the reviews. This shows that your business is active and reliable.
If you receive a bad review don’t try to bury it. Respond to their concerns (never dismiss them) and offer an apology or promise to do better next time where appropriate.
You can’t turn off reviews with Google but, like every space on the internet, some comments can be nasty for the sake of it. If you feel a review is irrelevant or incorrect, you can flag or report it to Google.
Other ways to make the most of your Google business listing are:
- Add as much detail as you can: Make sure you fill out your whole profile and provide Google with as much information about your location, your target customer, the type of business you are. Focus on keywords as well. Google determines who sees your listing based on search relevance, the location from the search to the searcher and how well known the business is.
- Be active: Post news, updates, special offers to create a buzz around your business and draw the attention of the search engine and customers.
- Monitor your site’s stats: Google My Business offers insights into your site’s stats that exceed those offered by Google Analytics. Monitor these to see what is your customers respond to and what doesn’t get many hits. This can include keywords, social media posts or special offers.
- Include special features: This feature is only available for certain businesses such as
- Hotels can show class ratings and amenities
- Restaurants and bars can upload menus or add links to delivery services and reservation platforms
- Small to medium-sized businesses can showcase products
Google My Business offers you are your business a better way to connect with customers.
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