Remember the yellow pages? You’d flip through a book to find the category of business that you’re looking for and would be presented with a list. Now, the phonebook has moved online and Google provides you with a list of the types of businesses that you’re looking for.
In the yellow pages, you could pay for prime placement and would stay there for a year. Google’s listings are dynamic and can change every day, so what do you do to get noticed?
Why you need a Google My Business account
Google My Business is a free, easy-to-use tool that allows businesses with physical locations to manage how they appear on Google Search and Maps.
“Manage” is the key word here, since businesses are going to be cataloged and displayed on Google anyway. GMB gives you the ability to control what people see, how they can contact you, and update them over time.
Show up in Google search results
The same way that profiles on social media help people learn more about each other, Google My Business helps people learn more about your business.
People need to know certain things about your business; hours of operation, location, services, website address, etc. Providing and updating this information will help to increase your visibility and can help make a customer’s experience a little bit easier.
If a potential customer is searching for businesses on Google, they’re likely ready to make a purchase and are looking for the right place to do so. Providing this information for your GMB listing will remove barriers and make it more likely that they’ll call you over another listing that hasn’t.
An added bonus is that Google gives special exposure to three local listings at the top of its results page, which means they show up before organic search results. It’s not some SEO trickery and you can’t buy your way into this exclusive shortlist; becoming a verified business through GMB is the first step.
GMB allows customers to leave star ratings and testimonials that are publicly visible. People who have been given access to manage the listing can reply to reviews to follow up or address concerns.
Some people might be wary of giving unhappy customers a forum to complain about their business. With Google My Business, you also have a place to respond to negative reviews and address issues that customers have. Because reviews are public, this will also give you the opportunity to answer questions and put out fires before they start.
Few factors can influence a potential customer’s purchase decision as much as online reviews. As customers leave reviews, and as you deliver customer service to them when they do, the number of reviews you get will increase which will reflect very highly on the overall perception of your brand to new customers.
How to optimize your Google My Business profile
Since Google My Business is a free tool, sometimes businesses are less incentivized to optimize it. Your GMB profile will only be as powerful and useful as you make it and there are a few things you should do to really make it work for you.
Download the Google My Business app
Just like any other social network, you’ll be much more likely to use, check, and update it if you make it easy and accessible.
If you take photos around your business to post to Facebook or Instagram, start to get into the habit of posting them to GMB as well. Posts that you make on GMB should be more “evergreen” than those you post on other social networks. Things like new product lines, changes in staffing or services, and other news that impacts your customers are good places to start. Think of this as a place to make announcements, not casual status updates.
There’s a new feature that allows customers to IM you through your business listing but replying is only available through the GMB app. Also, you must reply to messages within 24 hours or this feature will be revoked.
Encourage customers to leave reviews
(and respond to them)
People put a lot of stock in online reviews. Everyone’s reviews and experiences are different but if the vast majority of people have had positive experiences at a particular business, then it’s a safe bet that new customers will, too.
It’s in Google’s best interest to provide its users with quality listings and recommendations, so it’s in your best interest to get positive engagement on your profile. The companies with the most positive reviews will be pushed up in the search ranking.
Upload quality photos
While it might cost some money, it’s recommended to hire a photographer to take some quality, professional-looking photos of your storefront, your interior, and whatever product or service you’re selling.
As we mentioned above, content on GMB is best if it’s evergreen, meaning that it won’t soon expire (like a lot of other social media posts). It’s worth investing a little more effort and money to get shots that will give potential customers a good idea of what to expect at your business and things like your storefront & offerings likely won’t change much over time.
Even though more and more businesses are creating Google My Business accounts, very few are putting in the ongoing work it takes to create a profile that gets noticed and ultimately gets them more customers. That presents an opportunity for you.
You don’t just want to post regular updates but also update your business hours, address, website, or other information that could cause a customer a lot of inconvenience if it’s wrong or outdated. At the very least, before every major holiday and change in season, log in and make sure that your information is current.
Recently, a member of our team was a guest on a webinar about Google My Business with HeyOrca, the social media scheduling software company. It went really well, we helped a lot of people get started with GMB, and we learned a thing or two from our audience as well.
Newfound Marketing also uses HeyOrca to post to Google My Business, as well as other social networks on behalf of our clients. We highly recommend that you check