What is Google my Business?
Google My Business is a free tool for business owners. It allows them to manage and control their online presence across Google including:
- Google Search
- Mobile Search
- Local Search
- Google Maps
With GMB you can create, verify and edit your business listing in Google. This stands apart from your website and it’s what appears (on the right-hand side of your search) when people Google you. Keeping this information current, and relevant is absolutely in your business’s best interest.
Google My Business was created by Google to make it easier for searchers to get the information they need, quickly and easily without necessarily visiting your website. Your listing includes:
- Your business’s address – and, how long it takes to drive to your business
- Opening hours
- Contact information
Put simply, it allows your potential customers to more easily find you, and contact you. Sounds great right?! But with everything else you have to manage online – your website, Social Media accounts, and more why should you add this to your list?
Why is Google my Business Important?
Being the single best search engine is Google’s business model and everything they do is to improve the searcher’s convenience. Google my Business is worthwhile to add to your digital marketing strategy and keeping your Google My Business listing updated and relevant is huge for your business visibility and SEO.
When someone is searching specifically for your business name, then they are already aware of your business (perhaps even a returning customer) and your full GMB listing will display.
The majority of online searches generate results based on location and appearing in local search results is lucrative for converting leads into customers so it’s essential for local SEO (SEO focused within specific geographic regions) the goal being to acquire, service and retain customers.
If you want your business to be seen, you need to be where people are; and today, people are online – “84% of consumers use their computer or tablet to search for local business online, and 88% use their smartphone.ThriveHive
If someone is searching for a more generic – e.g. “best Chinese restaurant”, “plumber near me”, “garden shop open Sundays” – you will see the “three-pack” result above the standard organic search results.
These business details are pulled from each business’s Google My Business listing. Google’s entire Local Search directory is based on and driven by Google My Business.
Just setting up your Google My Business page can be enough to get you featured in a three-pack result.
Control of Your Information and Service Offering
There are some additional tools in Google My Business to help you attract and inform local customers.
- Product lists
- Accepted payment types
- Menus and prices
- Coupons and special offers
Manage, Showcase and Respond to Reviews
An important part of your listing is User Reviews. Google rewards users as “local guides”, and rewards them when they rate and review local businesses. Quality, positive reviews from your customers improve your business’ visibility, and increases the likelihood that a potential customer will visit your location. Make sure you always respond to your reviews.
Discover More About Customers
Extra analytics allow local businesses to learn more about their customers. For example, on Google Maps, you can access information on where requests for driving directions to your business originated from. This information could help to target new customers in that area to allow your business to grow.
In Summary – Three main benefits of Google My Business:
- Increased visibility in local search
- A better experience for buyers
- More traffic to your website and physical location
What do you need to do?
Create your Google My Business Listing
The first (and most important step) is to claim and verify your Google My Business listing. Ensure that your message is consistent across your channels and avoid confusing potential customers by showing different information (e.g. opening hours) on GMB vs your own website. Do a cross check.
Optimise your Google My Business Listing
To stand out from competitors, by optimising your profile you will to help searchers (and Google) to understand more about your business. In this case – the more Google knows about your business, the more types of searches your listing will show up in, and therefore more people will see your products and services.
Add as much detail as possible – fill in every category and answer each question.
1. Craft a compelling business description
- Write your business description in such a way that puts the most important information, keywords and your location near the start of the description. (only 250 characters of the 750 allowed show up before they get cut off)
- Keep within the guidelines set down in the Google Business Description Guidelines as Google reviews your business description before it’s published
2. Add photos and videos that show off your business
“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.”Google
Here are the kind of photos you should add
Cover image: Show your business in the best light
Profile: This will be your avatar – it appears when you review responses, post videos etc
Products and Services: Showcase your goods and services
Inside your business: Inside shots of your business and your employees
Storefront: External pictures of your business (+/- at different times of the day). Make the business name and logo are visible.
TIP – Make your images at least 720 x 720 pixels and name images correctly according to what they show e.g. petes-mechanics-shopfront.jpg
Adding videos to your GMB listing will improve your ranking. It also allows you to engage with customers on a different level.
What videos should you add?
Show off your business to give customers and potential customers a feel for it before they visit. Videos can be up to 30 seconds. Film these in your place of business and make them real, not too polished. Google can and will remove videos if the primary subject of the content is not related to the business location.
3. Use Posts to Post relevant and engaging content
A relatively new feature on GMB is Posts. These are similar to social media posts but they appear in your Google My Business listing on a Google search.
Posts allow you to target your audience, refine keywords, build your business authority and improve your ranking. And, it’s easy! Go to your GMB dashboard and click on the “Posts” option on the left-hand menu.
- Event post – add a date, time, and link to the registration page
- Offer – link to redeem
- Link to your latest blog article
- Feature new products – add a link to your store
- Holiday message
4. Respond to reviews – both positive and negative!
It’s no secret that online reviews are powerful – they impact search result rankings, consumer trust, click-through rates and conversions. Your GMB reviews can be a deciding factor in whether or not a searcher engages with your brand or buys your product.
TIP! – You can ask your customers for reviews, as long as you follow Google’s guidelines for Google My Business reviews. Be informed that if you break the rules, your reviews could be removed.
If you receive reviews – respond to all of them – good and bad. This shows the reviewer that you appreciate their feedback and it also shows potential customers that you care. Address the reviewer by name and sign off with your name.
What to do with a negative review? Remember – this happens to the best businesses.
- If it was a genuine negative experience, respond with an apology and explanation. Avoid getting defensive or nasty.
- If a troll leaves a one-star review and/or a nasty comment, don’t worry too much – most people will recognise it for what it is
5. Add Bookings feature (optional)
If you’re an appointment-based company you can use the bookings feature to schedule a visit directly through the GMB listing thereby removing a step in the buying process and making the whole experience easier. Win-win! By integrating your booking software with your Google My Business listing there’s no risk of double booking or lost bookings.
6. Use Questions & Answers
This feature is a chance to give your customers the information they are looking for, so review these quickly and answer questions before other users do. Make sure you correct any inaccurate answers.
You can also create a Frequently Asked Questions list to preempt questions.
7. Create your free Website
With Google My Business, you have the option of creating a free website to represent your business. This is mobile-friendly and is optimised across all devices .
Google automatically pulls the information and photos from your Google My Business listing to create a site for your business. You are able to customize themes, photos, and text.
The free site automatically updates as you change your business information or post new photos. Easy!
One of the most important things to edit is the Primary button. This allows you to choose the main action button you want customers to see (you can preview what a button does by publishing and viewing your site).
Call now: Prompts a phone call to your business (great if you get a lot of searches on mobile)
Contact Us: Sends customer name, phone number, email, and message to your email and all other listing owners and managers
Get directions: Opens directions to your location in Google Maps
Get Quote: Sends customer name, phone number, email, and message to your email and all other listing owners and managers
Make appointment: Opens a link of your choice
Message us (SMS): This button sends an SMS message to your phone number (Make sure the number is a mobile phone that can receive SMS messages. Message and data rates may apply.)
Message us (WhatsApp): This button sends a WhatsApp message to your mobile phone number. Make sure you have WhatsApp installed to receive messages.
8. Check, measure and respond regularly.
Some businesses dislike the “suggest an edit” and “answer quick questions” features. Remember – you can avoid the addition of user content here by:
- Getting everything correct and complete to avoid people adding things
- Review your information regularly
- Answer questions and respond to reviews in a timely manner (turn on notifications, so you will get an alert when a change is made)
Insights – Google provides valuable, data-driven insights about your GMB listing that reveal more about your target audience and help you to see where visitors are coming from.
When you understand how your customers are finding your business, the type of information they are seeking and what their next action is, you can provide this information in your listing and you digital marketing efforts.
Is there a downside?
If searchers use GMB and don’t click through to your website – Isn’t that a bad thing? It depends on your point of view – rather than one less click to your website, look at it as a potential customer finding the information, they were looking for easily. For example – if they wanted your phone number or to see if you were open now, they are completely satisfied.
Claim or get your business a listing in Google My Business today – it’s free, it’s simple to use and edit and as a marketing tool it’s extremely beneficial especially to local SEO and searchability.
SOURCES & RESOURCES
Thanks for this article Rachel, it really breaks down the benefits of using Google My Business. Even though I am an online business I find that having a GMB listing helps with the results of my content on my main website. Especially if you treat the listing as important as your “money” site. So have the same good SEO practices of building links to the posts on GMB and using keywords and of course writing good high quality content. This all helps overall with your online branding. A business not taking advantage of this free service is missing a great opportunity. Loved your article, thank you.