The average citizen relies on Google when searching for companies offering specific products and services — whether they’re looking for the best physiotherapy clinic in Brampton or an emergency plumber in North York.
Knowing that search engines have become every customer’s tool to get instant access to products and services, businesses must factor in local search engine results when developing their marketing strategies.
In this aspect, Google My Business (GMB) gives small businesses a great advantage.
Google My Business: What Is It?
A free marketing tool designed for marketers and business owners, GMB enables you to list your location and other business information on Google Search and Google Maps.
Consider it as an instant online listing that displays your business name, address, contact details, link to your website, and store operating hours. You can also upload photos of your store or office, products, and your staff.
To take ownership of your Google My Business listing, you must first verify your business information by creating your GMB profile (or claiming an existing profile, if you already have one). Having a legitimate listing is necessary if you want to attract more customers from your location.
Your listing provides potential customers all the data they need to know about your business. Thus, your business information must be complete and accurate. A GMB profile also allows your previous customers to write a review about your products or services.
3 Ways Google My Business Benefits Your Online Marketing
Besides giving your company a face in the Google search results, Google My Business is also an excellent tool for strengthening your marketing. GMB helps you engage your customers and get a sense of their interests. You can even monitor how your business is faring through the platform.
Let’s get down to the specifics of how GMB can boost your business:
1. It Builds Your Online Visibility
Having an updated GMB listing is one of the many ways to increase your online presence. As you enter a search query about a product or service on Google, the first 3 items that turn up on the results are typically Adwords advertisements. Next on the list are the top 3 local matches to your search, then the organic results.
Many businesses have been exhausting all SEO tactics to get to the top 3 rungs of the search engine results page. What they don’t realize is that creating a Google My Business listing can help catapult them to that list. Being in the top 3 local listings increases your chances of getting new leads. It’s because Google shows your business both on Google Maps and before the organic search results.
2. GMB Allows You to Chat with Potential Customers in Real-Time
Google now has an instant messaging feature so you can immediately respond to queries from prospective customers who stumbled upon your GMB profile on the results page. It’s up to you to activate or turn off this feature. Once it’s activated, people can see a Message icon that allows them to send a message when clicked.
3. Its Review Feature Builds Your Reputation to Prospect Customers
Online reviews can impact how potential customers perceive your brand. Most customers take time to read reviews to gauge the quality of a product or a service. And this information can shape their purchasing decision. Often, customers choose the product with the most number of glowing reviews.
To help customers make informed decisions, Google My Business allows people to review your business and say what they think about you. This feedback mechanism works in 2 ways: it can increase your appeal to your target customers, and it gives you awareness of what you’re good at and which areas to improve on. Good reviews also generate trust and confidence among your customers.
Creating and managing your own GMB listing is easy. Read on to learn how to get started.
How to Set Up Your Own Google My Business Profile
Step 1: Create a Listing
Start by claiming your page or creating one from scratch. Create a Google My Business account or log in to an existing account. Once logged in, follow the instructions on how to create a business profile or listing.
Make sure to input all basic information about your business, including:
- Your business location
- Phone number
- Operating hours
You also have the option to pick and claim a short name and URL. These details will show up when people search using keywords or other information relevant to your business.
For some, a business listing for their business may already be on Google Maps. This happens when previous customers have written a review or posted a photo for your business. In such a case, you must claim the existing listing and verify that you own it. Only when you’ve verified it can you change the information that appears on the profile.
Step 2: Verify Your Business
Google will require you to verify that you own the business you’ve just claimed. This is an important step to ensure the accuracy of the information you added and that only you can manage the profile.
The most common verification process is to have a postcard sent to your business address. The postcard will contain a 5-digit verification code, which you need to input on the GMB website. Other businesses have the option to verify their profile through their phone, email, or Google Search Console. If you’re given any of these options, the system will detect it during the process.
Step 3: Write the Appropriate Description
Get creative and accurate when writing the company description to add to your listing. Write for your local audience. Make it as detailed and relevant to them as possible. But be concise. Your description is simply a glimpse of what your business does.
Note that Google My Business optimization is also an important SEO factor, so you should incorporate 2 to 3 essential keywords in your description. GMB descriptions can contain a maximum of 750 characters, but you’ll want to put your most important information in the first 2 sentences.
Step 4: Fill Out All Information So Your Profile Stands Out
Add all the required information in every section. The more detailed your profile is, the more reputable and trustworthy it becomes. And potential customers love it when they can get all the information they need upon seeing your GMB listing.
Ensure all details (e.g. address, phone number, end operating hours) are correct and updated. These details will appear across all Google My Business services. It’s also great to upload your business logo so your customers can easily recognize you (especially if you have a physical store).
Step 5: Start Adding Posts
After providing all the necessary information, you can now focus your attention on your GMB profile by posting updates related to your business. Any content you share will be visible in Google maps and search results.
Go to your GMB and create a new post. You have options to upload an image, create a text post of 300 words, or add an event. You also have the freedom to add any Call to Action according to the goal of your post, like ‘Sign Up,’ ‘Learn More,’ or ‘Reserve.’
Google My Business posts have a lifespan of 7 days before you could replace it with another content. This means you’ll need to come up with a fresh batch of posts on a weekly basis.
As a rule of thumb, regular posting of images or videos of your business works wonders in showing Google that you’re active. If you’re an e-commerce business,
Step 6: Collect and Respond to Reviews
Collecting reviews is one of the many ways you can rank higher in the search engine and map results. Reviews also serve as social proof to potential customers, making it easier for them whether to buy from you or not. Don’t hesitate to ask for reviews, especially from customers who’ve been satisfied with your product or service.
Most importantly, practice responding to reviews, whether they’re good or bad (all the more when they’re bad). Customers will learn to trust your brand when you interact with them. It demonstrates that you’re serious about giving them value and improving your service.
Local businesses must focus on serving people in their direct location. Google My Business offers several features to achieve this goal. Add all necessary information that potential customers need to know about your business. It’s also important to optimize your description for the right keywords and to post consistently as proof of activity.
If you need help setting up your Google My Business account and incorporating it into your local SEO campaign, we’d like to give you a hand. Contact the experts at Local SEO Search today. We want to sit down with you in a FREE one-on-one consultation to assess your needs and give you the right solutions.