For a local business, great visibility on Google is very important for sustained growth. According to a Think With Google survey, 74 percent of in-store shoppers searched for the nearest store and other information such as hours, directions, and contact information before going to shop. Additionally, 46 percent of all Google searches are for local information. This is why you must have a solid local SEO strategy.
When I talk about local SEO, I don’t mean that you restrict yourself to organic search results. You should also think about getting into the local pack through Google My Business.
What Is Google My Business?
Google My Business is a free tool for managing how your business appears on Google platforms. It powers Google’s business listings and gives you the opportunity to appear on the local pack besides managing how your business information is displayed on search results. It lets you add your business name, location, operating hours, and other information so people can get to know your business at a glance. You can also monitor and reply to online customer reviews. Your listing will appear on the local pack, Google Maps, and the knowledge panel. Here’s a brief summary of the three:
Google Local Pack: These are three business listings that usually appear under the map when a user performs a localized search.
Google Maps: Google Map helps users to find directions to local businesses besides helping them discover businesses and locations.
Google Knowledge Panel: This is usually displayed when a user searches specifically for your business. The knowledge panel displays key business information such as contact information, website, address, and link to directions among others. On a desktop, the knowledge panel appears on the top-right of search results. For mobile devices, it’s displayed near the top of the page.
You can add the following information to your Google My Business listing:
Business name, address, and contact information
Link to your official website
Hours of operation
Pin Google Map to your location
Your social media pages
Photos and 30-second videos of your business
Call-to-action links for making online orders or reservations
Other details such as availability of WiFi, outdoor seating, and child and pet-friendliness among others.
Google My Business is a great place to focus your efforts if you’re just getting started with local SEO. Many people who conduct local searches always end up making a purchase. So it’s important to ensure that your Google My Business listing is complete, accurate, and optimized.
But I know getting started on Google My Business isn’t an easy task. In this article, I will discuss how to set up and optimize your Google My Business listing plus a few other tricks you can leverage to grow your local business.
Let’s get right into it.
Benefits of Google My Business
Google My Business can help you to increase your visibility online, reach new customers, and make it easy for your customers to find information. There is a lot of benefits you can gain from listing your business on Google My Business. Some of the benefits include:
1. Make your business more discoverable
Even for brick and mortar stores, customers are searching for their products online. As the leading search engine, it’s no surprise that majority of these customers will begin their search on Google. Having a Google My Business listing increases your visibility and chances of customers finding your business when looking for products and services you offer.
Additionally, Google My Business improves your local SEO and ensures you appear among the top results when users perform local searches.
2. Keep your customers informed
Your customers should never have to guess about your business’s important details. Take charge of the narrative about your business instead of leaving it to review sites such as Yelp and TripAdvisor. Ensure that your customers find legitimate information about your business straight from the source- you! Google My Business lets you provide your customers with all the essential details they need to know.
Misinformation can lead to missed business opportunities besides negative customer experiences. Prospective customers can decide to shop from a competitor if they aren’t certain that you’re open.
3. You can collect and display customer reviews
Google My Business enables you to collect reviews from your customers. Positive reviews demonstrate the quality of your products and help in attracting new customers. You can also leverage negative reviews to build your brand. Social proof is very important in this age where customers are looking to buy more than just products and services but also a positive customer experience. Online reviews also play a role in ranking businesses for local pack results.
4. Boost consumer confidence
According to HootSuite, the chances of customers buying from you increase by 70 percent if you have a Google My Business listing. That’s how much credibility it lends to your business. The more credible your business is, the more trust customers have in you and the more likely they are to buy from you. Furthermore, customer reviews that you collect through Google My Business can help to build trust in your business. Eight eight percent of buyers trust online reviews as much as they trust personal recommendations.
5. Gain useful insights into your business
Lastly, we are in the age where business decisions are driven by data and key insights. It’s the only way to grow your business. Through Google My Business, you can gain insightful data on:
The number of profile, post, and photo views you receive
Search queries that users perform to find your business
The number of website clicks, direction queries, and phone calls you receive
Audience profile including gender, age groups, and geographic location
These will help you to develop an effective digital marketing strategy.
To enjoy these benefits, you will need to first set up your Google My Business listing correctly and then optimize it. That’s just what we’re going to look at next.
How to Set Up Your Google My Business Page
It’s quite easy to set up a Google My Business listing. Here’s a comprehensive step-by-step guide on how to set up your page:
Step 1: Search if you already have a listing
Go to Google My Business and search for your business name. If you don’t find your business, click on ‘add your business to Google’ and fill out your business name.
When filling out the name, use the real name and avoid using keywords within the name because it could get your listing suspended.
Step 2: Select your business category
Next, choose a category that best fits your business. A number of options will appear so choose the one that best represents your business. You will be able to add other secondary categories later.
Step 3: Add your location and address
After selecting your primary category, you can choose to add your physical location. This will be shown on Google Maps for buyers who want to visit your physical store. It’s however optional.
Whether or not you choose to add your location, you’ll have to add your address. Ensure that your addressed is filled out in full. For example, it should be Dublin Court Road and not Dublin Court Rd. It’s advisable to add in new lines so that it’s easy for customers to find your location.
Step 4: Review possible Google My Business Listings
At this stage, Google will ask you to confirm whether any of the existing locations match your business. If none of the matches are your business, select “none of these” and proceed.
Step 5: Select the locations you want to serve
There are products and services that you can offer beyond your geographical location. But others such as hairdressing and dentistry are often restricted to a given location. If you offer products and services that aren’t restricted to your locality, you should select “yes” when prompted if you serve customers outside your listed location. Otherwise, choose “no.”
If you select yes, add all the areas you’ll be able to serve.
Step 6: Add your contact information
Now you have to add your contact information and website. If you don’t have a website, you can set up a free Google website based on your listing.
After you’re done, you can choose to opt-in for updates and recommendations from Google regarding your Google My Business page. I’d recommend that you opt-in because you’ll have access to the latest Google My Business trends and best practices.
Step 7: Finish setting up your listing
At this stage, you’ve done all you need to set up your Google My Business listing. Just click “finish” and move to the verification stage. Your page is already set up.
Step 8: Verify your listing
To be able to manage your Google My Business listing, you’ll have to verify that you’ve made a legitimate listing and you are a real person. There are a number of ways to verify your listing. The best option is instant verification via an automated phone call from Google. You can also opt to have a postcard sent to your address, but this will take up to four days.
If you are unable to verify your listing at the moment, you can choose to verify it later. However, you won’t have full control of your listing.
Step 9: Provide additional details
This is the last step even though your Google My Business is technically set up the moment your complete the verification step. All you now have to do is access the Google My Business dashboard and fill in additional details such as business description, your logo, photos, and opening hours among other important information.
How to Claim a Google My Business Listing
What if there’s already a verified Google My Business listing and therefore you can’t set up a listing for your business? This isn’t a surprising occurrence, it happens. It simply means you may have already set up your listing in the past and forgotten about it or someone else did.
You can claim a verified Google My Business listing in the following easy steps:
Go to Google My Business, search your business, select your business name in the matches.
Google will give you a hint of the email address that was used to verify the listing. Click on “request access.”
You will be asked to fill out a few details such as your name, contact information, your relationship to the business, and the level of access you need. Google will send this information to the current account holder.
You should receive a response from the current listing manager within seven days. If access is denied or not granted, Google will ask you to verify your affiliation with the business before you gain access to the listing. Once you do that, you’ll be able to claim and manage the Google My Business listing.
Sometimes, you’ll find that your business is already listed on Google Maps but you don’t have a Google My Business listing set up. In such cases, you’ll have to claim your Google Maps listing. Here’s how to do it:
Go to Google Maps and search for your business. Ensure that you select the correct listing.
Click on “claim this business” then select the option to manage the business.
Choose to verify your listing via mail. A postcard will be sent to the premises’ address within four days.
It’s important to note that you can only set up or claim a Google My Business listing if you usually engage with your customers in-person. This means that you should either have a physical store or be able to attend to customers at their locations. If you are online-only or virtual business with no physical premises, then you won’t be able to set up a Google My Business listing. You have to provide an address even if you choose not to display it publicly.
If you operate multiple locations, you will be able to list more than one location within a single Google My Business listing. You don’t have to set up a listing for each location. Simply use location groups to manage multiple locations.
How To Optimize Your Google My Business Listing
Once you’ve set up your Google My Business listing, you should enhance and optimize it. This is simply done by providing as much information about your business as you can. I have rounded off some of the basics of Google My Business optimization that can take your online visibility to the next level.
Some of the areas of Google My Business listing that you can optimize include:
One of the easiest ways to promote your business on your Google My Business listing is by leveraging the Posts feature. You can use this to promote new products, offers, events, or just provide a news update about your business.
To ensure that users always have access to fresh content, posts are automatically deleted after seven days. Newer posts are also shown first on your listing. But events will stay live until it has occurred.
2. Photos and videos
While filling out your business information, you’ll see the option for adding photos. According to Google, photos increase clicks through to your website by 35 percent while boosting requests by 42 percent. There are two types of photos you can upload to your listing:
Profile Photo: A profile photo on your Google My Business listing serves the same purpose as that on your social media profiles. It helps your customers to easily identify your business.
Cover Photo: This will show up at the front and center on your listing. It complements your profile photo and helps in highlighting your business.
Videos also help to optimize your listing and make your business stand out. You can even incorporate virtual tours of the business. They are great visual elements that increase engagement and conversion rates.
The types of photos and videos you use on your listing will largely depend on the nature of your business and target audience. You can also allow users to add photos to your listing. However, ensure that they are in line with Google’s content guidelines and the law. Delete inappropriate photos.
I had already mentioned how much online reviews are important to your business. One of the benefits of Google My Business is that it lets you respond to customer reviews in real-time. It shows oth positive and negative reviews to users who visit your listing. Reviews management is important for proving the legitimacy and responsiveness of your business.
Through Google My Business, you can chat directly with your customers. This is a great way to engage potential customers and answer their questions. If you decide to use this feature, ensure that you list a number you’ll be able to quickly respond to chats. In the age of chatbot marketing where customers can get instant replies, you don’t want to keep your customers waiting for a reply.
We Are Here To Help…
You can also easily schedule appointments with your customers using the Booking feature. If you move around a lot, you can download the Google My Business app to update your information, make posts, and view insights while on the go.
Our Google My Business experts have helped thousands of businesses like yourself and we would love to show you how Salt Marketing could skyrocket your online visibility through Google My Business. Click below for a free consultation with our experts.
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