Google search engine handles 5.6 billion search requests every day. That’s an unbelievable amount of traffic. One thing’s for sure, if you want to get found online, you need to focus your efforts on Google.
Companies tend to concentrate their efforts on SEO or paid advertising. Both of these are important, but there’s one area that’s often overlooked when developing a marketing strategy, the Google My Business section.
What Is Google My Business?
In its simplest form, it’s a free platform to change and control how your business appears in a search or on Google Maps. It’s great for improving geographic and local business SEO. Any type of business with a physical location or that has face-to-face contact with customers.
This information includes your business details, address, opening hours and photos. It also lets people leave reviews for your business and gives you the ability to reply to them.
If you’re just starting your business, it’s a great way to make an impact online early. SEO is crucial to your long term strategy but can take a while to make an impact.
In addition to you providing Google with your business information, it also provides you with very useful insights into your brand online. You can find out how many times your business profile has been viewed, clicked on and where your searchers were from.
When someone is searching for a particular type of business near them, then they are already pretty far along in their buying journey.
The only stipulation for being granted a Google My Business listing is that you must have some contact with customers, being 100% online will make you ineligible.
Google Knowledge Panel
You may not have known the name but almost everyone is familiar with the google knowledge panel.
The panel is the information box that shows up on the top right of your search results on desktop or near the top of the page on mobile.
It displays key information including your address, opening hours, website, rating and other key information.
Google Local Pack
When you run a local search, the local pack is the three results that appear directly under the search map.
Why Do I Need A Google My Business Account?
Local businesses can benefit hugely from a well-optimized profile. It can help them increase awareness in the area and reach potential customers that are looking for their type of business.
Without a profile, you cannot be included in a local pack, or your knowledge panel might look bare and display incorrect information.
Receive, respond, and aggregate customer reviews without having to use a third-party review app. Social proof is becoming increasingly important in influencing purchases. A string of 4 and 5-star reviews will greatly increase trust in your product and services.
Actionable Data Insights
As we’ve already mentioned, the data that we can get back from Google can be a huge source of great information that can be used to focus marketing efforts. These insights include:
- The number of views that your post, profile, and photos receive.
- The exact search queries that people are typing to find your business.
- The number of clicks through to your website, direction requests, and phone calls.
This information can be used to further improve your profile to make sure that it is appearing in the search terms that you would expect.
How To Open Your Google My Business Account
If you don’t already have a Google Account, you’ll need to create on.
- Navigate to www.google.com/business and ‘Start Now’ in the right corner.
- Enter the name of your business and the address.
- If you don’t have a location that customers can visit, or are using your home address, you can choose to hide your address from the listing.
- Select your business category
- Add your phone number, email, and website URL.
- Choose a verification method to prove that you are the owner of the business.
How To Make The Perfect Profile
Now you have your basic profile details completed, it’s time to optimize it and add more detail that will make people want to do business with you. This includes:
- Photos of location or products
- Opening hours
- Contact details
- The year you opened
- Additional facilities e.g. free parking, wifi, vegetarian dishes
Profile Tip – Use Good Photos
If you can afford it, use good quality, professionally taken photos on your profile. Google itself has stated that profiles with images receive up to 35% more clicks through to their website than those that do now.
Pay the most attention to your main profile as this is what a potential customer will see first. If you don’t provide one, Google will select an image based on your address, which is why you sometimes see a picture of a deserted street full of bins instead of an office or restaurant. Not a good look.
You can also add videos of up to 30 seconds, great if you have a short corporate video or advertisement.
Reviews can make or break a business. Encourage your customers to leave you a review. It builds a level of trust with other potential customers. Research by Invesp revealed that 86% of people are hesitant to purchase from a business with negative reviews and that a one-star increase on Yelp can affect revenue by up to 9%.
How you respond to reviews is vital too. If someone leaves you a good review, make sure you politely acknowledge it and thank them for their custom.
Responding to a negative review is just as important. You cannot have bad reviews removed except under exceptional circumstances (foul play by a customer or untrue accusations that you can prove are false).
In these circumstances, please remember to act as professionally as possible, even if their language is less than professional. State your case, any mitigating circumstances, and apologize that your service did not meet their expectations and offer to remedy it. Don’t get dragged into an unpleasant online argument. It is terrible for your reputation, even if you are in the right.
All businesses get bad reviews at some point so try not to take it too personally and treat it as a learning experience. If you are getting a lot of bad reviews that are mentioning similar issues, then you need to act on this before it becomes a threat to your business.
With Google holding such influence on our online presence, it’s really important that businesses do everything they can to make themselves more visible to potential customers. Google My Business is a great, easy to use platform that can benefit businesses almost immediately, whether or not they are investing in other areas of SEO.