Google My Business is a free listing service provided by Google that helps your business show up on Google Search and Maps. Google wants their users to have the best search experience, so they’ve made it easy for businesses to create listings where visitors can get information without even opening a website. With recent updates, Google My Business can be optimized for service businesses that don’t have brick-and-mortar locations but still want to focus on local traffic.
So many tools – Google +, Maps, Google Search, YouTube, Google Analytics, etc. – can make it a challenge to manage your online presence, so Google My Business was created to manage all of those tools in one place.
Google is the king of search, so it’s important to play by their rules. Here are 6 things you should know about Google My Business so you can get the most value out of your online listing.
1. Setting Up Your Listing
You can claim your Google My Business listing here. You’ll be asked to verify that you own the business by entering a PIN, which is sent either by snail mail to your physical location or by phone. Once the PIN has been verified, you can access your local listing and start to optimize your Google My Business listing.
NAP is the name, address, and phone number of your business. Your NAP data should be identical across all listing sites, including Yelp, Yellow Pages online, Bing, and Yahoo.
Accurate Operating Hours:
Include accurate operating hours. Google My Business allows you to include special operating hours around holidays and other special events; keeping your hours updated will keep your customers happy because they’ll know exactly when they can reach you.
Categories describe your business’s services and connect you with customers who are searching for those services in their area. When choosing a primary category, be specific; you can also select secondary categories to offer more details about your services and help customers find you online.
2. Add Photos
Adding photos is a great way to showcase your products and services. Capture the personality of your business by adding a variety of high-quality photos to your Google My Business profile.
Customers can also contribute photos to your listing, which Google doesn’t allow you to remove unless the photos violate Google’s user terms.
In your listing, always include:
- Profile photo – featured next to your name on your Google+ page. (Don’t use your business logo.)
- Logo image – square logos display best
- Cover photo – the large photo at the top of your Google+ page, so show your personality here
- Additional photos – Additional photos of your team, office, or product are important. You should also regularly update the images because it shows Google that you’re an active business.
All photos will show up in Google Search and Maps.
Posts are the newest Google My Business feature, rolled out in June 2017. Posts allow your business to share specials or promotions, promote events, showcase products, and more. When writing a post, you can include an image, text, a link, and a call-to-action.
These posts show up in Google Search and Map results.
Since posts are still in the early stages, we can’t say exactly how much direct traffic you can expect, but since it takes almost zero effort and is free, we believe it has potential and should be taken advantage of.
4. Navigating the Search Dashboard
Honesty time: how many times have you googled yourself or your business? Google knows you do it a lot, so they’ve made it easy to access your Google My Business dashboard in the search results. As you can see, if you’re logged into the account as the company owner, you can access your Google My Business dashboard just by searching your business name and address. At the top of your dashboard, you'll see three cards where you can make edits and see a high-level overview of your listing.
If you’re a company admin, you’ll have access to many of the same features, but it will look different.
5. Importance of Reviews
Reviews are critical. According to a BrightLocal survey, 74% of consumers say positive reviews make them trust a business; and, as you’d guess, negative reviews make consumers distrustful of a business. Google reviews are often seen as more credible than other review sites, like Yelp, but because Google Search pulls all reviews, don’t ignore those other review sites.
So how do you get more and better reviews? The best way is to ask your customers to leave you a review – you can even ask customers to leave a review in exchange for a special gift or money off their next purchase. Create a link on your website that makes it easy for customers to leave you a review.
Responding to Reviews
Responding to reviews is another way to create fresh content on your Google My Business page. It also shows your customers you value feedback, are open to suggestions, and – especially when responding to negative reviews – that you’re willing to admit mistakes and make amends to keep customers happy.
Make each response count. When responding to a positive review, mention keywords specific to your services. You may even want to mention a behind-the-scenes reason for why they had a great experience, or mention a new feature or promotion they should try next time.
When responding to negative reviews, don’t forget that anyone who reads your reviews can see your response, so prove that you’re willing to make it right and will work hard to prevent the problem in the future.
6. Monitor Listing Insights
Google My Business insights offer a high-level overview of how customers are interacting with your business listing. Understanding the actions of your customers allows you to create a better customer experience.
Information and insights you have access to are:
How customers find your listing.
Where customers view your business on Google.
Insights compared to business like yours.
We know it’s a lot of information, but don’t be intimidated. Google My Business is a powerful tool, and to compete in today’s marketplace, you need to use it. Not to mention that the service is free – there’s no good reason for your business not to take advantage.
If you have additional questions or would like to chat more about how to optimize your Google My Business page, leave a comment below or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out our Reputation Management and Local Listing Package if you'd like to learn more about how Leading Results can help your local online reputation.