When it comes to promoting a local business online, there are few tools as powerful as Google My Business. This special service provided by Google helps businesses that operate in very specific locations to connect with customers and clients in their area so that their marketing efforts online are more focused and effective. In many cases this can be the difference between wasting money on digital marketing, and seeing your business’ revenue and profits grow exponentially as you draw in more leads, and make more money.
Before we go over the benefits of Google My Business, let’s take a look at how it works, and why it’s such a valuable asset to have when marketing your business online. Understanding the ins and outs of Google My Business will allow you to take full advantage of its features, and make the most of what it has to offer.
WHAT IS GOOGLE MY BUSINESS?
Google My Business (also referred to as simply GMB) is a service provided by Google that helps local businesses to connect with customers in their area. It’s 100% free to use, and benefits Google by allowing them to give their users more accurate search results when they look for local businesses. In a way you can think of Google My Business as a business directory with a lot of additional features specifically designed to assist people that are looking for what your business has to offer.
WHY IS GMB IMPORTANT FOR LOCAL BUSINESSES?
While targeting local customers has always been a challenge, the rise of mobile devices has made things even more difficult in recent years. This is because when people type in search terms on a mobile device they tend to use phrases that are less specific and more simplified. For example, on a desktop a person using a keyboard might type in “best bakery in Denver Colorado” if they’re looking for a bakery in their area. However, on a mobile device they would be more likely to cut corners and type something like “bakery near me.”
The increase in popularity of voice search and AI technology, such as Alexa, has also made vague search terms more common. While this may be great for people doing the searches, it can also make it difficult for local businesses to connect with people who want their products and services since keyword targeting has become more difficult.
This is where Google My Business comes in. If you’re listed with Google My Business then Google is able to match up your business with people in your area regardless of how vague their search terms are. This is because Google will know the location of the person doing the search, and cross reference that with their Google My Business database to find businesses that best fit their needs. This makes Google My Business a major advantage for anyone running a local business.
GOOGLE MY BUSINESS FEATURES
As mentioned before, Google My Business is much more than a fancy business directory. It has many different features all specifically designed to showcase your business in the best way possible so that people can make an informed decision about whether or not to do business with you. Used correctly, these features can help you to maximize your SEO efforts and drive greater volumes of traffic to your website. That said, let’s take a look at these features, and how they can help you get more business.
One of the most powerful motivating factors that influences a person’s purchasing decisions is social proof such as testimonials, reviews, and endorsements. Google My Business allows customers to leave reviews on a business’ page so that others can see them and make an informed decision. This can drastically increase the number of click throughs that a businesses gets when their listing appears in the search results.
Now if you’re thinking that reviews can be a double edged sword, and that some disgruntled customers may leave negative reviews, then you’ll be pleased to know that this usually isn’t the case. The psychology behind leaving reviews dictates that people tend to leave reviews only when their experience was amazingly good, or amazingly bad. This means that as long as you treat your customers and clients well, you’ll get far more positive reviews than negative.
On the off chance that you do get some negative reviews that you feel are harming your business, you can always hire a reputation management company. These companies can help you to bury negative reviews, and even have them removed completely in some cases.
Google Maps, not to be confused with Google My Maps, was something like a precursor to Google My Business, and many of the same features are still intact. Not only does Google Maps show people doing searches where your business is located, it will also show all of your locations in that specific area if you have multipole locations. For example, if you’re a plumbing company with three offices in Sacramento, Google Maps will show all three of your locations so that people searching for a plumber in Sacramento will know which one to choose.
Google Maps also shows people the fastest rout to take in order to get to your location, and an estimate on how long it would take. This can give you an advantage if you’re located closer than your competition.
Other features of Google Maps include:
- Incognito Mode
- Speed trap and speed camera reporting
- Incident reporting
- Music playback
- Assistance finding accessible transit routs for people with disabilities
- Indoor maps for large buildings and venues
Overall Google Maps is a big part of Google My Business. You should take the time to make sure that all the info on it is correct and that it is displaying the location of your business correctly. Sometimes just being able to see the rout from their location to your business is enough to influence a potential customer or client to pay you a visit.
Like any good business directory Google My Business allows you to enter and display a variety of business information such as the following:
- Phone number
- Hours of operation
- Age restrictions (If applicable)
- Web address
- Physical address
- Popular times
The key here is making sure that you enter as much information as possible. Leaving areas blank will show up with a message saying “Add Missing Information.” You don’t want this. It’s wasted space that could be used to advertise your business with relevant info. It also makes you look more professional if everything is filled out as well which is especially important since your competition will be listed right there along side you in the search results.
UPDATE YOUR INFORMATION REGULARLY
This is so critical that it deserves its own section. If you’re not updating your Google My Business information regularly, then you could be setting yourself up for failure. This is because when people find incorrect information on your Google My Business listing it makes your business look bad, and they may decide to choose a competitor.
Generally speaking, you should review your Google My Business information at least once a week. The reason it should be reviewed so often is because of the feature that allows people to ask questions about your business. While these questions may be rare, not answering them makes your business look bad.
Keep an eye on your listing, keep your information up-to-date, and answer any questions that are left on your listing as quickly as possible. Also be aware that other people with Google accounts can answer questions as well, but even so, you should do it yourself to show that you’re actually paying attention to your customers.
Another thing to consider is that in extraordinary circumstances, such as the global pandemic, the hours and days that you’re open may fluctuate and change unpredictably. This makes it even more important to let people know when you’re open and when you’re not. If your Google My Business listing says that you’re open, and people show up but you’re actually closed, they’re not going to be happy, and may leave a negative review.
WHY GOOGLE MY BUSINESS ISN’T OPTIONAL
If you run a local business and rely on the Internet to reach out to potential customers and clients, then having a Google My Business listing really isn’t optional. Not only does it help you connect with “buyer-ready” traffic, it also puts you on even footing with your competition who will probably have Google My Business listings as well.
Since signing up with Google My Business is free, it’s one of the best investments that you can make for your business since you’re essentially getting more traffic, more revenue, and more profit for only few minutes of work that you really only have to do once. If you don’t have a Google My Business listing, you’re leaving a lot of money on the table so make today the day that you sign up. You won’t regret it.