Do you own a brick-and-mortar business with a physical location that customers visit? Or do you offer a service that allows you to travel to customer locations?
Then you absolutely need to take advantage of Google My Business (GMB). This online tool helps put your company’s listing front and center of potential customers searching for topics related to your particular business category. It is a great way to build brand awareness while allowing you to respond to reviews and partially control how your company is listed on Google’s search engine results page (SERP).
However, just like with anything in online advertising, it takes a little bit of knowledge to make GMB work for you and your business. Here’s what you need to know about Google My Business and how it can create positive buzz for your local business.
What is Google My Business?
Google My Business is a tool created by the search engine giant to help businesses manage how they show up in search and on local maps. It includes a variety of different options, including the ability to add photos, update business hours, add special notes, and more. It also provides a place for customers to add reviews and allows the business to monitor and respond to feedback.
GMB is only available to companies that serve local customers. For example, a retail boutique, fitness gym, or restaurant would be a good candidate for using Google My Business. Likewise, companies that offer services in a particular regional area are also encouraged to sign up and manage a profile. Examples would include lawn care companies, plumbing companies, attorneys, accountants, consultants, etc. And these are just a few ideas of the various types of companies that can take advantage of and see results from the tool.
How Do I Setup My Business on Google?
The process of adding your company or location to Google My Business is relatively simple. First, you need to login to the Google account associated with your business. If you don’t have one, don’t worry! Just create a new one that you want to use for accessing your GMB information.
Next, click on this link and choose “start now” in the upper corner. Follow the prompts to add your companies name, address, and business category. You want to be as specific as possible with the category, as this tells Google when to show your business listing to customers. From there, you’ll be asked to add your phone number and website address.
Finally, you’ll need to verify that you actually own the business. Some businesses will have the option of instant verification by phone or email. In most cases, you’ll only have the option to verify via postcard. Fill out all the necessary information, and Google will send your business a postcard with a special code. This process takes about five days, but when you receive it in the mail, go ahead and follow the information on the card to complete the process. If you never receive the postcard or need to request a new one, go back to the Google My Business page and have it resent.
Once you’ve verified your business, your information and site will show up live on the search engine.
Why is Google My Business Important?
The reasons why Google My Business is important are numerous, but the ability to connect with potential customers is probably the most important. Essentially, it turns searching for a local business or service into an easy task for those looking to find what you’re offering in your regional area.
If you want a different way of thinking about it, consider GMB as the so-called new version of what we used to use phonebooks for back in the old days. The good news is that Google My Business is a lot more intuitive and interactive than that giant old book we used every time we needed to find a local business. Plus, it is easily accessible from any device connected to the internet.
But there is definitely more to consider. Google My Business participants receive numerous benefits by taking part in the program, including:
- Google Maps: The ability to show up as a local business in Google Maps searches.
- Inclusion in Google’s Local 3-Pack: This is a section of search results that shows off the three best businesses in your local area for the topic you are searching for.
- Star Ratings: Customers can see your star rating and reviews from other customers directly on your profile.
- Additional Analytics Data: If you want to see how well your business is performing on GMB, the tool offers free insights for your review.
- Possible Improved Search Engine Ranking: If Google likes what they see on your GMB profile, there’s a chance that your website will show up better in organic search engine rankings.
Is Google My Business Free?
Most business owners want to know what it costs to sign up for Google My Business. The good news is that it is free! As we’ve detailed above, the process of adding your listing to GMB is relatively simple.
Why doesn’t Google charge for this service? The reason comes down to their desire to have a system that provides accurate and informative search information. If you’re adding your own listings and monitoring what customer reviews are saying, they are closer to giving the general public with engaging and informative content based on what people are really looking for. Your GMB listing ensures that they get quality local companies who care about their reputation near the top of the search list.
How to Optimize Your Google My Business Listing
If you’re concerned about getting the best organic traffic from local search engine optimization, then using Google My Business is crucial. Like we’ve detailed above, Google tends to favor companies that have claimed their GMB profile. But that isn’t where the benefit ends—you have to optimize your profile for the best results possible.
That said, optimizing your Google My Business listing is easy but takes a certain amount of finesse to do it correctly. First, you want to make sure your profile is filled out as completely and accurately as possible. Apply information in all of the requested areas and try to use tags as often as you can.
Next, you want to engage with as many different sections as possible. This includes things like posting offers, adding events if you host them, adding updates as necessary,
What about reviews? Reply to all of them, even if they are great. Google has already confirmed customer interaction plays a huge role in search engine ranking position, and you want to make sure you aren’t missing out.
And remember that an optimized Google My Business listing always includes plenty of photos, videos, and media. Don’t be afraid to add content to the platform that highlights your company’s best projects or other elements that set you apart from the competition!
Google My Business Updates – 2019 and 2020
Of course, Google continually works to update its products to appeal to the needs of consumers. GMB has seen a few changes over the last couple of years, and it is essential to understand them to ensure you’re getting a maximum benefit from this tool.
A few of the most crucial to pay attention to include:
- Attributes: If your business offers something different from the competition, there is now an option to select specific attributes for your profile. This can include things such as accessibility, amenities (gift wrapping, Wi-Fi, etc.), highlights (veteran discounts, woman-led), offerings, payment options, and planning. The exact ones available for you to select depend on your business category.
- Shortname: Tired of seeing a huge URL for your GMB profile? The tool now allows you to choose a shortname to help make the website address much easier to remember and type in.
- Service Areas: If you don’t have a particular location and visit customers instead, you can now update your service areas to show cities and zip codes where you operate.
- Products: Product pages allow customers to see what you offer without ever leaving your GMB profile.
- Social Media Icons: Link to your existing social media profiles. Not all platforms are listed, but most of the major ones have icons that you can show directly on your profile.
- Google Marketing Kit: This is a spinoff tool that allows you to highlight your best Google My Business reviews in new ways. Create videos, promotional graphics, and more with ease.
- Control Over Photos and Videos: Have more control over what media appears on your GMB profile than ever before. Set your logo, add cover photos, and more.
- Welcome Offers: Give those who see your listing for the first time a special coupon or incentive to choose your business for their needs.
- Appointment URLs and Online Reservations: Link directly to your appointment app or website link to make setting an appointment easy for potential customers.
- Request a Quote: Give potential customers the ability to request a quote without having to leave your GMB profile.
Of course, they are always rolling out new features, and we can easily bet they have even more waiting in the pipeline for release over the next few months or years. Stay tuned for more Google My Business updates in 2020!
Working with an SEO Company to Improve GMB
We’ve detailed a lot here, and we get that. In some cases, you might not have the time or staffing to ensure your Google My Business profile is as robust and effective as it can be. That’s where our team at Zero Gravity Marketing is here to help.
We are proud to be one of the top local SEO companies in Connecticut, and we know a lot about how to make GMB work for you. Please reach out to us today to discuss your marketing plan.