There are some digital marketing initiatives that you just have to have, and your Google My Business listing is one of them.
Your customers are searching for your products and services online. Sometimes they know exactly what they are looking for and type in your business name to quickly find your phone number or website, other times, they know the product or service they are looking for and conduct a search, where hopefully, your business name will be displayed.
Put Google to work for you and set up and maintain your Google My Business listing. It’s free, will help your customers and potential customers locate you, and will improve your ranking in search listings and Google Maps displays.
What is Google My Business?
Google My Business is a free tool that allows business owners to promote their business on Google Search and Maps. Using Google My Business, you can connect with your customers, post updates to your business profile (like what the daily specials are), receive and respond to customer reviews, add images (which your customers can do as well), and interact with your customers. Google My Business provides quick and easy access to important information about your business, such as your phone number, website, hours of operation, and location. It will even go as far as showcasing your business’s peak traffic times, which can help customers choose when to visit your location.
Google My Business is a great complementary tool to enhance your marketing profile that will help get more eyes on your website and phone calls to your business. Google My Business is also a great tool to add to the mix for marketing and promoting your non-profit organization!
Why Your Business Needs a Google My Business Listing
There are many benefits to creating your Google My Business listing.
1. Provide quick access to important details about your business
When Google users search online and your business comes up on Google Maps and Search, they can quickly grab information like your business hours, website, address, and phone number. This is the information that people are looking for when they search for you online. Making it easier for them to find removes a barrier and increases the chances that they will take the next step to contact your business.
2. Provide another way to interact with your customers
There are so many ways to interact with your customers online; while it is impossible to keep up with every method available to you, some of the options should not be ignored, and Google My Business is one of them. As with some social media platforms, you can interact with your customers by sharing photos, adding descriptions about your products and services, and reading and responding to reviews and comments left by customers.
3. Feature your products and services
Your Google My Business listing is another great way to display the products and services you offer or share important posts and updates from your business. Black Bear Golf Club of Lac du Bonnet does a great job of keeping its Google My Business listing up-to-date with information about the Club. Regular posts are used to share information about specials and changes to operations. Someone searching for a place to golf in the community will get all the information they need right from Google.
4. Help your business’ Search Engine Optimization
Your Google My Business listing can help expand your reach, but there’s some work involved. Search Engine Optimization, SEO, is a term that gets tossed around a lot and can be difficult to understand and achieve. The goal, of course, is to have your business listed among the top search results when potential customers conduct on search engines such as Google, Yahoo, Bing, and more. SEO Optimization is a topic that we will write about in more depth in the future. For now, using your Google My Business listing can help improve your ranking on the Map and in searches.
To help your business’s SEO, while using your Google My Business listing, try the following:
1. Identify and use keywords in your description, your responses to reviews, your answers to questions, and in the posts you publish. These keywords should be relevant to your business and flow naturally in the form of a sentence; they should also appear whenever you can fit them into the conversation. The Keywords help Google identify what your business is about.
For example, let’s look at the business description from Peaceful Pasture Pet Cremation – a new local business!
From Peaceful Pasture Pet Cremation
‘At Peaceful Pasture Pet Cremation, we want the best for your pet and the environment. This is why we choose to offer Aquamation – cremation by water rather than flame. This process is more gentle than flame cremation and better for our shared environment. No greenhouse gasses and only 1/10 of the carbon footprint.’
From the description, we, as consumers, can easily identify what this business is about from the keywords (highlighted in bold) and learn a few quick pieces of information that separate this service from others.
2. Make sure that your information is up-to-date and accurate. If you setting up your account, follow the steps and complete every section. If you already have a Google My Business listing, review it to make sure you have completed all of the sections and that the information you have provided is accurate. A lot of us have been changing our business hours more frequently because of COVID-19; there is nothing worse than advertising that you are open, only to have customers show up and find that you are closed.
3. The last piece of the SEO puzzle is to build your listing as you continue to serve the community. Keeping a steady stream of reviews coming in, responding to them, regularly uploading photos of your business and your products or services and including links to recent articles you may have published to your blog are all good ways to build trust with your customers and increase your ranking on search engines.
As a side note, it can be difficult to get people to engage with your business by leaving reviews. Sometimes, they just need a gentle request asking them to leave one for you to help your business out. As a matter of fact, in a small community, business owners can help each other out by generating Google Reviews for the businesses we have had favourable experiences with. This is a great way to promote our business community.
How to Set Up your Google My Business Listing
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Setting up your Google My Business listing only takes about 30 minutes – it’s time well spent considering the benefits it provides to your business. In a nutshell, here are the 8 steps to get you up and running.
Step 1: Go to google.com/business
Step 2: Log in with your Google Account. If you don’t have a Google Account, you’ll need to create one google.com/accounts
Step 3: Enter your business name
Step 4: Enter your business address – note Google wants your physical address, not your P.O. Box number, which doesn’t really work well for us in Lac du Bonnet. Use your physical location followed by your P.O. Box number, this is important because Google will mail a postcard to you for verification purposes. The other thing to note is that there is an option to not display your physical address, so make sure to check that box if you operate your business from home and don’t want people showing up unexpectedly.
Step 5: Choose whether you’re a storefront or a service provider. Here’s the section where you identify whether or not you want customers to visit your storefront, or if you work from home, or if you prefer your customers don’t visit you. You can also set your service area by setting a mile radius around your business, a specific location, or a group of postal codes you serve.
Step 6: Choose your primary business category. This is an important step that dictates where and when your business will be displayed in Google searches. Sometimes, the categories can be difficult to choose between, especially when you provide a number of services. Choose your primary category, then use the methods discussed above in the SEO section to make sure you are represented across a number of search engine possibilities.
Step 7: Add your phone number and website. These are the two dominant ways people are going to learn more about your business. If you don’t have a website, a substitute can be your social media account, but you really should have a website.
Step 8: The last step is to verify your local listing, which often doesn’t occur until Google mails you a postcard with an alpha-numeric code you can enter into your Google My Business account. The verification process helps Google make sure your business information is accurate and that only you, the business owner, or the manager have access to it.
That’s it. You now have a Google My Business listing that you can propagate with photos, a list of services you provide, product shots, and customer reviews. Remember to make a note to update your information, such as hours of service, when they change, check your listing for comments and reviews that you can respond to, and provide updated information about the products and services you offer.