It used to be enough to have a good website to get customers to contact you, but now that is not the case.
Before people have a chance to visit your page, the first thing they will see that could make or break your business reputation will be your Google Business Profile, also known as Google My Business ( GMB).
You will most likely see what I’m talking about: this “box” to the right of the screen with a photo of your company that contains your contact details and a link to your website.
If you had no idea how important this resource is, you will know after reading this article.
When you search for a business in a specific location, Google displays the top three choices, along with the location of the businesses on a map.
While this system works with Google My Business and is a valuable resource in itself, just being in the top three isn’t enough, your business also needs an effective Google My Business presentation.
Google My Business: What is it?
The Google My Business listing in Google
Chances are you’ve seen a GMB ad for your business before, but there are still a lot of misconceptions about it, many of which are wrong.
The goal is to give potential customers a glimpse of your business, so they can decide whether this is what they are looking for or not.
This almost makes fancy or super-elaborate websites unnecessary, as many users will not come to your site once they get the information they are looking for.
On the other hand, it can also help you attract customers who otherwise might have been discouraged by your web content and therefore would not have contacted you.
Either way, a well-structured GMB page will help your business, while a poorly structured page will hurt it.
GMB is particularly useful for any local business looking to benchmark well and attract new customers in a localized market.
Why use Google My Business?
Whether you like it or not, you’ll have some sort of GMB profile, whether it’s done by an employee, a well-meaning stranger, or in some cases, a devious competitor.
The question you should be asking yourself isn’t why you should have a GMB profile, but why not?
Let’s take a closer look at the benefits of registering with Google My Business
1. Engage customers faster
The modern consumer is fascinated by visuals.
This is called the “Instagram effect”: people want to see photos and videos.
But instead of trying to turn your website into a photo gallery, you can do it with GMB.
When people search for your business, the first photo that appears could actually make or break their image of it, and therefore directly impact your bottom line.
If people like what they see, it will be easier for them to click on your profile. In this sense, it is fundamental to take the most attractive photos possible in order to sell as much as possible.
2. Get better rankings on local searches
By having your business verified for GMB, Google is making sure that you are a real business.
Once this verification is done, it will put you ahead in the local search rankings.
That is, when searching actually located around your geographic perimeter.
3. Attract new customers besides your website
Why are people interested in your business?
They want to know what you are offering and if you are the right person to meet their needs; and they want to know it immediately, without waiting any longer!
By showing them images of your products and services (if possible of high quality), you are able to make a good first impression, which will trickle down to your business results.
4. Obtain opinions, therefore obtain new customers
Reviews are another benefit of “Google My Business”.
Former customers can leave comments about their experience, which can be the social proof needed to convince visitors to contact you.
Obviously, a bad comment will have the worst effect, and there will always be someone to leave you a nasty comment, even if it is not justified. But instead of seeing it negatively, turn this comment (s) to your advantage by interacting with them, displaying quality customer service and / or an empathetic tone.
By providing users with information that they cannot easily get from your competition, you have a chance to gain more customers at an additional cost close to 0.
5. Learn about your consumers
As mentioned earlier, GMB allows you to see comments from previous visitors. Reviews can make or break a business, especially when ignored.
Whether good or bad, there is always something to learn from the reviews your customers leave you.
If your sales are increasing or declining, you can easily find out why without resorting to an expensive consulting company to determine the reason.
In addition to reviews, you can also learn more about your consumers using the analysis tools available.
Information that you may not want to ask customers is served to you on a tray through the “Insights” category. The statistics on visibility, engagement and audience will prove to be a wealth of knowledge about your audience and your customers.
You can easily discover the most popular posts and photos, age, gender and location of your visitors and / or customers, for a period of up to 90 days.
This is another effective tool that will help you learn more about your customers or just curious visitors.
People aren’t always talkative or open to discussion, so this interaction could help you gain deeper insight into your customers and give you a better idea of what your buyers are looking for, why, when, and how.
6. Converge your efforts
Google My Business helps you consolidate all your Google-related activities under one banner.
This allows you to optimize your Google+ page, your searches, your website, Google AdWords etc. with a simple to use tool.
It can be difficult and above all very time consuming to manage separate platforms in parallel, but when you have them all under one roof you can then have more control over your marketing efforts.
GMB is a great opportunity to do for your business what was not possible a few years ago.
You can give your customers immediate and meaningful insight into your business, without them having to go to your website in the first place, take a look at your contact page, or even call someone your own. office.
For all these reasons, we encourage you to take full advantage of this free resource, whose potential is immense.
Now is the time to show you how.
Optimize your Google My Business ads
A step-by-step process
Step 1: Complete your registration
The first step is to complete your registration.
There will already be a default listing for your business, but you need to establish that this is indeed your business and that you are ready to transform it into a dynamic marketing channel.
So the first thing you need to do is research your business.
If it doesn’t appear, go to the “google my business” page and register to verify your business presence.
If you don’t have a Gmail account, you’ll need to create one first.
Once you have completed this preliminary step, click on “Register and verify your business”.
You will be prompted for some basic information and then you can verify your business.
If the information is not correct, you can change it as you go, but first you need to obtain and enter your verification code.
To obtain your verification code, you will be contacted by phone or mail, at the address you provided.
If your business website has been verified with Google Search Console, then you may be able to verify it instantly.
Thanks to your verification code, you are now free to modify the list as you see fit.
Step 2: Eliminate duplicates and erroneous registrations
In rare cases, there may be duplicates.
This could happen due to circumstances beyond your control, or it could be quite intentionally.
Very often, the duplicates are intentional.
Many people think it’s “smart” to create duplicates, believing it will increase their chances of being ranked higher.
While this may sound smart, it is against Google guidelines.
Several problems can arise as a result of the entry of duplicates by you or by others:
- Google could find out and remove one of the companies, or all of the companies affected;
- Customers may be confused by conflicting information and might be discouraged from calling your business;
- The third-party listing may take on a larger scale than yours;
- The opinions will be shared between the different lists, which will most certainly make you lose places by scattering them;
- Competitors or consumers could report multiple listings to Google and you would be penalized.
Step 3: Make sure all information about the company is consistent and accurate
Once you’ve taken the initial steps and validated your account, it’s time to verify that all of the information is relevant.
GMB asks you little for information: mainly your contact details and opening hours.
It goes without saying that your business name, address, phone number and hours of operation must all be correct.
The last thing you want is to see customers show up in the wrong place, call a line that you hope is working, or even go to a website displaying an “error 404” message.
In addition, it is important to keep the same contact details on all platforms, including your social media pages.
If your contact details on other platforms do not affect your GMB page, your customers may question your credibility if they spot any differences.
Step 4: Upload: write your first message
After your ad is verified, it may take up to three days to appear on Google.
However, you can start adding information to your profile immediately, without waiting for this delay.
Announcements on GMB are an easy way to tell customers what you are doing: for example, indicating special events, a new venue launch, a party, etc.
A photo with short, compelling content can earn you rave reviews and increase the number of visitors.
Step 5: Choose the right photos
GMB does a great job of imitating Instagram, which gives businesses the ability to use images to attract customers.
Google’s guidelines for images are quite specific: not to use vulgar or offensive images, not to violate copyright laws, and to ensure that you use high-quality images.
Additionally, it is up to you and / or your marketing agency to determine which images will work best for your business.
The goal is to attract customers to your business. It is therefore useful to put a photo of the front of the company, although you don’t necessarily have to make it your profile photo.
Your profile picture should entice people to click and explore more. So, if the exterior of your building is not particularly attractive, try to find a better alternative.
Step 6: Improve local search with keywords
If you’re wondering why your business isn’t showing up in local searches, there might be a reason.
Google only recommends companies with accurate and relevant information.
Referring to your business as the best bakery in England might sound like a good idea, but it doesn’t help your ranking in local searches.
People need to know WHERE to find you.
Google My Business is primarily for local search, which is why you should add your street name, city, and zip code to make sure you appear in the correct location.
For businesses with multiple branches, it’s not uncommon to include the location in the business name so that it appears in local searches.
Step 7: Create Categories in Google My Business – Help Google Find You
When creating your profile, use categories to help people identify the main service (s) you offer.
Choose a description that will make you stand out more.
The name of your category must also be specific and precise: Chinese restaurant, instead of just a restaurant for example.
But not too precise either in order to avoid that nobody searches for these terms: traditional Chinese restaurant inspired by Beijing is for example to be avoided. Fortunately, Google doesn’t actually allow you to do this. You must choose a predefined category.
If you want your business to be known as a beauty salon, but most people use the term “beauty salon” in their search, then feel free to enter your category as “Beauty Salon”.
For businesses that offer multiple services, you can use an additional category to advertise other services that you offer.
If your other services are unrelated to the main category, you can create a separate listing for that service, even if it is on the same premises.
Step 8: Attract good reviews
Most people don’t want to be the first to try something new. They much prefer to be referred by someone who has “tried” your business before them. If they don’t know anyone personally, they’ll trust the comments on your page.
Think about it: when was the last time you used a new product, went out to a restaurant, or even watched a movie without reading the reviews first?
Reviews are a fundamental building block of Google My Business.
They help determine your worth to anyone researching.
The more reviews you get, the higher results you can show when searching.
Obviously you only want to get positive reviews, but it should be emphasized that this is unlikely to happen.
The good news is you can respond to criticism and maybe even convert some naysayers.
For savvy businesses, even negative reviews can help by highlighting areas where you need to improve. You can then invite the unhappy customer to come back to see the improvements.
Most people will read reviews before they know whether or not they will use your services.
Reviews actually let people and Google know that you are, in fact, a real business.
They give you credibility and encourage potential customers to turn to you.
Reviews can improve your local SEO, and reviews give you valuable, unbiased information about your business that customers don’t always share when they’re on site.
Ask your customers to go to your GMB page and leave a comment: you don’t necessarily need to offer an incentive, as most people do, especially if they really liked your service or contrary if they hated it.
So be sure to only ask people who have had a good time.
You can also use Automation software: Automation is a quick and easy way to ask your registered customers on your mailing list to leave comments, without you having to do so in person, if you are feeling too shy.
Respond to Reviews Quickly: By engaging with reviewers, customers feel their opinion matters and will also be more likely to leave a review. This of course depends on how you respond to positive and negative reviews.
Do very high QUALITY work: When your service is truly amazing, people talk about it, rejoice, and seriously and frequently rate you. It might sound obvious, but the best way to get criticism is to do your best.
Step 9: Work Out the Final Details: Quotes & Local Links
Whether you like it or not, people will be talking about your business. Whether in newspapers, blogs, social media, review websites, online directories, etc.
Local quotes, including your name, address and phone number, are good for your business, but only if the information is correct.
These local quotes will improve your SEO, again provided that the information provided is correct and identical in all areas.
Each business should take control of these local citations, making sure they are listed correctly.
Since there are so many sites and ways to get quotes, it may be an option to outsource this work to automated departments or to marketing or public relations firms.
One article is certainly not enough to show how big Google My Business can be for your business.
This is by far one of the most important and powerful services provided by Google, and it’s a great opportunity that every business should take full advantage of, and not just because it’s free.
There is a lot of room for creativity in the creation of your page, in the information you provide and in the way which you provide them.
The most important things to note are: Use accurate information at all times, compelling images to sell your brand, and engage with your customers and prospects.
Once your page is live, be sure to consistently respond to reviews (as often as needed) and update your photos to keep them current and relevant.
Above all, continue to provide the best service possible, so that when customers walk through your doors, they don’t end up on someone else’s GMB page the next time.