Google My Business
Google My Business is a separate listing within Google’s search engine specifically for local businesses and organizations. Local stores and service providers relevant to the user’s search are shown on a map and each listing includes the business’s hours, phone number, address, website, and other essential information that people may look for on a business’s website.
1. About Google My Business: The Basics
It’s a comprehensive and interactive phone book listing that people will find when they’re searching for goods and services locally.
If you own a business, anyone can find your GMB profile by making related search queries on Google containing location data or a location-based keyword. When someone searches for problems for a type of business in their area — say “lawyers in Atlanta” — they’ll see the websites with the highest SEO scores for that key phrase. They’ll also see a list of local rankings at the top of the page. These results are the Google My Business pages of relevant local businesses. Users will be shown a map of the area with the top listings highlighted.
Similarly, Google uses location data from a user’s device to surface GMB results for queries that include “near me,” such as “lawyers near me.”
According to Google Consumer Insights, there was a 900% increase in “near me” searches from 2013 to 2017. It might seem like a simple feature, but a GMB listing can be a hugely powerful SEO tool.
Instead of trying to rank for competitive terms, you can capture local business and boost your rankings in Google searches without spending a fortune or hours of your time on low-value marketing tactics.
Generate leads through Google My Business and Local Ads
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1. How GMB Can Help You Succeed
It’s difficult to overstate the benefits and importance of Google My Business for local businesses. Nothing is more important than driving local customers to your storefront, even if you also offer online sales.
Not only will your online entry show your location on the map, but it will also show up above the main search results. Location is everything! People want to find what they’re looking for as soon as possible and are likely to click on a local listing before they dive deeper into the search results below.
You can also use GMB to share new photos, blog posts, and more. It’s a new way to update local customers on what’s going on within your company and give them the information they need to choose you over your competitors.
Ultimately, if your listing is attractive and has good reviews, you should see an increase in the number of clicks coming from people who are ready to buy and are looking for the right service provider or store. People who are performing local searches are more likely to leave home and visit a business in person that day so they can solve their problem or find the product they need.
2. Getting Started with Google My Business: Finding Your Listing & Creating Your Profile
Before you can set up your GMB profile, you’ll need to create a business account or log into your existing Google account. When you land on the Google homepage, simply click “sign-in” and follow the prompts. Be sure to select the option to create a business account and use your company email for sign-in purposes.
Once you’ve done that, it’s time to find your Google My Business listing, if one exists. Even if you didn’t already create a GMB profile, it may already be online and you’ll need to claim ownership of the listing so you can optimize it for SEO purposes.
To find out if a listing already exists for your business, type one of the following combinations into Google:
- Your business name + city
- Your business address
- Your business phone number
If you don’t find anything after trying all of these combinations, then you’ll need to create a new listing. If you find an unclaimed listing, you can just click on the link that says “Own this business?”
Your next step is to head to the Google My Business page and fill in your business name, address, phone number, and other essential information, like your business category (an important SEO ranking factor).
If you don’t have a storefront but you deliver to customers in your area, you can choose to hide your address and add a delivery area instead. During the setup process you’ll be prompted to add all of this essential information, so don’t worry about forgetting to add a key piece of data at this stage
3. Claim & Verify Your Listing: Setting Up Your GMB Profile
Once you’ve created a profile for your business, it’s time to verify your listing. Google offers you several different options for confirming your listing ownership, so you can choose the one that works best for you.
Whether you choose to receive verification by email, postcard, phone, or instant verification you’ll get a code or verification message.
Make sure that all the basic information is correct before moving on to other optimization activities. It’s a good idea at this stage to go through your listing and add features and amenities like parking options, payment types, and a sub-category if applicable.
4. Add Visuals: Photos in Google My Business
Your GMB profile can’t just be accurate—it also needs to look good. Making your listing look visually appealing might feel a little daunting, but it’s actually quite simple.
Photos are essential for adding visual interest and for helping customers understand the experience they can expect in-store. Adding quality photos to your GMB listing is key for getting customers in the door. Think about it.
Customers today want to know that you’ll be able to deliver the experience they’re looking for even before they walk through the doors.
A good rule of thumb is to start with 20 photos. Add a few of your storefront, interior shots, signage, and even the décor.
You’re trying to give people a “virtual experience” of what it’s like to shop at your store or work with you. People want to know what they can expect when they come in today.
Are you ready to hear some success stories?
6. Customer Reviews on GMB
7. Leveraging Google Posts
If you truly want to be successful on Google My Business (and of course you do!), then you’ll need to put some ongoing effort into creating content. The Google Posts feature is a great way to promote blog posts and events, post pictures, and show that you’re actively keeping up a strong online presence.
Posts can include a snippet of up to 300 words, plus photos and a call to action. Unlike posts on social media platforms, Google posts expire after a week, making them a great platform for delivering time-sensitive information to customers.
Not too many local businesses are currently taking advantage of this powerful, free feature, making it a great time to get started with Posts.
The good news is that you can usually repurpose other content you create for your business in your Google Posts, making it much easier to start a consistent posting schedule. Posts are great for directing customers to your blog posts, recapping or promoting events, offering special promotions, or just providing updates on what your business has been up to lately.
8. Ads in Google My Business
Search engine marketing (SEM) or PPC (Pay per Click) describes the paid advertising that takes place on search engines like Google.
Both SEO and PPC can be very effective in driving business growth, but they are very different marketing strategies. Combining the two on GMB can lead to superior results.
In addition to Google’s standard PPC advertising, they also offer a special ad program for Google My Business. These ads show up right above the organic GMB results and just under the map. For businesses that mostly operate locally, this can be a great option for low-cost results from PPC.
You can set an advertising budget, create your ads, and leave the rest to Google’s tech. SEO is great for organic search, but it’s not the only marketing tactic that’s worth using. Ads have changed a lot over the years, but they’re great for local business owners who want more opportunities to get in front of customers.
9. GMB Extras: Videos, Events & More
Setting yourself apart from the crowd with your listing doesn’t have to be hard. With all the extra features Google My Business offers, you can customize your profile to be even more helpful to local shoppers in your service area.
Some of the available GMB extras include:
Video (If a picture’s worth a thousand words, then a high-quality video is worth about ten thousand).
You can now add videos to your listing, as long as they’re less than 30 seconds long, high-resolution, and under 100 MB.
Try using video to give customers a peek into your office or storefront, deliver your elevator pitch, or even showcase a quick testimonial from your most loyal fans. Videos are optional, but they can be a great way to distinguish yourself from other local companies offering the same services.
They’ll show up when someone clicks on your profile and may help to improve attendance.
Appointment Scheduling Google My Business allows you to place a booking button on your listing for scheduling appointments. You can direct the link to your website’s contact page, the appointment-scheduling software you use, or any other reservation system. It’s a convenient option that allows customers to skip a step and jump straight to the consultation or booking phase.
10. Account Monitoring and Performance Measuring
It might seem like you can just set up your GMB business account and forget about it until you need to change your hours or address. In most cases, suggested edits are not malicious in intent but do be aware of changes made by checking in on your listing fairly often to see what your potential customers are seeing and if you need to make any adjustments. Check customer reviews that you might need to respond to quickly. It’s worth the time to check in and makes sure everything looks good.
Measure Performance Google My Business Insights offers a simple and digestible analytical view of your business listing and how users and customers interact with it. Holding 3 months of data, GMB Insights allows you to view growth by week, month, and quarter.
What you can measure with Insights:
- Search queries used to find your business
- How customers search for your business
- Customer actions
- Direction requests
- Phone calls
11. Boosting Your Marketing with GMB and Beyond
If you’re just starting to learn the basics of digital marketing, then you might be feeling a bit overwhelmed. By optimizing your website, GMB profile, SEM strategy, and social media efforts, you can see impressive results in your SEO rankings. Google Get started with your free GMB profile today to take your local business to the next level.