Google My Business

Google My Business for Small Businesses

Google is the ‘go-to’ for everything we want to know, from song lyrics to trivia questions, where to eat, where to stay – basically, all the things we use and buy, so it’s imperative that every business makes itself easily accessible to consumers using this search engine.

But with ever-changing back-end algorithms and ranking criteria and the proliferation of social media, it’s hard to know where to begin. So, we’ve devised a tutorial. Here’s everything you need to know about starting with your Google My Business (GMB). And the good news is that Google My Business has made it straightforward for small businesses to improve their online profiles and manage their online presence.

Why your Google My Business profile matters

The most recent statistics show that more than 60% of online searches are conducted through Google, which equates to more than five billion searches each day. What’s more: 30% are related to location and around 72% of consumers who conduct a local search visit a store nearby – within about 8 kilometres.  Around 28% of searches for something nearby result in a purchase.

It’s now more imperative than ever before for your business to have a strong online presence. For small businesses, the company marketing conundrum is the same as it’s always been  –  a desire for more effective leads and sales conversions, without a large financial outlay.

Considering the statistics above, and adding to those facts that most Google searches are conducted on a smartphone, then it’s worthwhile considering how Google My Business can be used to advantage.

Google My Business is a free business listing which will put your business in front of many potential customers. Your Google My Business listing gives potential clients easy access to your hours of operation, phone number, website and directions with a click of a button—all at no cost to you. Your free profile also gives customers an inside look at your business by giving insight into your busiest hours as well as review ratings. And, as the numbers show, these customers are usually primed and ready to purchase.

Benefits of Google My Business

One of the biggest benefits of your profile on Google My Business is the prominence that it can occupy in search results. GMB profiles appear in the local “3-pack” area and in Google Maps results. When you perform a Google search, the first three listings are typically reserved for Google Adwords advertisements, otherwise known as “paid search”. Next, you’ll typically see a map with three local results highlighted (this is the “3-pack”). You will then see “organic” results.

Having your GMB profile appear in the local 3-Pack  is the goal. Since you don’t pay to appear in the local 3 Pack, your Google My Business listing is affordable in comparison to paid ads that appear in the top of the search results. So how do you get there?

Optimising your GMB listing

To begin with you need a Google account. Then once you have found and claimed your business, make sure that all the details are current. Make sure that you have vetted the information carefully, and added in anything that potential customers need to know at a glance. While you’re doing this – check your listings across other search engines (like Bing, and Yelp!) as well as your social media profiles to make sure you have consistency across all areas and channels.

Use high quality images to help potential customers understand what you do. Professional photography is an investment you won’t regret. The old adage “A picture says a thousand words…” rings true online – people would rather look at pictures than read scrolls of text. Your images can portray your brand attributes and image is everything. When your pictures look good, your business looks good.

Beware!

Changes can be made to your Google listing by anyone. This is not necessarily music to the ears of business owners, but it’s just the way that it is. It’s important that your Google My Business listing is not a ‘set and forget’ proposition – ensure you look at it frequently and keep details correct and current.

Generating reviews

What matters most to potential customers? Online reviews.

Research shows that positive comments from customers or clients produce an average increase in sales of 18%. Conversely 22% of consumers won’t buy your product or service after reading just one negative review. Four or more bad comments can take up to 70 percent of a business’s potential customers away.

But what can also be deadly for business, is a business with NO reviews. Encourage your existing clients to write some for you – endorsements from others are highly regarded by customers thinking of purchasing from you.  In fact, customer reviews are 12 times more trusted than manufacturer’s product descriptions. It’s important to get these working for you.

Handy features

Two of the best features of GMB allow business to make posts and message customers.

Posting is an excellent way to promote special offers or new products or just keep in touch with customers and potential customers. Developing a strategy around posts is crucial – consider it the way a retailer would for a shop front window. What is fresh and interesting? What can be highlighted to drive business? Keep posts short and to the point. Again, use good quality, high resolution photos and ensure that you include a call to action …. And it almost goes without saying that if you invite customers to “contact us” make sure your customers have options to easily and instantly do that. It’s also important to remember that only the first 100 characters of your post will appear in the ‘snippet’ – not the full text, so your opening sentences need to be snappy, attention grabbing and should, ideally ‘stand-alone’ without creating the need for the customer to drill down to further information if they don’t want to.

Posts are only live for seven days, however, if a customer clicks on a post, they can access previous post history. Posts which alert customers to a particular event are the exception – they will stay visible until the event is over.

Messaging allows businesses to message customers who find their profile on the search results page. Through this feature, businesses can quickly answer questions and start to build relationships with potential customers.  It’s vital that someone in your business has the dedicated responsibility for responding to these queries – a delayed response, incorrect information, spelling mistakes …. All of these have the potential to make your business look unprofessional and you will lose you customers. People are becoming more discerning and more savvy, so make sure that you stay on top of the game. Google warns of potential security risks actually making transactions via the messaging feature, so encourage customers and clients to book online or share their phone number so you can complete the sale.

Ever-changing

From time to time, Google does make changes to the Google My Business listing service, but by subscribing to the Google RSS feed you can keep up to date and ensure that you are continually maximising the potential of your profile.

Your Google My Business dashboard is easy to navigate and allows you to access all of the Google My Business features. For example, if you have more than one physical store or premises, you can manage several locations from one single platform.

Your free online listing can be the first and easiest step to building a strong online presence and grow your business, and when you’re a small business, with limited resources, this is an important way to stay in front of customers  and potential customers 24/7 without a  significant financial outlay. It does however, require time and commitment, but you will see results.

If you need professional help with your SEO strategy, then talk to us.

By Bill Vasiliadis having written 63 posts for SEO for Small Business Pty Ltd. Bill Vasiliadis is a Senior Digital Marketing Consultant with over 15 years online experience. He has helped businesses of all sizes increase the return on investment from their online marketing spend.

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