Have you ever noticed as an entrepreneur that time just seems to evaporate?
When you’re focusing on keeping your business afloat between balance sheets and supplier meetings, it’s easy to relegate things like your SEO strategy to the bottom of your to-do list.
But what if I told you that there’s a way you can vastly improve your SEO performance, in just 60 minutes or less?
Enter Google My Business.
A Google My Business listing is arguably the biggest bang-for-your-buck SEO move you can make.
Why? Well, because according to BrightLocal, 92% of customers compare businesses online before making a purchase decision.
And since Google is the search engine of choice for 9 out of 10 people, creating and optimising your Google business listing has massive potential to grow your business.
Especially when you consider that 88% of searches for local businesses end with either call or visit the business within 24 hours.
In this post, we’ll teach you everything you need to know about creating and optimising your Google business listing for maximum results.
- What is Google My Business
- How to Create your Google My Business account.
- How to verify your business.
- How to Optimise your listing.
If you’re still with me, then let’s get motoring.
What is Google My Business?
Google My Business (GMB) is a free online platform that lets you manage your business’ online presence across Google’s ecosystem. This includes services like Google Maps, Google Search and Google+.
GMB has a bunch of useful features – it allows customers to get in touch with you directly, read reviews and questions from previous customers, discover your operating hours, navigate to your business address, know when you’re busy and more.
In addition, GMB is also one of the key ranking factors that drive local SEO success. It offers your business more exposure to potential customers on both Google search and Google Maps.
If you’re just starting out with digital marketing, GMB also lets you generate a basic business website for free using your information. Talk about killing two birds with one stone eh?
How to Set Up a Google My Business Account
Okay, so you’re sold on creating a business listing. Here’s how to get up and running in a matter of minutes:
Step 1: Head over to https://business.google.com/create and log in using the Google account you want to be associated with your business. If you don’t have one, simply create a new Google account (it takes a couple of seconds).
Step 2: Input your official business name and click next. Note: if your business already has a listing, don’t create a new one. Duplicate listings damage your SEO, instead choose to claim your business listing.
Step 3: Choose the category that describes what your business does.
Step 4: Add your specific services and then enter your business address. If you work at home or an address you don’t want publicly displayed, you can choose that too.
Step 5: Let Google know where you serve your customers – for example, if you travel to them (tradesman) as opposed to them coming to you (cafe).
Step 6: Add your contact details and your website URL to let customers reach you with ease. You can also let Google create a basic website for you if you don’t have one.
Step 7: Google will prompt you to verify your account. This is necessary to prove you’re the owner of a business. For now, just click ‘more options’ and then ‘verify later’ as it is better to complete your listing first.
Step 8: Congrats! Google will now whisk you away to your GMB dashboard. Here you can add photos, your operating hours and other attributes relevant to your business and complete your listing in style. It looks like this:
Verifying Your Google My Business Listing
Once you’ve got your basic info submitted, the next thing to do is to get your business listing verified by Google. Google won’t show your business listing until you’ve been verified, so it’s best not to put off the prices for too long.
The easiest way to get verified is by postcard. Google will send a postcard with a unique code to your business address which you then input within your GMB manager. By doing this they know that you’ve supplied a real business address that receives your mail.
Optimising Your Listing for Best Results
Still with us? That’s excellent because most businesses stop at this point. Once they’re set up and verified, they call it day.
But that’s a mistake – because by taking advantage of all the features GMB offers, you’ll put yourself head and shoulders above your competition.
So, here’s the low-down on how to make the most out of your listing and join the Google business listing big league:
1. Add as Much Information as Possible
Google always wants to show the most relevant results to its searchers. Nowhere is this truer than in Local search.
So, if your business is offering more detailed and accurate information than your competitors, then your listing will get served more often.
Never leave Google or your potential customers to do any guesswork. Make sure that your listing clearly communicates what you do, where you’re located, what hours you’re open, attributes such as ‘wheelchair accessible’, how they can get in touch with you and anything else relevant.
If anything details change with your business – let’s say you change your opening hours or get a new phone number – make sure to have those changes reflected in your Google My Business listing. Doing so will help keep customers and Google on your side.
2. Source & Manage Reviews
Google reviews are an incredibly important local ranking signal. If there was a Book of Google it would probably state: “He who hath good reviews shall be showered in thousands of clicks and visits”
But reviews don’t just please Google, up to 85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations
That’s why it’s important to start requesting reviews as soon as you get verified. And unlike other platforms where seeking out reviews is shady business (Amazon for example), Google allows business owners to ask customers for their opinion.
Here’s a quick way to get reviews when you’re starting out:
- Go to your Google My Business account
- On the dashboard, scroll to the ‘Get more reviews’ box
- Copy the link provided
- Send out review requests (link included) via email, SMS or social media with instructions about how to leave a review.
If you don’t use email or social media for marketing, you might consider printing your Google review link on your receipts so that customers are still encouraged to leave feedback.
Via Embed Social
It’s important to note that you can’t offer an incentive or reward for customers to leave a review as this violates Google’s terms of service.
Once you’ve got a number of reviews coming in, it’s equally important to manage them effectively. The best way to manage review is by responding to each one of them.
Not only does leaving a response show appreciation for the customer who took the time to leave a review, but it portrays you as a business who cares about their customers and encourages others to leave their opinions too.
For a positive review, try to keep it short, sincere and specific to their feedback. Something like this:
“Hey [name]! We’re over the moon that you enjoyed [ insert service/product e.g. ‘our smashed avocado toast’] – it’s a firm staff favourite! Hope to see you back at [your business] soon.”
Negative reviews are almost inevitable – but resist the urge to ghost an unhappy customer or worse, attack them. Poor reviews are an opportunity to show potential customers that you take your customers experience very seriously.
If it helps, use this template to keep yourself contained:
“Hey [name], thanks for your feedback. We’re terribly sorry that [the service] didn’t live up to your expectations. We’ve taken your comments onboard and are going to investigate how [the customer’s complaint] happened. In the meantime, if you’d like to come back in for a complimentary we’d be delighted to have you. In any case, thanks for your business and hope to improve next time.”
3. Ace Your Photography
If you do just one thing to optimise your listing, do this. Nothing will sell your business to potential customers like quality photography.
In fact, according to Google, businesses with photos see 35% more clicks to their website and 42% more requests for driving directions than businesses who don’t have them.
Of course, professional photography costs money. But if budget allows, it’s definitely a worthy investment. You can repurpose images of your storefront, your staff, your interior and your products across your website and social media accounts too.
4. Use the Google My Business App
Google My Business has a free app for both Android and IOS. Download it and treat your listing like you would any other social media account. You’ll save time messing around with your laptop by making changes right from your mobile device.
You’ll quickly and easily be able to update your opening hours, post statuses, add pictures and respond to reviews. Having the mobile App reduces the effort required to keep your listing relevant and will keep Google and your customers happy.
Google My Business is an incredible way to drastically increase your search visibility and make it easier for customers to discover your business.
Setting up your listing is a walk in the park. However, optimising your listing takes a little more work. More and more businesses are jumping on the trend every day. But only a few are willing to put into the effort to create a listing that gets noticed.
That means your opportunity is ripe for the picking!