Is Your Business Taking Advantage of Google My Business? It should be.
If you haven’t claimed your Google My Business listing, you’re seriously missing out on discoverability and visibility opportunities. Google My Business helps your business get found on Google Maps and in “near me” searches. So, have you claimed your business listing yet?
Why Should Your Business Info Be Up-To-Date?
First of all, it’s completely frustrating to a customer to be confused by your hours of operation. This applies to any brick-and-mortar store or retail outlet. Heck, I was even searching for the pool hours for San Pedro Springs Park and couldn’t find them — on their own website.
“Right now in our neighbourhood, one of the things that are confusing for people even locally, is that you don’t know if a store is allowed to be open or is it not allowed to be open right now. It’s a little vague if the store is selling items that you need daily, it’s allowed to be open. So I think that would be an important message right on the website to always have up to date.” Warren Laine-Naida
Google My Business, when it shows up in search, takes up quite a lot of real estate on the entire right-hand side of the SERPs (Search Engine Results Page). The more you fill out, the longer that vertical listing will be. Along with that and visibility in Google Maps, that is a local SEO win in my book.
“Local SEO is the practice of optimizing your website for a specific local area. If you have a local business, like a shop, restaurant, or agency, you want your web pages to rank for certain search queries performed by a local audience.” Yoast
If you’re surprised about the Tweets showing up in a carousel, read my post about why I think Twitter should be part of your SEO strategy.
How Google My Business Brings Customers To You
Anyone searching on Google either in a browser or in Google Maps with “near me” in the query should care about their Google My Business listing. Going to Rosario’s, by the way, was how I chose my apartment. I was eating there last year and looked up “apartments near me.” Shop local. Live local. Done.
I can’t tell you how often I use the “nearby” search when booking hotels for travel. Recently, I had to travel to Greenville, TX for a funeral. I looked up the address of the funeral home and clicked “nearby” and chose “Marriott.” Otherwise, if I just Googled Marriotts or went to their website, I may have inadvertently chosen one on the west side of Dallas instead of the east side.
The great thing is that GMB (Google My Business) gives you insight into how people are discovering your business. My listing, for example, shows that 78.6% are discovering my business from a local search! You have to love this.
Without further blather or proselytizing from me, here are my 11 steps to optimizing your Google My Business listing.
Step 1 — Claim Your Business
Google doesn’t know as much about your business as you think they do. So be sure to claim your business on Google My Business.
Google will send you a postcard to verify this information. Look for that in the mail and respond to it ASAP (immediately). Your business listing won’t be available until you verify your address.
Step 2 — Fill Out Your Profile Completely
Include hours of operation, email, phone, website, logo, cover, and description. Include whether you’re minority-owned and other demographic info. Your hours are super important. If you’re going to be closed on special days, update those as well. If you can claim a profile shortname still, then do it.
Changes take some time to appear so search in incognito mode or have a friend search to ensure your listing is 100% correct.
By the way, if you work from home you can and should hide your address in search.
Step 3 — Add Products to Your Google My Business Listing
Do you have products you’d like to feature? Even digital downloads or art pieces can be listed on your profile. If you’re an author, list your books. If you’re a restaurant, list your most popular dishes or to-go party packs. You don’t have to have multiples of products either — an original painting is a good example. It’s okay to sell out (scarcity, yo!).
Don’t forget to use the product categories to your advantage. You can even create your own categories (I made a Launch With Words category).
Step 4 — Add Photos to Your Google My Business Listing
If the interior and exterior of your building will have visitors, then take photos with your mobile device and upload them. Google My Business has a mobile app to make this very easy. You’ll want customers to become familiar with your place. You wouldn’t want to be catfished on a dating site so don’t overly filter or misrepresent your business on Google My Business either.
“When a potential customer can see the outside and inside of your business, the products you create, and the team behind it all, they are better able to trust your business and will feel more confident in choosing you.” Thrive Hive
If you are a freelancer, solopreneur, or consultant, add photos of yourself! People want to know those they work with. Remember, as humans, we connect with our faces. Smiles and eye contact matter. You can even add videos to your Google My Business listing!
Step 5 — Take Advantage of the Free Website
So if you don’t have a website, that’s okay. Google My Business allows you to create a free website. It’s true! This is a super easy tip and with one click it’s done. (They use the info in your listing so ensure that info is correct first.) I used mine then switched the listing back to bridgetwillard.com and the GMB Website is still live (and shows in search).
Step 6 — Ask for Business Reviews
Reviews are gold. Asking for reviews is hard. But you only get reviews if you ask. So, yeah. Be sure to ask your clients. I’ve asked in private emails, in a Mailchimp campaign, on LinkedIn, Facebook. It’s hard. The more personal the better. Yes, it takes time. If your customer has emailed you that they are crazy happy, then that is the time to ask. You know the saying, “strike while the iron is hot.”
“A Google review request should be tailored to both the customer, and to your brand. In the first instance, include the customer’s name and specific details about their order, like the product they purchased or service they received. These small personal touches make them feel like they’re a valued individual, not just a faceless addition to your review portfolio.” Reviews.io
But also, don’t binge ask. You don’t want a bunch of reviews on the same day. On the flip side, be sure to review business yourself. This is a good way to pay it forward.
Step 7 — Add Appointment Links to Google My Business
Listen, whether you’re using Calendly or something else, you’ll want to put your appointment link(s) in Google My Business. Otherwise, you’re stuck in the purgatory of the back and forth date suggestions. In the meantime, one or both of you could have accepted another appointment. It feels trite to say it but “it be like that sometimes” completely applies here.
Hey, I used to be a secretary. Even as efficient as I am on the phone and in email, it’s an annoying roadblock to the actual appointment. You want to make your sales process as frictionless as possible.
“For appointment-based businesses, this is a great marketing opportunity that makes the process of booking an appointment seamless for customers and clients. If used properly, someone could do a search and then book an appointment right away — after making just one click.” AppToTo
Step 8 — Complete “From the Business” Section
You’ll want to also pay attention to “From the Business” and note accommodations and accessibility as well as crowd info. Especially those who fall under ADA will use this as a determining factor when deciding to choose your business. With COVID impacting our lives, “health & safety” is also important.
If you’re veteran-owned, black-owned, Latinx-owned, or woman-owned, choose those. Some businesses have internal or external incentives (values or tax relief) to engage with specific businesses.
Step 9 — Regularly Add Posts
Most people don’t think of Google My Business as a social network. It is! People add reviews, they want to learn about you. So, regularly publish any new offers, COVID-related updates, or photos to your Google My Business profile. GMB loves photos.
Personally, I am using the Pro Version of Revive.Social to post to GMB from my WordPress website on a regular basis. This is another reason why your business should be publishing blog posts regularly. But that’s literally another soapbox of mine (and product).
Step 10 — Use Your Ad Budget
Do you ever wonder how your competitors show up in a “near me” search? You can connect your GMB profile to your Google Ads profile. If you’re not comfortable with Google Ads then partner with someone who specializes in Google Ads like Warren Laine-Naida (if he has room) or Google “Google Ad Specialist Near Me.” There are plenty of regular people who know what they’re doing. Not all ad buyers are going to bamboozle you. I promise.
Step 11 — Keep Checking Your Profile
Keeping your GMB profile relevant isn’t a one and done, set it and forget it task. Google My Business is always adding features, so be sure to log in once a week and check those new features.
Also, reply to reviews or messages as soon as possible. This is another reason why you should download and use the Google My Business App on your mobile device. Having the app one thumb touch away is a reminder to log in. Yeah, you would play your turn in Candy Crush, but do it after you check on GMB, okay?
You’ll thank me later.
BONUS! Warren Laine-Naida and I Briefly Chat About Google My Business in this Video!
As Warren’s video description says:
Technical problems plagued not only Facebook this week, but also my laptop. After twenty minutes it simply refused to get its act together. So this week we did a pod/videocast for you.
Google My Business is free. Enough said, right? You don’t know about Google My Business? You should! Especially if you like free advertising!
Go to Google and search for your local baker, tailor, shoemaker, or yoga studio. You will probably see a nice item on the right-hand side with their name, photo, and much, much more! That’s Google My Business. And it’s free!
Free, simple, and personalised information about your business, even if you are a freelancer.
You can advertise products and services.
You can see your customer reviews.
You can post blog posts.
You even get a free website that is filled automatically with all the information that Google My Business has.