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Everything You Need To Know About Google My Business

What is Google My Business?

Google My Business (GMB) allows small businesses to share information about themselves in the search engine for free. Companies on GMB are easier to find by customers on Google Search and Maps. Since Google is currently the world’s largest search engine, it helps to create a Google My Business listing to attract new customers and potential cliq1ents.

Over the past several years, Google has added a lot of great features to make it easier for your client to find contact information, photos, previous customer reviews, recent posts, and even links to your social media. Filling out all aspects of your GMB profile can increase the chance to show up in Google’s Local Pack, Local Finder, Google Maps, and organic rankings in general.

Let’s get started about why GMB is worth the time and energy, and how to claim your free listing.

Is Google My Business Free?

Yes, thankfully, this powerful tool is free. It is essential that you fill out all of the content correctly and accurately. Be sure to maximize the ability of your GMB profile by adding necessary information like your name, address, and phone number, as well as taking the time to post new content regularly.

Like any online platform, the listing is only as good as the time you put into filling it out with high-quality content. Google’s research suggests that customers are 50% more likely to consider purchasing from businesses with a complete listing. Just because your GMB listing is free doesn’t mean you quickly fill it out in five minutes and forget it forever.

Google My Business logo with image of mobile phone

Is Google My Business Worth My Time?

Absolutely. People’ Googling’ for a product or service are often ready to purchase within a few hours or days. It is critically important to your business success that you are visible on the top page of search results when the customer is ready to buy. A good Google My Business listing can help you show up in several places on search engine results pages (SERPs), which increase the chances of catching your customer’s eye.

Where do Google My Business Listings Show Up In Search Results?

Many advertisers want to be top of mind, so their customers know whom to buy from when they are in the market. However, another great strategy is being in the right place at the right time, and a GMB listing does just that. Let’s discuss the areas you could show up with an optimized listing.

Google map displaying three business listings below

Google's Local 3-Pack

Google’s local 3-pack showcases local business profiles that best fit the match for the person searching. The benefits of inclusion in the 3-pack include visibility before organic search results. This added level of visibility increases your chance for a click to 700% over those, not in the 3-pack. Thankfully creating a GMB listing is one of the ways you can significantly improve your odds of being featured in this coveted list.

Google Maps Searches

It doesn’t matter if you are a restaurant or landscaper, your customer is likely looking for someone close to them. It doesn’t matter if they are at home or on the go, their smartphone can help them connect with the best local businesses, no matter where they are. Because we are more mobile than ever, it is crucial to have visibility on Google Maps.

If a customer searches the map for the best burger nearby and finds your listing, full of great photos, posts, and customer reviews, you can expect a visit from a new hungry customer.

Google map listing showcasing posts, photos and reviews

How Do I Get My Business On Google My Business?

Not many small business owners realize that Google ‘localizes’ search results. Search engines know where the searcher is located and will show results closest to the user’s location. If you are a brick and mortar store, you will want to sure as many locals know who you are, what you sell, and where they can buy your products.

Let’s discuss how you can get started and get your business on the list.

Note: you will need a Google/ Gmail account to set up the business listing

Step 1: Go to business.google.com

Once the page loads, click the “Manage Now” button located in the top right of the header. There is often another “Manage Now” link located in the body of the site.

best-search-engine-optimization-plattsburgh-

Step 2: Get Started

Google has created an easy interface that will ask you a series of questions about your business. First, you will need to enter your business name.

a pop up from google my business asking you to first enter your businesses name

Step 3: Enter your business address

If you do not have a physical, brick-and-mortar business, click, “I deliver goods and services to my customers.” A second question will appear confirming you do not have a physical location and will show the region you service, and not a mailing address on the map.
Otherwise, just enter your business’s physical address.

enter your business's mailing address in step two, you can hide your address if you work for home or other reasons.

Step 4: Confirming your location on the map

If you have a brick and mortar location, you will need to confirm your address by placing a marker on a map.
On a few occasions, I have had difficulty with this step. You may need to reload the page if you cannot get the address and map to sync.

Step four in claiming your GGMB profile is to place a pin on a map directly where your business can be found.

Step 5: Adding Your Phone Number & Website

The information you enter here must be consistent with all other online listings. While this is a pretty straight forward step, it is an excellent time to remind you that consistent Name, Address, Phone Number, and Website citations on online databases can help you rank higher in general.

blue box showing where to enter information for google my business lsiting set up

Step 6: Confirming your listing

Google will ask how you would like to receive a confirmation code for your business listing. You can opt for a text or phone call, which will verify your business in minutes. You can also ask for a postcard mailed to your business. It will take roughly five business days to receive your code.

No matter if you get your code right away or have to wait a few days, you should go through each step highlighted in the blue box. Listings with complete information often fare better in search results.

how to guide on setting up google my business for online or brick and mortar businesses

What are the Dos and Don'ts of what to include on Google My Business Listing?

  • To get the most out of your GMB listing and have the best chance of reaching that coveted local 3-pack and map listing, you must add:
    • Name, Address, Hours of Operation, and Phone Number It is important to note that Google does not like it when you use your PO Box or shared workspace (Such as WeWork) as your businesses address. If you do not have a business address, work from home, or deliver your products and services, it is best to list the address on your DBA and alert Google not to publicly disclose your address. 
    • Optimized Business Description Do not rush through writing your business’s description! Not only can you share what makes you unique, but you can also add keywords to help searchers find you! Own a book store? Add common categories of books (used, thrillers, murder mystery) to your business description to help improve your rankings. NOTE- I SAID MENTION KEYWORDS, DO NOT STUFF KEYWORDS.
    • Quality Photos It doesn’t matter if you are a taco restaurant or a barbershop, you will want to add quality images. Ideally, you hire a professional photographer to come and photograph your staff and location. However, if professional photos are out of your budget, modern smartphones have excellent cameras. Show people what makes you unique, what your space looks like, and your work. Research has shown that listings with quality photos get more clicks to websites and for driving direction!
    • Posts Google launched the ability to share updates on listings through posts. Posts allow you to share daily or weekly updates with your potential customers and show your business listing is active and up-to-date. Posts are that extra opportunity to make your GMB listing unique as many small businesses infrequently update their GMB listing. We will talk more about Google Posts here if you want to skip ahead.
    • Reviews While you cannot AND SHOULD NOT write your reviews after you set up your listing, you should start collecting reviews. Testimonials from past clients are especially important if any of your clients fall between the ages of 18-34. Search finds that they are more likely to trust online reviews as much as those from friends and family. 
text box featuring review with thumbs up drawing

Why are Google Reviews Important?

As discussed earlier, people searching for a product or service on Google are nearly ready to purchase. If you have communicated who you are, and how you can help them, a useful review is a confirmation that they made the right decision. 
It’s not enough for you to say how much experience you have and how many years you’ve been in service. It is the same here as with other areas of life; you can’t force your opinion on people, provide the information, and let them come to their conclusions. 
 
Honestly, a good review speaks for itself.

Do Google Reviews Help with Rankings?

Yes! Google reviews can help with rankings because they give businesses a big credibility boost by:

  • Influencing brand trust
  • Increasing online exposure
  • Driving local SEO
  • Providing essential feedback
  • Improving click-through rates
  • Converting more customers

If these benefits are not enough, it is important to note that reviews are also searchable. Therefore if a customer writes about your great selection of used book, you may come up in more searches for used bookstores. The bottom line is that utilizing Google reviews is one of the most cost-effective ways to market your business. 

How Can I Get More Google Reviews?

Having reviews from past clients is social proof that you are a credible business. The best way to get reviews is to ask them to leave you a review after you’ve recently conducted business with them. 

To make it easier for them to leave a review, provide a link that sends them right to your listing:

  1. visit the Home page of you GMB profile
  2. Locate “Get More Reviews on the right-hand column
  3. Click “Share Reviews Form”
  4. Email or text code to your happy clients
Get custom review graphics from Google Marketing Kit

Getting reviews is much more than just sending a link to a customer. Here are a few tips for getting more reviews and what to do if you get a bad one.

  • Provide excellent service- This seems simple, but you should see what a customer can expect while working with you. Often many businesses do not provide a roadmap, and at the end of your time working with them, they just feel meh.
    Keep your client involved throughout the process; make them feel appreciated and valued. When you make this connection, it’s more comfortable to ask for a review at the end of the process. After all, it is much easier requesting a friend to give you a review than a stranger.
  • Automate Asking– Once your systems and operations are working at top capacity and you know every customer is getting fantastic service, you need to remember to ask. 
    •  For example, connect (via Zapier or another integration) your sales platform to send an automated email with a link to leave a Google review 2 hours after they visit your restaurant. Find a way to automate the process, and allow your customers to share their experience with others.
  • Get Reviewed By A Local Guide– You cannot predict or make a Google Local Guide review your business, but when they do, their reviews carry more weight. 
    The local guide program has several levels, and a guide can increase their level by reviewing dozens of businesses, correcting out of date information, and providing photos. In the eyes of your viewers and the Google Bots, it is like gold to get a useful review from a high-level local guide.
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What Do I Do If I Get A Bad Review?

You can’t delete a post unless it is fake, inappropriate, or promotes a competitor. Just because you don’t like what they say doesn’t mean it’s a fake review. It’s time to take a look into your business and figure out if you could have worked harder.

Take a moment to thank them for alerting you of this problem. After all, many previous customers may have felt the same way, but never said it to you. Let them know how you will prevent this issue from happening again to future customers. 

An online review is NOT the place to pick a fight. Number one, this is a very public forum, and potential customers may not want to work with a combative person. Number two, this may bring more attention to the negative review. A review with several responses is likely to be raked higher than those with no reactions. 

If you want to take it to the next level, you can share ways your business is growing and making improvements in a Google My Business post. 

What Do I Need To Know About Google My Business Posts?

Google My Business posts allow you to share more than phone number and hour updates. You can share what’s new, upcoming events, latest offers, and product highlights. While it may feel like another social media platform, it is essential to remember that this is not Facebook or Twitter.
 
You should treat a GMB post differently because it has the potential to be visible in search engine results. Posts are an excellent place to showcase your expertise and help more people find your website. Like other forms of social media, these posts allow users to get a little more time with your brand, and get a sense of your brand.

Do Posts Expire?

  • Your Google My Business post will expire after one week. For that reason, it is ideal that you should post once a week. Posts older than one week are archived. Try to find ways to make that weekly post fun and inviting. Add a beautiful photo, catchy headline, and a call to action button.

Can I Use Hashtags?

  • I would advise you against using hashtags in your GMB post. Most people only see 150 characters of your post. Therefore, it’s more important to put your effort into making those 150 characters the best you can. Plus, hashtags will not help your post rank higher.

What Should I Post?

  • I like to think that the content I share in a GMB post is similar to what I would post on LinkedIn or another professional network. Keep the tone kind, professional, and inviting. What makes GMB posts amazing is that you can share sales and new offers!

    Here is a list to help you brainstorm your next GMB post:

    • Volunteering Work
    • New Online Content (Youtube Video, Blog Post, Podcast)
    • Employee Milestones, Birthdays, Awards
    • Sales, Exclusive Events, and new offers
    • Sharing Reviews, Check out Google’s Marketing Kit, which makes it easy.
    • Bring attention to business updates (hours, menu options)
    • Job Openings 

Conclusion

I hope I have covered every question as to what Google My Business is and why you need to claim your free listing. If you take the time to invest in your GMB listing, I am sure you will start to see results. GMB is often underused resources and gets you in front of potential customers, right before they are ready to buy. Don’t wait, make your listing great!