Revised: March 21, 2021
Why Google My Business?
With recent algorithm updates from social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, getting organic traffic is getting tougher! We are not saying organic traffic is “dead” but here is a fact, we are all in a “pay to play” world and it is becoming more apparent. With that being said, there is a tool that can help build organic traffic, enhance your local SEO strategy, and improve your reputation. That tool is called “Google My Business”…
What Is “Google My Business” (GMB)?
Google My Business is a free tool that succeeds Google Places/Google+ and is far more superior (evil laugh out loud). It allows for you to connect with customers, post updates, and manage information about your business that can be crucial for your online reputation.
Due to GMB being on Google’s Platform, it is CRUCIAL to create your listing if you want to strengthen your local SEO (Search Engine Optimization) ranking. In reality, creating and optimizing a GMB listing should be one of the first (and one of the easiest) things done for a local SEO strategy.
Step 1: Claim or Create
Now that we have established how important creating a GMB listing is, there are three scenarios that may you may have to go about doing this:
- Your business is listed but unclaimed
- Your business is listed and claimed but you don’t have access
- Your business is not listed at all
Search for your business in Google or Google Maps using either your business name, business address, or business phone. This is also commonly referred to as “NAP” meaning Name, Address, Phone. The goal is to find some kind of results with this search, we want to avoid a double listing.
*PRO TIP: Ensure your NAP data is the same on every listing, website, social platform, etc.
Scenario 1 – To know if your business is unclaimed, upon you search results, you will see either “Own this business?” or “Claim this business” as a link. Click on the link and continue setting up your GMB listing.
Scenario 2 – In the event that your business is listed AND you don’t have the option to claim it then someone else claimed it a while ago or you probably claimed it and forgot about it (along with the email address you used). It happens, but the first thing you DON’T want to do is create another listing…Google has a system in place for these issues.
Scenario 3 – If your business is not listed at all, then go to www.google.com/business and in the top right you will see “Manage Now”.
In the following steps, you’ll input various information about your business such as; name, address, phone number (remember the NAP from earlier), business type, etc.
Please take your time and enter the information accurately, the information will most definitely answer simple questions from your next customer such as:
- “Where are you located?”
- “When are you open?”
- “What are your holiday hours?”
Before a Google My Business Listing goes live, you will need to verify it. Google will normally send a postcard to the address for the verification process which can take about 3-5 business days. Instead of waiting on a verification postcard, go ahead and optimize you GMB listing.
Step 2: Add Categories
After you’ve passed Google’s verification check, you will be prompted to select categories for your business. You can choose one primary category, and up to nine secondary categories. This may seem like a straightforward task, but really take your time choosing the best categories to describe what you do! After all, as of December 2020, there are 3942 categories for you to choose from.
Be as specific as possible when selecting your primary category. The more specific you are, the fewer businesses you’ll be competing against.
Step 3: Add Photos
The images you upload should give potential customers a mini-tour of your company. This can be a physical tour, where you showcase the outside and inside of your building, or it can be more of a conceptual tour, where you try to communicate the feel and mission of your company. If you opt for the latter, then you may choose to upload photos of your staff, or photos of the products/services that your business offers.
Place yourself in the shoes of your clients, and imagine what you would like to see before deciding to hire or buy from your company.
Step 4: Add Business Info (NAP + Info)
On your dashboard, there should be a tab called “Info”. Click on this tab to view all the information for your business. Set the hours for your business so that its easier on you and your customers. Instead of answering the phone to hear that question, let us ALL value our time and just do a simple google search…
*PRO TIP: Are you open on Memorial Day? Are you open on Christmas? GMB has holiday hours that you can edit! Google notifies you when holidays come around to check if you are open or closed as well.
After completing your business hours, add a business description. This lets people know what your business is about but it also always Google to put your business in appropriate search results. It would be wise to put keywords in the description but it must be natural!
You can also add business highlights such as:
- Veteran Led
- Woman Led
- Whellchair accessible
- Has Wi-Fi
- Outdoor Seating
There are plenty of these highlights that are industry specific but it is a great addition for your business.
Step 5: Respond To Reviews
Now this isn’t a secret but Google My Business allows for you to respond to reviews. The issue some business owners have is that they either don’t respond to negative reviews or respond to negative reviews in a manner that is unprofessional…
*PRO-TIP: Don’t be unprofessional
**FUN TIP: If you do become unprofessional, most of us will turn into the Micheal Jackson eating popcorn meme.
Properly respond to negative reviews because you will LOSE business with a negative review that isn’t responded to. You can have 99 happy customers but “That One” will come by sooner or later and give your business the most hate-filled, ALL CAPS, review ever. Just respond in the most professional way. I find that if you tell them to contact you or that you would like to get in contact with them on the phone to fix whatever issue they have…9 out of 10 times they won’t take you on that offer because they never really wanted you to provide the solution anyway. No matter what, your next customer will see this attempt to fix a problem and that means a lot from a consumer.
Step 6: Add Offers To Your Listing
Step 7: Make Regular Posts
On your GMB listing, make sure you add some content! You have the option to place your logo, photos, videos, and you can post updates…just like any other social media platform! Types of posts you can do include:
Use this feature to your benefit. Maybe you have to close shop early…post an update so that it’s known on Google (you can also change your hours for that day too).
If you’re planning an event, why not post it on Google?
Have a sale going on? Post that offer on your GMB listing.
The features that a Google My Business listing consists of is amazing and could easily benefit the small business owner. Go ahead and make your first post while you’re at it!
Bear in mind that posts to your GMB listing are automatically removed from the first view of your listing after seven days. This is why you want to log into your account frequently, and add new posts to continue promoting your business!
Step 8: Setup Messaging
There are a lot of people that will argue over Paid vs Organic traffic, the simple answer is keep your strategy aligned to get both. Sometimes you may have to rely on a certain tactic more than the other but every business should ultimately use both tactics for their marketing strategy. Google My Business is a free tool, use it to your advantage.
If you are having trouble with your Google My Business listing and need clarification on the process of setting up your Google My Business, then Contact Us today and we will gladly assist.
*BONUS TIP: Most traffic is going to be on a mobile phone, so it makes sense that Google created a mobile app for Google My Business. You can do pretty much everything on the go, so go mobile or…go home.