It’s difficult to miss Google My Business (GMB).
Originally created way back in 2014, GMB now has premier placement in the Google search experience. It’s a robust category-and-location search addition that provides immediately clickable info for location businesses and organizations.
You’ve no doubt noted the prominent map that often appears at the right in your desktop view (and at the top of search results on a mobile device) when you search for local businesses. As soon as Google search results populate, your eye is drawn to that right-side map. You may even ignore the traditional list of search results. (Reason #1 why you need to be on GMB).
Or you may have asked your phone “Where’s the nearest vegetarian restaurant near me?” and a map and bistro name immediately filled your mobile screen. With a click of a button, you could view images (perhaps even a menu), could take note of what the restaurant looked like to find it on a drive-by, checked out the interior ambiance, called for a reservation, or visited their website. (Reason #2. Convinced yet?)
You may have also noticed that sometimes a business name appears on GMB but the business info is incomplete. Clicking the “website” icon results in….hmmm…nothing. The incomplete profile was likely started by a customer leaving a review. But another user’s assumption may be that your business doesn’t know or care enough to maintain your info. Incomplete or incorrect info on Google is worse than no info at all. You don’t want your brand stuck in GMB limbo. (No-brainer reason #3!)
If your business is not yet on Google My Business, let’s get you there. If you already are, we can optimize your brand’s presence with a few easy steps.
Do I really REALLY need GMB?
We know…the thought of yet another online presence makes your brain tired. However, GMB is quick to set up and fairly easy to maintain. The benefits of appearing at the very top of your local results are worth the effort.
80% of users used a mobile device to search the internet in 2019. Scrolling and pecking through a website for buried contacts is frustrating for mobile users. Google “got it” and created a snapshot view of every business. It does not replace your website, but it does provide a fast option for users who want answers now. This is just one more tool that cements user loyalty to the Google search engine.
46% of all searches on Google are looking for local results. Google My Business is free marketing that enables you to be seen on all devices easily, potentially at the top of your local results. GMB provides rich and accurate user information. Businesses can present their services, call button, messaging, reviews, photos, even video, right at a customer’s fingertip.
If you aren’t listed on GMB, you may be entirely invisible to mobile users searching for your service or product locally. So let’s get started.
First, check for an existing GMB profile for your business.
If a customer has already tried to leave a review about your business, or another member of your business experimented with GMB, a partial profile may already be featured.
- Type in your business and city into Google and then also check in Google Maps.
- If your business does appear (at the right in desktop view or at the top of mobile search results), click “claim this listing.”
- If nothing appears, then no profile exists for you.
- Your next step is to go to Google.com/business
- You’ll need to set up a Google account if you don’t already have one. If you do, just go ahead and sign in.
Google will ask for basic info to start the profile process:
- Business name
- Street address (this is required, but can be hidden for non-brick-and-mortar businesses)
- Website URL
Don’t freak when asked for your physical address if you work out of your home and don’t want people dropping by. You’ll see a box to click for “I deliver goods and services to my customers.” If you take your services to your customers and don’t need your address published for walk-in customers, click this option.
Choose the best, most relevant category for your business. You may need to try a few options to get an existing definition that most closely matches what you do. As you start to type, Google will auto-populate the categories.
You’ll need to verify your listing. Google goes old-school to weed out false listings, and will send you a postcard with a verification code by postal mail. It will usually arrive in a week or less.
Complete your listing, once your GMB profile is verified.
- It is important that your business name, address, and phone number be the same on every presence you have on the internet. For example, if your address is on a Boulevard, be sure your address is the same (all “Boulevard” or all “Blvd”) on all web listings. You need to have a consistent presence across the internet for your Google Map results to be accurate.
- Click “Info” to complete the description of your business and add other public information, for example, your hours of operation.
- Definitely add photos, and one or two videos. Businesses with photos receive 42% more driving direction requests and 35% more click-throughs to their websites than those without photos. Google provides you with image and video categories to make this easy — “interior,” “exterior,” “team,” and “at work”—all so users can find what they need as quickly as possible.
Remember: Google My Business allows and even encourages user-generated content. If a customer notices there is no photo of your business, they might add a blurred smartphone-shot of your storefront on a rainy day – certainly not an image you would have chosen.
Don’t neglect your GMB profile once you’ve verified it, lest someone decides to “help you out.”
Optimizing your GMB
Be sure to include important keywords and likely search phrases in your business description, even though you have already chosen your business category and location. You can find help in choosing keywords, here.
Add posts to your GMB profile. Google rewards businesses who regularly add new content. GMB posts only appear for 7 days, so post often! Announce news, sales, products, perks, cute dog-client images (with permission) regularly. If you have a promotion that lasts longer than 7 days, you will need to repost it each week. Apps like OneUp are available to help schedule Google My Business posts along with your other social media. If you are currently using a scheduling app, check to see if it integrates with GMB.
Ask your best customers for reviews, and be sure to respond to them with thanks once they are submitted. You can create a link that you can send to your supporters to make it easy for them to find your profile.
Managing user-generated content on GMB
As mentioned, customers can suggest an edit, ask a question, write a review, add their own photos, and more.
While we all hope we’ll never receive a negative review, it’s important not to ignore one. By responding quickly to understand and resolve a customer’s concerns, you show other searchers that your business immediately addresses customer issues. You also have the opportunity to turn a customer’s perceived negative experience into a positive one by answering their question, fixing their problem, or offering a benefit. With your immediate response, you may also head off additional actions a fuming customer might otherwise contemplate —like posting a negative image that you can’t take down (although you can contact Google to have actual inappropriate images reviewed and removed).
You already know how important it is to thank customers for positive reviews! It of course increases customer loyalty, and you can also use that opportunity to ask if you can post a great shot you may have of their pet at your business, or ask them to add a positive image of their own.
Do you have more GMB questions?
Google My Business has a robust Help center, and step-by-step videos abound on YouTube. If you have questions or want to share your own tips and GMB experiences with fellow Petpreneurs, share in the WWD member Facebook group!