There is simply no way to overstate the impact that Google has on the number of potential customers finding their way to your local business! The statistics gurus at Net Marketshare report that in 2020 70% of all searches originate from a desktop computer and 94% of all mobile searches used Google to perform the search.
So it follows that it’s a good idea to embrace Google and all its business tools, optimizing them for maximum possible revenue for your business!
Consider that Google provides every tool a local business needs to leverage the exposure received from Google Search, Google Maps, or Google My Business and turn it into increased sales, and finally profits.
Google My Business specifically, when fully utilized, can provide business owners with the following powerful tools:
● A customizable business listing display of key business details
● A platform to interact with potential customers and respond to reviews
● A media gallery for photos, videos, & other multimedia submitted by customers
● Google Analytics integration provides valuable insight into consumer traffic’s origin
Getting started is simple. Just follow the steps below.
3 Steps to Google My Business (GMB) Success
- Claim and verify your Google My Business Listing
- Optimize your Google My Business profile
- Create and Implement a Content Strategy
If you have already claimed your Google My Business listing and want to learn how to optimize it to increase traffic, feel free to skip ahead to the second step, Google My Business optimization, and then on to the Content Strategy step.
Step 1 – Claim and Verify Your Google My Business Listing
If you have not done so already, you can claim your free Google My Business listing easily by clicking on the link here to access the Google My Business setup wizard which will walk you through the setup process. You will be asked to either select your business from a list of unclaimed businesses or, if your business isn’t listed, the wizard will walk you through the steps to register your business on the platform. Google will send out a verification test which you must respond to in order to verify that you are the owner of the business.
Many business owners never go beyond this point!
They claim and create the initial listing for their business, submit the response to verify ownership, but never return to optimize their profile and take advantage of the powerful tools at their disposal. Once you have claimed your business profile and been verified as the business owner, you can log in again and use the tips below to optimize your business profile to grow your business.
Step 2 – Optimize Your Google My Business Profile
Make Sure Important Details are Accurate and Complete!
You will be asked to supply details about your business to create the initial listing. Make certain that the information you provide is as accurate and comprehensive as possible. The more detail your business listing contains the higher it will rank among similar listings in Google’s search results and the more likely that potential customers will see and interact with your listing. Google will look for listings that contain all of the basic details customers search for most like:
- Business Name: Make sure the business name on your profile is identical to the business name displayed on your signs and your storefront.
- Business address: Make certain your business address is located correctly on the Google Maps platform and Google Maps Street View feature displays your business.
- Phone number: Make sure to include the extensions different departments if needed
- Website URL: Include a link to your official business website. Google reports that 70% of consumers prefer to browse a company’s website before making a purchase
- Business hours: Business hours of operation need to be accurate and kept up to date
With the basic requirements out of the way, let’s talk about how you can get the most out of the “optional” sections that appear on your business profile.
“Categories And Attributes” Section
BrightLocal reports that 84% of business profile views originate from queries known as discovery searches, where the consumer searches for a specific service or product rather than a specific business.
There are over 3,000 categories to choose from and Google does set a finite limit so choose wisely.
Be as specific as possible to generate traffic that is most likely to be interested in your business, but don’t limit yourself too much. Be sure to select all of the categories that are relevant to your business to maximize views.
- Pro Tip: Take advantage of any category-specific features that your category selections make available to your business. For example: The restaurant category opens up a feature that allows restaurant owners to list a sampling of menu items and prices
Each specific category that you select will have a list of attributes that are common to businesses in that particular category. Be thorough and check all that apply. These attributes are displayed on your business profile so customers can see at a glance whether the business is going to meet their needs or not.
“Products And Services” Section
The Products and Services section allows business owners to highlight individual products or services by providing a brief description, available options, and pricing.
Be thorough and make sure to include anything that may be of interest or may help potential customers better understand how your business can help them.
- Pro-Tip: High quality, high-value content posted in this section not only improves search engine ranking, it could be used in a category highlights selection produced by Google
“From The Business” Section
The From The Business section is where you get to display your unique brand and let customers know what your business is all about. Obviously, there is no right answer for this section. That does not mean it can’t be optimized. Make sure that your entry meets the following criteria to optimize this section.
- Place the most important information about your business in the first 250 characters of your description
- Make sure your description uses as much of the 750 character allotment as possible
- Use content ideas from your website’s “About Me” page or your business mission statement
- Include keywords that customers seeking your products or services are likely to search for
- Don’t include information already covered in other sections of your profile
- Focus on the features that make your business the best choice and how your business can help the customer
- Don’t include web links to other content
Take and upload high-quality photos of your products, your storefront, or before and after photos that highlight your services to increase customer interest and score higher search engine ranking.
“Questions And Answers” Section
The Question and Answer section is one area that will allow you to interact with potential customers. There is much to be gained from quality interactions and an equal or greater amount to be lost from poor interaction or no interaction at all. Think about the fact that anyone can ask AND answer questions about your business on your business profile. I’m sure you can imagine some of the possible ways that this could go terribly wrong for your business. Active monitoring and engagement are essential and allow you to:
- Provide prompt and helpful answers to posted questions to show that there is a real human being behind your business and that you care about meeting the customer’s needs
- The messaging section only appears in your Google My Business profile if you activate the feature from your Google My Business dashboard. The messaging feature allows potential customers to contact you via text message directly from your business profile. This is a great tool for interacting with customers and driving growth. Make sure you check the box to receive alerts for “Customer Messages” on the settings tab of your Google My Business dashboard.
- Head off any sort of shenanigans and correct well-meaning webizens spreading inaccurate information by keeping a close watch on your Q & A section and moving quickly to correct any false information.
There is no tool more powerful than customer reviews to win over potential customers and that is why Google gives more weight to solid reviews than any other factor when deciding search engine rankings. A business profile with numerous positive customer reviews is all but guaranteed a seat at the head of the table.
Of course, getting a large number of customers to write reviews singing your praises on your Google My Business profile is not all that easy of a task. You can’t seed a review section. Customer reviews must be independent and free of influence. You can’t offer customers coupons, or prizes, or pay them to leave positive reviews. Those are all violations of the rules. However, you are allowed to ask your customers to leave a review. Use the following tips to get customer reviews flowing in and concentrate on providing an awesome product and service to ensure that all those reviews are good ones.
- Send out an e-mail or text to your long-standing, loyal customers acknowledging the length of the business relationship and asking if they could contribute a review. Just remember, no thank you gifts or special discounts that would violate the rules
- Create a link on your website that makes it easy for customers to leave a review on your business profile.
- Send a mass email or text campaign to all of your customers asking for a review.
When the reviews start rolling in, make sure you are responding to them. Your thoughtful responses to both good and bad reviews can be just as influential as the review itself at convincing potential customers to give your business a try.
The Updates section is where you can post any information you would like customers to know about. You can think of it as a social media page of sorts. Much like your Facebook or Twitter account, you can post short informative announcements and offers in this space. Use your Google My Business dashboard to create regular posts to increase customer interest and improve Google search rankings. Keep these tips in mind for the most effective posts.
- Most posts are only visible for 7 days so make sure you are posting often
- Posts with time-limited discounts and other urgent calls to action are great for generating a high volume of traffic
- Events and Offers posts will allow you to choose a date range and keep the posts active for the specified range making this a good choice for longer running campaigns
- Include web links so customers can easily follow through to take advantage of your offer
Step 3 – Create and Implement a Content Strategy
This is where the power of Google My Business lies!
Consistent, up to date and current content will keep you in front of Google’s mind. Before long, you will start to show up in Google search results and in particular, the coveted Google 3 Pack.
The Google Local 3 Pack is Google’s way of displaying the top three results for local searches.
Virtualy Nat is #1 on the Google Pack for the keywords “social media bel air”, purely by following the 3 easy steps in this blog!
Create a monthly calendar, that details a content strategy, to include:
• what posts and images you will create, what their call to action is and when you will post them
• when you will remind your customers to leave reviews
• when you will ask your customers to leave their favorite question for answering
• when you will pull reports analyzing your results
• when you will optimize your profile in relation to your results
And then implement that content strategy!
That’s it. You are all done!
Now you can just relax and wait for the customers to start rolling in! Just don’t forget to check in to your business profile regularly to interact with all your new customers and keep your business information up to date.
If all seems like too much to handle, remember, we are here to help! Book a complimentary, no-obligation discovery call with us at virtuallynat.com/chat to get started.