Written by: StructureM
Are you missing out on FREE advertising on the most popular search engine of our time?
You are if you don’t have a Google My Business listing. It’s a free service offered by Google that provides business owners with a detailed online profile that directs search engine users to your business. Google business listings are so popular, and widely used, that for many businesses, it’s the first – if not only – point of contact with potential customers. At StructureM, we want to see your business succeed, and taking advantage of Google My Business is a great way to do just that.
A Google business listing appears when someone Googles the name of your business and could potentially show up in other related searches as well. It offers your business name, address, phone number, hours of operation, photos, questions, reviews and a section for you to pitch your services. Think of it as a storefront on Google’s Main Street. Without a Google business listing you are missing out on potential leads.
Google My Business setup is simple! We’ll cover how to do it below, and offer you a few best practices to maximize this powerful, free marketing tool. If you already have a Google business listing, it’s probably time to update it, and we offer some advice for that as well.
Google My Business Setup
Go to https://www.google.com/business/ and follow the on-screen prompts. You’ll be asked for the most basic information about your business and, to minimize spam, Google will ask to verify your business by mailing a postcard with a verification code to your physical address, which can take up to five days.
After completing the verification, you’ll have full access to the Google My Business dashboard where you can fine-tune the information on your business listing. Here’s where you want to be as thorough as possible, taking care that the information you include in your Google business listing matches what is provided on your website.
Consistency is key because Google compares your business listing with your website, and if they don’t match across both platforms, it raises red flags in Google’s search engine algorithms, and could limit the searchability of your business on Google.
Being as complete and detailed as possible also adds legitimacy to your listing and boosts your searchability, so after you’ve received your verification, fill out all the sections in the Google My Business dashboard as completely as possible. Think about your best customers and consider what information they need at a glance. Don’t forget to add quality photos of your storefront or office. The more complete the information you include, the more reputable your business will appear to customers and in Google’s search algorithms.
Optimizing Google My Business
Did you know that by some estimates, up to 80 percent of all search engine traffic is happening on mobile devices? The good news is that your Google business listing is optimized for mobile users. In fact, it’s more responsive on mobile devices because it includes a front-and-center Google Map feature that lets your potential customers know exactly where you are. For this reason, you should be certain to include your location and entire service area. If you have more than one location be sure to include it as well. At Structure M, we recommend extending your service area to cover a region not just a single city to be sure your listing is seen by as many potential customers as possible. If your location pin in the map is incorrect, review your address and service location information to be sure it’s complete, and if you can’t resolve it with a correction, contact Google for help.
On your Google business listing you’ll find two key features – questions and reviews. Be sure you’re set up to get instant alerts when a review or question comes in by downloading the Google My Business app. If you’re just starting out with a Google business listing, you won’t have anything to manage initially, but questions and reviews are something you’ll want to monitor, and respond to, quickly.
If a customer poses a question, chances are it’s something someone else is wondering as well. Position yourself as an expert and be sure your answer is as complete and concise as possible.
Reviews, both positive and negative, require a response as well. For positive reviews, sincerely thank your customer for the kind comments and perhaps mention how pleased you were with them or their project. For negative reviews, you’ll want to show potential customers that you’re a reasonable person by writing a response that says you’ll reach out to them and resolve any issues you have with them – and be ready to take steps to do that. On occasion, illegitimate reviews creep in from people you’ve never done business with. It’s very difficult to have them removed. Instead, draft a response that says you have no record of having done business with them, and leave it at that. No matter how you respond to negative reviews, be as courteous as possible and avoid making excuses.
Like most online marketing tools, Google My Business requires some maintenance. You’ll want to be sure your contact information and business hours are current and occasionally update your photos. If your services change or you expand your offerings, be sure to include that new information in your listing. If it works for your business, you can run a special offer, announce an event, or introduce a new product or service through your Google business listing.
Keep in mind that by optimizing Google My Business, you’re improving your search rankings, and the more you invest in Google My Business the more high-quality leads it will help to generate.
Use this checklist to help you fully set up your GMB listing:
- Business name
- Hours of operation
- Phone number
- Photos of location
- Verify location on Google Maps
- Download Google My Business app to manage alerts
- Respond to questions
- Respond to reviews
- Write posts (events, offers, specials, featured products)