What’s one of the simplest ways to gain traffic and customers? Having a Google My Business account. With Google My Business, you will show up in search results when people look for you online. As such, it will be easier for them to reach out and connect with you. The best thing about it is that it’s free so both big and small businesses alike can take advantage of it. It’s an affordable marketing tool that you need to be optimising right now.
As such, if you still don’t know how to make the most out of it, we’ll help you with this comprehensive guide that will answer these questions:
- What is Google My Business (GMB)?
- Why do you need GMB?
- How to set up GMB?
- Verifying your business
- How to claim your business?
- How to edit some information on your Google My Business profile
- Can you turn off Google reviews for your business?
- How to optimise GMB?
- The key takeaway
Hopefully, after reading this article, you’ll know more about how to get your account up and running, and how to use GMB to work its wonders for your business to get the results you need (and want!)
What is Google My Business (GMB)?
So for those who are unfamiliar with it, Google My Business or GMB is a free online tool that you can use to promote your business on the internet. It enables owners to manage how they appear online and make their business stand out (depending on how they use it).
With GMB, you can promote your business profile online and put your website and address on Google Search and Maps. With this, your customers or potential customers can look for you, check you out and engage with you. In the same way, you can also see and connect with your customers, post updates to your business and monitor how people are interacting with your business on Google.
To be clear, Business Profile is Google’s term for your business listing. Business profiles are the ones that appear in Google Maps and even in the local search results of Google. When you create a business profile, it’s the same as adding a place to Google Maps. All that Google needs from you is the business name, location, and category.
Once it is able to confirm that there is no duplicate for your business, Google will then be able to create the business profile for that location. When you have your business profile already, consumers can leave reviews, add photos, ask questions and even answer other people’s questions about your business.
The business profile may also be filled with information that Google got from across the web. So this means that a business profile can exist on its own even without a GMB account. And therefore, whether you’ve created your own business profile or not, you won’t have the ability to manage the information it displays or review what it collects.
This is where Google My Business comes in. If you have a GMB account, you can access, customise, manage, and even improve your business profile in Google (for free!). As such, having a Google My Business account is more than just a business listing. It lets you connect with your customers and monitor your engagement with them.
Why do you need a Google My Business account?
Technology has made it easier and more convenient to promote your product or service. Considering that everyone now uses a mobile phone to connect with other people or gain instant knowledge, the sales potential of having a Google My Business account because of organic search is limitless.
Creating, verifying, and optimising your Google My Business account is an opportunity you should never miss. Here are some benefits and reasons why you need Google My Business.
- To be more discoverable and boost local SEO.
We’re in the digital age. It goes without saying that search is also digital. Even if you own a physical store, chances are, your customers and potential customers are all online. That’s where they look for companies or products and services that they need.
So whether you’re looking for foot traffic or web traffic, Google can be your best bet in delivering your desired results because it’s the number one search engine. If you set your Google My Business account, your business will show up in searches when someone looks for it. It will also tell potential customers how to visit you whether you have a web or physical address.
Google My Business is also helpful to boost your local SEO. When someone searches for you or a product or service that you offer, you’re going to show up on page one—not page two or worse. Even if you already have a web presence, having a GMB can enhance it so that you get top results.
2. To keep your customers informed and updated
One of the worst mistakes you can do as an owner is to keep your customers guessing about your business. You’re not a magic trick. There’s no need to be mysterious. Keep your customers informed about important details about your business. Include things such as contact information, business hours, and other essential details. Don’t leave things to third party sites which can leave you little-to-no way of managing or controlling them. Make sure that when someone searches for information about your business, they can find a legitimate and reliable source.
You should also use your Google My Business account as a means to update your customers about any sudden changes. Post if you have expanded your services or have a current promo going on. Share if you’re temporarily closed or fully reopened. Google business accounts have a strong local SEO, so the information you share will rank above other sites.
Bad customer experiences and missed opportunities often come from misinformation. Put yourself in your client’s shoes. Imagine if you come to the store only to find that it’s closed. As such, invest in having and improving a Google My Business account to prevent such scenarios from happening.
3. To enhance your brand identity and boost customer confidence
Having a Google My Business gives you an edge over your competitors because it adds a level of credibility to your company. Customers are more likely to choose and visit businesses with a GMB listing. Moreover, businesses with complete listings earn more trust than those without or with incomplete information.
And you’ll probably agree that trust is a critical factor for people when making purchase decisions. The more trustworthy you become, the more likely that people will buy from you. Google My Business reviews help build that much-needed trust. Studies have shown that 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
How to set up Google My Business
If we’ve convinced you to jump into the Google My Business wagon but don’t know how to start, just follow these steps to create your own Google My Business profile.
Step 1: Sign in or Create an account with Google My Business
To start, go to www.google.com/business to sign in. If you already have a pre-existing Google account, use that. If you don’t, create a new one.
You have to make sure that you sign up using your business email domain. After signing in or if you’re already signed in, go to the next step.
Step 2: Add your business
Enter your business name. After which, there could be two potential situations: it would appear on the drop-down menu or it won’t. If it does not appear in the drop-down menu, you have to click “Add your business to Google.” Then select the appropriate category for your business.
Step 3: Tell people where you’re located
Now, you have to enter your location. If you have a physical store where customers can go to, select “Yes,” then add your address. You may also be asked to place a marker for your location on a map. On the other hand, if your business does not have a physical location where customers can go but you offer a service or delivery, you can list your service area in the “where do you serve your customers” question.
Step 4: Enter your contact information
You have to put in information as to how people can reach you. Enter your business phone number and website address so that customers or potential customers will know how to contact you. If you use a Facebook page rather than a website, you can input that instead.
Step 5: Finish and manage your listing
If you would like to receive future updates and notifications, click on “Yes.” Then click Finish. The next step will be verification.
Verifying your business
After setting up your account, you’ll need to verify and claim your business in Google. To do this, most businesses will need to request a postcard as verification. Just sign in to your GMB and click on “Verify Now.” The default verification option is Postcard by Mail. If your business is eligible for other methods, such as phone or email, choose the one you prefer. Fill in the required details and make sure that all the information is correct before you submit the form.
Please note that your postcard won’t arrive as soon as possible. Give it a few days or weeks (up to 2 weeks). When you receive your postcard, you’ll see a five-digit verification code. To use that, you need to sign in and click “Verify location” from the menu, then input the five-digit verification code from your postcard.
After verification, it will still take another week or so for your business listing to appear on Google. While you wait, download the Google My Business app so you can manage your account.
How to Claim Your Business on Google?
If you have an existing Google business profile and want to claim it, There are three options that you can do:
Option 1: After creating an account or signing into your GMB, search for business and then select it. There will be steps that you need to follow to confirm that you are the owner.
Option 2: You can locate your business listing in Maps and just click on “Manage this listing.”
Option 3: Look up your business listing in Google Search and click “Own this business?”
If you see that the details aren’t correct, don’t panic. You can edit them once you’ve verified that you’re the owner.
Suppose someone else has already claimed the business, but you work for the same company, ask them to add you as a user. If you don’t recognize the owner, follow the steps to reclaim your businesses.
How to edit some information on your Google My Business profile
If there are some inaccuracies or updates that you wish to edit or incorporate in your profile, here are some things you can do. After signing in to your account, open the location you’d like to edit. In the menu on the left, click “Info.” You’ll see a pencil icon. Click on that icon to make your edits. If you want to remove a section, click the “X.” When you are finished with all the edits you want to make, click “Apply.”
Please remember that edits don’t automatically appear on your business profile once you apply them. It can take up to 60 days for the edit to appear. Moreover, there may be some information, from other sources, that cannot be removed or edited.
Can you turn off Google reviews for your business?
Admittedly, you can’t please everyone. But that’s why you need to give quality service to all. Because once mistakes have been made, they can’t be undone.
In the case of GMB, you cannot turn off Google reviews for your listing. Everyone will be free to do reviews—good or bad. To be fair, it won’t be in your best interest to turn it off anyway because reviews show customers that your business is legitimate. People also trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
But, you can flag and report inappropriate reviews. So, if there are reviews that seem unfair and crossing the line, you can just choose this option to safeguard your reputation.
How to Optimise your Google My Business profile
After setting up, verifying, and claiming your business on Google My Business, make the most out of your GMB profile by following our tips:
1. Make sure you provide complete information.
Fill out everything you need to fill out. Give Google as much information about your business as possible because it makes your business look more legitimate and professional. When paired together, legitimacy and professionalism boosts your “trustworthiness” and increases your chances of getting noticed and getting engagements. It also makes it easier for Google to match your business to customer searches. In short, giving complete information improves your search ranking.
So don’t leave anything out. Put in your contact details, category, attributes, and more. Make sure to use the right keywords where possible.
Google determines your ranking based on three factors:
- Relevance: How well does your listing match a search?
- Distance: How far is your location from the searcher?
- Prominence: How well-known is your business?
Social media can help improve your SEO ranking, too.
Read this article on how does social media impacts Seo.
2. Say it with pictures.
Humans are visual creatures. As such, at the end of the day, no matter what you say or do, you need to pair them up with photos—lots of them! Help people see what your business is all about. Similar to a logo and a cover photo on Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin, you can do the same for your Google My Business profile. These images will help people recognise your brand easier and thus, boost your brand.
However, don’t just stop there. You can also show your location or the products that you offer by posting additional photos. For example, if you own a hotel, show them your hotel’s exterior and interior as well as all the rooms. If you run a restaurant, post pictures of your meals, menus, and dining room. Make sure that your pictures look professional and aren’t a low resolution.
3. Stay updated and accurate.
Don’t leave your customers and potential customers guessing. If there are any changes to your address, hours, and contact information, you should always make sure to update your profile so that you’ll always be accurate whenever people search for you. Make sure to edit your profile whenever it changes, so that people can know the latest news about you.
Aside from up-to-date information, you can also post promos, events, and special offers on your business profile. Depending on your goal, having these posts can keep your profile fresh and engaging. They can drive sales, and encourage visits to your physical store or website.
Make sure to take advantage of rich media whenever you can. According to Google, people engage more with posts that have photos, videos, or GIFs in them.
4. Stand out from the competition by adding your business’s special features and attributes.
The good thing about your Google My Business profile is that you can personalise it to your business. There are special features available for your account, depending on the category you’ve chosen.
For example, if you’re a hotel you can display class ratings and the amenities that you offer. If you’re a restaurant or a bar, you can upload menus, highlight your most popular dishes, and add a link for online orders and reservations. If you’re a service-oriented business, you can add a booking button or display your service menu. Or if you have products, you can add your catalogues.
All of these are “category-specific” features. As such, if you think your business is eligible for one of these features, but you don’t see them, you may have chosen the wrong category. You can choose up to 10 categories for your business.
Aside from special features, you can also add factual attributes that can increase positive perception about your brand. For example, you may want to share that your store is wheelchair accessible, or offers free Wi-Fi and outdoor seating. You can even share if your company is Woman-Led.
By caring about what your customers may care about, you’re thinking one step ahead when it comes to customer service.
5. Don’t treat reviews as an enemy.
If you know that you only give the highest quality of products and service, what’s there to be afraid of? A good review (or lots of them) can only work in your favour. People trust other people more than they trust business. As such, a good review can be the deciding factor that makes prospective customers trust you and do business with you.
Instead of being afraid of them, encourage reviews whenever you can. The best time to ask for one is after providing a great experience. Whether in-store or online, consider sharing a card or e-receipt that asks for a review.
Google offers businesses access to a free marketing kit with stickers, social posts, and printable posters.
Go to Google My Business marketing kit site.
6. Always respond to reviews whether good or bad.
You can’t please everyone but what you can do is still show them that they matter to you. Show current and prospective customers that you value their feedback by responding to reviews. Businesses who respond to reviews have been found out to seem more trustworthy to consumers than those who don’t.
Positive interactions are building blocks in bolstering loyalty in our consumers. Always answer in your brand voice and maintain a respectful and professional demeanor. The same goes for negative reviews. Don’t dismiss them. Try to make things better or resolve things as soon as possible by listening and addressing the issues raised.
Always be honest and transparent, and when it’s appropriate, apologise. You don’t want to leave your customers angry. In fact, you have to be thankful that they’re expressing their anger or disappointment. This is a sign that they’re still giving you a chance to make amends. Take that opportunity quickly and do whatever’s possible to make it up to them. If the situation is delicate, request that they send you a private message.
Make sure to answer questions, too. Because in Google My Business profiles, anyone can respond to customer questions. Try your best to be the first to answer. It’s also a way to show people that your business is active and reliable. Moreover, it prevents the potential spread of misinformation—something you would not want for your business.
7. Use insights to improve your paid and organic reach.
Having a Google My Business profile helps you go into the minds and behaviour of your consumers because it provides you with access to insights. These insights go above and beyond Google Analytics.
Keep track of how many people look for you on the internet. You’ll have an idea of how many people ask for directions to your business, or check your posts and photos, and so on.
Moreover, if you know what keywords to use or what photos and actions are most popular, you’ll be able to adjust your profile accordingly. This will even help make the content you create for social media more relevant for your audience.
You can also use Google My Business insights with Google Ads. If you have a Google My Business account, you can use local extensions in your ads. These extensions show ads with clickable location details. Increase engagement and lower cost per click by combining this feature with analytics.
Click here to read about paid or organic social media, which one is better?
The Key Takeaway
If you want a way for customers and potential customers to find your business easily without having to pay for lots of ads, Google My Business is the way to go. It positions your business in front of people who match or search for the product, service, or experience that you’re offering.
Moreover, Google My Business helps with your local SEO and offers an opportunity to engage with your customers via reviews or posts, and it can even provide useful insights into your customers’ purchasing patterns and behaviour.
If you want help setting up your Google My Business account or optimising it, just send us a message. We’d love to help. We have lots of free video tutorials and ebooks that can help you make the most out of your GMB profile.