Google My Business is a remarkable tool for small businesses that permits them to manage their online presence. Google is the market leader of all online searches. It generates 6.5 percent of the queries made in the U.S. Local searches result in 50 percent visiting stores within 24 hours. The first piece of information wanted by local searchers is the business address or location. In this competitive search engine space, where does your business fall?
What Is Google My Business?
It is a free tool Google provides for business owners to set up a brief profile displaying the name of the business, phone number, hours of operation, and a website link. The displays appear in relevant search results such as Google’s Local Finder, Local Map Pack, and general organic rankings. A crucial first step towards any local SEO strategy is claiming and verifying your local Google My Business listing.
When searching for a business on Google, the setup information for a Google My Business (GMB) profile pulls up from the GMB page and populates in the results of the search. It contains the address, phone number, reviews, etc. The physical location appears on Google Mays, providing prospective customers an easy and clear way to find you.
Where Will Your Google My Business Information Appear?
The information shows in three places when someone searches for your specific business or type of business. It appears in Google’s Sidebar, Local Results, and Google Maps. The Google Sidebar is a ‘knowledge panel’ that appears when someone searches a specific business by name.
The information listed on a mobile device for a business is the same with a minor difference. The map result appears at the top rather than on the side of the screen. The Local Results section of a Google search shows three businesses near the geographical location used to search. Your information displays when someone does a keyword search related to your business. Google pulls similar information for mobile searches. Besides listing the address, how far the company is from the current location displays.
Google Maps shows when someone makes a desktop search through the Google Maps tab for a specific type of business. It is critical to list a particular category on the Google My Business page. Without it, Google has a difficult time knowing your business matches a search term.
It is less likely your business displays in corresponding search results. By selecting a category, your address, business description, pictures, reviews, and hours of operation for your business are available. If someone searches your type of business, especially in the maps tab, it is highly likely they want your information on Google My Business to be accurate. It helps customers find your business and makes you stand out from the competition.
Review and Verify Google My Business
Your page of Google My Business determines how information shows on Google results. You are in control of the data. Ensure every detail of the business listing is accurate. Google tries to determine the location and other relevant information. Make sure to showcase who and where you are. Create a Google account for free if you need one or allow a third party to manage your Google My Page.
They validate that information is accurate, and your business is claimed and verified. You or your digital marketing specialist receives a postcard that contains a verification code. Enter that code on the Google My Business page to be verified and visible in search results. After verification, access the insights and reviews section.
Google My Business Pages
Only a single page is necessary for all locations. Add and verify each site one at a time. There are separate reviews for each location. Bulk verification is available for more than ten locations. A post office box is not a ‘physical’ location to use as your location.
The exclusion is an effort in spam prevention. Your home address is acceptable for verification if you deliver products to customers or provide services at customer locations. The home address is not open to the public by marking ‘do not receive customers at this address.’ Communicate the use of a third party to verify your business services 111are not work-from-home.
After setting up a Google My Business page, pay attention to reviews. Customer reviews are essential for two reasons.
- 1. They are a ranking factor used by Google to determine where to place them on search results.
- 2. Most consumers trust online reviews as if they were personal recommendations.
The more reviews, the better idea searchers have of your work with customers. A survey by Moz about Local Search Ranking Factors showed online reviews likely make up ten percent of how search engines such as Google decide to rank results of a search. Because reviews are essential, ask customers to comment on their experience with you or your company on the GMB page.
Manage Negative Reviews
No one is perfect. People regularly and naturally make mistakes. From mistakes, people learn what not to do or how they make things better. No business or person is immune to negative reviews. Acknowledge and respond as quickly as possible. The response needs to be professional and empathetic. Apologize for anything less than a five-star review. Openly extend an invitation to contact you directly for an opportunity to make things right.
All marketing tools require engagement and maintenance. Google My Business is no exception. Google makes frequent updates to its platform and adjusts its algorithm to improve search results. If keeping your profile up to avoid being removed from critical search results is difficult, enlist the help of a third party with some expertise. You spend less time navigating Google’s ever-changing landscape. There is more time to focus on running your business and serving your customers.