One of the most powerful ways to promote a brick and mortar business is Google My Business.
When anyone searches for a business near them, they’ll see a listing on the right side of the Google search page lists all the data from your business.
Important note: Unfortunately, this service does not exist for virtual businesses, ones that don’t have a storefront. Since online businesses would be likely to show up in every search, it might give them an unfair advantage.
Google My Business provides your potential customers with operating information about your business.
- Business name
- Phone number
- Web address
- Menu link for restaurants
- Questions and answers
- A place for customers to add their knowledge
- A map to the location
All of this is presented in a compact, predictable form by Google.
Google builds a profile for every business and will keep adding information as customers submit it, but the best way to make sure the information is correct is to claim the business and update the data.
The key to Google My Business is that if your business is the answer to whatever the customer is searching for, your business will show up on the first page. That’s the most coveted place on the internet.
Google My Business also plays a significant role in local SEO. If you’re looking to build your local business, you need to have this data filled out. Google will use that data to bring you new customers.
We had a massage therapist friend who had never heard of Google My Business. After we encouraged her to complete the information and keep it up to date, she got almost 70% of her new business from Google searches that showed people her business listing on Google My Business.
How to Get into Your Google Listing
To start, visit https://www.google.com/business.
On that page, you’ll see a button that says “Start Now.”
You’ll put in the basic information (name, address, phone number, website) for your business.
The next step takes some time. Google will mail you a postcard. That postcard has verification information on it. The key here is that want to make sure you’re really at the address you listed.
Once you’ve gotten the post and verified your information…
You can enter your dashboard and personalize your listing.
You can include:
- All of your contact info
- A profile picture
That’s just the start though.
Optimizing your Google My Business listing
That’s the basics. Now it’s time to optimize your listing.
Make sure your listing is up-to-date and comprehensive – If you’re a restaurant, your menu needs to be there along with photos of your food. You need to put in your category, attributes, description, and more.
Remember: This is Google. That means that all of this information will be shared across all of Google’s platforms, like Google search and Google Maps. If it’s not perfect, you’re sharing bad data with everyone everywhere.
Use a local phone number, not a national hotline. Yes, it can be nice to send calls to the national call center, but it will negatively impact your search rankings. This is Google “local.” Keep it as local as possible.
The category and attributes are important. The category will define how Google lists you. The attributes are the keywords that Google will use to deliver your business as a response to searches.
Use the attributes judiciously. Don’t stuff the attributes with keywords. Take your time. In fact, check out our article on picking SEO keywords and figure out the very best ones to use.
The attributes section is also the place to add amenities. If your restaurant has outdoor seating, this is the place to list that. If your hotel offers free wi-fi, that goes in attributes. This is the place to put in all the things that differentiate your business from others in the area.
Your description should be short, inviting, and honest. It should sound a bit “salesy” but don’t go over the top with the descriptives. Just make it enticing.
Make sure you live up to what your description says.
One example of where a business didn’t live up to its description, a new local bar opened up. The listing said that they opened at 3 pm and that they were non-smoking. Some friends of ours walked in at 3:10. The bartender was smoking a cigarette at the bar and said they don’t open until 4. Needless to say, our friends didn’t go back.
The public takes what’s in your Google My Business listing as gospel, primarily because they know that it’s really easy to fix and update.
Needless to say, they gave the bar a bad review on Google. Read the section about reviews below to understand why this can be a huge issue.
There’s no excuse for any of your information to be wrong.
The single most powerful tool your business has is online reviews. Reviews on your Google profile are the fastest way to get busy and make more money.
Unlike other sites, Google encourages you to ask for reviews. They want your customers to post reviews and tell the world what they think.
Most studies indicate that over 50% of consumers base their purchasing decisions, at least in part, on reviews that they read online. Many savvy consumers will narrow down their list based on the reviews they read.
When you ask for a review, you shouldn’t necessarily ask for a 5-star review, but let your customers know you’d love a review. “If you’re not 100% satisfied, please let us know. We’re happy to help.” It’s not saying, “Don’t leave any review that’s not 5-star,” but it’s close.
You should respond to every review. Make sure that every review, whether it’s awesome or terrible, gets a response from you. It’s okay if the response is just, “Thank for the review!”
If the review is bad, you should be asking the reviewer to contact you and let you fix it. You can then go back later and post an update about what you did and that you hope the reviewer is more pleased now.
Your Best Online Asset
No matter what you might be trying to do, Google My Business is your single best asset.
Using this powerful tool, you can increase your business locally. Make sure everything is right and that you adhere to what you said.
Google My Business, like it did for our massage therapist friend, can be the fastest way to grow your business.
Claim it, get it up to date, and keep it that way and Google will drive a ton of business to you for free!