These days, customers find new businesses when they know what they’re looking for and they go to Google to find out where to get it, regardless of whether its coffee, clothes, or cars. What do you do to get your business noticed on Google when the listings are dynamic and can change every day? Heres what we talk about in this post:
- Why you need a Google My Business account
- Be at the top of the list of businesses that Google serves to potential customers
- Control what customers see and expect from your business
- Make it easier for customers to find & contact you
- Reach new customers who are in the market to buy what you offer
- How to optimize a Google My Business profile
- Download and use the GMB mobile app
- Fill out all available profile information
- Use a variety of posts
- Read and respond to customer reviews
- Use quality photos
- Use HeyOrca to manage your Google My Business listing
- Create, draft, and approve posts for all social networks, including GMB
Why you need a Google My Business account
For those of you who have never heard of Google My Business, its a free, easy-to-use tool that allows businesses with physical retail locations to manage how they appear on Google Search and Maps. Manage is the keyword here since businesses are going to be catalogued and displayed on Google anyway.GMB gives you the ability to control what people see, how they can contact you, and update them over time.
Show up in Google search results
The same way that social networks display additional information about its users so that people can more easily find them and get to know them better (like location, work history, interests, etc.), Google My Business works as a profile for your business. Providing and updating this information to Google can help to increase your visibility and can help make customers experience a little bit easier. One Google search can provide them with a list of businesses that may meet their needs, addresses, phone numbers, business hours, websites, customer reviews, and more. If a potential customer is searching for businesses on Google, they’re likely ready to make a purchase and are looking for the right place to do so. Providing this information for your GMB listing will remove barriers and make it more likely that they’ll call you over another listing that hasn’t.
Next to online reviews, the second most important factor that consumers take into consideration when searching for a local business is proximity. While a quick Google search is certainly effective for narrowing down options, most consumers use Google Maps to locate businesses nearby. Whatever type of business you’re searching for, Google Maps will quickly populate with dozens of red markers, each indicating a local business that meets your search criteria. Once you’re set up on GMB, your store location will start to pop up for local searches, showing people how close you are to their location, which will increase the likelihood that they’ll pay you a visit.
An added bonus is that Google gives special exposure to three local listings at the top of its results page, which means they show up before organic search results. Its not some SEO trickery that gets you into this exclusive shortlist; becoming a verified business through GMB is the first step. Pro Tip: Verify your Google My Business listing. Google will not display your listing until your business has been verified. When you log in to manage your listing for the first time, you’ll be given an option to verify by phone, email, or snail mail.
Some businesses are resistant to social media and other forms of digital marketing because they’re afraid of negative feedback online. This is a legitimate concern but doesn’t solve the problem. People who have a poor experience with your business are going to tell people about it; wouldn’t it be better to be able to talk back to them? GMB allows customers to leave star ratings and testimonials that are publicly visible. People who have been given access to manage the listing can reply to reviews to follow up or address concerns.
Pro Tip: If you’re just getting started with GMB and there are reviews from days, weeks, or months ago, respond to (most of) them anyway. Maybe that customer isn’t in the market anymore but other people can use your answer as a reference. That said, you can probably skip a review if it’s not at all current, e.g. it’s from years ago and you no longer offer the product or service in question. Few factors can influence potential customers purchase decision as much as online reviews. As customers leave reviews, and as you deliver customer service to them when they do, the number of reviews you get will increase which will reflect very highly on the overall perception of your brand to new customers.
This is a pretty feature to Google My Business users and is currently only available in the mobile app (but customers don’t need to download anything). It gives customers the ability to message you directly when your listing appears in search results and affords them the opportunity to ask specific questions without having to make an awkward phone call and without interrupting you when you’re assisting in-person customers.
You can return messages at your convenience but you don’t want to wait too long; not only will a customer be more likely to move on to a competitor but Google will also disable this feature for your account if you don’t answer messages within 24 hours. Like messaging features on other social networks, you can set up a custom welcome message to greet new customers. Something like Thank you for reaching out! We’re busy tending to the store but will answer your question later today.
Post for free
There’s a whole world of advertising on Google that does cost money but you can take advantage of Google My Business without paying a cent. If you are a business just getting your start in the local SEO game, GMB is an easy and extremely affordable way to get your toes wet. As we mentioned before, you cant buy your way into the top three business listings that google displays on its search results pages, those are coveted spots for optimized listings, but you can pay to be a featured business on Google Maps, which can give you an advantage over your local competition. Until then, your posts can serve as free ads on search results pages relating to your business.
How to optimize your Google My Business profile
Since Google My Business is a free tool, sometimes businesses are less incentivized to optimize it. Your Google My Business profile will only be as powerful and useful as you make it and there are a few things you should do to really make it work for you.
Set your categories & attributes
These aspects of your GMB profile may not seem too important but they are to Google for displaying results. A business called Downtown Coffee may expect to show up in search results for someone who’s downtown and craving a cup but all that customer will see are competitors if they’ve filled out their categories Downtown Coffee has not.
You only have the option to choose one primary category for your business and you must choose from a set list (you cant add or edit). These categories are pretty broad but you’ll have the option to also associate nine other sub-categories to your listing in order to help narrow down search results.
Attributes tell customers more about what your business has to offer. We dont mean products and services, we mean accessible entrances, wifi, whether its family-friendly, if it offers dietary restriction options, etc. These are factual attributes because they are objective characteristics about the establishment. Subjective attributes cant be set by you and are instead determined by customer activity & feedback. These would include things like whether your business is popular with locals, good for a night out on the town, friendly service, etc.
Use each type of post
Google My Business allows you to create four different types of posts; Whats New, Event, Offer, Product. Each one should be taken advantage of when possible because each one offers different exposure and all of them together tell Google that you mean business.
Posts that provide general information about whats going on at your business. You can include a photo/video, link, CTA button, and other information. For example, a restaurant could make a post to promote a new menu item.
Posts that promote an event your business is involved with or supports. Event posts require a title, start/end dates and time, and may include a photo/video, CTA button, and other information. For example, a bookstore may advertise a local authors book signing or a book club meeting.
Posts that provide promotional sales or offers from your business. Offer posts require a title and start/end dates and times. A View offer CTA button is automatically added to the post. You can also include a photo/video, coupon code, link, and terms and conditions with the post. For example, a pizza parlor may advertise a 20% off large pizzas for a week.
Posts that emphasize a specific product your business sells. Product posts require a title and photo or video. You can also include a CTA button and other information. For example, an electronics store may promote a new phone for sale.
Encourage customers to leave reviews (and respond to them)
People put a lot of stock in online reviews. Everyones reviews and experiences are different but if the vast majority of people have had positive experiences at a particular business, then its a safe bet that new customers will, too. Its in Googles best interest to provide its users with quality listings and recommendations, so its in your best interest to get positive engagement on your profile.The companies with the most positive reviews will be pushed up in the search ranking.
Upload quality photos
While it might cost some money, its recommended to hire a photographer to take some quality, professional-looking photos of your storefront, your interior, and whatever product or service you’re selling. As we mentioned above, content on GMB is best if its evergreen, meaning that it wont soon lose relevance (like most other social media posts). It’s worth investing a little more effort and money to get shots that will give potential customers a good idea of what to expect at your business. As such, don’t use stock photos! The quality of photos is important but just as important are the types of photos. You’re going to want interior shots, exterior shots, products, people, and even sales graphics & happy customers. GMB has separate sections for photos submitted by you and by customers.You should continuously update the photos as your business changes(new branding, new staff, new products, etc.) but you cant change user-submitted photos. This takes away some of the control that we celebrate about GMB but it can be a blessing in disguise to see old photos from customers of yesteryear. All of the same advice can apply to videos as well but because of the difference in production costs, photos should be your priority.
Even though more and more businesses are creating Google My Business accounts, very few are putting in the ongoing work it takes to create a profile that gets noticed and ultimately gets them more customers. That presents an opportunity for you. You don’t just want to post regular updates but also update your business hours, address, website, or other information that could cause a customer a lot of inconvenience if its wrong or outdated. At the very least, before every major holiday and change in season, log in and make sure that your information is current. At the end of the day, the best piece of advice we can offer is that if theres something you can fill in, do fill it in. The more information Google has about your business, the more likely you are to show up in customers search results.
Download the Google My Business app
Your GMB profile should be viewed as another social media account. Just like any other social network, youll be much more likely to use, check, and update it if you make it easy and accessible. If you take photos around your business to post to Facebook or Instagram, start to get into the habit of posting them to GMB as well. Posts that you make on GMB should be more evergreen than those you post on other social networks.Things like new product lines, changes in staffing or services, and other news that impacts your customers are good places to start.Think of this as a place to make announcements, not casual status updates.
Use HeyOrca to manage your Google My Business listing
If you’re familiar with HeyOrca, then you know how convenient it makes marketers lives for drafting, approving, and scheduling social media posts. Were excited that we have added publishing capabilities for Google My Business to the tool as well! Unlike most of the other social networks that you might use for business, theres no personal side of the platform. When you start to market on Facebook or Instagram, theres a level of familiarity with their apps and features because you’ve used them for yourself. Not the case with Google My Business. Even though the platform doesn’t have a very steep learning curve, you may not check, post, or manage it as often when you’re not logging in very often. HeyOrca helps with that by implementing Google My Business into a tool that you’re already familiar with and use regularly. You also get the features that you’ve come to love about us
- Post company updates
- Respond to and keep track of questions & reviews
- Monitor what people are saying about your business on Google
- Manage multiple listings at once