From trying to figure out what time a coffee shop opens to double-checking the location of a local store, search engines like Google make our daily lives so much easier.
Surprisingly, nearly half (46%) of all searches on Google are seeking local information similar to the above scenarios. And for local business owners like myself, it has never been more important than ever to make sure that we are there for these users when they search for us.
The best way to do this is to deliberately set up a ‘Google My Business’ (GMB) profile for your business (don’t worry, it’s free!). This not only ensures that your business information appears correctly in both Google Search and on Google Maps, but it can also help to support your broader digital marketing strategy.
Here’s a deep dive into everything you need to know about Google My Business (GMB), along with three key ways to get the most out of your GMB listing.
Google My Business: Beyond the Basics
First things first: if you own a local business, you should go ahead and set up your Google My Business profile on Google. You may have already done this; however, it doesn’t hurt to make sure your profile is at least up to date. At a bare minimum, verify that the following information about your business is correct:
- Opening hours
- Storefront or office address
- Phone number(s)
Beyond establishing the basics, bear in mind that a GMB profile can also be so much more than just a traditional business listing! Google also empowers you to bring your listing to life by giving you the ability to:
- Respond to customer reviews.
- Post your latest offers, deals, and promotions.
- Showcase your products, services, and storefront.
You can then leverage these components to not just enhance your performance in Google Search, but to strengthen your overall online reputation – and even drive sales in the process. To help you get started, here are three ways to get the most out of your GMB listing.
3 Key Ways to Get the Most out of your GMB Listing
Think about how many times you personally check online reviews before trying a new restaurant or to evaluate local service providers. I bet it’s frequently, and I bet you are more likely to choose businesses that have great reviews. In fact, research into this has found that an estimated 56% of consumers select a business if it has positive ratings/reviews on Google.
As a business owner, you should strive to keep a 4+ star rating on your GMB profile, along with some positive written reviews from your customers. While this may feel somewhat out of your control, there are some things you can do to foster good reviews.
- Encourage customers or clients to leave reviews. If nobody has left a review for your business yet, don’t worry! You can prompt customers to leave reviews in the following ways:
- Ask them in person if they would like to leave a review and direct them to your review page.
- Send a link to your review page in follow-up communications after a purchase (for example, in a digital receipt or newsletter).
- Politely ask your social media following to leave a review and provide them with a link.
- Respond to positive reviews. If you do receive some positive feedback, don’t be afraid to respond and engage! For each positive review, make an effort to:
- Promptly thank each reviewer personally.
- Include a specific detail about them (so that it doesn’t look like a copy and pasted response).
- Tell them that you’d love to see them again.
- Mention a new product or service that they may be interested in.
- Respond to negative reviews. Nobody is immune from receiving negative reviews, and your initial instinct may be to just ignore them. However, strong businesses use negative reviews as an opportunity to resolve issues and offer great customer service. For each negative review, make an effort to:
- Apologize publicly and take responsibility.
- Pay attention to detail so that you can understand the reviewer’s point of view.
- Offer a solution.
- Never blame the customer or use offensive language.
Whether you’re responding to a positive or negative review, always try to incorporate your company name and services into each response. This is not only professional, but it can also help with your SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) strategy.
Another useful feature of Google My Business is that you can create regular updates or posts, just like you would on your business page for Facebook or Instagram. These posts can either have a photo or a video and can include a maximum of 1500 characters of text.
What separates your GMB profile from your Facebook profile though is that these posts only stay active for 7 days – making them the perfect place to share your latest updates, news, and promotions.
Here are some best practices to bear in mind.
- Be consistent. How often you post on your GMB page will depend on your specific situation. However, the goal should be to post one time per week. This is frequent enough to keep potential customers updated without being too burdensome.
- Keep it brief. Remember, users turn to Google for answers, and you do not want to bore them with a wall of text. Even though a maximum of 1500 characters is allowed for each post, try to limit them to 150 to 300 characters. This keeps things simple and allows for the right information to be communicated as efficiently as possible.
- Get creative. A great way to attract new customers via your GMB listing is to get creative with your posts. In addition to posting about your latest news, specials, and promotions, you can also help potential customers get to know your business better by sharing:
- Information on upcoming events.
- Special moments with happy customers or employees.
- ‘Behind the scenes’ look at your business.
- Team member bios.
- Latest product launches and updates.
- General questions and answers about your products and services.
As a business owner, you can upload photos of your business to showcase your products, services, and workspace. The idea is to appear as welcoming to searchers as possible, and ideally, you will want to have around 100+ photos/videos uploaded to your profile.
Here are a few best practices to consider:
- Upload a variety of photos. When choosing the right photos to upload, try to include a variety of different types that can paint a welcoming and complete picture of what life at your business is like. This could include:
- Snapshots of the interior and exterior of your building.
- Friendly photos of your team.
- Professional shots of your products.
- Authentic, real-life moments such as happy customers, charitable work, and kids or pets around the office.
- Upload a few videos. Videos can also help searchers get to know your business. Aim to upload a few videos from a special event, or create a video introducing some members of your staff.
- Create a 360-degree office walkthrough. Potential customers love knowing exactly what to expect ahead of time, and one way you can do that is to use a 360-degree camera and give them a tour of your office or storefront. This may require some extra resources to plan and coordinate – however, the end result is something that can help your business stand out against competitors.
Maximizing your GMB listing is a no brainer for small businesses, given that so many potential customers use Google to find local products and services.
Beyond establishing your basic business information (e.g., contact details, website, and opening hours), there are plenty of other opportunities to make the most of this space and gain a competitive edge in Google Search. Not only that, but you can easily see how your GMB listing is performing by viewing metrics for the number of calls, clicks, and bookings taken on your profile. These metrics alone are invaluable in helping to inform your broader digital marketing strategy.