Part 1: An Overview of Google My Business
As a small business owner, you’re responsible for wearing multiple hats. Besides keeping customers happy, dealing with vendors, and keeping up with inventory, it’s your job to bring people “through your doors”, so to speak. In other words, you’re a one-person-show for all things marketing. That’s far from an easy task, but there are some tools you can use to help bolster your online presence and visibility in your local market. Google My Business is at the forefront of these small business marketing tools, and you should be using it to your advantage. If you don’t know what Google My Business is or know the full extent to how it can benefit your business, stick around. We have a full Google My Business training guide ready to help you get started.
What is Your Google My Business Listing?
Google My Business (formerly known as Google Local and Google Places) is Google’s own platform that powers local business listings online. With this platform, your business has the opportunity to showcase yourself on the local pack and to appear in various search engine results pages (SERPs). This means you have the opportunity to manage how your information is displayed to potential customers and create content that’s enticing so you can attract new customers to your small business.
The Google My Business platform is a free tool that every local business owner should know and love. It has evolved into a platform that provides useful information to your surrounding communities, which, in turn, enables your business to get found in various ways on Google, including the knowledge panel, local pack, and maps. (More on those in a little bit.)
Why is Google My Business Important?
Google My Business provides a lot of benefits, but the short answer to this question is that it provides you visibility within your target market area. If you’re operating a local or regional company that serves specific zip codes or markets, you need to meet people where they are, and where they are is on Google. This search engine has designed ways for you to manage how your business appears on Google Search and Maps, which is where almost 71% of desktop searches are performed. When your information is complete and accurate, Google My Business affords you the opportunity to present your brand before buyers in your local community who would love the products and services you offer. The key point there being providing complete and accurate information so your potential customers can easily find your business and learn more about your brand.
Did you know that Google now accounts for at least 2 trillion searches per year? Sure, that’s a global number, and of course, many of those consumers won’t be in your target market, but what about the ones who are? Do you really want to leave them out in the cold just because you didn’t take the right steps to establish your brand online? We didn’t think so. Stay tuned to learn how you can take immediate actions to implement Google My Business into your marketing efforts right away.
Google My Business: Stats and Facts
Given the fact that Google My Business is run by arguably the largest search engine ever to crawl the cyber planet, it only makes sense for small businesses to make use of this tool. If you need more proof, here are a few facts you should consider:
- “Near me” or “close by” type searches exceeded the prior two year’s searches by 900% in recent years.
- 88% of people who perform local searches on their mobile devices end up calling or visiting the business within 24 hours.
- Four out of five consumers use search engines to find local information.
- Search result information sends 70% of consumers to a physical store.
- 92% of people searching online will pick businesses listed on the first page of their local search results.
Given this information, it’s vital to incorporate Google My Business into your local marketing strategy.
9 Benefits Your Small Business Can Expect From Utilizing Your Google My Business Listing
Based on the information above, you can probably see some pretty clear benefits to having your business featured on Google’s local search platform. Here are a few other things to consider as part of your Google My Business training:
1. Show Up in Google Maps Searches
Proximity is one of the main factors people consider when they’re searching for a local business. Yes, a quick Google search can help them narrow down the options, but many consumers search directly in Google Maps when they’re trying to locate nearby businesses.
When your profile is properly filled out on Google My Business, Google Maps will quickly populate searchers’ maps with red markers that indicate where your business is versus where they themselves are located, if your company meets their search criteria. By simply creating a Google My Business listing and completing the verification steps, your business will appear on these local searches.
2. Show Up in Google’s Local 3-Pack
The limited 3-pack that appears in Google’s search results can be somewhat of a unicorn; if you want into this special club, it’s important to have a robust Google My Business profile. Local 3-pack results show up before organic results, which affords you the ability to gain far more visibility than other search results.
3. Earn Trust from Customers
As a business owner, it’s your job to build enough trust between your brand and your customers that people can make purchases from you confidently. One of the easiest steps you can take to foster this trust is to show that your business has an actual location. People have a tendency to inherently trust Google, which means your business can benefit from this trust by simply being displayed on the search and map results.
4. Boost Confidence with Star Ratings
Online reviews are a pivotal piece to the puzzle when it comes to attracting new business. Think about this from a consumer perspective—when’s the last time you went with a product or company that had the highest reviews when you were researching something online? We’re willing to bet it was fairly recently.
When you have a Google My Business listing, your customers have the ability to review your business and leave feedback for others to see. In doing so, you’ll gain entry into the nifty star rating system that showcases the fact that your existing customers know you have quality products and services. Over time, you’ll gain more reviews, which, in turn, will drive more customers your way.
5. Increase Traffic and Sales
You don’t want just any traffic; you want qualified traffic. While there’s no way to avoid the ups and downs that can happen as a small business owner, your Google My Business listing can help you bolster your ability to attract qualified leads. Since people are already searching for the products and services you offer when your Google My Business profile appears in their search results, you’re already a match in their minds.
6. Learn More about Your Own Business
No matter what your business does, the more you know about your consumers, the better you’ll be able to market to them. Your Google My Business profile includes an “Insights” section, which is filled with a wealth of valuable analytics that break down your brand’s visibility, who your target audience is, and how people are engaging with your brand.
7. Rank Higher in Search Results
The more Google likes you, the higher it will rank you. It can’t be said enough that it’s important to befriend this search engine. You need to supply quality, consistent, and accurate information. The more Google can tell searchers about your company, the more it will like you. Google My Business is the perfect channel to feed the search engine this valuable information.
8. Increase Engagement
Google My Business offers ample opportunities for customer engagement. Potential customers can check out your website or call you with the simple tap of their phones. The platform also offers customers the ability to book tables or make appointments directly through your listing.
9. Standing Out from Competitors
Your Google My Business listing displays the vital information consumers need to see in order to engage with your brand. Additionally, it also displays a brief description to help searchers quickly identify whether or not your business fits what they need. An effective description will include a snapshot of the business, using keywords and phrases that depict something unique or authentic to your brand. Of course, you only have a small snippet in which to make this happen, so you have to be clear and concise with your words.
How Much Does Google My Business Cost?
Just like this Google My Business training, claiming your Google My Business listing and using it within your marketing is completely free! This no-cost tool enables you to promote your business profile and website on Google Search and Maps after you complete just a few simple steps. Once you have it up and running, you’ll be able to access analytics, connect with your customers, and post updates about your business at no charge to you.
Part 2: Understanding the Features of Your Google My Business Listing
Google My Business is a simple-to-use—yet robust—platform. We’ll go into each of the features later on, but for now, it’s important for you to know that there’s a wide array of features that could be useful to your business. For example, the Q&A section enables you to have a FAQs-style section where people can gain insight about everything from the products and services you offer to the availability of parking nearby, warranties recognized, or your operating hours. The following are some commonly referred to Google My Business features:
- Knowledge Panel
- Photos & Videos
- Service Area
- Questions & Answers
- Services List
- Collection and Product Listing
- Google’s Marketing Kit
- GMB Booking Button
- Google My Business Messaging
- Google Maps
Again, we’ll go into each of these in a moment, but it’s important to understand how great this tool is that you have access to.
Featuring Products on Google My Business
Google My Business enables you to showcase product details so you can build a presence online that reflects the items you offer in your store. The Product Editor feature within Google My Business is geared towards small and medium-sized businesses and offers a way for you to display products you want your potential customers to see. You can optimize your listing by providing photos and feature listings that showcase:
- Product specifications
- Product categories
- Product details
- Online feedback
This type of feature is also available for service-based local businesses.
Google My Business: Proper Dimensions for Images
Images are an important part of marketing. Yes, you absolutely need to ensure you have key information on your Google My Business profile, like your business name, address, phone number, hours of operation, website, and social media links, but you also need photos to entice potential customers. In order to ensure you’re making the most of your online real estate, your photos should be sized in a way that meets GMB’s requirements.
Your minimum resolutions should be as follows:
- Regular photos: 720 x 720 pixels
- Profile photo: 250 x 250 pixels
- Cover photo: 1080 x 608 pixels
Additionally, the quality of your photos is important. Make sure they’re focused and well-lit. Always use a JPG or PNG photo for best results. If you’re going for the video option, make sure your videos are less than 30 seconds long and file sizes of no more than 100MB. The resolution for videos needs to be 720 pixels or higher.
How Google My Business Works with SEO
Search engine optimization (or SEO) is how you get organic traffic to your website. Essentially, it means creating web pages, blogs, and social content regularly, accurately, and with quality standards in mind. You can supercharge your local SEO efforts by building out your Google My Business listing because Google factors your relevance, distance, and prominence into its search results.
SEO is largely built around the search engines being able to understand who you are and what you provide so they can match searchers up with your business when they query certain questions. When your Google My Business profile is fully filled out, you’ll be giving Google a lot of the information it needs in this regard.
Google My Business Reviews Guidelines
Since reviews are an important feature in the Google My Business platform, it’s important to understand the company’s policies surrounding them. Here’s a quick rundown:
- You can ask customers for their reviews. Unlike some other platforms, which specifically frown upon such a request, Google is okay with you asking your customers to review your company. In fact, you can even receive a free marketing kit that’s filled with stickers, social posts, and other materials that make it easy for you to ask your customers for reviews.
- Don’t practice review-gating. In other words, it’s not best practice to selectively solicit for positive reviews from customers. Instead, it’s best to get feedback from everyone and respond appropriately if you receive negative feedback.
- Make sure your reviews don’t contain any prohibited or restricted material, such as spam or fake content, off-topic content, restricted or illegal content, or content that’s terroristic or sexual in nature.
Don’t incentivize for reviews. Google’s exact wording says, “Don’t offer or accept money in exchange for reviews.”
Part 3: How to Use Your Google My Business Listing to Get Found on Google
As we noted above, there are quite a few features that can benefit your small business when you utilize everything that Google My Business has to offer. Of course, the goal is to have more customers find you, and being more visible on Google searches is one key way to do that. With this in mind, let’s explore some of the most popular features a little more in-depth.
The Knowledge Panel is an information box that appears on Google searches when people search for particular people, places, or things. The goal is to give your customers a quick snapshot of all the information they’ll need to know about you based on Google’s understanding of what your business does.
Reviews provide valuable information about your business to you (as the company’s leader), your customers, and Google. Responding to reviews shows your customers that you value their feedback. High-quality, positive reviews can help improve your organization’s online visibility and increase the likelihood of new customers choosing your business over a competitor.
Google My Business posts are sort of like free mini-advertisements for your company, products, or services. Google offers several types of posts you can create to promote your brand:
- What’s New
Posts also give you the ability to include calls to action (CTAs) so you can direct visitors on next steps after they read your post. Posts are also shareable on social media, giving you additional content your audience on those platforms might enjoy reading.
Photos & Videos
Visual content is an important part of your overall branding and packaging of your business. Before you add photos or videos, however, make sure you’re adding high-quality photos that showcase what your business is all about, optimizing them, and keeping everything updated often. Be sure to rename each image with proper keywords before uploading it to Google to get your piece of the SEO pie. Also, geotag your photos (which means adding a location to your images using exact coordinates).
Service area businesses (or SABs) don’t always have a single location to which customers are directed. Instead, they perform work at people’s homes or offices within a certain geographic region. If this describes your business, be sure to set your service area to a region, city, or zip code within Google My Business so your company can stand out from the competition when searchers are looking for the services you provide.
Questions and Answers
Google My Business Q&A is a place where anyone can ask questions about your business. Bear in mind that anyone can also answer these questions, so it’s important to stay on top of this section so you can be sure the inquiries are being answered with honest, accurate responses. This is also a great place to make sure you’re getting the most out of your SEO efforts, as the web crawlers will look for keywords and phrases within the questions and responses.
You can add a custom list of services to your Google My Business offering by simply signing into your account, editing the Services section, and building on the additional things that your company does. Here, you can also include descriptions and prices if you choose.
Labels won’t necessarily impact the performance of your listings, but they are great tools for organizing your listings internally. Once you’ve assigned a label to a listing, you can search for it in the Google My Business interface and all listings with that particular label will be shown. Labels are often used to assign regions but can also be used with any other descriptors that may be relevant to your unique business.
Collections & Product Listings
You can highlight products straight onto your Google My Business listing that will show on your knowledge panel. To do this, create a collection that contains at least three products each and complete the required fields within the platform. From there, your customers will be able to view your collections and find more detail when they come across something of interest. It takes a little time to build out collections and product listings, but the effort is usually well worth the initial setup time. A lot of businesses still don’t use this feature, so it can be a great way to stand apart from your competitors.
Google’s Marketing Kit
Google’s Marketing Kit was designed to make it as easy as possible for you to promote your brand online. The tools found within this kit will help you to keep your customers informed about your business, and the box doesn’t cost you a thing.
Appointment Booking Button
It’s essential to make customers’ journeys as seamless as possible, and the Booking Button does a great job of this. With the simple tap of their phones, your customers can easily book appointments or reserve tables at your business without any hassle. In fact, the entire booking process generally takes less than a minute. You can easily track how many bookings you’re getting from your Google My Business dashboard.
Google My Business Messaging
With Messaging, your customers can get in touch with you in real-time from your Google My Business Profile. This makes it easy for you to answer questions, give them background about your brand, and attract more consumers to your company. This tool gives you the ability to have actual conversations between your business and potential customers.
Nowadays, it’s pretty essential to be found on Maps because that’s where a lot of searchers are looking for local businesses. Google Maps will show your company’s location and provide people with directions so they can get there. The easier you are to find, the more likely you are to attract new customers.
There are many more features and benefits of Google My Business, and each company will find tools and methods that work best for them. This, however, is a great breakdown of most impactful tools you can use to optimize your Google My Business listing and maximize local reach.
Part 4: Manage Your Google My Business Listing with an All-in-One Platform
Getting found on Google requires your small business to maintain an active online presence. The Surefire Local Marketing Platform is the #1 all-in-one marketing software that allows you to take action from anywhere, on any device. You can visualize a 360 view of your business metrics and performance in one, centralized place, without having to log into multiple platforms. Even better, it allows you to easily share one login to the platform. Request a free demo to see how you can make optimizing your Google My Business listing and online presence easy while still growing profitably.
Our robust platform offers you the ability to:
- Send review requests and post replies
- Manage and update our listing information
- Create questions and answers
- Upload photos and videos
- Optimize for location and search results
…all from one simple-to-use, single platform. Small business marketing is a lot easier when everything’s in one place. We want to hear from you! Request a demo today!