As commerce and life in general become increasingly digitized, the Internet is an undeniable force in making your brand known to the world, but are you utilizing it to the fullest extent?
Between websites and social media, it’s important to present a cohesive image of your company’s brand, but unless people are able to find your business, it won’t make that much of a difference. That’s where Google My Business comes in.
Google My Business is a free tool for companies to use to manage their business appearance on Google and other third-party sites that use Google’s data.
As of October 2018, Google was responsible for 63.2 percent of all searches in the United States, accounting for 10.34 billion searches in that month. Therefore, effectively representing your business on Google is important.
With 50 percent of people conducting local searches visiting a store later that day, making sure you have accurate information about your company is especially beneficial for small local businesses. Small businesses have much to gain from the increased engagement Google My Business can offer.
What Is Google My Business?
At the most basic level, Google My Business allows a business to set up an online profile with detailed information about the company’s name, address, phone number, products and services, hours, photos and more.
This information helps Google to display your business to relevant searches by potential customers, and the listing can increase awareness of and engagement with your brand, sometimes directly leading to sales.
Advanced tools like direct messaging and booking assistance can take your business that much further, especially if you don’t have the capital to build out a full website yourself.
Optimizing Your Business Listing
The most important part of your listing is ensuring that the information there is accurate and doesn’t conflict with details on your other listings such as Facebook or a personal website, as inaccurate information can lower your search engine ranking. However, that doesn’t mean that you should ignore the other tools Google My Business offers.
Some of the minor, but important sections you should pay attention to when filling out your business listing:
Category and service area – This is how Google determines when to show your business in search results, so make them as accurate as possible
Hours – Accurate hours and busy times smooth the customer’s decision making process
Attributes – Consider what people might want to know about your space. Is there wifi available? Is it wheelchair accessible?
Adding your own photos and videos to your company’s listing can construct a cohesive image of your place of business and gives a more controlled, comprehensive idea of your business than whatever other Google users would post. Additionally, businesses with photos on Google receive 35 percent more click throughs to their website.
Here is an example of the kinds of photos you should consider including, but adapt this to your company’s unique offerings:
Exterior location shots help potential customers find you
Interior photos give an idea of the ambience and what customers can expect
Pictures of the products you offer give more detail and entice potential customers
Maintaining Your Listing
Although most of the work of Google My Business occurs on the front end, you should also regularly check on the listing, as it is open to suggested edits from anyone. Furthermore, the Q&A and Reviews sections offer opportunity for direct business-to-customer communication, and shouldn’t be neglected.
Of the 86 percent of customers who read local business reviews online, 91 percent of 18-34 year old consumers trust reviews as much as a personal recommendation.
While you can’t control the content of reviews people leave for your business, with Google My Business you can put out any fires by responding attentively to negative reviews and thanking customers who leave positive reviews.
In addition to giving you greater control over your company’s online presence, Google My Business is also important because of the analysis it gives of your listing.
Generally, Google gives insight into where and how people saw your listing and what actions they took on it. That data can manifest in a variety of ways:
What search terms lead to your business
Which photo is most viewed
If the customer tried to contact you or get driving directions
Whether the listing showed up on Google maps or search
For a small business, taking advantage of opportunities for visibility is important, and as you build your brand, consider the state of your online presence and make sure to make the most out of tools such as Google My Business.