Are you local Business competing with National Brands?
Like you, most of the local businesses suffer due to fierce competition of big brands operating next door. Revenues have been dwindling, customers are gone and margins have shrunk. For other few local businesses, growth has stagnated and they are not growing as much as they would want to or could have potentially grown given the equal ground and budgets of big brands.
If this is what you can relate to then get supercharged up to lead your local business to successfully compete with well-recognized brands. Brick & Mortar or local service area businesses now have an option to get found online without much investment in building their online presence & competing with budgets of mega-corporations.
Let’s dive deeper into the most economical way of ranking your business higher on Google ie Google My Business (GMB) listing. If you have a business, you should have a Google My Business Account, Period. It’s that simple. This article will get started, any business owner wanting to learn more about GMB, including how to set-up your GMB, verify it, and importantly optimize it.
What is Google My Business?
Google My Business is a local business listing that Google offers to every business. Google my business is an easy-to-use and free tool that helps businesses to manage their online presence on Google. So that your customers will be able to easily find you through Google search options and maps. Registering & verifying your business on GMB is what makes you appear on Google maps/ Google 3 pack, when a user searches for keyword or industry relevant to you and also like below when a searcher searches for your business.
Whether you are doing business online or not, you should ensure your business’ local listing is on Google. Google offers a special solution Google My Business (GMB) to easily verify and list your business to the Google search engine and maps. Google uses location to provide users with the best possible experience. It makes searching and discovering the information they desire very fast and efficient.
When used correctly GMB is a powerful tool for driving consumers your way, dominating the first page of a Google search. GMB levels the playing field and allows every business the opportunity of achieving a prominent listing.
Why does having a GMB matter so much?
Let’s say you have started a restaurant by leasing a place in Toronto, Ontario. After a few days, some big brands or just another local guy opens a new store just on the opposite side of your restaurant and the only difference is you didn’t list your store on Google using Google my business, but your competitors did so. Now let’s see how will that affects you.
As it’s evident, your customers are online and are searching online. Today, around 97% of customers read online reviews for the local business before making a visit to local businesses. Stumped? Read further, over 28% of consumers who search for a type of local business by mobile device call or go to that shop within 24 hours. (Source: Forrester, Bright Local). And based on recent stats conducted by Nectafy, mobile devices will influence over $1.4 trillion in local sales by 2021!
While the internet usage numbers are mind-boggling, Google holds a dominating share of these numbers satisfying searchers with timely & accurate information. Google is the world’s #1 search engine, and this isn’t by a small margin. Google seems to trust and prefer it’s own platforms and tends to present those first in search results and uses a large amount of digital real estate on the homepage of search results to do so.
This is why Google My Business is important to have if you want to dominate the local search results. When users search, you can now, through GMB, own a large chunk of real estate on the home search page results. Because it is so large, visible and trusted, the GMB listing is often where searchers are going to click. They don’t even have to leave the first Google results page, and searchers can be contacting your business with a click or a call.
Now, do you think you should be downplaying your most important option to beat that big brand competitor? Surely no. Hence let’s begin the process of getting more sales with registration & verification of your GMB listing.
How to Register Google Listing with Google My Business?
Here is how to add your business to Google maps. Visit Google My Business registration page to set up the GMB page & follow the steps to register your business. Begin with entering your business name, business address, Category, Whether you want your business address to appear to searchers or not & contact details.
When you complete all the above steps, Google would ask you to finish the verification process. Hit on the Finish button. And then you should see a notice like this- `A postcard is coming!’ Google will want to verify that your business is located where you say that it is. This usually means waiting 1-2 weeks for a postcard with a verification PIN. Occasionally you’ll be given the option to receive your PIN by text message or automated phone call.
How to Verify Google Listing with Google My Business?
Once your postcard arrives you’ll need to sign back into google.com/mybusiness, click Verify Location from the menu or the Verify Now button if it’s available, then enter the 5 digit code from your postcard.
Note: Google recommends that you do not edit your business name, address, or category, or request a new code while you’re waiting for your verification postcard. Doing so can potentially become a nightmare for you to untangle (involving some phone calls with Google customer support).
And that’s it. You know have your business listing on Google is all set up.
Now it’s time to optimize it (if you haven’t already) so you can leverage the value it can bring to your business.
How to Completely Optimize Your Google My Business Listing?
To achieve success in attracting customers online for business, most seasoned SEO has been leveraging GMB as a location-based strategy. As it says what you add is what you show up for, optimizing every field inside GMB is the place to begin skyrocketing your traffic. GMB listing displays tons of information to the searcher for them to make a decision whether they want to further engage with your business or not. Information like:
- Business Name
- Business Type
- Hours of operation
- Phone Number
- Link to website
- Link to Google Maps
- Overall Star Rating
- Popular times to visit
- Related Searches
The more Google knows about you, the more types of searches your GMB listing can appear in and also Google will show your business on Google maps more often.
In most cases, when people type the name of your business, it often displays your knowledge panel alongside your website links (if it doesn’t, try adding your location into the search).
However, when Google knows more about what you do and sell, they can help match you with other types of search queries; the most valuable of these is Google’s 3-Pack & on Map.
Here are the fields which provide the opportunity to optimize & scale your business.
- Adding working hours including days
If you are that workaholic who doesn’t mind going the extra hour beyond normal working hours then add the extended hours of work in this space. Even if you are just starting out & your competitors operate 9-5 PM but you went that extra mile & mentioned operating 9-6 PM and let’s say a user searched for your product at 530, you are most likely to show up out-beating your competition for those extra hours even without much of optimization. Local home service provider strap your belts and put 24-hour support for that extra business.
- Adding a specific business description
This is important. Google gives you space to enter up to 750 characters. Use it to the maximum. Use your product/ service keywords, your industry keywords etc and pitch your value proposition. Every sentence, phrase, word, character tells the buyer more about you. What you put here is what you show up for. There are a couple of other fields as well which we will discuss below.
- Add logo that represents your business
This is pretty obvious. How about also geotagging your logo to your office address? This is the bonus tip that will help you build your local presence.
Some further advanced optimization techniques are as below:
- Add Photos & Videos to your GMB
Photos & videos help business listings’ performance more than most business owners and marketers probably expect. We all know that visual content on the internet appeals to the online audience. You can use this as an advantage and add relevant photos and videos within your Google My Business listing.
Businesses with photos on their listings receive 42 percent more requests for driving directions on Google Maps and 35 percent more click-throughs to their websites than businesses without photos, according to Google.
Bonus tip: Geotag your photos and videos before you upload them to GMB.
- Respond to Reviews (All of Them) you receive on GMB
The reviews on your GMB page can be a deciding factor in whether or not a buyer engages with your brand. Just check out some of these statistics about Local Consumer Reviews:
- 97% of consumers looked online for local businesses in 2017
- 85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations
- Positive reviews make 73% of consumers trust a local business more
- 68% of consumers left a local business review when asked
- 30% of consumers say they’ve judged a business based on its responses to reviews when making a purchase decision, people look to others for their opinions.
We all do it. And we do it often. We want to learn from the experiences of those who have purchased before us.
Did they have a positive experience or did they have a negative experience? How likely will their experience mirror our own?
In the same vein, always respond to your reviews. Positive reviews give a good impression of your business and should be easy to respond to. Negative reviews can swing your business to a decline on GMB if not handled well. Respond to negative reviews and offer to better understand & resolve the issues. If you succeed in resolving you can request a reviewer to revisit his review that way you will have better control of your reputation online.
- Use Posts to Promote Events, Offers, & Content
But now, you can have your content show up on Google Search and Google maps in your business’ knowledge panel.
So what kind of content am I talking about?
- Blog articles
- Company news
- eBook downloads
- Upcoming events
- Special offers
- Product promotion
- Really, you can post whatever you want buyers to know about you, your products, and your services.
If you have an event coming up then you cal let your audience know you’re having this event, not only you can promote it all over your site and social media channels, but also create a Google My Business Post for it.
- Add Products
Adding Products is a new feature in GMB. A unique element with this feature is that it includes both a CTA button to link to your site and a Call button so a searcher can contact your business immediately. The Call button is added automatically to the collection, and the call will go to the primary number added to your listing. You can add the following product info:
- Add Collection Name (ie. Top Picks, Convertibles, Must-Have Summer Hamper)
- Add Product Name
- Add an Image (it should be 250 px X 250 px)
- Add Product Description
- Add Price
- Add a Button (Order online, Buy, Learn more, Get offer)
- Add a link to your website that shares more information on your product
The Products feature shows up in the Business Profile (Knowledge Panel) on the desktop. An “Explore collections” section will also be added to your Business Profile. In Mobile search results, the Products Feature shows up under the navigation heading Products. Product collections don’t expire, which means any items you add to your listing will stay live in the section until you manually remove it.
- Add Services
If you are a service provider like an accountant or a financial advisor, Home service provider or a Locksmith or a plumber, Doctor with own clinics or a jeweler with a jewelry store, etc., and have a menu of services then this section is for you. Add as many services as you provide and let Google know more about you. Adding more information here will not only improve your ranking for the category you are into but even for individual keywords. You can create categories of the services you provide, list each specific service with a full description of up to 1,000 characters, and indicate the cost. If the Service feature is available in your GMB dashboard to showcase all of your current services and any specialty services available then do use it. This feature can really enhance your listing with rich details and information about your services that the business description doesn’t allow for.
So there you have it: complete process guide on how to register your GMB, verify your GMB and optimize to its best to rank your GMB listing on Google. Make the best use of the top 8 Google My Business Tips for Small & Medium Businesses and see an increase in organic traffic & calls go up.
You now wield one of the most powerful tools a local business can utilize to position itself in front of new buyers and stay ahead of competitors be it national or another local business.