If you want your small business to stand out from the competition and also make it easier for your potential customers to find your business, you should start using Google My Business. This is the free platform from Google that allows businesses and organizations to set up and manage their online presence across the search engine giant’s products, especially Search, Reviews and Maps.
A business listing on Google My Business (GMB) will include useful information like your business name, location, and business hours. GMB also lets you add photos, monitor and respond to customer reviews and gain insights on how people find and engage with your business profile.
Benefits of Google My Business to Small Businesses
GMB offers several benefits but the following are the most relevant to small businesses:
- Improves search visibility – Having a complete and optimized Google My Business profile is an excellent way to get your business noticed by your target audience. Around 80% of customers use search engines to find information about local businesses and 70% of customers make a purchase or visit a store after a search. Data from Google Trends also reveal that search queries for “near me” is increasing exponentially. This provides an opportunity for you to target potential customers.
- Lets you engage directly with your customers – The ability to encourage, monitor and actively respond to reviews is one of the most powerful features of this platform. Research says that 85% of customers trust online reviews as much as they trust recommendations from friends. In GMB, you also have the opportunity to respond to reviews, both positive and negative, and show potential customers how you appreciate satisfied customers and how you deal with broken customer relationships in a professional way.
- Helps you get more customers and increase sales – Because Google My Business helps improve your search visibility and makes it easier for your potential customers to find your location, the platform provides an opportunity to generate more sales and leads. And the best part is you don’t have to spend precious marketing dollars on it because it’s absolutely free.
How to Get Started with Google My Business
Creating your Google My Business listing is easy! Here’s a step by step guide to starting your GMB Profile.
- Log in to Google using the account associated with your business, proceed to google.com/business and click on ‘Start Now’.
- Type in the name of your business. If there’s an existing listing on Google, click on it.
- If there aren’t any listings yet, fill in the details including your address information.
- On the map, move the pin to your exact location.
- If you provide delivery service, fill in with info on the method and service area.
- Select the category that best fits your business.
- Provide additional contact details such as phone numbers and/or a website.
How to Verify your Google My Business Listing
After you’ve filled out the details in your profile, Google will need to verify if you are who you claim to be. Verification can be done in the following ways:
- By postcard – To verify your listing by postcard, choose the mail option. Verify your address, add a contact name and click on ‘Send’. Google will send a postcard containing a code. Once you receive the postcard, log in to your GMB profile, enter the code, and click on ‘Submit’.
- By phone – To verify your listing by phone, simply choose the relevant business and click on ‘Verify Now’. You will receive the code through an automated phone call. Once you receive the code, simply enter and click ‘Submit’.
- By email – You can also verify via email. However, Google does not offer this method to all users. If the option is available, simply click on ‘Verify Now’. Once you receive the email, click on the ‘Verify’ button.
- By instant verification – If you are using Google Search Console with your website, your GMB listing can be verified instantly. Make sure you use the same account for both Search Console and My Business before you verify it.
- By bulk verification – If your business has 10 or more locations, you can use the bulk verification option. Click on ‘Get Verified’ on one of your locations, click ‘Chain’ and fill in the verification form.
How to Optimize your Google My Business Profile
Congratulations! You’ve finally set up a Google My Business listing and had it verified. The next step is to improve your listing and help it rank higher in search results. Here’s how:
- Complete your profile – Make sure you fill out every field in your GMB listing. Businesses with complete and accurate information on their profiles are almost three times more likely to be considered reputable by potential customers and get about 7x more clicks. Aside from providing useful information to your target audience, having a complete profile also improves your chances of getting a higher ranking in the results.
- Add an optimized business description – The description field on your GMB profile is an opportunity to tell potential customers your story and what sets your business apart from the rest. Add an optimized description that captures the essence of your brand, includes important keywords, and highlights the best features of your business in 750 characters.
- Upload high-quality photos – GMB listings with photos are 42% more likely to receive requests for driving directions and 35% more likely to get more click through to their websites compared to listings that don’t have photos. You can add three types of photos (JPG or PNG, at least 720px wide by 720px tall) on your business listing: logo, cover photo, additional photos. Post your business logo to help customers instantly recognize your business on Google. A good cover photo at the top of the profile showcases your business. You may also add additional photos such as product photos, interior and exterior shots of your business, photos of your team in action, and more. You can also add a 30-second video clip to highlight your brand’s top features.
- Write Posts – Like other social media platforms, Google My Business allows you to post announcements, events, product highlights, and other information relevant to your customers. You can add a call to action button for more engagement.
- Use the Questions and Answers feature – Google My Business also offers a section for questions. Anyone can ask a question about your business and anyone can answer them as well. You may also go ahead and populate your Q&A section with the most common questions about your business depending on your business category; for example, WiFi or parking availability, reservations, dress code, etc.
Google My Business is a Powerful Tool for Small Businesses
Google My Business is an important platform that all businesses should take advantage of, especially small businesses who may not have the marketing budget that their bigger rivals have at their disposal. Setup and verification are pretty straightforward. Using the quick guide and helpful tips mentioned above, you can use your optimized Google My Business listing to propel your small business to greater heights.