As a local small business, you likely look for any possibility to improve your search rankings. But are you using Google My Business? This free tool increases your visibility on the world’s largest search engine, provides potential customers with more context, and gives you an opportunity to engage with reviewers. By optimizing your listing, you can grow your business. And here’s how you can do just that.
What is Google My Business?
Google My Business is a free business profile that appears when users search for your business on Google. This helps you stand out from the crowded search engine results, no ad spend necessary.
This increased visibility is enough of a reason to set up your profile, but you also have these benefits:
- Share your latest offer.
- Promote new products and company news.
- Share helpful information like store hours and address.
- Engage with reviewers to build loyalty.
- View insights on how customers discover your business.
It only takes about 15 minutes to setup, making this a quick way to improve your search ranking. (Though, we’d be remiss if we didn’t recommend an SEO strategy for continued long term success.)
You can manage your listing on a desktop browser or through the Google My Business mobile app, helping you engage with customers and update your profile on-the-go.
Should I Have a Google My Business Listing?
In short, yes. Google has 74% of market share for search engines, making it an essential tool to expand your company’s reach online. Google My Business is just one of the many free tools they offer, which means there’s no excuse not to use it!
These listings take up a significant amount of visual real estate on the results page, which grabs users’ attention from the start. And as we mentioned above, it’s a beneficial step towards improving discovery even against companies with a large Google Ads budget.
Reviews on Google My Business also offers valuable insight into what customers think about your business. These reviews, both positive and negative, give you an opportunity to discover what is working well and what you may need to improve upon.
While not all negative reviews are worth taking seriously, those that are calm while clearly explaining their experience can help you grow.
Now that we’ve convinced you, it’s time to create your listing.
How Do I Create a Google My Business Listing?
Create your listing by claiming your profile on Google My Business. Head to the Google My Business homepage, then sign in using your Google Account. If you don’t have one, you’ll be taken through the steps to set one up.
Then you’ll name your business, enter your address, and choose whether you want your address to appear on Google Maps. If you have customers visit, then you’ll select yes. If you deliver to customers, select “I deliver goods and services to my customers”.
Next, select your business category. This affects how you’re discovered, so select the most accurate option. You’ll finish it off by adding your phone number and website URL.
Before your listing is live, you’ll need to verify your connection by receiving an automated phone call or a postcard with a verification code. We recommend the phone call because it’s faster, but the option is up to you.
If you have more than one location, head to the menu (look for the three horizontal bars) and select Manage Locations. This allows you to add a listing for each location, instead of creating separate Google My Business accounts for each.
There is a possibility you’ll see a listing for an old business at your current location. If so, don’t claim this. Instead, suggest an edit to mark it as closed, then create your listing from scratch.
Pro Tip: How to Maximize Your Google My Business Listing
You have the opportunity to add more than the basic information for your listing, and we highly recommend you take advantage of it. Include attributes like wheelchair accessible or free Wi-Fi to entice users to join you.
If you deliver to a local area, make sure you include your service area so users know where you deliver without needing to call.
You’ll also want to enable the messaging feature to encourage users to message you. This increases your communication with potential or current customers, increasing the chance to engage with them before they enter your store front.
Just select the location within the Google My Business dashboard, select Customers > Messages > Turn On. If you have the app, you’ll receive a push notification for new messages so you can respond to them in a timely manner.
How Do I Get Reviews on My Google My Business Listing?
Similar to Yelp, you’ll need to be careful about how you solicit reviews. Unlike Yelp, though, you can remind users to leave reviews. (Companies on Yelp can only mention they are on Yelp and cannot request reviews.) This is best done through email newsletters and with a sign at the register for business with a store front.
Here are some examples of call-to-actions for encouraging reviews:
- Find us on Google My Business!
- We want to hear how we’re doing. Leave us a review on Google!
- Are you enjoying your purchase? We want to hear! Share your experience on Google My Business.
It’s important to respond to as many reviews as possible, both positive and negative. However, negative reviews should take priority. Calmly and politely respond and, if needed, add some clarity to the situation. It’s difficult to have even false and inflammatory reviews removed, so responding is your best option for resolving the situation.
We don’t recommend exchanging discounts or free products for reviews. This is against Google’s Terms of Service and encourages false reviews. You won’t know if there’s something you can improve, which can hurt your growth as a company.
Do I Need Images on My Google My Business Listing?
Yes! Images provide users context for your company, which is particularly important if you have a store front. This could be their first introduction, so make it great. We recommend prioritizing high-quality images for your listing, because these images reflect the care you put into your business.
There are three types of photos on your listing:
- Logo file
- Cover image
- Additional photos
There are few things worse in marketing than a blurry or ill-fitting logo file. Make sure your logo is centered in the image and has a minimum size of 10 KB and minimum resolution of 720 px tall by 720 px wide. You want this to be clear so users can quickly identify your business.
Your cover photo should capture your company’s personality. Adding a cover photo also gives you some control over how your profile appears, because Google prioritizes this image over others. The best cover photos are typically a well-lit photo of your interior or store front.
Your additional photos highlight your space so customers have an idea of what they’re walking in to. Focus on areas customers care about, like seating for a restaurant, the waiting area for a mechanic, the buildings around your store front if you’re in a hard to find spot, and your interior from multiple angles.
Prioritize getting photos during the right time of day, because these photos will help users decide if they want to visit. This varies on the direction your storefront faces, but overcast weather or right before sundown minimizes harsh shadows. Once you have these photos, your profile is ready to go!
Free Help for Businesses
If you want to improve your visibility online, then taking advantage of Google’s free tools is a must. Google My Business offers a chance to provide accurate information, engage with customers, and offer a better overall experience for those interested in your business. As a Get Your Business Online Partner, we’re certified to help local businesses achieve success through this platform. To get started, send us a message or give us a call at 415-640-8009. We’d be happy to talk you through the process!