Maybe you’re sick of pouring your blood, sweat, and tears into social posts every week. Or maybe you’re just hoping to harness the power of SEO so you can work smarter, not harder. Either way, you’re here because you’ve heard about Google My Business and you want to know what all the buzz is about, right?!
Consider this your crash course in GMB. By the end of this blog, my hope is that you understand it well enough to go ahead and sign up for your own (free) listing! It’s a small and quick action that can pay dividends for months and years to come!
What is Google My Business?
It’s another extension of Google, much like Google Drive, Google Analytics, or GMail. While both GA & GMB help with SEO, I break down the exact differences between the two in a previous blog.
Here’s Google My Business in a nutshell… You know when you search on Google for a shop, restaurant, etc.? You probably type in something like, “tacos and margaritas near me…” Oh wait, that’s just me? Moving on…
Well, the map that auto-populates under your search with a bunch of businesses, reviews, and so on consists of Google My Business listings that Google thinks match what you’re looking for. If a business doesn’t have a GMB listing, they cannot harness the power of Google My Business SEO by showing up on that map.
Is Google My Business Worth It?
Short answer? Yes. There are a ton of Google My Business benefits to mention. Put simply, it’s a great way to boost your SEO, get more traffic to your site, and grow your business with little effort. This bad boy is about to become your new best friend.
Long answer? It’s mostly worth it if you have a location-dependent business. For example, if you’re an online shop owner that can ship anywhere, GMB won’t hurt, but it’s not your end-all, be-all either.
On the other hand, if you’re a wedding photographer or interior designer who depends on in-person interaction to operate your business successfully, having a Google My Business listing is a MUST!
Think about it like this… When you are looking for a service provider in your area, do you scroll down to read all the different website results that pop up on the first page of Google? Or do you see the map and start scrolling to find a business that has a decent number of good reviews?
I’m going to guess it’s the latter. So, if you want to be able to collect reviews of your own and share updated hours, policies, and services, you’re going to want to get a listing of your own!
How to Use Google My Business
Speaking of all those lovely features, let’s dive into how to use GMB for your business!
STEP ONE: SET UP YOUR GMB LISTING
Head over to business.google.com to create your free listing. Once you’re in there, decide which type of business describes your best and add your services. Google will use this to match you with the right searches.
Then, add basic info such as your business name, email, and phone number. If you’re like me and would rather have people reach out via your site or email, just opt to make your phone number private or don’t include it.
You’ll also be asked to provide your business address. THIS DOES NOT HAVE TO BE PUBLIC. So, if you’re like most small business owners and run your business out of your home, you can opt to leave this private. (If you do this, it’ll just say the town next to your business name. See photo above for my example.)
However, Google will send you a postcard with a unique password on it to confirm that it is indeed your address. The reason they do this is that businesses have found that if they’re closer to a city center, it’ll help them rate higher on the map or make it into the local pack (top three map results). In an effort to keep people honest, they have to verify your address. Address verification does not mean they’re publicly displaying it, but rather double checking you’re showing up in the right results.
PO boxes are not an accepted address either, so just take note of that. In some instances, co-working spaces can be. So, if you want to be extra safe, ask the owner of that space if it’d be okay if you used that address.
STEP TWO: ADD A LITTLE SPICE
Think like your ideal client. If you’re looking at three businesses with equally wonderful (and plentiful) reviews, what would be the tie-breaker? Perhaps the website, but before you even click through, there’s one more way you can add some legitimacy…
Photos and posts! No, this isn’t social media, so you don’t need to go crazy crafting an engaging caption. That said, photos are invaluable on GMB listings – especially for visual creatives. Want people to see how amazing you are? Share photos. In addition, choose your cover photo and logo strategically. If your face is more recognizable than your logo for locals, use a headshot!
Not only will Google users benefit from seeing your work, Google itself takes note of activity. So, if you make a point to log in each month with a quick post or COVID policy update, they’ll notice.
STEP THREE: GOOGLE MY BUSINESS REVIEWS
The holy grail of sorts. There are a few things that determine your ranking on the Google local pack map and reviews are a big one! Not only do you want to make asking for Google reviews a normal part of your client workflow (bonus points if they add pictures), you want to set aside time to respond to every single one of them.
If you get a bad one, you might be tempted to bury your head in the sand and ignore it. Don’t. People take note and silence is almost an admission of guilt. At the very least, it looks like you don’t care. Bad reviews are arguably the most important reviews to respond to.
One easy way to approach them is to apologize, remind them of what you did to try to rectify it, let them know you’d like to make it right, and tell them to reach out so you can do so!
For good reviews, a quick note of gratitude shows other prospective clients you value client feedback and are a good communicator. And again, these steps show Google you’re a reputable and engaged business. This one action really goes a long way.
Going Past Google My Business 101
I can’t say it enough… every small business owner should have a Google My Business listing. It’s one of the EASIEST steps you can take toward better SEO, which is why it’s one of the first things I audit when working with new clients.
If you want help (past this little introduction to Google My Business 101) with your small business SEO or are hoping to improve your online marketing strategy in general, check out how I can help! Otherwise, head over to this blog post to learn the next step you can take to boost your SEO.