Small business owners know that marketing online is important. For many of them, this means setting up a few social media accounts and a website. But if you really want to reach your customers, you’ve got to go where they are: Google.
Almost 70% of online searches are conducted via Google, and one out of every five of those searches is regarding a business or place. That’s where Google My Business comes in. It’s a service that allows the physical location of your business to be found on Google Maps, letting customers track you down more easily. If you don’t have your business listed on Google My Business, you need to put this on the top of your “to do” list immediately. It’s one of the best things you can do to expand your customer base.
What Are the Benefits of Google My Business?
It’s the New Yellow Pages
Gone are the days when people reached for a phone book if they needed a specific service. Google My Business serves as the Yellow Pages today, especially for local businesses. Even if you don’t have a website, customers can search for your category (e.g. plumber, bakery, or photographer) and see a list of local businesses in that field.
You’re Easier to Find
When your business is listed with Google Maps, your exact address and location is given to customers. They don’t have to wade through the “contact us” section of a website or click through your Facebook profile to find out where you are. If customers are searching using their mobile device, Google Maps includes GPS navigation, providing turn-by-turn directions to your door.
It’s Free Advertising
What’s the only thing better than advertising for a small business? Free advertising! And that’s what you’re getting with Google My Business. Even if your small business does have a budget for advertising, it’s likely not large. Take advantage of everything you can, and advertise to customers in your area for no charge.
How to Sign Up and Have Your Business Listed on Google My Business
Making your business visible on Google My Business is simple. To start, you’ll need to have an account with Google or you’ll need to set one up. Once you’re signed in, go to google.com/mybusiness. Agree to some basic terms and conditions, and you’ll be taken to a form that lets you plug in basic information about your business such as name, phone number and category. You will need to actually verify that you have a place of business, but this is easily done by phone, text or through the mail. As a safeguard against scammers, no information you add here will be visible until you’ve actually verified your business.
Tips for How to Properly Use Google My Business
Now that you’ve signed up, here are a few tips to make sure you get the most out of your listing.
Filling out the keywords and category section of your profile may be the most important step. Write a product description or a description of your business that’s appealing and describes what you do. However, don’t overdo it on the keywords, as that could actually cause your ranking to decrease dramatically.
Utilize Images and Videos
A business that is listed on Google My Business is allowed to add up to 10 images and five videos for no charge. Again, this is free advertising, so make the most of it! Include pictures of the outside of your establishment so visitors know exactly what they’re looking for when trying to find you.
Create a Google My Business Page for Every Location
If your business has multiple locations, creating one overall Google My Business listing isn’t going to do the job. Have a different listing for each location with its specific address and phone number. If your business serves multiple cities, create a single page and list those multiple cities in your description.
Encourage Customer Reviews
If you have satisfied customers, ask them to share their experiences and rate your services on Google My Business. It seems simple, but a better rating truly will attract more customers in a big way. Make sure you have genuine reviews, though. If you have reviews that Google thinks aren’t authentic, or it appears that you’re simply soliciting reviews for a higher rating, your listing could actually be pushed down.