To generate new leads in today’s online world, your business needs to be optimised for search engines – in particular Google.
Most small businesses know this and invest good time and money in their online strategy.
The challenge lies in achieving sustained search success and business map listings are a key part of this. Here’s how to achieve this with Google My Business.
Google’s business listing tools have up until now not made this the simplest of tasks, thanks to many confusing name changes and information requirements.
What is Google My Business?
Previously known as Google Local, Google+ Local and Maps Listing, the latest iteration, and the one that looks as though it is here to stay is Google My Business (GMB).
Give GMB a cursory glance and you might feel a bit overwhelmed. Fortunately, it’s a lot easier to use than you might think – and it’s free for any business.
GMB allows you to create a business profile that will appear in search results along with a map location. When customers use a relevant search term, your business will pop up with all the information they need: your store’s name, address, phone number, opening hours and customer reviews.
This is very important for your business. When consumers search for a local stores’ details on their smartphones, half of them will visit that store later that very day. If you’re business isn’t being seen, you will be missing out on those leads.
How to get the most out of GMB
Simply put, GMB helps your customers find the information they need to become aware of your business. Here are six tips to help you get it right from the get-go
1. State your location
Users are increasingly using the ‘near me’ function on mobile devices, which is also fuelled by the rise of voice search.
Convenience and accessibility are important. Make sure that your location is set up in Google My Business so that people in the area can find you.
Google helps here by pushing the geographically nearest results to the top of the user’s search page. Simply specifying your address correctly can give your lead gen a good boost.
Thankfully, it’s not difficult to do at all. Just enter your address details and ensure the marker is in the precise location of your store.
2. List your operating hours
We’ve all done it, quickly Googled a shop to check when it closes. If you run a business, particularly one with multiple stores in various areas with different operating hours, then you need to make sure your customers can see when your shops are open or closed.
With Google My Business, you can set up all your stores’ trading hours. Pay attention to this feature and ensure that the information you input is correct.
If customers arrive at a store they were told would be open, only to find it closed, they’ll be less inclined to come back.
Not every day or week is the same as the one before. The ‘Special Hours’ section acknowledges this and allows you to adjust your times for bank holidays.
3. State your business category
Your business should to be visible to anyone who searches for the service you’re offering. GMB allows you to tag your business using categories so that you’ll rank for relevant search terms.
It might be tempting to simply tag every business category but this is not going to win you loyal customers, nor will it necessarily help improve your ranking.
Choose the fewest number of categories that it takes to accurately describe your business. At Access Self Storage, for example, we went for ‘self storage facility’ and ‘moving and storage service’.
4. Gather and respond to reviews
When it comes to Google My Business, reviews, alongside location, are a key ranking factor – and they’re a good way of allowing Google to understand how people feel about your business.
Fortunately, GMB is quite easy to navigate and customers can leave a review simply by:
- Googling your store
- Clicking on your GMB listing
- Selecting write a review
- Writing the review
You should take the time to ask your customers to leave you a review. Try writing a review yourself to experience the process from the customer’s perspective. This will help you understand how it works and enable you to integrate the review process with your customer relationship strategy.
Customer engagement is a two-way street. Take a bit of time to respond to the reviews people leave – both the good and the bad.
If it’s a positive review, thank them. If it’s not-so good, then either apologise, explain and ideally, provide a solution. Sometimes you’ll get spammed or trolled and unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do about that except report it.
5. Answer questions
GMB has added a relatively new Q&A feature. It allows customers to ask questions directly on your listing and for you (or the public) to answer them. It’s a great way to foster greater customer engagement.
Of course, you need to check your listings regularly to stay on top of any questions.
A good response rate makes you look helpful and increases the likelihood of qualified leads approaching you. Responding to questions days later is not particularly encouraging and you could lose some easy wins.
It’s also likely that an active business profile, i.e. answering questions quickly, will help your listing ranking.
6. Use Google Posts
The Google Post feature allows you to promote additional content or information, like events and special offers, directly to your GMB listing and link through to your website.
When a customer finds your business listing on Google, these posts pop up immediately and can help improve click-through-rate.
The posts get removed from the default view after seven days or once the event date has passed, so it’s worth giving them a re-fresh every now and then.
It’s worth setting up tracking URLs for each post so you can see the effectiveness of each one in bringing traffic to your website.
As things stand there is currently no way of scheduling posts in advance or bulk uploading for multiple business locations, but it’s worth keeping an eye out as Google could deploy these features in the near future.
Google is constantly improving its business listing tool so keep an eye out for any changes and get up to speed on the latest iteration as soon as possible. For now, GMB offers an easy-to-use, free tool that you can use to improve your online visibility.
You can learn more on how to use Google to boost your business in these other ByteStart guides;
- How to use Google Analytics to boost your online performance
- Getting started with Google AdWords – A Step by Step guide for small businesses
- How to harness the power of Google for your business
About the author
This guide has been written exclusively for ByteStart by Jonathon Kofler – Head of Marketing at Access Self Storage. Jonathon has worked in digital sales and marketing for 15+ years and is responsible for driving growth across the business’ 56 nationwide stores.
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