Google My Business, sometimes called Google Business or GMB for short, is the number one most important facet of any local business digital marketing campaign. Sure, you've got killer content, a growing social media community, and a beautiful web page, but can people find you?
Putting Your Business On the (Google) Map
With the Nexus line of mobile devices taking the lead and Google products casting an even wider net than their mobile operating system, it should be no surprise to discover that Google Maps is the number one mobile navigation app on the market. Even people with iPads, Surfaces, and Kindle Fires are downloading Google Maps in lieu of the native navigation apps that come with their devices.
Part of the reason for this that Google Maps is well designed and continues to get better with stealth updates, but the true driving force of the app is that it is connected to Google's extensive information network. Among the most important is Google My Business which literally puts your business on the map and makes it an available, searchable venue for people who are already on the road or preparing to depart who want something to eat, buy, or do. This is your golden opportunity to get the best possible inbound marketing, the kind that kets customers inbound through your door.
However, top businesses listed in Google My Business aren't at the top by accident. They worked at it, they built their listing, cultivate their reviews, and make sure that potential customers can see what they are coming for. The key to any great GMB business listing, the kind that will entice drivers toward your venue, is transparency. The more positive, informative, and easy to understand your listing is, the easier it will be for future customers to think "I want to go there". Let's look into the basic ways to optimize your GMB listing.
Claim Your Business
First and foremost, if you haven't already claimed your business on Google, do it now. This is the process of acknowledging and proving that a business already on the map belongs to you. Why might your business be listed without your action, you ask? Many people online are incredibly helpful and while not all businesses wind up on GMB without any effort, a lot of them do simply because someone noticed the shop and entered it into the map as existing. Some people even do this to leave their first review of your venue.
Become the official owner of your business and prepare to manage the listing.
Make Sure the Address is Accurate
The next step is to triple-check everything about your address including your ability to see the venue from the street-view map to be absolutely certain that the marker is in the right place. This is vital because where GMB thinks your business is, including the correct side of the road, is where Google Maps will lead drivers as they take turn-by-turn instructions to pull into your parking lot.
If that little marker is even 50 feet off the mark, your potential customers could wind up lost, confused, and frustrated. Even if they hunt around and find your venue after a moment, their mood will not be nearly as positive as it might have been. All it takes to bring in smiling relaxed new customers is to ensure your position on the map is exactly correct. We advice setting the marker at your parking lot entrance so a customer's navigation journey is officially complete when they pull into the correct driveway.
Include Your Hours
No one likes to research a place, get excited, and drive out only to find a 'Closed' sign hanging in the door. This is a waste of customer time and you know as well as we do that this creates a sour association with the venue even if you are always closed on that day of the week or by a certain time. Of course, keeping your hours on the door isn't enough anymore. The courteous and smart way to prevent any mix-up of this type is to also include your hours clearly on your Google Business listing.
There will be a special data field where you can enter your hours for every day of the week which will allow Google to sort venues for customers and only list the ones that are open, or to clearly indicate the ones that are not. This simple step can earn you many new customers who are searching for an opportunistic stop that is open 'right now'.
Fill In the Details
Now that you've got the basics covered, write a few entertaining and informative details about your venue in the rest of the data fields and bio section. Don't forget to include a full set of contact information including your website, phone number, support email address, and a link to your online ordering site if it is separate from your central website. You may also want to include links to social media or other major reviewing platforms to help give any future browsing customers the big picture.
Be detailed, friendly, and welcoming in the way you write your information and maintain the same voice throughout the listing and your interactions with commenters.
Pictures, Pictures, Pictures
Never go without pictures. Even if your venue wasn't designed for artistic value, customers want to know what they're getting into. A clear set of pictures can show them the difference between a real venue and a hole in the wall someone jokingly listed as a business. Take pictures of the front of the building, wide-angle shots of the layout, and detailed shots of whatever it is you offer.
Every GMB listing is made better with pictures and these give future customers a vivid idea of what they can expect from your venue. If you have colorful shelves full of tidy products, that's a good sign that you also run a tight ship with good customer service. If you're a restaurant, post pictures of your tastiest dishes and encourage reviewers to do the same. If you're an entertainment venue, take pictures of the attractions.
Reply to Reviews and Questions
Reviews are another incredibly important part of any modern business, not just local ones. However, if you want feet through the door, your ideal goal is an avalanche of positive reviews to reassure future customers that a good experience is guaranteed. To boost both your number of reviews and their impact, always respond to every review with something positive, grateful, and helpful. Thank positive reviews for their kind words and invite them back and respond to negative reviews with genuine sympathy and an attempt to make whatever their bad experience was right.
Finally, don't forget that Google My Business has recently added a new category of customer feedback for questions but they do not send an email to the account manager when a question has been asked. So check back in at least once a day to reply to comments and provide answers to GMB askers.
Google My Business is a vital part of any small business marketing plan, especially if your goal is to see more feet come through that front door. The best part? Google My Business is a free service because Google wants to serve your data to users. For more tips, tricks, and techniques to optimize your local SEO reach and results, contact us today!