Let’s talk about Google. We know there are other search engines out there, but none of them compete for consumer attention on the scale of Google. For some perspective, consider this: consumers search Google 3.5 billion times per day. Yes, that’s billion with a “b.” That’s a mighty fine slice of the economic pie, even if not every search yields a purchase. Google My Business Listings have a greater chance of getting a piece of that pie.
So why aren’t you harnessing your Google My Business (GMB) listing to maximize your exposure?
We’re here to help you figure that out.
Why Should I Use a Google My Business Listing?
If 3.5 billion didn’t get your attention, let’s talk about consumer behavior.
- Of all Google searches, 46% of them are geared toward local business.
- 72% of businesses searched were visited if they were in 5 miles of the searcher’s location.
- By 2021, $1.4 trillion (with a t!) in sales will be local to the purchaser.
- Searches for “near me” or “close by” results grew by 900% in just 2 years.
So to answer the question of why to use a GMB listing?
Results. Sales. Increased revenue. Greater exposure. Increased word-of-mouth. All the things that are the lifeblood of small business growth and sustainability.
What Does a Google My Business Listing Make Possible?
For one thing, it gives you control over what searchers are seeing when they look up anything relevant to your business. You choose what information to display. If you’re a restaurant, you can answer simple questions, like when you’re open, how to make reservations, if there’s parking convenient to your establishment, etc.
GMB isn’t only for logistics, though. You can interact with potential customers through reviews. You can encourage user generated content through posting customer photos and videos. You can post about hyper-specific events that will showcase your business and gain traction online outside of social media. You can also get a lot of detail about how your customers find you, how they land on your website, and how long they stay on your site/what they’re interested in.
How Do I Use a Google My Business Listing to Get Customers?
Ah, we’ve now arrived at the heart of the matter. Much of what stops small businesses from maximizing their GMB listing is unfamiliarity with all it can do for you. Let’s talk about that.
1. Setup your GMB Listing.
This is easier than you think. Claim your listing if one already exists by going to Google’s My Business page and clicking “Start Now.” Before you enter anything, you need to ensure the details you enter exactly match your address on your website. If you use the 9-digit zip code on your site, use it here. If you spelled out “Road” on your street address on your site, spell it out here. This helps Google legitimize the listing to an actual business. Other than that, complete as much of the profile as possible. You will have to choose a verification method to prove this business is yours, but there are multiple methods of doing so. The more relevant and comprehensive the information, the greater your chances of landing on Google’s page 1 search results.
Speaking of, page 1 is where it’s at. Click-throughs on page 2 results drastically fall off compared to page 1 click-throughs. Having a GMB listing will help you, particularly in local searches, because Google wants to bring searchers the most relevant, local information possible.
2. Don’t Stop At Claiming Your Business. Optimize Your GMB Listing.
Two of the most important aspects of your business listing are the category and the attributes. The category you choose will refine the searches in which your listing belongs. Unfortunately, you don’t get to create your own like you would for keyword optimization, but never fear. There are more than 2,000 categories to choose from, so there’s bound to be one that perfectly fits your business. By choosing the most relevant, specific category, you’ll compete more efficiently. Let’s take a look at an example. I searched for restaurants in Asheville, NC, and here’s what I got:
Google’s trying to give me hyper-relevant information. I didn’t specify what kind of restaurant, so it gave me a variety based on location: American food, Southern food, and if I’m in the mood for something different, they threw in a Spanish tapas place.
If those businesses hadn’t filled in their category to be specific to the type of fare they serve, I wouldn’t have a clue at a glance what their menu is like. Rather than choosing “restaurants” as their category, those eateries got specific, and I learned more information because of it.
Attributes are another way to customize your GMB listing. Attributes evolved when Google eliminated the ability to edit the business’s description to prevent keyword stuffing. They’re designed to expand on your category. Does your restaurant have outdoor seating? Does your bar boast an extensive wine list chosen by a sommelier? Or are you more of a café catering to customers who like to relax or make use of free wi-fi while they work for a few hours? Attributes provide your customers a greater understanding of what your business is capable of. Some examples are: reservation links, the ability to order through apps like GrubHub, what parking nearby is like, whether or not your hotel has a pool or laundry facilities.
3. Photos Make a World of Difference
Studies show that GMB listings with a profile photos are twice as likely to be considered legitimate and click-throughs are 35% better. Google encourages businesses to add a profile photo, cover photo, and a video to display your business. It’s the same for businesses as it is for dating profiles: those businesses with visual representations get more attention. High quality images are good not just for your website, but for this as well, so consider hiring a photographer. If your business benefits from cozy atmospheres (like restaurants), or stunning views (beachfront rental property), or interior features (such as real estate listings), then consider getting a 360-degree video set up. It can really give searchers a leg up on what to expect from your business. Some restaurants are even giving tours of their kitchens on their GMB listings.
4. Encourage Customer Reviews and Reply to Them.
Everybody loves a second opinion before spending money on anything, whether it’s a big purchase like furniture, or simply going out for drinks with friends. When past customers can tell others what to expect, it lends your business more credibility than if you were to say it yourself. A neutral 3rd party claiming you serve the best Mexican food in town has more power than if you were to claim the same, word-for-word accolade.
Answering your reviews—the good, the bad, and even the ugly—also helps future customers see you’re engaged in good business.
If someone has a question, and sees you’ve already answered that question for another customer, that’s just more time saved for them. Reviews always help, particularly when they’re prominently displayed as a star rating beside your business name, which is exactly how Google displays them.
Believe it or not, almost everybody would rather not call your business. 90% of sales leads would rather receive a text than speak on the phone. So the more questions you can answer in your GMB listing, either by attributes or answering reviews and relevant questions, the less people have to make that phone call. Even better, though, is GMB allows mobile messaging, which unlocks the option for customers to ask a question via SMS text straight from your search listing.
5. Don’t Rely Only on User Generated Content. Create Your Own.
You can add posts to share updates relevant to your business. You can highlight new products, promote an upcoming event, or share the addition of expanded services your business now offers. You can even add call-to-action buttons, such as: buy now, sign up, get discount, reserve your spot, learn more, and others. Posts aren’t a possibility until after you’ve verified your GMB listing, but once that’s unlocked, you can post 300 words per day (though remember, only up to 70 characters show up in mobile displays with the use of a CTA button). Include a high-quality image, like the Drink-of-the-Week, or your new fall clothing line. Dimensions are 400×300 pixels, so make them count. Posts will appear for 7 days, so you can keep them hyper-focused for what’s happening in your establishment right now, this very moment.
6. Track Customer Behavior with GMB Insights.
As with any marketing strategy, you want to understand how GMB listings work for you. Since this is Google we’re talking about, they have plenty of insights for you, such as how they’re finding your business (are they clicking on a map to find you or doing a keyword search?), what they do once they find your GMB listing, and further interaction they have with your listing, such as calling or clicking on the map (more on this in a second). If those customers have location services turned on for their mobile device, you’ll be able to see how close they are relative to your business, and more.
7. Connect your GMB Listing to Your Website by Embedding a Map.
Once your GMB listing is claimed, go to google.com/maps in a new browser tab and type in your address. Select your business from the lists that appears. Once it loads, there’s a menu in the upper left-hand corner. Click that and choose “share or embed map.” It’ll provide a link to share the map, or you can choose the “embed” option. You’ll receive an HTML code, which you’ll need to copy and add to your website (typically on the sidebar or footer where your address has been displayed). This will connect your GMB listing to your website, so people clicking on the listing will be automatically taken to your website with little to no fuss.
So there you have it: the how and why of grabbing your GMB listing by the details and riding the search results into prosperity and sustained growth.