If you have a business (online or bricks & mortar), then making sure you use Google My Business should be an essential part of your online marketing, and it’s one that many people aren’t aware of.
Google My Business is a free tool that Google offer, which lets you control the information that they understand about your business.
Why is it important?
Currently, more than a third of searches on Google are people searching for items, businesses or organisations who are local to them – this is called searches with “local intent”. Also, 72% of “searchers” will visit a shop within a 5-mile radius of where they performed the search.
This means that most people search for items, businesses and organisations that are close to them. How many times have you searched “cafes near me now”? If your Google listing has your correct location, and opening times, you’ll pop up in that result. Google will even help the customers walk through the door by giving them directions.
How to get started?
The first thing to do, if you haven’t already, is to “claim” your business. You can do this by logging in with your Google account at “business.google.com”, and following the wizard there to search for, and then claim your business. You can also create a business from scratch. Once you’ve registered, Google will probably want to send you a postcard that has a code on it, which will verify your location.
Completing the Tasks
Once you are set up and logged in, Google makes it very easy to get set up by giving you a list of tasks to complete. These include things like filling in your contact information, opening hours, area you cover, services you offer and much more. Complete them all to make sure you get the best out of it. Then there are some important areas to concentrate on:
This page includes general information about your business. Make sure the opening hours are correct, and you can also add any special hours that might be in effect (e.g. bank holidays). You may find that Google has collected some of this information already, either from your website or your social media: make sure that they are correct!
This is an opportunity to broadcast any updates about your business to the world – but it isn’t quite like social media. You can add a host of different types of post, including any offers you have going, a general update, or an event. Also, during these strange times, I would highly recommend you add a COVID-19 update:- let people know how it’s affecting your business, be it still going as normal, disrupted/reduced hours, or even come to a temporary halt. At least your customers can be informed.
This page is a mine of information about how people have been searching for your business, and how they found you! Key information here include what search terms people used to find you, and whether they searched for your business name, or if they found you by searching for a service, and how many users found you in Google Search or Google Maps.
This is really useful information to learn about your customers’ behaviour, and where to concentrate your marketing efforts.
This page allows you to explain to Google what it is that you are offering, in a fair bit of detail. I would highly recommend adding all the services you offer – especially if you offer niche services. I suspect Google uses these a lot to understand what your business offers, and match up people searching for those services with your business.
Possibly the most important page – where you get to hear about people’s experience of your business. Revel in the glowing reviews (or address those areas that need improving!), but for all of them, it’s worth replying to as many as you can. These people have taken the time to let you know their experience, and a reply to thank or acknowledge goes a long way.
You can even link up your Google Business page with a booking system (only SimplyBook.me in the UK at the moment), and take bookings direct from the search page. This would be immensely powerful if you take bookings or appointments, as it makes it so simple for the customer to interact directly with your business.
So there we have it – you’re all set up on Google My Business! Although it might feel as if this is yet another place to spend time marketing your business, but bear in mind that this is a way for you to directly engage with customers who are searching for your business in Google, and any efforts spent in Google My Business will also contribute towards your website search engine optimisation as well!