Where is the nearest coffee shop? Where can I find a petrol pump near me?
In today’s digital age when we are stuck with a difficulty, the immediate response is to Google it. Google currently ranks as the number one search engine and its ability to solve our queries and provide speedy solutions has made us ever so dependable on it. Based on Google’s research statistics, a majority of shoppers turn to their search engine when they want to find a product or service, and most go ahead within 24 hours to make a purchase from what they found online. To make businesses more discoverable with a few clicks, Google now has its own business directory called, Google my Business which allows customers to learn more about a business.
What is Google My Business?
Google launched this free digital platform called Google My Business (GMB) that enables businesses to be recognized and also manage their appearance on Google search and maps. It allows growing businesses to create a Google My Business page listing and become easily available to potential customers by providing all the relevant information like working hours, contact details and physical location. Not only that, a GMB page view allows people can post reviews and photos, or businesses can highlight upcoming events and offers that can lead to conversions.
Why is it helpful for small scale businesses?
For a budding entrepreneur who doesn’t have the necessary means to build a digital presence, and cannot shell out money on paid advertisements, Google My Business is an integral element of local SEO. It uses three ranking factors which enables it to index and list the business for potential customers –
- Relevance – Based on the keywords fed by the customer into Google and how closely it matches a business description provided in the Google Business profile listing.
- Distance – Usually customers specify they are looking for a product or service ‘near me’, Google uses these details and the location to rank the business page as a Google local listing enticing customers to visit it by making it pop on Google business map.
- Prominence – It equates to popularity, some businesses might be in a tiny lane or might not have their own website, but they have a Google My Business profile highly popular with customer’s reviews and photos that have helped to improve their credibility.
A highly optimized and accurate business listing has information that can be output by Google into various areas online which have high visibility presence. E.g. Google Knowledge Graph, Google Local Pack, Google Maps and even the newly trending Google Home Voice Search. This boosts a business making it easily accessible and increases its search ability leading to likely boost in sales.
Does my business qualify for a listing?
A business should meet only the following criteria to register on Google My Business –
It must physically interact with customers during the stated business hours. This could be at the physical location of the business (storefront business – a bakery) or at the customer’s location (service business – e.g. plumber).
How can I create a listing on Google My Business?
To compete in organic search results and be featured locally, a newly established business must have a Google business listing. Well, the good news is that it can be done with 3 quick steps –
- Create an Account –Sign up for a Google my Business listing to begin and register for GMB listing. You should be a representative of your business or the business owner to provide the required details.
- Verify the Business –Simply enter your business name and the location of the business with a complete address listing. Google Business Support then sends you a verification, which is usually a postcard, email or a phone call to confirm your listing.
- Optimize the Listing –Details, details, details, it’s all about your business details. The more accurate and descriptive you are in creating a Google Business listing profile, the more helpful it will be to your potential customers. Your GMB listing profile goes hand in hand with your business website to create a stronger public identity on Google, which is the most popular search engine worldwide.
What to do to improve my listing on Google my Business?
Don’t just create a business listing on GMB, but build it up. Like a pie that tastes spectacular with the best quality ingredients, your Google profile listing too needs to have certain features to make it more noticeable and engaging online.
- Highlight the latest accurate information – A business listing in google that is regularly updated and is more crisp in its description online, holds more reliability, so it is essential to completely fill the criteria in the listing profile. Provide the business hours, directions to the location/ a landmark nearby, a contact number etc. Usually, add the business attributes to further elaborate what makes your business stand out from its competitors. E.g. Outdoor seating, wheelchair accessibility. GMB gives you a great opportunity to redirect interested customers to your website and even has a CTA (call to action) that can assist your customers in getting in touch with you or sign up for an offer/ promotion.
- Photos that Speak – For a business to gain a strong reputation in its GMB listing, a clear cover photo and profile photo make a huge impact. Photos of the outside physical location act as a tip for customers to find you, along with the inside area that creates a more clear image of how business ambiance and facilities. Smart business entrepreneurs put User Generated Content (UGC) to highlight their business in a greater light since it looks more naturalistic and genuine. It’s beneficial to attach the business logo here to help customers visually connect to your business. The GMB business page is not a social media platform, so avoid the hashtags, instead a detailed caption would do fine in getting your business the positive attention it seeks.
- Customer Interaction is a must – For small scale businesses, word of mouth helps increase sales and in our tech savvy era, reviews are the key to successful performance. They act as a backbone for local search since they are customer generated and provide an authentic view of the business. It is very important to acknowledge the reviews and feedback online, as more interaction with customers is vital in making your online presence stronger. Frequently Asked Questions – FAQs are another category where you can clarify queries and respond to further provide details to make your business a cut above the rest. Posts on a GMB profile stay live for upto 7 days, hence you can add events or promotions to increase your business output.
There’s just one tiny catch when you create a Google my Business listing, it has a ‘suggest an edit’ feature, that makes it open to anyone to make changes to the business details. Not to fret though, if you frequently check and make regular detailed updates on your listing profile, it is highly unlikely that anyone will try to edit your information.
The great part about Google My Business, besides being a free online tool is that it offers Insights – specific data to inform you about how your business listing reaches potential customers. You can find information about the type of searches made for your business – ie. discovery or direct, requests for directions or calls, photo popularity and even the area where your customers come from. This data helps you to make upgrades to better enhance your online presence and reach your target audience leading to future customers for your business.