In our last article we talked about 4 activities to focus on when marketing your small business to get the most ‘bang for your buck’.
One of the things to focus on was Google.
In the article, we also noted that there are actually 3 different ways to gain traction and visibility on Google.
1. Organic Search (SEO)
2. Local Search (Google Maps)
3. Paid Ads (Pay-Per-Click) or Google Ads (formerly known as Google AdWords)
By far the EASIEST of these to implement and see the most impact from is #2, the local search on Google Maps.
Where do these listings come from?
Isn’t this just an extension of my website?
How do you show up in the local search results?
The way to do this is actually quite easy….
Get listed on Google My Business!
Google My Business, also referred to as GMB is an easy way to get your business listed on Google for FREE!
If you haven’t done this yet, I would recommend this as the number one easiest thing you can do to improve the online presence of your business.
There are already a bazillion guides out there on how to do this, so I won’t go into a lot of detail here, but here are the basic steps:
1. Go to https://business.google.com and click ‘Manage Now’, then login with a Google account. Note that this doesn’t have to be a gmail account, as you can create a Google account with any valid email address.
2. Type in your business name to see if it already exists. It is possible that a client or customer added your business, but they cannot update critical business information or post anything.
a) If your business does come up, select it and continue
b) If your business does NOT come up, click ‘Add your business to Google’
3. Set your business name, choose the appropriate category and add your location. If you are a service area business, you can note that as well. Add your contact info and website URL (if you have one).
4. Verify your business. This is the last step and may take a while to complete based on the options available to you. Follow the prompts for the verification method that works best for you.
And THAT's IT!
Once your business is verified you are ready to start optimizing your listing.
The more information that you can fill in and provide for your business, the better Google will like it.
First, go to the ‘Info’ tab from the menu on the left. If for some reason you don’t see a menu on the left side, click on the three lines up in the top left corner (beside the Google My Business logo) and the menu should now appear.
Carefully review all the information and fields here and fill in as many as you can. This will include at a minimum your location or service area(s), your hours, phone, website URL and business description.
Again, the more info, the better, as long as it is accurate!
Beyond these basics, here are some key things that you can also do to create a Google friendly listing:
Tip #1: Add your products or services
Depending on your business, you may have products, services or both.
Click on Products or Services in the left side menu and add some of your products and/or services to showcase your offerings. The more detail that you add here, the more words there are for Google to get a better idea of what you offer and your business will in turn show up more often when people are searching for these things!
It seems obvious, but this feature is very often overloooked and it is a GREAT way to boost your profile.
Tip #2: Get some reviews.....and ALWAYS respond
When you are looking to buy something online, how often do you read the reviews?
Guess what? Your prospective customers read them too!
As humans we tend to be good at sharing our opinion when it’s not favourable, but we sometimes tend to need a bit more of a push to share positive feedback.
Don’t be shy to ask previous or existing customers that you have already wowed with your services to leave you a review on your Google My Business page.
If you look around your Google My Business dashboard page, you will likely see a helpful ‘Get more reviews’ box there.
Click the ‘Share review form’ button and then you will see a helpful little box with several sharing options, including Facebook, Twitter and email.
Click here to see what people will see when you share your link with them
Ultimately having reviews come in consistently over time is ideal, but even just getting a few to start is helpful.
Also, ALWAYS respond to reviews to acknowledge them – good or bad. Most people will not fault you for the odd customer that you couldn’t impress, and how you deal with these people is arguably even more important. Addressing a bad review head on in a professional way will speak volumes and let potential customers know that even if they aren’t satisfied for whatever reason, you still treat people with respect and do your best to make them happy.
We all know we can’t please everyone, and the odd negative or less stellar review just shows that we’re human too!
Tip #3: Choose a great cover photo
Again, this seems like obvious advice, but more often than not we just take whatever we can find at the time and ‘set it and forget it’.
Take an extra few minutes to find something that represents your business well and it’s even better if you are consistent across platforms. For example, using the same cover photo as you have on your Facebook business page is a way to build your brand and create consistency across platforms.
Tip #4: Turn on Messages
This one is much less obvious, but still a great idea.
In order to turn on messaging directly from your GMB listing, you will need to have the GMB app installed on a mobile device.
Go to the Google Play Store (for Andriod) or the App Store (for iOS) and search for Google My Business. Once you login to the app, you will be able to turn messaging on or off, manage your notifications and even set up auto responses.
Using the mobile app is a great way to manage your listing on the go as well. There are many great tools in the app….but I’ll save that for a later post 🙂
If you get stuck anywhere or need more information, here are ALL the details right from Google!
Tip #5: Add a booking link
Last, but definitely not least, Google also lets you add a booking link to your GMB listing!
Please note that this feature may be different depending on the type of business that you have. Some types of businesses will have the option for integrating right into their third party scheduling provider, such as Appointy, Full Slate, MindBody and Quandoo (there are a TON of these….visit Google here to see a full list of supported apps as well as another huge list of onescoming soon!). If this applies to your business, you can get more details directly from Google on how to integrate your bookings app.
In the web design and online marketing category, I have the option to add an ‘Appointment Link’. To see your options, click again on the ‘Info’ tab from the left side menu in your GMB profile. Scrolling part way down right under your website URL, you will find a spot for ‘Appointment Links’.
Again, there are MANY different options that you could use for booking appointments. Some of the ones that offer a free version that I have tried are Calendly, Acuity Scheduling, and HubSpot. There are so many choices here and what works for you will depend on your business needs and personal preference BUT the point is, if you do use some sort of online appointment scheduler, you can add your link to your GMB profile for quick access.
When people view your profile or find you on search, they can then book something with you directly if they want, which makes it easy for them to connect with you at both your convenience! Win-win!
One of the best and easiest things you can do to improve the online presence of your business is to create or claim your Google My Business listing.
- It is FREE
- It puts your local business on the map (literally – this is how you get onto Google Maps!) when people are searching for the products and services you offer
- It provides an easy way to collect and post reviews and testimonials of your business
- It’s search engine friendly
- You don’t need to have a website
I could go on….but the point is that EVERY business that is looking to get more customers should create or claim their GMB listing AND when you do or if you already have, take a few minutes to check the 5 tips suggested here to get the most out of this great tool!
Tip #1: Add Your Products and/or Services
Tip #2: Get Some Reviews….and ALWAYS Respond
Tip #3: Choose a Great Cover Photo
Tip #4: Turn on Messages
Tip #5: Add a Booking Link