August 11, 2020
BUSINESS PROFILES: THE BASICS
Imagine if there was a FREE Search Engine Optimization (SEO) tool available to your business that could connect you with your ideal customers and allow you to market your business at the same time. Good news – it already exists! Google My Business is a free and easy-to-use tool for businesses and organizations to manage their online presence across Google, including Search and Maps.
Many business owners have misconceptions about the power of Google My Business, or they simply don’t understand how an optimized profile can help them generate more traffic, leads and ultimately more revenue. Google has been making tweaks and updates that give businesses more opportunities to showcase their products and services, run promotions, book services and more. So, if this tool was available to you absolutely free, why wouldn’t you use it?!
If you’re a business owner or marketer and you haven’t claimed your company’s profile, that needs to be your first priority when it comes to your digital presence. Think of your Google My Business profile as the foundation for how people will find your business when searching the web. If a consumer searches for “Italian restaurants near me,” and you haven’t claimed your profile, or even checked to see if you have one, your business has no visible online presence.
If you’re not on the map, essentially, you don’t exist in your local market.
For local businesses, it’s absolutely crucial that you show up on the map. Often times, consumers will visit a business based on proximity and drive time to that location. Of the 5.3 billion (yes, that’s Billion with “B”) searches Google processes every day, many of those searches are for local business at a time when the consumer is ready to make a purchase. If you’re starting a new brick and mortar venture, creating your Google My Business profile should be part of a start-up checklist so you can hit the ground running on your first day of operation.
If you have already claimed your profile, but you haven’t checked the information in some time, that needs to be your first step. Ensure that your basic information is correct like your address, map pin placement, phone number and hours of operation. Also, make sure you’ve not only added a link to your website, but that you’ve added a tracking link so you can see that traffic in your Google Analytics account. This will allow you to separate and evaluate website traffic from a Direct visit (going directly to your website) vs. a Google My Business link click.
Verifying and completing your profile information also lets Google know more about your business, which helps the algorithm determine when you should show up at the top of search engine results pages (SERPs). Remember, Google’s goal is to connect searchers with the most relevant, accurate information in an instant. If they get it wrong, users are left feeling frustrated and hitting the back button or completing multiple searches.
OPTIMIZING YOUR PROFILE
Once you have the basics down, it’s time to optimize your profile for traffic, leads and sales.
In our previous example, we searched for local Italian restaurants. The top three matches are shown in something called “The Local 3-Pack.” Once we click on the map, or one of the Local 3-Pack options, we’re taken to a full screen view of Italian restaurants in the local area. Although, you’ve always been able to set up seasonal or irregular hours in a Google My Business listing, Google has also added new features due to COVID-19. (At the time of writing this article, we are still finding our way through a global pandemic.)
Below, you can see that restaurants now have the ability to note whether they offer Dine-In, Curb-Side Pickup or No-Contact Delivery. By utilizing this simple tool, you’re removing barriers between you and your potential customer. Don’t make them wonder about whether or not you’re open, whether or not they can order pickup, or whether or not you’re operating under normal hours that may not be updated on your own website yet. Businesses that utilize the available tools from Google are likely to experience increased online exposure and better opportunities for sales over competitors that aren’t utilizing these tools.
If Google gives you a tool to use – be sure to use it.
The custom options available to your business will be determined based on the business type you entered when setting up your Google My Business account. For restaurants, displaying all of the options for dine-in, food delivery or pickup, makes perfect sense, but if you did not specify that your business is a restaurant when setting up or claiming your profile, you may not see these options available to you. This is another reason why it’s important to ensure your profile is set up properly.
CREATE CUSTOM POSTS AND OFFERS
Another great way to leverage your Google My Business profile is by using custom posts and offers. If you’ve changed your standard operating procedures due to COVID-19, create a post to notify your customers of these changes so they know what to expect when they visit your business.
You can also create custom offers that allow you track purchase activity that was generated by a Google search. In the example below, you’ll see a custom coupon code that’s only displayed on the company’s Google My Business profile. If you have an event coming up, or if your company hosts regular classes or training sessions, you can use a custom post to add this information to your profile.
SHOWCASE YOUR PRODUCTS
Did you know you can showcase your products and services through your Google My Business account? The Product Editor is for small- and medium-sized individual businesses in almost every vertical. If your customers are looking to shop local, you could improve the chance of winning that customer by showing them all of your company’s capabilities and product lines in your profile. This is one important factor that might determine if they click through to your website or another local vendor with a similar offering.
ADD BUTTONS TO DRIVE ENGAGEMENT
Improve online engagement by adding buttons to your profile. Not all business types will have these options, however, Google has added specific engagement options for healthcare providers, car dealerships and hotels. Some businesses will also have the ability to add a “Donation” or “Gift Card” link.
GET STARTED WITH GOOGLE MY BUSINESS TODAY
Now that you have a better understanding of what Google My Business is and how you can use it, it’s time to put that plan into action. For local businesses, this is the foundation on which your local SEO strategy is built. Google is paying attention to how consumers and you, the business owner, are engaging with your profile. This is a tool you should be using frequently, and certainly not a “set it and forget it” checklist item. Many local businesses have learned the hard way that ignoring your Google My Business account can not only turn potential customers away, but prevent them from finding you at all.
Have more questions about Google My Business and how to create an ongoing strategy? Download our quick Google My Business Guide below, or contact us today for more information!