WHAT IS GOOGLE MY BUSINESS?
Google My Business is a free tool for your store-front or service-area business to manage your online presence across Google, including Search and Maps.
By verifying and editing your business information, you can both help customers find you and tell them the story of your business. Your profile enables you to control what people see when they look for your business, as well as share special offers, answer questions, post photos, and more!
Since the intent of this free service is to help you find local services around you, its important to note that Google My Business only serves businesses that make in-person contact with customers, and doesn’t serve online-only businesses. So, how should you leverage Google My Business?
1) SHARE ABOUT YOUR BUSINESS
Business Description & Information:
Fill out your business description, hours and information, allowing you to summarize who you are, when you are open, how to contact you and what you do.
** Pro tip: You can make updates to your hours to let users know whether you are open or closed on holidays.
Post Your Menu:
For restaurants and bars, this is quite possibly the most important feature. You can add your menu to your GMB profile, which means people can quickly and easily see your menu right from the search result page without needing to ever visit your website. This saves time and creates a great user experience for your potential customers.
Having a weekly special? An annual sale? Some other special event? Add it to your GMB profile. By creating posts, you can place your timely text, video, or photo content in front of customers when they find your business listing on Google. Don't forget to update them weekly though since Google only allows a post to stay on your profile for 7 days.
Add Photos of your work:
Show off your products, services, or menu items! People want to see what you have to offer, and they're much more likely to buy a product if they've seen it beforehand. You can also see how your listing compares to competitors and similar businesses in the industry - if they're posting a lot of photos, you should as well; if they're not, that gives you a chance to get a leg up on the competition!
2) CONNECT WITH NEW OR EXISTING CUSTOMERS
Question & Answer:
Allows users to ask general questions about a business. These questions can be answered by the business, by local guides, or by anyone with a Google account, which makes it important for a business to pay close attention to their account so they can answer these questions the way you want them to be answered.
Reviews & Feedback :
Google relies heavily on feedback from customers (satisfied or otherwise) in the form of reviews, which are displayed as part of your Business profile. Prospective customers also value what others have to say about your business.
Message Directly from the GMB App:
This feature was just recently released, but it is sure to be a game changer. Now, after you setup your profile, you can download the Google My Business App and enable messaging. Clients will see a message button on your profile that will allow them to message you directly through the app. Worried about always being around your phone to see the messages? You can setup an automatic response for the times when you aren't available to respond.
3) DISCOVER HOW PEOPLE ARE GETTING TO YOU
The insights section inside of your app will help you understand how people are searching for you and what they are doing once they find your profile. It reports on photo views, phone calls, how many times people asked for directions and where they are coming from, what search terms your profile appears in the results for and more. These insights can be very valuable in helping you asses who is looking for you.
WHY IS YOUR GMB MORE IMPORTANT THAN EVER?
As Google continues to try and answer a users question without them ever needing to leave the search results page, its important that you are leveraging the tools that Google is giving you. A rep from Google claimed last year that a near-majority of searches have local intent, which means people are using their phones and computers to find something nearby.
Your GMB profile is what will show up when people are searching with local intent. Google’s Consumer Insights reported a 900%+ increase in “near me tonight/today” searches in the past two years.
If you are a store-front or local service area business, you need to have a Google My Business setup.
A real life example: one local business recently had three of their four listings suspended without warning. Despite #1 rankings in both organic and paid spots, calls to their offices dwindled to almost zero for weeks until they were able to get the listing reinstated. Customers look first to the local three pack, and if they don’t find you, they will find someone else. Your GMB profile is a means to communicate with your clients - failure to do so means lost business!