This is our second, recent article about Google My Business and yes, it is THAT important!
To gain optimum business visibility, many companies create a business listing on Google (officially known as a business profile). They do and you should too if you value free advertising and promotion for your business.
If you own such a company, you may not know that creating a company profile doesn’t automatically give you management over it. You need to obtain access to these management and editing features if you want your business profile to work for you as an effective SEO and lead generation tool.
How do you manage your Google business profile? The answer is that not only do you need to create a free business profile, but you also need to create a separate, free Google My Business account for that profile. Google often creates a Google My Business panel for you automatically but it’s up to YOU, to claim it and manage it properly.
What is Google My Business?
Simply put, Google My Business is a tool that helps you manage and optimize your business profile on Google. To explain what Google My Business is and how it works, we must first make sure that we are clear about what a company profile is. Your business profile is the Google term for your Google business listing. Business profiles are displayed on Google Maps and local Google search results.
Creating a business profile is the same as adding a location to Google Maps, something that anyone (even a random stranger or an automatic ad generator) can do. Google only needs the company name, location, and category. Once Google confirms that this is not a duplicate, the business profile is created for that location.
Once established, your company profile is available for consumers to leave comments, add photos, ask questions, and even answer questions. Your company profile can also be populated with information that Google obtains from all over the web. This means that a business profile can exist on its own, independently of a Google My Business account.
Whether you’ve created your own business profile or not, you won’t be able to manage the information you see or the reviews you collect. This is where Google My Business comes into play. When you create a Google My Business account, you can access, customize, manage and expand your business profile on Google, all for free.
Why Google My Business is a must for most businesses
In today’s crowded Internet environment, Google My Business is no longer optional. It is an essential part of a company’s online presence, and often the first place customers look for up-to-date information about your business. In the era of Covid-19, this is truer than ever.
If your customers find out about your new opening hours or want to call you to inquire about your health and safety protocols, you can bet they aren’t likely to seek out the yellow pages. Instead, they search Google for your company name and search for the information they need. If it’s not there, they will most likely look elsewhere.
In a post-pandemic world where businesses reopen at breakneck speed, it’s important that your Google My Business profile is constantly updated. Otherwise, you face the possibility of losing customers, to the competition.
Google My Business has always been important because it’s often the first thing your customers encounter when they search for your business. There are many benefits of Google My Business.
Here are some key benefits that you can gain from optimizing your GMB account:
- A complete, easy to see Google My Business offering can single-handedly improve a company’s local SEO ranking.
- Provides an instant first impression for users who can share essential information about their GMB company account.
- The right side of Google My Business has a Google Maps integration that makes it easy to find your company in the world’s most widely used maps and mobile directions app.
- Direct message option: Customers can send messages directly to your company’s phone or email via the Google My Business interface.
In addition, the relative decline in collaborative review apps like Yelp, etc. has helped take Google My Business to new heights. In most cases, customers use GMB to get opinions and reviews about a company rather than on other platforms, so their Google My Business stays active and well-selected.
Since Google is the first place your customers get information about your business, you need to keep your GMB up to date with your latest business hours and any other relevant information that your customers could possibly need.
Fortunately, with Google My Business, you can enter your company‘s operational plan into the GMB dashboard, so you can easily communicate any planning or operation changes to your audience. As a VT web design agency, this is of critical importance to my business.
With Google, you can also write a 750-digit description (that is, one to two paragraphs) about your business. This section should describe how your organization has adapted to the changing public health environment and provide information on how it is complying with hygiene measures.
A Google My Business “Do it Yourself” Video
Optimizing Google My Business for the years ahead
If your business is affected by the ongoing pandemic, you will first need to change the hours of operation on your account.
To make changes to your GMB account, follow these steps:
- Sign in to your Google My Business account
- Go to About
- Go to Edit
- Set your business hours for each day of the week
- If you need a specific time for certain types of services (for example, take-away only), add it in the “More hours” field.
- When you finish, click “Apply”.
If you need to adjust your business hours, always make sure that your GMB profile reflects the schedule changes. Whenever you change your opening hours, your customers will be notified of the change via the listing that appears on your GMB dashboard.
Building trust with your customers
While doing so, change your business description by adding a line or two about how you have taken steps to combat the spread of coronavirus. Be specific. If that means you only accept contactless payments, mention it and, if you have recently increased your cleaning program, mention it as well. GMB is a great way to build trust with your customers and address their concerns. So don’t take the opportunity.
Update your company photos regularly. If you’ve made changes to your organization’s settings and info due to the pandemic (or for any other reason), make your photos reflect those changes and delete old ones. For example, add a photo of social distancing labels, etc., to your store, if you have one.
For better local ranking, make certain that your business is in the proper category. In your GMB dashboard, navigate to the Main Category box and select the category that best describes your business (for example, “beauty salon” or “casual dining restaurant”) and add a secondary category if needed.
Master Google My Business for Better Business visibility
A recent Google report found that 60% of smartphone users contacted companies directly through the GMB interface with the “click to call” option. Obviously, GMB is not a fad, as most buyers have used it as their main method of contact with local businesses.
In the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s more important than ever that you use and optimize GMB to display accurate and up-to-date information about your business. Consider your GMB panel as the likely first point of contact between you and your customer. If your business hours or description are outdated, you could possibly lose customer trust and potentially, the lifetime value of the business relationship.
One of the best things you can do to take advantage of your Google My Business account is to encourage and request reviews from your clients. Take advantage of the free tool that you can send to your clients to make it easy for them to create a review for your business from Whitespark.
If you have any questions about getting control of Google My Business for your business, contact us. If you realize the importance of leveraging the GMB tool but prefer to have us do all the work for you, we’re happy to take on the project.