Google My Business (GMB) is a tool that lets you manage how your business appears on all-important Google Search and Google Maps, two of the Internet’s most-used information sites.
Setting up a free account is relatively quick and easy and will enable you and your business to control your public image, increase brand awareness and make more sales. It’s vitally important that any business, no matter their size or industry, take full control of the GMB account.
Once you take control, you’ll be able to add your business name, location and hours; monitoring and replying to customer reviews; add photos; learning where and how people are searching for you, and much more.
For those of you interested in starting or enhancing your local SEO, Google My Business is a great place to start. Let’s face it, if somebody goes to the effort of searching for a particular product/service in their immediate vicinity, they are already considering making a purchase or taking ‘next steps’. Providing them with the information they need could be the final push they need to make their decision and take action. While we don’t have time in this brief article to go over every aspect of this fantastic tool, let’s take a look at two fundamental elements: optimisation and reviews.
Optimising Your Google My Business Listing
The first step in taking ownership of your accounts is verifying your GMB listing; you can do this by postcard, phone, email or instant verification. Once you’ve verified your business, it’s time to flesh out your profile. Add as much rich information and media as you can, such as:
- Photos and videos*
- Address/area you serve
- Opening days/hours
- Date you opened
- Phone number
- Website URL
- Attributes – wheelchair accessible, free wi-fi, pet friendly, vegan, etc.
Keep in mind that just like with Wikipedia, anyone can “suggest an edit” to your listing, so it’s vital you get everything right the first time (discouraging random people from making changes). Likewise, it’s a good habit to periodically log into your GMB dashboard and make sure all your details are up to date.
*This one is particularly important. Why? Because according to Google, businesses with at least one photo see 35% more clicks to their website and 42% higher requests for driving directions in Google Maps. Along with your profile and cover photos, you should make an effort to upload other pictures and videos too, to make your listing more appealing, engaging and informative.
Reply to All Google My Business Reviews
Contrary to popular belief, ignoring negative reviews is not a smart business move. You can’t simply stick your head in the sand like an ostrich and ignore them, especially not in today’s hyper-connected online world.
The crux of the matter is, reviews are trusted by a whopping 78% of consumers, even if they don’t know the person writing them. Every review, good or bad, provides a business owner with a golden opportunity to engage with their past, present and future customers, to build their brand with trust and transparency.
And don’t just reply to the negative ones, reply to the positive ones too because it’s good to show you appreciate all customers, not just the ones who complain. Not to mention that replies on positive reviews are shown to foster high amounts of repeat customer visits.
And lastly, answering reviews is also a great way to increase your SEO as indexing sites like Google are always looking for new content to crawl. Whilst we certainly don’t recommend you get carried away, it’s good practice to sprinkle your reply with a few keywords that are pertinent to your business.