How to Leverage Google My Business
With the global pandemic affecting the world, many businesses had to reevaluate the way they were reaching their customers. Lockdowns, curfews, limitations on types of business that were allowed to open: all of these contributed to alter consumers’ behaviors, pushing them to be more digital (and for organizations to do the same).
Now, most organizations do think of optimizing their presence on Google: after all, it takes up more than 80% market shares in many countries (source: Statistica). However, while they think of optimizing their website, and creating Ads on Google, they seldom think to leverage Google My Business.
What is Google My Business and why is it so important?
Google My Business (GMB) is a tool provided by Google to help businesses manage their online presence on the search engine. It builds a listing (known as your Business Profile) highlighting key pieces of information about you and enabling potential customers to engage with you – all from the Search Engine Result Page & Google Maps.
This dynamic snapshot of your business offers specific practical information that are relevant to the viewers:
- Category of business
- Services & Products available
- Business address
- Operating hours
- Reviews & pictures
Once the listing is created, a Google Maps location is generated and synchronized with Google Search. This makes your Google My Business profile easily accessible & searchable to all users of Google – which gets the majority of search engine queries. This is why both new and established businesses should have a Business Profile on GMB.
Thanks to the Google Maps location generated and its other useful features, Google My Business is a powerful tool to leverage for your location-based strategy (local SEO for instance). Indeed, it offers the widest impact for brands seeking local exposure and is thus the first step for local search success.
Lastly, GMB is completely free of charge. It does not cost anything (except time) to set up a Business Profile or maintaining it. There is no premium option – all features are accessible without any prerequisite.
How to leverage GMB
I think we can establish that any business could use the targeted visibility on Google that Google My Business offers. However, not nearly enough of them take full advantage of its features. That is where this article comes in: we will go over all the essentials to set up your Business Profile correctly, and then we will see which actions you can take to maintain/optimize your profile in time.
- Set up a Business Profile
The first thing to do to leverage Google My Business is to either create a profile or claim one (if a third party previously added it). For that, you will need a Google account, obviously.
Once created/claimed, you will be able to edit it. I’d advise to really take the time to fill your Business Profile completely. Remember that this listing is a snapshot of your business. Therefore, in order to leverage the tool, your profile has to inspire trust. Be rigorous. Here are a few key pieces of information that users expect to see:
- Business name: in addition to the store or company name, you can add a short phrase to describe the type of business. For instance, ours is “Synapsys Digital Sdn Bhd | Digital Marketing Specialists”
- Full business address – to allow Google to provide directions. If you are located in a mall, use the ‘Store code’ field to provide further details
- Operating hours (make sure to update the ‘special hours’ section for public holidays so viewers know if your business is open or not). These last two are essentials as 76% of people who make a local search on their smartphones visit a business within a day. (Think With Google)
- Attributes. For B2C, use this field to specify for instance if you accept walk-ins or if an appointment is necessary – in order to reduce frustration. You can also add attributes related to the accessibility, and/or the health & safety.
- Phone number
- Pictures of the store or office interior and exterior, pictures of the team, of the products. There is no doubt that images boost visibility, engagement and click-through rates. So make the most of them.
- Select Primary & Secondary categories
The categories you choose are essential. They need to be exactly right for your business in order to leverage Google My Business fully and get this vital visibility. According to a study led by SEO software firm Moz, out of all factors, GMB elements (including categories) have the greatest impact on local search rankings.
Choosing wisely will ensure Google considers your business to be a result for a set of search phrases. The categories also determine which features of GMB will be available in your Business Profile. For instance, a consulting company like ours is unable to set up a menu like a restaurant or bar can. Categories affect the attributes associated to your business, and the features available to you.
With more than 3,000 categories for the US alone, choosing right is quite a feat. Nevertheless, not to worry, a free tool is available for this. First, choose the language version you would like to use, and then input key phrases that describe your business or services/products you provide. It will then list all categories that relate to that phrase, along with synonyms of these categories. For instance, here’s the result page I get for the keyword “consultant”:
However, ensure to add only categories that are truly relevant to your business. The volume of categories doesn’t matter, as long as they fully match your business. Otherwise, you will risk confusing Google and viewers, and lowering your ranking.
- Finish the set-up
To finish off the set-up, make sure to input a business description. As we previously established, a lot of traffic on your listing will come from mobile queries. So no need to copy paste the whole content from your “About us” webpage. Keep it simple & short. Nonetheless, choose your words with great care. The main goal of GMB is local search so make sure you include the keywords you would like to target.
Moreover, add your products and/or services. If you add a custom product or service, make sure to add a description as well. For restaurants/bars/cafes, the equivalent is the menu feature. Again, ensure you add a picture for a few dishes – the aim is visibility after all.
To finish the set-up, connect your GMB profile to your Google Ads account. You can use this support page on how to do it. This enables you to have an additional feature in Google Ads: location extensions. Therefore, in your ads, you are able to display business location data (such as the business address) – increasing the probabilities of someone engaging. Of course, this is important for local ads (targeting people located near your business) but also for ads with a larger audience because you can show multiple nearby locations. It is a good way to increase your ad Quality Score and your ad click-through rate.
- Maintain your Business Profile
The last step to leverage Google My Business is to maintain your profile. That implies reflecting any change to your contact information or products/services of course, but not only. There are specific features that you can use on a day-to-day basis, that improve user engagement/interactions.
The first one is to encourage your clients to review your business on Google. That can be as simple as a notice next to your cash register / on the receipt or in a Thank You email for virtual transactions. Collecting & responding to reviews is a good way to enhance your profile. Similarly, take the time to answer to questions asked by viewers on your listing.
You can set up messaging as well. Though if you do, take care to check the messages regularly on the platform. If users do not get any answer in messages, they may use the public questions and reviews to express their frustration. That would not benefit anyone.
Another interesting way to interact with viewers on GMB is to use posts: you can promote events, promotions, new product launch or articles. You can consider posts as the news section of your Business Profile. Make the most of it!
Finally yet importantly, there is an “Insights” section in GMB. It is crucial that you consult it regularly. Do not forget that one of the main advantages of Google My Business is to help with your location-based strategy. Knowing how users found you (keywords), the things they looked at in your profile and the CTAs they clicked on will greatly help you enhance your profile for your audience.
We hope all these explanations and optimization tips are useful to your business and help turn your Business Profile into a great customer acquisition tool. You found this article interesting? You would like more guidance with your Business Profile? Please leave a comment or contact us privately here.