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what small business needs to know about Google My Business

What Your Small Business Needs to Know About Google My Business (Your Reputation Depends On It)

Why is Google My Business so important to local search? If nothing else, you will learn why business owners should drop everything to learn about it.

What is Google My Business?

Google My Business (sometimes referred to as GMB) is an online Google product to help location-driven business owners better control and manage how they are displayed in local search results and Google Maps listings.

The Google My Business interface allows business owners to have an online tool to update business hours, tweak the actual business location, and share a significant amount of additional details to prospective customers searching from Google.

Managing your Google My Business listing is very similar to managing a listing on social media platforms. You’re able to feature your business logo, upload pictures, include 360-degree tours, showcase videos, and engage with customers who leave a review.

Listings appear in a variety of locations including a typical search, a geographic search, and on Google Maps. Providing fresh, useful information can have a positive impact on how your business ranks in different searches.

Google My Business is also where you manage reviews customers leave. Just as on Yelp, TripAdvisor, Angie’s List, or other consumer review sites, these reviews are opportunities to engage your community for feedback.

sample google my business listings

How to Set Up Google My Business

To find your business on Google, it is often easiest to simply search for your business by name and the city you’re located in. If you’ve got a website and you’re already appearing in Google Maps, you’ll likely appear right away.

New businesses or businesses in a new location may need to be added. Don’t panic, the process is easy and may require some real life verification. It’s not always fast, but once complete, you’ll be ready to connect with your customers.

What you’ll need to set up a Google My Business account:

  • Google account such as a Gmail account. HINT: If you’re using a Google account for Analytics, Ads, or other Google services—keep with the same address.
  • Business address
  • Phone number
  • Website is not always required, but strongly recommended (it is Google after all)

Once all the data is entered, you’ll be asked to verify your business. There are a variety of ways to do this, but don’t be surprised if you need to wait for a postcard to be mailed via snail mail.

Our friends at HubSpot have assembled a comprehensive guide to setting up your Google My Business account. I recommend giving it a read.

Google My Business Mobile App Makes Monitoring and Management Easy

Once everything is set up, Google My Business has a fantastic mobile app to help manage it all. Available on both Android and iOS, the Google My Business app allows you to monitor search traffic, update business information, swap out photos, and even manage reviews.

With the mobile app, you can receive push notifications for newly placed reviews. This feature can be incredibly useful for staying on top of your business’ online reputation.

How to Optimize Your Google My Business Listing

Once you’ve completed the Google My Business setup, taking some time to fill in the finer details can have a tremendous benefit. Over the last year, we have noticed that Google My Business can impact your search engine performance (SEO).

More complete profiles with addresses, regularly updated hours, and fresh photos perform better. It isn’t just about reviews and geographic proximity. Google’s indexing of the Questions & Answers section can also factor in.

Don’t Ignore Google’s Q&A

The Question & Answers feature is frequently overlooked. This user-interactive feature allows site searchers to ask questions directly attached to your Google listing. The catch is that ANYONE can answer. Monitoring is crucial here. Take the time to review your listing and answer these questions in a complete, helpful manner.

Optimize Your Profile Text and Images

Optimizing your Google My Business listing should also include thoughtful profile writing. Make sure your descriptions and products include critical keywords. This also allows you to specifically target niche terms or phrases.

For example, uploading a picture of an oven-fresh pizza is a great start. Giving a more detailed description of a wood fired Neopolitan pizza topped with artisan fresh mozzarella will score far better with Google.

Video In Your Profile Is Priceless

Go beyond adding still images and begin incorporating video. From short product profiles to 360-degree tours, video is one of the best ways to get searchers engaged with your Google My Business profile.

Consumers are forgiving of video quality if it is authentic. Showing the pizzeria’s dough being tossed in the air or a steaming hot pie sliding off a wooden peel may only be a few seconds, but it’s exactly what searchers want.

via GIPHY

Use Google Posts to Answer FAQs

Google My Business added a blog-like feature called “Posts” that allows your business to share helpful content about services or products. Although the content is featured in the search display of your profile for only seven days, it doesn’t really disappear. Users may find the content when they click deeper into your profile.

This content opportunity is an excellent place to proactively answer frequently asked questions (FAQs) about your business. Featuring a special dessert? Limited time product offering? This is a great place to feature it.

With the ability to place written content and imagery, you can create Google-friendly and frequently indexed content to help boost your search ranking.

Want even more optimization ideas? Check out Moz’s article.

Managing Google Reviews

Online reviews are both the biggest joy and greatest aggravation of small business ownership. Thankfully, Google My Business is one of the easiest platforms to monitor, manage, and engage online reviewers.

Personally monitoring and managing reviews is made even easier with the mobile app. You receive a pop-up notification when a reviewer submits their feedback. This gives you the ability to immediately respond.

Responding is critical.

If you take anything away from this article, let it be: Responding to a review is critical for your business.

Crafting the reply may be a bit more intensive. I’ve assembled a helpful guide on crafting great review responses.

What About Negative, Fake, or Fraudulent Reviews?

No, you cannot delete negative, fake, or fraudulent reviews. Companies who are selling this service are gaming Google’s system. Those who attempt to get around the system may find themselves in a world of Google hurt.

What do you do about negative reviews? Respond and offer to take the discussion offline. I recently offered a presentation about online reputation management. Check out the presentation.

If the review is fake, fraudulent, or even from a competitor writing fake reviews, you can report the review as “inappropriate” through the Google My Business interface. The reporting tool walks you through details that will help further address the situation.

How to Maintain Your Google My Business Listing

Your Google My Business listing is very similar to your website content. Freshness counts. Ensure that you are regularly making updates—monthly is a good place to start.

Some of the updates you should stay on top of include:

  • Monitor and respond to reviews (weekly!)
  • Regularly update hours
  • Update holiday hours or days you’re closed
  • Monitor the Q&A section — be the one to answer!
  • Upload fresh pictures including the outside of your business
  • Update posts with frequently asked questions or news

Don’t attempt to do everything at once and walk away. Schedule your updates. For example, this month you should make sure your holiday hours or closed days are setup. Next month, use your cellphone to make a short video.

Small efforts done frequently will have a greater impact than attempting to make big changes all at once.

How Does Google My Business Fit Into a Larger Marketing Plan?

Google My Business is a critical tool in succeeding in local search but so is your website. Make sure your website is linked to your Google My Business profile and make sure your website is mobile responsive.

Use additional website content to lure both local and regional traffic to your business. Yes, you’re placing regular updates to your Google My Business profile, but use your website for more detailed case studies and other questions commonly asked by your customers.

When it’s time to fit your local search efforts into a larger marketing plan, call Signalfire. Our team of creative marketing Guides and Outfitters excel at combining your brand, your website, and web marketing strategies to increase lead, boost sales, and build awareness. Here’s how to get a hold of us.