By Genie O’Loughlin of Dragon Horse
One of the most important tools any local business has for being discovered online is their Google My Business account.
While your website is table stakes, your GMB account actually has a great deal of influence on how visible your brand is on Google search results, so it’s absolutely vital that you spend some time and effort setting up and optimizing your Google My Business profile.
What is Google My Business?
Your Google My Business profile is a section that often appears above (on mobile) or to the right (desktop) of the normal search results. This is most often visible in a search for your business name.
This bit of digital real estate is technically owned by Google, and it looks and feels a little bit like a social media profile. Google keeps details about you in this profile based on your website or user-generated updates, such as address, store hours and more.
In fact, even if you’ve never created a GMB profile, there may already be one out there due to consumer interest. This is a big reason you need to claim and optimize your listing.
However, there are many reasons to create or claim your GMB listing. Consider these important search statistics:
- According to HubSpot, 46% of all searches on Google have local intent.
Having an active and optimized GMB listing will help make sure your business shows up when those local-focused queries happen.
- A GMB listing shows up on more than 90% of these local intent searches.
Often, this is in the form of a “maps pack,” a search result from Google that shows several area businesses and their locations on the map. These pin drops are based on your GMB listings. If your business is not part of that result, then your competitors are getting all the real estate.
- 68% of searchers contact a local business directly from the search engine results page (SERPs).
Local searches are so often about the here and now, searchers often don’t take the time to vet your website. Providing your audience with a way to reach you immediately when they need your product or service can be a huge win.
Where Your Google Reviews Are Located
One of the most important aspects of a Google My Business listing is the fact that Google reviews are stored and showcased in your GMB profile. You have no choice about this, so your best option is to claim your listing and keep a close eye.
Google Reviews are powerful, and they can help increase trust among prospective consumers. While there’s nothing better than a personal referral, a strong Google review is very close.
In fact, approximately 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as a word-of-mouth referral.
What’s New with Google My Business?
Although Google My Business has been around for several years, new functionality over the past year or so are making it more valuable than ever.
- Messaging – You can enable messaging, similar to chat functionality, which allows customers to ask questions and get fast answers.
- Posts – Similar to social media, you can upload images and add text to create relevant information for your audience.
- Food Orders, Bookings & Appointments – Once you turn on messaging, you can also connect third-party providers or websites where customers can order, make reservations or set appointments.
- Attributes – This may include health & safety information, whether or not you require an appointment or accept walk-ins, and other details that will help potential customers choose your business.
Why It’s So Important to Claim Your GMB Listing
Unclaimed GMB listings are like a placeholder for Google. They may store bits and pieces of information, but often don’t have full business details.
Having a completed Google My Business profile increases the odds of someone visiting your location by 70%, and increases the odds of them purchasing from you by up to 50%.
Having a robust GMB listing with store hours, google reviews, posts, images and more gives consumers the confidence they need to take action.
Important Actions to Take for your Google My Business Listing
Making sure you can be found in a Google search is one of the most basic – and most important – things you can do for your business. Creating or claiming your listing is a top priority. As soon as you do, here are the top actions you should take.
- Make sure all critical information is accurate
- Completely fill out the profile as much as possible, including service area, product categories, etc.
- Note: If you do not welcome customers at your office location (i.e. you work from home, or you have a service business that goes to the customer), you can choose to hide your address from your profile.
- Add photos regularly, preferably with GPS tagging in place
- Respond to reviews and answer questions
- Even if a review is not great, just responding shows you are engaged and care about your customers. If someone is purposely spamming reviews, report them to Google and try to get the erroneous posts removed.
How to Claim Your Google My Business Profile
- Search on your brand name, add city if necessary. Make sure the address matches yours. Click on the “Own this Business” link. Google will automatically bring you to the creation interface for your profile.
- If your business is brand new and no one has sought you on maps or given you a review, you may need to create a profile from scratch. Go to https://business.google.com/create
- Follow the prompts and complete your business information.
- Choose verification method (text, phone call, postcard).
- Choose whether to let customers message you via your profile. If you are the main representative for your business, this may be a good option. If you are not the primary customer-facing rep, consider your options and whether your team has the ability to pick up and respond to these types of messages.
About the Author
Genie O’Loughlin is the Digital Director for Dragon Horse Agency, Southwest Florida’s dynamic full-service marketing and media agency. Genie is a 25+ year marketing veteran and broad-based digital marketing expert who has helped organizations succeed in a wide range of disciplines, from search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click (PPC) to social media and lead generation. She served for ten years as a Board Director for the South Florida Interactive Marketing Association.