Google My Business is a free web tool that assists local firms with improving their visibility on Google Search. You have undoubtedly already seen it in action when you searched for a local restaurant, shop, or just about any other type of local business. If you can’t remember how it works, just go to Google and type ‘restaurants near me’ in the search box.
You will immediately get a map showing the restaurants in your immediate vicinity, followed by a list that gives their names, locations, opening hours, etc. You can also get directions to the business, read reviews and posts, and check out their menus.
Sounds like a godsend for small businesses in any part of the world? There might be even more benefits than what immediately comes to mind. Let’s look at a few:
While it may be nice that a guy in Singapore who might or might not ever visit your little town in the Prairies can find your business on Google, the searches that really matter are the ones from local buyers who need your product or service, and who are in a position to actually buy from you with real, hard cash. Today.
Bright Local conducted an interesting survey not too long ago which revealed that the average business receives 1 009 customer searches every month with Google My Business.
If you run an honest business and always try to give a little bit more than you promise, reviews can be a powerful marketing tool. According to Shopify, 93 percent of customers report that reviews can and do have an impact on their buying decisions.
Of course, everyone loves positive reviews. But even negative reviews are not useless. They offer you an opportunity to address the issues raised and improve customer satisfaction.
Powerful statistical insights
A GMB listing comes with a lot of free statistics that can help you to fine-tune your SEO campaign. The list includes:
– Where and how visitors find your listing
– The number of views your listing had
– Actions that potential customers took on your listing
– All other interactions visitors had with your listing
GMB can be your official website
Many business owners are not aware that Google My Business also boasts a built-in website creation tool. As soon as you have created your GMB account, this website will be auto-populated with information from your business profile. You can, however, go on to customize it with design themes, photos, and text.
Google My Business Posts
Three years ago Google announced Posts for Google My Business users. This feature makes it possible for business owners to create different types of content that are then displayed in their GMB listing. The list includes articles, company news, upcoming events, product promotions, and special offers.
Visitors can not only read these posts, but they can also share them with other people directly from Google.
A very nice feature is that you can publish a post ‘on the go’ using an iOS or Android app or by visiting the Google My Business website.
GMB also allows you to add reservation links within what it calls the ‘knowledge panel’ section of your account. This typically redirects visitors directly to your booking app or website. If you run a restaurant, or a hairdresser, or in fact any business that accepts bookings, it’s an amazing feature.
The importance of regularly updating your Google My Business account
Imagine this scenario: you search for a restaurant on Google. The GMB feature shows about ten restaurants in your immediate vicinity. Nine of them feature up-to-date information about the establishment, including special offers, menus with prices, operating hours, etc.
One of them, however, still advertises a rump steak deal that expired two years ago. The owners never respond to bad reviews, and when you try to call them, you get a message that the phone number is no longer in operation.
Guess which restaurant will be immediately dropped from your list?
Google My Business is only as good as you make it. If you want it to work for you, make sure that:
– You post something interesting about your business (or the industry) at least once a week. Posts expire after a week.
– You regularly update contact details, menus, and other information that changes from time to time.
– You respond to reviews. A simple ‘We are glad you enjoyed your time with us’ might be all that’s needed to get a satisfied customer coming back time after time. And do not ignore negative reviews. Respond cordially, and use it as an opportunity to iron out the problems the customer highlighted.
– You regularly upload new photos. Use the opportunity to e.g. highlight new products or new staff members. Nobody wants to watch the same old pictures of you and Marilyn Monroe hugging in 1965 every time your GMB listing appears on their screen.
Get help if you need it
All of the above might sound like a lot of work – and it could be. If you simply don’t have the time to do it yourself, rather delegate it to someone who has both the time and the necessary skills. There are nowadays many companies that specialize in Google My Business management.