How to Optimize Your “Google My Business” Listing
The challenge that every business faces, whether they are a small business or a large business, is that of being discovered by the right people: by their target audience. For small businesses especially, the strive to be discovered eclipses all else, because without being discovered, there are few customers, which means lower cash flow, and thus a rocky future.
This strive for discovery has spawned various new arenas of marketing and advertising such as Pay Per Click or PPC advertisements, Search Engine Optimisation or SEO, and more. Most of these methods, however, require time, and often, a significant amount of monetary investment.
Unfortunately, because of the hyper-importance assigned to SEO and PPC, several marketers tend to miss out on some of the more obvious arenas that can be optimised to help companies rise the ‘Discovery Ladder’ for free such as: Google My Business.
Google My Business is a free tool offered by Google which allows business owners to manage and update their listing. Google My Business is a great tool for enabling discovery, especially for brick and mortar businesses such as coffee shops or fast food joints. Yes, the benefits are indeed highly significant for local site-based businesses, but the benefits that Google My Business offers to businesses without a specific address is also notable.
Once you add or “Claim” your listing, you can customise it to be highly informative, further increasing your chances of being discovered by people.
After your business listing has been added, your business will show up in google search results, and on google maps to all those who look for the service that you provide. Searchers are given a variety of information regarding your business including it’s exact location, photos, and reviews: usually enough information to allow people to make the call regarding whether they should visit your business or not.
Here are a few ways to optimise your business listing:
1. Keep your information up to date:
Make sure to keep your business listing highly informative and up to date in terms of its content. Check if the category under which your business is included is relevant and appropriate. If you find that no pre-set category can accurately describe your business, choose the one that’s closest to your business.
Periodically check, edit, and update your listing as and when required, but never let it be out of date.
2. Encourage people to leave reviews
Encourage your happy customers to leave reviews for your business. Small contributions on their part can amount to a lot of business for you, as google naturally promotes businesses with good reviews. Do not worry too much about whether your reviews are four or five stars, as long as they are good overall, quantity matters more than quality.
3. Respond to customer reviews
Respond to as many customer reviews as possible. The more you engage with your base, the more google considers you a trustworthy business. Do not respond negatively to any reviews, even negative ones. Always try to be positive and forthcoming to your customers. The way that you respond is also analysed by google and used to gauge whether to recommend your business to others.
4. Answer questions submitted by users
Google has added a new feature to Google My Business that allows users to ask businesses questions. Respond clearly and concisely to all user questions. These answers will not just help the individual who asked you the question, but also other interested users who may have the same question. This section has the potential to become a great FAQ type section for your business listing.
5. Ensure your timings are accurate
Ensure that any changes in your business’ timings are reflected on your listing, even the occasional ones that might occur due to significant world events or holidays.
6. Make sure that the information matches everywhere
To verify the authenticity of a business, Google checks whether the details of your listing are consistent on your website, and all the other places where your business listing has been added, especially details such as contact numbers and addresses.
7. Use a local phone number
Using a local phone number is also known to help your business listing be discovered.
8. Optimise your website
Search Engine Optimise your website so that it is fast and receptive to users using various devices and internet speeds. Your website’s relevance with your business and its performance is also used as a factor by google to rate your business.
9. Make Posts on your Business Listing
There is a feature on Google My Business that allows you to create engaging announcements, posts, or offers on your business listing itself. This shows Google that you are active, and the engagement that it drives will further work to solidify or improve the position of your business listing.