It’s absolutely vital that your business’ online presence is Search Engine Optimized to help generate new leads.
However, achieving organic search success is an ongoing battle, and Google’s business listing tools have thus far not made it easy for SMEs.
There have been many confusing name changes (Google Local, Google+ Local, Maps Listing, Google My Business) and new versions come with new sets of information requirements.
The latest and greatest iteration is Google My Business (GMB), it’s free for any business to claim their listing. It’s more user-friendly than it might seem at first glance and allows you to create a business profile that includes a Google Maps listing and appears in search results when customers use a relevant search term with a location keyword.
You want your business to rank highly for the service you offer in the location you offer it, and you need to give your customers the essential information they need quickly i.e. your store’s name, address and phone number and opening hours.
Google’s consumer research shows that 50 percent of those who search for a local store’s business hours, address and operating hours via their smartphone, visit the store that same day.
GMB is an efficient way for customers to find all this information. It does take a bit of effort to get right, though. Here are four tips to help you:
1. Show Your Location
Your customers want to find you easily. The "near me" function on mobile devices is being used more than ever before so make sure the precise location of your store is set up in Google My Business. When a prospect or customer is searching online, Google will return the business listings that are closest to them. Your sales can be boosted by simply specifying your address.
It’s easy to do too: drag the marker in the address section to the correct location of your store. Not two roads up or three blocks down, more or less here or there is no good be exact about where your premises are.
2. Specify Your Operating Hours
Think about how many times you’ve quickly googled a shop to check when it closes. The same applies to your customers and if you run a business with stores in many locations that operate at different hours, this is incredibly important to get right. Google My Business enables you to set the opening and closing times of all your stores so make sure your trading hours are up to date.
Customers who have been fed the incorrect information and arrived at your premises only to discover you’re closed are much less likely to return. The "Special Hours" section is especially handy as it allows you to accommodate for public holidays or make one-off time adjustments, for example, if you need to shut up early one afternoon to do a stock take.
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3. State Your Business
You want to make sure that your business is visible to anyone who searches for what you offer, in your vicinity. Tag the business categories in GMB that are relevant to you and you’ll start ranking for relevant search terms. Now, there’s a balance to aim for here don’t tag every category in the hope of attracting new business.
If somebody comes knocking on your door looking for trainers and you sell homeware, they could leave a less than complimentary review of your store online. That said, don’t just tick one box, associate your business with as many relevant keywords as possible so that all potential customers are targeted. For example, at Access Self Storage, we went for a few, including "self-storage facility" and "moving and storage service".
4. Gather Reviews
What your customers think of you is important information. In the online world, it helps your business cut through the competition because reviews, good, bad or mixed, contribute to your search engine rankings. Knowing this is one thing, soliciting customer feedback is quite another.
The process on GMB is fortunately quite straightforward which is essential for any customer engagement. To leave a review, all they have to do is:
- Have a Google account (luckily most people do. A Gmail address is good)
- Google your store
- Click on your GMB listing
- Select write a review
- Write the review
- Give it a go yourself. Once you know how it works you’ll be able to integrate the review process with your customer relationship strategy
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Achieving SEO best practice can be a moveable, and expensive, feat with recent Google Local API changes affecting standard procedures. Google My Business, however, is easy to use, free and puts control of your business profile in your hands.
A well-managed profile on GMB will help create an excellent customer experience that in turn will encourage positive reviews and lead to increased visibility. This could be the simplest and most productive marketing move you’ll ever make.