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I’ve spoken to many business owners – smart, seasoned “warriors” who have a great product and work hard and are passionate. Most of them still need a large degree of convincing or explanation about Google My Business that borders on frustrating.

Two reasons why you need to spend time on improving Google My Business:

  1. The further you drop from the #1 listing in Google the more drastically your visitors declines. Especially if it falls to the dreaded “page 2 of Google”.
  2. While there are alternative ways to get to the first page or #1 in Google, Google My Business is a valuable and easy-to-use tool that will truly help you get there.

Google My Business help you:

  • Control and display the most important parts of your businesses to searchers in your region or service area
  • Enable potential customers to interact with you, and manage reviews about your business
  • Post photo’s, videos, events and other content that can be accessed really easily by potential customers
  • Gather insights regarding how your customers are arriving on your site

The fact is that many people who view your GMB information will visit your brick and mortar store or seriously consider your service.

One of the comments I usually get is “I sell to anybody in the world why would I need Google My Business?” First of all there are many side benefits like improved SEO rankings, and business reviews. Second of all you can easily set up “service areas” which covers all the regions you sell into. I should repeat that > even businesses with a physical location out of your home where you sell nothing but digital services still needs to create and optimize a Google My Business Listing.

You can very easily get started with your own account and claim your business. >> GET STARTED WITH GOOGLE MY BUSINESS

This article won’t focus on the creation of your Google My Business account. You can easily do that on your own. What I want to show you is how to go beyond the bare bones implementation to get the most out of it.

Optimize Google My Business

The following are the steps you need to take to optimize your listing to get the most out of it.

1. Ensure your information is accurate, comprehensive, and up-to-date

There are many different parts of your Google My Business listing, so let’s start with your core business information:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Phone Number
  • Website
  • Description
  • Category
  • Attributes

It might seem ridiculous but you need to ensure your information is not just completely accurate, but consistent formatting and spelling with your website. If you have discrepancies will massively affect your rankings.

After you’ve provided information, you need to focus on two very important pieces of your listing: your business category and your company attributes.

These areas require you to be specific in regards to what type of business you operate. There is no room to get the business category wrong or to use your description to “stuff” keywords so I don’t recommend trying.

After completing this part you can now modify the brand and visual elements on your listing. You can easily add photos to you listing which will make it stand out from other entries. Often times I see a very quick effort by companies because their images are small, or fuzzy, or sometimes even stretched out. Not only does it look bad but it will give customers the impression that you don’t care.

Posting images of your brick and mortar including the outside, signage, store shelves and maybe even shoppers will make your store more inviting and encourage people to visit.

Add Cover Photo

A cover photo is the largest image that will appear on your listing. I’ve seen many companies use a large picture of their building or a picture of staff here. Both are good options, although we chose to use an image more representative of our brand.

Add Logo

Here is where you’ll add your logo. It shows up beneath the three main images, beside your name.

You can see the final entry for NorthIQ below.

2. Ask for reviews (and then respond to them)

I cannot stress this enough – you need reviews from customers. Your prospects will see them and decide to buy from your based on that. Research suggests it’s more important than ever.

The hard part obviously is how to get reviews. The truth is they rarely happen without your intervention unless they are bad. Sometimes they do happen naturally but you can’t rely on that. The best way to do this? Ask!

Sit down and think about who your best customers are – the ones you’ve gotten to know the best and really like what your business offers. Those are the first people you need to ask.

Additionally, don’t just randomly ask for a review on Google because most people won’t know what that means. Once you’ve completed your listing the best way to accomplish this is to google your own business name and click on the blue “reviews” link. On that page you can copy the URL and send this to people view email.

Once you do get reviews you need to ensure you respond to every single one of them. Even the bad ones. Make sure you take the five minutes it would require – this is a small amount of effort to put in that shows you’re a real person and that you actually really do care.

3. Speak directly to your customers through Google My Business Messages

Now that you’ve completed your listing and customers can find you it’s important to realize you’re only halfway there. You need to provide them the easiest and most convenient way for them to connect with you if they have questions of any kind. GMB enables users to call you but sometimes they don’t want to call. That’s why Google implemented a Messaging capability.

I’ll be honest I found that setting this up was a little confusing because you’ll need to go back and forth between your desktop where you are managing GMB and your phone.

On the Google Play Store or the App Store you’ll need to download the Google My Business App and log into it with the same credentials as your GMB account. Once you are in go to the Customers > Messages section and enable it.

You’ll be required to enter a number that you’ll message with. I used my own personal phone number and it never actually displays anywhere online. Once you’ve done that it will require a confirmation to verify it.

You’ll be able to turn this feature on and off as required if you are unable to fulfill messages for whatever reason.

Google also calculates a response time for you that will be shown on your listing. This is averaged from the length of time it takes you to respond to inquiries.

You can also add a “Welcome Message.” This is what users will receive when they start a message to you.

A sample message could read, “Thank you for contacting us. We’ll respond as soon as we’re able.”

Now that you’ve completed this you will receive text messages when a customer interacts with this functionality.

4. Add posts to share business updates

You can easily add posts to your GMB listing. Communicate your event, new product, or other information that will be interesting and engaging for your customers. It’s easy to post and I recommend you do it any time you have something interesting to say.

By clicking Posts on the left hand menu you’ll access all the functionality to begin creating posts and events of your own.

Click Create your first post. You’ll have several options here including Add Offer, Add Event, Add Update, and Add Product. Once you choose the appropriate option you’ll have the opportunity to enter the details, create a button and create a link. Feel free to explore each option and try what’s right for what you’re trying to achieve. I have included below a couple of examples of what I’ve done.

Conclusion

You’ve completed the basics of what Google My Business has to offer and it will begin to help immediately, either by enabling customers to engage with you, bringing them to your physical location, or by supporting your SEO efforts.

It’s strongly encouraged to continue adding content, products, events and posts to keep your content fresh and exciting.

In my experience implementing this for my own small business as well as other businesses oftentimes you’ll see a slow but growing trickle of opportunities from this. Stay patient because it will pay off in the long run.

Best of all this tool is free!

Good news everybody!  If you liked the content here you can get other useful marketing training and help guides at our sister site Marketing Maturity.