Believe-it-or-not, there is free advertising on Google! It’s called Google My Business: a free listing service that provides extensive information about your business directly in the search results, and conveniently at the fingertips of your future (prospective) clients. Patrons can contact you by phone, direct message you, or visit your location without even clicking on your website!
What is Google My Business?
What is Google My Business, you ask? Say, for example, you type in a Google search and a map with little red map pins on the page featuring your competitors’ businesses appears: those businesses populating the map are active Google My Business accounts.
This is powerful because the visual draws people’s eyes to an otherwise mostly bland text page. Just by glancing at these listings – potential new customers obtain valuable information: including your phone number, location, and user rating from customer reviews. Users have enough information to contact you directly from this listing – bypassing your website completely.
Consider the convenience of your competitors business highlighted on the map; it will likely be contacted versus a business listed lower on the page. All of the businesses visible on the page are local, including the searcher’s location. It offers exactly what the search is looking for.
By clicking on the businesses listed from the search, it opens up a full business profile that includes the following details for each business:
- Full address
- Phone number
- The hours
- Website links
- Reviews from people who have used the business
- Product / service listings
- Posts and events
- Special promotions
- The list goes on……
It is easy to see why a Google My Business account is vital to any business’s performance.
Get on the Map: How to get a Google My Business Listing?
It is easy, go to Google.com/business and follow the set up links. Before you start there are a couple of things you should have ready:
- You will need a Gmail address. A free one will work.
- You must use a physical address, no P.O. boxes! Google needs a physical address to mail you a post card with a verification code. They will not send the post card to a P.O. box.
When you have completed the application, Google will mail you a post card with a verification code. Enter that code into your account and you are ‘Verified’.
Wait a minute….If someone works from home, they likely will not want their address shown?
When completing your application there is a question that asks: ‘Do you want to add a location customer can visit, like a store or office?’
- If you answer ‘yes’ your address will show,
- If you answer ‘no’ your address will not show.
Optimize to Show on the Map
Having an account does not necessarily mean that your listing will be featured business on the search results page. Your account needs to be active and optimized, just like your social media accounts such as Facebook etc.
There are lots of items you can add to your account that helps people better understand your business:
Encourage Customer Reviews
These are the reviews from real people who have experienced your business process. They legitimize your business to Google, and provide confidence to prospective customers, like a virtual testimonial. These reviews encourage significant influence over your potential new clients!
When you are confident in your business, a user has an overall great experience, and that will resonate. When this happens, don’t be shy to ask them for a review, even just a star rating – it goes a long way!
Here is the caveat: Do NOT offer compensation to anyone for reviewing your business, ever! If Google catches you it’s bad news. The reality is, it’s lonely at the bottom of listings.
Some of my customers include a review link directly in their customer follow up emails or texts.
Reply to Reviews
When you answer reviews, you demonstrate to both Google and your customers that you are indeed active and involved. An engaged business owner demonstrates legitimacy to both Google and prospective customers!
List Your Products and Services
There is plenty of room to showcase your products with pictures and their descriptions. There’s even an option to add prices; simply look for ‘Products’ on the menu.
Google My Business is a visual medium, so pictures work very well. Show the inside, the outside, as well as demonstrations of your products or services. Don’t forget to add some fun stuff too for a personal touch! For example, one of my customers held an ugly sweater contest and featured the images online, another had a Halloween party. Another client uploaded behind-the-scenes pictures of a video shoot, all were viewed heavily on Google My Business.
Short posts (from your Blog)
Add your full blog posts or just excerpts of blog posts with a link back to your website.
If you don’t blog, just add a snippet of information, or advice with a picture works well too.
If you are speaking, exhibiting, or attending an event, Google My Business is a powerful place to promote it.
Special offers go a long way. Show them here too.
Special Hours and Holidays
Here’s another cool thing you can do with a Google My Business account: add ‘Special Hours’ around holidays.
This is important to note where there’s an adjustment of hours due to a holiday long weekend, especially if your business is closed on the holiday. These special hours will over ride your regular business hours. If you are temporarily closing the business for a vacation or illness, you can do it and communicate it to your customers here.
The Power of Social Media Exists Here Too
Google My Business is as powerful as you want to make it. The businesses that are visible on the map and search results pages are proactively working their account with review responses, posts, and other updates. At webinars and seminars, I always advise people to treat their Google My Business account like a social media account. When they update Facebook do Google My Business too. You will be so glad you did!