When it comes to building a strong online presence for your business, having a high quality website is important, but any experienced SEO professional will tell you that it’s only one step in finding digital marketing success on the web. In fact, there are a few things that will provide a huge bump to your company on Google that have nothing to do with building a website, and the place you should start is creating a Google My Business listing.
What is Google My Business?
Google My Business is a free tool offered through Google which allows businesses to manage their online presence across the Google search engine and help increase exposure.
One of the primary benefits provided by Google My Business is the ability to put all your businesses important information in an easy to read sidebar when users search for you on Google. The information often found in a Google My Business listing includes address, phone number, hours of operation, a link to your official website, directions to your location through Google Maps, and plenty of other customizable options to give people what they need before even visiting your site.
The Google Local Search feature is integrated with Google My Business to show nearby businesses that fit in with a specific Google search. For example, if you are a restaurant owner, Google Local Search can go a long way in introducing you to potential customers who search for things like “restaurants near me”. If you aren’t using Google My Business, all the other businesses that are will have a leg up in the digital marketing space. Given that Google My Business is a free tool, there is no reason not to utilize its powerful marketing potential.
Is a Google My Business Listing a Good Alternative to a Website?
Google My Business is a powerful marketing tool that should be used by any business that wants to rank on Google. However, any business using their Google My Business listing in place of a website is not going to get the desired results. Your Google My Business should be a compliment to your business website and not an outright replacement.
While Google My Business provides many great opportunities to provide information to potential customers, it does not have the capabilities to provide more detailed information about specific goods or services your business offers. A website allows users to make more informed decisions and gives you the opportunity to sell them on your merits over other businesses in your industry.
How to Get Started on Google My Business
The first step to maintaining a Google My Business listing is to check if your business is already being listed on Google. Many businesses may already have a listing and not even know it. If your business has been around for a few years, it would not be unusual for there to already be a listing you weren’t aware of. If this is the case, all you need to do is claim the listing and you will be able to make any updates or changes.
If you do not see a listing for your business, visit the Google My Business page to create a new listing and enter all your business information. Be sure to find the best relevant category for your business (there are many options so make sure to be thorough when checking). The last option listed asks if the business being created delivers goods or services to customers at their location. This is valuable for many businesses that operate away from their brick-and-mortar headquarters, or may not have a physical location for customers to visit. This is often the case for e-commerce businesses that operate entirely online.
Once all the information is correctly submitted, you will need to verify your listing. Doing this is crucial for performance and visibility of your Google My Business listing. There are several options available for doing this, but the easiest way is having a postcard sent to you through the mail with a five digit code that will allow you to finish your verification. Completing your verification this way will confirm to Google that the address you used is real and mail can be received there.
Manage & Respond to Reviews Through Google My Business
One of the features that can really boost your business on Google is actively encouraging and engaging with reviews that are left through Google My Business. Responding to reviews shows you are engaged and willing to communicate with customers. Positive reviews also make a great first impression on potential customers researching your business, and can increase your business’s visibility in search results. Including a section on your website that encourages people to leave a review can give you an advantage against competitors in your industry. In addition to thanking people for positive reviews, it is also important to respond to negative reviews in a calm, professional way.
Stay on Top of Your Listing and Make Updates When Necessary
Many businesses employ a “set it and forget it” approach with their Google My Business listing. This can often lead to incorrect information being shown, or simply not making the most out of all the features that are offered. Keep your Google My Business listing in mind when making marketing decisions, and always make sure the information being shown is correct.
Have questions about setting up or updating a Google My Business listing for your business? Contact JSMT Media today.