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Google My Business is an underused marketing strategy—and when not, its maximum potential is unutilized. For location-specific leverage, considering that Google is used by 90% of the world as its search engine, Google My Business is the go-to tool. An added advantage is its linkage to Google Maps API, which offers third parties information to your business. For instance, a contest hosting platform (the third party) looking for a venue.

There is no financial cost to using Google My Business. That excuse is out the window. And, no, Google My Business does not substitute your website. A business with both ranks higher on search.

Create Google My Business Account

A Google My Business account is different from a Google My Business profile. It allows access and optimization of the profile. It is necessary to have a Google My Business account for strategizing. Afterward, link it to the profile.

For account creation, visit the GMB site and sign in with your Google business account. Businesses that have existed for a long time are likely to have been listed on Google My Business. You’ll receive a notification if that’s the case.

After account creation, it might take a while, usually a week, for your business to be verified. Google will send you a postcard through mail to confirm that you own the business and that it is in the specified location. Up until verification, Google will not display your business edits. However, you’ll get access to your Google My Business Profile analytics.

Complete Google My Business Information

You’ll hit two birds with one stone by:

  • Ranking your business high among local businesses
  • Giving clients a variety of actions to perform upon finding your profile

The not so complicated entities to fill when giving your information are:

  • Business name
  • Phone number
  • Business hours
  • Website URL
  • Business address (and a confirmation of how far from your address your customers get served if that’s an option)

The aspects that need some prowess to rank and attract clients include:

  • Category and Attributes
  • From Business
  • Product and Services
  • Questions and answers from the business

Other sections requiring continuous involvement include:

  • Questions and answers from the clients
  • Updated postings
  • Reviews

Give Out All Accurate Contact Information

  • Your business name should be exact to your store’s. Ensure you don’t add the location name or keywords unless they appear in your brand name. Google considers and penalizes them as spam.
  • Give the exact address present in your other listing on the web. This uniformity means that you do not have “co” in one and “company” in the other or “st” and “street.” These inconsistencies affect your credibility on Google Algorithm.
  • Highlight both your regular and holiday hours to minimize negative reviews by clients who might visit your business when it is closed.

Fill in the “From the Business” Description

Entrepreneur optimizing Google My Business page with colleagues
Entrepreneur optimizing Google My Business page with colleagues

The editorial summary written below your business name is outside your influence. Google puts it down to retain consistency across Google My Business. The only control you have is on the “From the Business” section.

 For a prolific optimization:

  • Give impactful information in the first 250 of the 750 characters, but use all characters.
  • Remodel information from the “about us” page or your mission statement
  • Include keywords surrounding your business
  • Avoid repeating information already present in other fields of your profile. Instead, write the distinction between your business and that belonging to your competitors.
  • Don’t insert HTML or links.

Choose Your Business Category

84% of Business Profile views come from discovery searches compared to 16% that involve direct search. When you categorize your business, you put yourself in the position to be discovered among the 84%.

The difference between discovery and direct searches means that people are likely to search hotels (discovery search) over searching Greenland Overview hotel (direct search).

Upon specifying your category, Google provides category-specific attributes that make your profile effectual. A restaurant can have a reservation or menu button for specificity and salons might have the kind of hair they specialize in.

Specificity is king. “Chinese Restaurant” wins over “Restaurant.” But specificity too should be used with restraint.

Check The Attributes That Apply

Attributes show features that clients might seek out. Such features might include takeout, delivery, free wifi, and dine-in for a restaurant. Attributes are present on sites like Yelp, but Google attributes are granular.

Include Photos

Photos are relevant for the following reasons:

  • Presents the opportunity to exhibit stellar quality to clients
  • Alerts Google that the business is still active to keep a high ranking
  • Offers Google images to display in results
  • Increases client engagement 

However, moderation is paramount. Add at least one photo a week.

Some pointers to keep in mind:

  • Do put a logo in your thumbnail photos. For the cover photo, put something that displays your brand.
  • Observe Google guidelines for general photos.
  • Images with happy clients tend to attract more clients.
  • Don’t use stock photos or images with branding or special effects. Google will not allow it.
  • A business with geo-tagged photos has prominence on Google. Do that for yours. Don’t forget to include videos too.
  • And finally, Google Street View gives a holistic (360°) view of your business. Use it.

Encourage Clients to Leave Reviews

A customer leaving a business review
A customer leaving a business review

Reviews come along with stars (like 5-stars) and influence customer purchase. The first results to appear when you search for a particular business type are those with high star ranking and multiple reviews.

  • Ask your loyal customers to leave a review for a start.
  • Create a review-leaving shortcut link to ease your client’s reviewing process.
  • Relentlessly ask other clients to review your business. They are more than happy to comply.
  • Show customers how reviews help other clients, not just your business.
  • Create a review page on your website accompanied by a CTA (call to action) to leave one.
  • Say something in response to reviews written.

However, be ethical. Don’t offer incentives in exchange for reviews.

Keep Posts in Google My Business Regularly Updated

Announcements, offers, products, and events are great posts for your Google Business Profile. To do so, head over to “Updates” on the Google My Business dashboard.

How, then, should you post?

  • Regularly. Some types of posts expire every week.
  • Post offers and events as marketing campaigns for a given timeline. These types of posts stay live longer.
  • Include CTAs and links in each post.
  • Avoid posts that relate to regulated goods such as firearms, alcoholic drinks, recreational drugs, adult services, and such. Google does not allow them. However, you can put up that you deal in such.

Posts optimize your Google Business Profile in the following ways:

  • They offer a variety of actions to customers who visit your profile.
  • Posts signal positively to Google of your continued business operations.
  • Posts update customers who have followed your Business Profile on your activities.
  • Customers have a high probability of engaging with Business Profiles that post often.

Increase Engagement By Asking and Answering Questions

Whether for engagement or genuinely helping your clients, this section is crucial to selling your business to potential clients. However, it is salient to keep an eye on this area. Anyone can answer, and some might provide wrong information.

To gain the most:

  • Stay updated with every question and answer provided.
  • Ask, answer, and upvote your own questions to provide information on FAQ.
  • Insert keywords organically to your questions and answers.

Add Your Services and Products

Entrepreneur showing wooden boards to customer in hardware shop
Entrepreneur showing wooden boards to customer in hardware shop

With an ambiguous business name, this products and services category favors you by allowing you to define to your clients what it is that you offer. This section gives your profile a higher ranking for included items.

For the best results, include the names of your products and services, their descriptions, and the prices (might they apply). When the clients click on your product, they will get to see the description you have provided.

Enable Messaging

Isn’t it amazing that customers can reach out to you via texts from your Google Business Profile? Well, given that smartphone shoppers are on the rise (82%), you can’t afford to lose out on this.

Visit your Google My Business dashboard, select the “messaging” tab, and set alerts for the messages.

Google will provide you with a different number. Your personal phone number will remain private.

You should respond to messages in under 24hrs. Responsiveness boosts clients’ reliance or potential reliance on you.

Check your Google My Business Insight

There is practical information offered on My Business Insight, such as:

Where customers found you on Google

This feature highlights discoveries of your business on Google Maps and Google search. It also shows how many views each of your products has received in the specified timeframe.

Means through which customers find your listing

It shows whether customers directly searched for your business or discovered it by searching for something related to what your business offers.

Customer actions

Upon customers finding your listing, this section shows what they did. Some of these actions include:

  • Calling
  • Visiting the website
  • Viewing photos
  • Requesting directions

With the provided map, you’ll know where the customer was when carrying out these actions.

Phone calls to your business

The number of times and the time which customers call shows here. The provided graph shows which day and time you are most likely to receive calls.

Viewing photos

The frequency of photo viewing provided falls in the following categories:

  • Number of business photos
  • Total business photo views
  • Number of customer photos
  • Total customer photo views

Alongside these, there is a graph showing the same data compared to competitors’.

Set Up a Concrete Google My Business Strategy

You have to continue the marketing efforts aside from those stated above.

  • Keep all the information updated regardless of how slight any change you make is
  • Relentlessly seek out reviews
  • Post weekly
  • Add new features to your profile and eliminate the extinct ones.

Overall quality information means stellar business optimization in and outside Google My Business. Head over to your website, other sites where your business is published, and your social media accounts and do your business justice. Accuracy, frequency, and availability are chief in online business marketing.

Have you optimized your Google My Business page? Let us know down in the comments.

This article was originally published in GREY Journal.