Updated: May 16
Many people spend countless hours, money and precious resources on social media marketing, but we end up ignoring the most preliminary step, and that’s optimizing our search rankings.
Google is still the favourite option for finding local businesses. Usually, the initial step a customer will use when searching for a product or service is a Google search.
Google has reported that 46% of all searches have local parameters and that business location is the main piece of information sought out by local searchers.
So how can you ensure that your business will appear in search results with relevant information?
The answer is simple, the easiest and speediest way to show up in the results is to have a Google My Business (GMB) listing!
The ability of GMB to pull customers to your listing is essential for small businesses. It is not just an ordinary business listing, but an essential tool giving you the benefits from appearing on Google search.
Let’s look at how to get listed, and how to get the most from that listing.
What is Google My Business?
Google My Business is a free local marketing tool that allows business owners to manage how their business is displayed on Google Search and Google Maps. It also shows vital business information like name, address, contact information, website link, and opening hours.
To get your GMB listing, you need to verify your business by creating your Google My Business profile or claiming an existing profile that has been auto-generated. This is a crucial step in any local SEO strategy as it makes it easier for potential customers to find information about your business and allows them to review it too – we’ll talk about reviews later. This is why it’s super important that all of the information provided is accurate and optimised.
How does a Google My Business Listing work?
First off, you need to create a listing by either claiming an auto generated page if there is one, or by creating a new one and then verifying it. This involves having a postcard with a verification code sent to your address, which only takes a few days usually. With GMB, you will be able to create a simple ‘website’ that you can use to drive more customers to your business. It’s also important to optimise your listing by adding things like keywords, FAQs, calls to action and relevant business photos & videos.
When someone searches for products or services, the local search listings dominate the results. This means the next time a user searches for your products or services within your locality, your Google My Business page will be displayed among the listings. The information from your listing will be shown in 3 different places:
How do businesses use GMB?
Millions of businesses around the globe are using GMB to stand out from their competitors and attract more potential customers. They also use the platform to engage with these customers and learn more about them.
It indicates who is interested in their business, where they are, and what may appeal to them.
Why you must use Google My Business for Local Marketing
Still not convinced? Read on to see why you should get set up now.
Increase your online visibility
One of the major benefits of having a GMB listing is the improved online visibility, which we know is crucial these days – no good being online unless you’re seen! When you search Google for products or services, the first 3 results are usually adverts (paid to be shown first). Then this is followed by what is referred to as a 'local pack' with a map (see image below), and then the organic (unpaid) search results are shown.
The local pack consists of the top 3 local businesses based on the location of the user performing the search.
People try lots of SEO tricks to get into this special category, but by creating a GMB listing you can increase your chances of appearing. Appearing in the local pack can help place you in front of potential customers as your business is shown both on Google Maps and before the organic search results.
Share information with potential customers
GMB allows you to share lots of relevant information about your business, including your address, contact information, opening times etc. You can also post news, updates, announcements, offers and more. These posts show up on Google Search and Google Maps, allowing you to keep potential customers updated.
Before you post on your GMB listing though – consider the outcome you want to achieve. Do you want to announce a new product or service, do you want to encourage customers to visit your physical location? This will help you to customise your post with the goa in mind. Make sure that your posts also have a call to action to encourage these potential customers to follow through with the action you want, such as buying or getting in touch.
Answer real time questions
If a potential customer needs to reach out to you for more information, make it easy for them – businesses need to make sure they remove as main pain points as possible from user journeys by reducing the number of steps they need to take to find the information they want.
There is also a cool messaging feature that allows business owners to chat directly to potential customers when they want to ask a question in real time. You can have this feature on or off though so that’s your choice – if you’re too busy to respond during your working hours then it may be best to leave it switched off..
Reviews can be majorly influential when potential customers are making decisions about where to spend their money. The majority of people searching online will read reviews to ascertain the quality of a local business and will naturally choose those with the best reviews. This is another area where GMB is useful as it allows customers to review and leave feedback about your business.
Reviews are an influential factor when customers are making a purchasing decision. Most customers read online reviews to evaluate the quality of a local business and choose the product with the highest reviews. These reviews will help build confidence and trust, approximately 88% of customers trust online reviews and treat them the same as a personal recommendation. These reviews are also used by Google as a determining factor when deciding where to place your business in the search results.
By delivering quality products or services, you will be able to collect more reviews and get a higher overall rating. This will make you stand out from your rivals. You can further improve your rating by responding to reviews.
Increase Traffic and Sales
According to Google, businesses are 70% more likely to attract local visits from browsing users by having a Google My Business listing, which should then lead to increased traffic and sales. As there are verification steps for businesses to complete before they can appear in search results, so this is another reason for increased trust and confidence.
Don’t be fooled in to thinking that a GMB listing replaces the need for a functioning website though, think of it as more of a stepping stone for customers to go on and do further research in to your business, to complete their journey on your website.
Google My Business listing features help you to target potential customers in your local market. However, to rank in the local pack, you will need regular engagement and your listing must be optimised as much as possible. Need a helping hand? You can request our FREE local ranking checklist by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and start optimising your GMB listing to get the best from it, helping you to increase sales and get your business in front of more potential customers.