Since its inception in 1998, the Google mission has been to index the world’s information. From websites to books and country lanes; the search giant learns more about what is happening around us every day.
93% of consumers use the internet to find local businesses, and since Google own 90% of the worldwide search engine market share, it’s worth thinking about how you can make your business easier to find.
Even Google can find it difficult to learn about your business
While it aims to return the most informed results based on the user’s search, there are some things that even Google finds hard to discover, like information about your business. This can include opening hours, menus, photos of your team members and details about the services you offer.
Google My Business is an attempt to rectify this. It allows you to create a profile for your business which appears on Google Maps and Google Search, helping the search engine learn more about you and therefore drastically increasing your chances of getting noticed.
This is especially useful when more general search terms are used, for example ‘Business accountants near me’ or ‘Best office supplier in *region* ’. This is because Google is better informed about your location, your popularity and what you offer, so is more likely to include your business in the results.
These listings are also hugely beneficial for potential customers, as they can find your important business information, contact details and reviews, all in one place. Here are some top tips to help you make the most of this free tool.
Give as much information as you can when creating your profile
Try to fill out all the sections available to help Google learn as much about your company as possible. Let’s face it, it won’t create a very good impression if your potential customer comes looking for a website address, or contact number, and can’t find the right details on your listing.
Creating the process as easy and convenient for the user as possible will make them far more likely to move to the next stage of the purchase process – whether that’s getting in touch, going to your site, or any other action you may want them to take.
Google now also offers a business description option, where you can tell your business’s story in 750 characters or less. This is a great opportunity to boost your listing further up the ranks by including popular key words and phrases that are likely to be searched. Bear in mind that the user will only see the first 250 characters before they click to see more, so it’s even more important to make the most of those first few words.
Take advantage of the extra features that apply to your business
As well as all the standard information, Google offers special features to suit particular industries. For example, if you’re an appointment-based business, you can set up bookings so that customers can schedule a visit directly through Google My Business. Again, this makes the whole experience simpler for the user by eliminating obstacles that could otherwise lead them to change their mind about getting in touch. You can also add a menu or list of services to your profile, if applicable, which will provide the user with further information.
Google have also added extra features in response to the global health crisis. It’s now possible to:
- Further customise business hours
- Manage delivery options
- Mark your business as ‘temporarily closed’
- Add health and safety attributes.
Energise your listing with vibrant visuals
Adding visuals into any element of your marketing will hugely improve engagement, and Google My Business is no exception. In fact, businesses that add photos to their profile receive 42% more requests for driving directions on Google Maps and 35% more click-throughs to their websites than those who don’t.
Include images of your products, photographs of your workplace or snapshots of memorable moments on your company’s journey – you can even add videos up to 30 seconds to help bring your listing to life. Get creative with what you include but make sure to keep it relevant to your business, and follow these formatting criteria set out by Google:
- Size: Between 10KB and 5MB
- Minimum resolution: 720px tall, 720pix wide
- Format: JPG or PNG
Update your listing with regular posts
Google posts are a great, low-effort way to optimise your profile and keep your presence fresh and engaging. They can help you highlight to your existing and potential customers what’s happening within your business and improve your search ranking due to the added content.
There’s an interesting twist with this way of promoting your business – posts will expire, removing the problem of stale content appearing on your listing (a common theme on social media profiles).
The best way to use this feature is to focus on upcoming events and news about your business and to add a new post at least once every two weeks. As always, you should try to experiment as much as possible. New feature launches by Google often change rapidly and nobody will have a golden rule about what works best.
Linking your Google My Business account to a social media manager like CoSend will also take the hassle out of updating your listing. You can automatically schedule posts to share on certain days of the week so you can focus your energy on creating captivating content.
Encourage customer reviews and interactions
User-generated content and interactions with your customers within Google My Business will make your listing more complete and will boost your reputation in terms of customer service.
As a general rule, people are less trusting of organisations than they are of other people, so having real user opinions and customer perspectives in your profile can be a great asset. 87% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses in 2020, and since Google will be the first place people come to learn about you, it’s worth having a variety of viewpoints as part of your profile.
However, don’t just get a few early on and assume they will do – 73% of consumers only pay attention to reviews written in the last month so it’s important you regularly encourage your customers to leave their opinions on your listing.
If you do receive new reviews or comments, make sure to reply to them as promptly as possible, as 20% of consumers expect to receive a response within one day. The more communicative you are, the more efficient and attentive you’ll seem to the outside world, so turn on notifications to allow Google to alert you when you’ve got an update on your profile.
Use Google insights to see how your profile is performing
Finally, Google provides data-analysis on the following:
- How customers find your listing
- Where customers find you on Google
- Customer actions
- Direction requests
- Phone calls.
Take advantage of these insights to tailor your listing to better suit what your customers are looking for. You can never know too much about your target audiences and how they’re discovering you, so use this data to adjust your approach and you’re sure to get seen by more of the right people.