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It’s not often you get the chance to use something really worthwhile for free! Especially when it involves online marketing, but Google My Business (GMB) is something that you just can’t afford to ignore.
Google itself reports a 900% increase in “near me” searches from 2015 to 2017. That’s huge. And shows just why improving your profile and ranking in local searches should always be high on your agenda. GMB allows you to do just that and it’s probably the most influential factor in local SEO search success.
A lot of people remember setting up their Google My Business, ensuring their company was on Google’s map. But they’ve probably long since forgotten about it, or don’t really understand. So, here’s a quick recap to explain why you should be actively updating it at least weekly. As I’ll show later, the more time you spend on it, the better the results you will get.
HOW DO I ACCESS IT?
Head to https://www.google.com/business/ and sign in with a Google account. From here, you can create a new business listing, or reclaim a business that is already on their list. Google will take you through the steps of setting up of your account. Google will also need you to verify your business. They’ll send a code to your business to help you verify it.
WHAT IS GOOGLE MY BUSINESS
Essentially, it’s a ‘hub’ where businesses can manage their Google presence (through search engine and maps). It complements your website, and at the same time, gives your business an identity with a listing on Google.
WHY IS IT SO IMPORTANT?
Statcounter.com states that around 92.4% of searches in the UK are done on Google, with Bing claiming 4.5% and Yahoo the remaining 1.7%. So, unless you’re focusing a lot of time and effort on your Google presence, you’re likely to miss out to a lot of competitors.
WHY SHOULD YOU USE IT?
We started using it properly in 2018, and since then have put a lot of effort into it. Has it been responsible for attracting more work? Yes, 100%. We’ve been told by a lot of clients that they came to us because of our Google presence. They’ve mentioned both the quality and our engagement with reviews. With the demise of Google+, Google have added the functionality for you to write posts on your profile. We’ve started doing this and we know through conversations with clients that these have also helped generate work for us.
WHAT ARE THE IMPORTANT FACTORS TO REMEMBER?
One of the key things to remember when using Google My Business is consistency. Think about the business name that you’re using. Before I joined, we were known online as Nash, Nash & Co, Nash & Co Solicitors, Nash Solicitors, Nash & Co Solicitors LLP – we’ve found all of those names in different places on the internet. Now if we took that same approach when using GMB, we’d be penalised – the discrepancies would hit the credibility and reliability of the information, and our local search ranking would be badly affected. It’s also vitally important to check phone numbers and addresses that you provide.
Update your profile regularly. Add Google My Business to your weekly schedule of tasks and add new photos, add a new blog post and graphic, update your opening hours – especially around public holidays. All of this gives potential clients a sense that the information listed is correct; that you pay attention to the little things that make their life easier.
Check in often, because Google usually won’t tell you when they improve functionality by adding a new tool. In the last few months, Google has added Appointment URLs, Menu URLs, a services section, a business description and the ability to post articles. They didn’t make this well known at the time, so you’d only see it if you check in to your profile regularly. It’s also worth following Mary Bowling and Mike Blumenthal on Twitter – they’ll keep you up to date with new additions to GMB.
Pay attention to reviews. The benefits of responding to reviews on Google is well documented – potential clients get to understand the ethos of a firm in their replies to people leaving reviews, whether they are positive or negative. Have a response strategy in place to ensure that clients leaving reviews feel valued. In the case of negative reviews, it’s even more important that you reply quickly. There is still a chance that you can turn the client around, but if not, then the kind of language that you use can also show potential clients just how seriously you take client experience.
Make sure you reply to each review, and do it quickly after a client has left one. Don’t leave it days or even weeks before you reply. It’s also important to encourage clients to leave you reviews. People won’t often search someone out to leave a positive review, but they are often happy to do it if asked. If you can demonstrate a real difference between you and your competition locally, then you’re definitely going to get more calls. Believe me, it works.
The Google My Business app is really useful. It notifies you immediately of reviews being left so that you can reply on the spot. You can then address any problems that might have been highlighted, and give yourself a chance to win the client back, or thank them for leaving such a positive review. You can also make all the changes from your phone that you can make from your desktop.
There’s a good chance that your competition is on Google My Business. If you aren’t, then you’ll be falling behind them on local search rankings. Put your company name into Google, and then do the same with the names of your competitors and have a look at what they are doing that you aren’t. Perhaps they haven’t put much time or effort into GMB either, and you can now steal a step on them.
KEEP IT UP TO DATE
Keep the information such as opening hours, days of business, and your social media up to date. You can publish the information on Google My Business well in advance of national holidays, Christmas and New Year holidays, so the days you are open and closed are clear and easy to see and will update automatically. It’s also a good idea to make a note in your diary for November to check that the opening hours over the Christmas holidays in particular are still appropriate. The last thing you want is a client seeing on GMB that you’re open on the 27th December, travelling in to see you, only to find that you’re actually closed and he can’t speak to anyone for another few days.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Can you post useful FAQs or answers to questions? Visitors to your Google My Business can post questions asking about your service that others can then reply to. But as the GMB owner, you can also reply to them! Don’t allow anyone to post a false or malicious answer – get your answer in there first! If you do have false or damaging answers posted by someone else, you can reply to Google to have these removed.
Create new and relevant posts every week. These only stay on your profile for a week, and Google is great at letting you know when it’s time is up and it’s about to be removed. Google will also tell you how it performed while it was live. Go on and create a post… I guarantee you’ll be surprised by how many people read it and click through to your website.
Google also gives you access to a great range of insights into how well your Google My Business profile is performing – how many people searched for you in the last month, how many people called you direct from your profile (now you can see why it’s so important to make sure that your phone number and web address are always correct!), and a whole host of others. And they’ll tell you how you performed against the same categories the previous month. There is a direct correlation between how much time and attention you spend on GMB and the calls, clicks and other activity that you’ll see on your profile.
You can even set it up so that clients can message you, with these messages being sent to a particular mobile phone. These will be sent through the Google My Business app, which I’d strongly suggest you download. More about this in a minute. But the messaging function is extremely useful – as it allows potential clients to get responses to questions quickly.
Make sure you have recent photos on there – and ensure that your logo is on there as well. If you can, get your logo up front on the initial results page of your search so that it’s obvious they are in the right place.
No one can absolutely guarantee you that you’ll be on the first page of Google rankings, but by having a Local SEO strategy and updating your Google My Business regularly, you’ll be giving yourself a great chance.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch and I’ll get back to you as quickly as I can!