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Google’s My Business explained for small business

Working in the digital space, I see how easy It can be easy for business owners to get caught up in – or weighed down by – what everyone else seems to be doing. Which makes it particularly tricky to work out where true value lies, and conversely what’s marketing fluff or a poor fit for your particular business, writes Crystal Wong, founder of SEO consultancy Skyblue Search.

Interestingly, Google My Business (GMB) is one of those tools that has slipped into the ‘too hard’ basket for many businesses, when it’s actually a ‘must have’ and kinda easy.

Google My Business explained

GMB is an integral part of local search. That means it’s how Google connects the keywords used by people searching for particular goods or services with the options available nearby. And by that I mean the experience we’ve all had – you search for pizza and Google knows you’re probably on the hunt for dinner from a nearby shop, so it doesn’t usually direct you to a popular spot in the next state or even across town.

Received wisdom is that almost half (46 pr cent) of all searches on Google have local intent – meaning they want to buy something or access information on something that’s local to them. That means the results you get will be dictated by where you are physically located when you do the search – you’ll get three results, nearby, in maps.

So how do you get on Google My Business?

To be eligible to show up in this map, your business needs a Google My Business Listing (GMB). The great news is, it’s free. Strictly speaking only businesses with physical premises and/or a service area business (SAB) can claim.  SAB are businesses like plumbers that may operate out of their own home but only service clients at the client’s home (so their own home address is actually irrelevant).

Listings need to be verified to show that the business actually does exist.  Usually this is done by receiving a postcard with a verification code from Google at your stated address.  Note, this process can be a royal pain in the posterior. I’ve heard of postcards taking months upon months to appear – particularly in the gloomy depths of Covid-19. But, take heart, it usually appears eventually, and is well worth the (sometimes lengthy) wait.

Optimise your listing

And don’t be intimidated by *yet another* login, listing or dashboard – it really is very simple. Most importantly, it’s a phenomenal – FREE – way to showcase your business. You don’t just get to pop up where your buyers are looking, but you can upload photos, share posts, people can ask questions, can even book appointments, find out your working hours and – critically – you can collate reviews from satisfied customers. Think of it as another social media platform, but potentially more powerful. If your target market doesn’t congregate on Facebook, Google reviews is a particularly important way to validate your offering, providing the social proof that you mightn’t otherwise be able to leverage. After all, who hasn’t popped on to check out online reviews before they commit to a purchase?

Optimising your GMB properly helps you appear in the maps section of Google’s results pages. However, to achieve that, your business’s GMB needs to be in the top 3 position for that keyword.

Things that help GMBs rank well

Not everything is within your control. Clearly, you need to be in close proximity to the searcher – that’s a given. However, there are some things you can do to maximise your presence. Most importantly, you need to ensure the information on your listing is complete, including your:

  • Business description
  • Service areas
  • Categories
  • Name and address details

After that, it’s important to ensure that all information about your business is consistent internet-wide, including your website, social media profiles and directories.

Improve your Google presence

So, today’s lesson is that if you haven’t already claimed your GMB listening, open a new tab and do it right away. Your homework is to –

  • Login to your GMB
  • Make sure your information is filled out correctly and matches your website exactly
  • Get reviews from happy customers
  • Add 10 images from your business
  • Add posts as events, offers, updates and get your profile looking lively.

My parting advice? Become friends with Google – utilise its opportunities and play the game. Otherwise there’s some prime real estate there you’re missing out on.

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