If you own a business, you should have a Google My Business page. Google My Business was launched with the aim to help business owners and brand managers maintain their online presence across Google, including Google Search, Google Plus and Google Maps. Google My Business provides a single unified platform that allows businesses to expand their reach, especially in local search results.
Small businesses, in particular, need to capitalize on the huge potential that local SEO presents for them, and setting up a Google My Business profile is the first step towards ensuring that the business is found by the relevant local audience.
Here are 12 ways businesses can maximize the effectiveness of their Google My Business Page:
1. Claim Your Business
If you haven’t already, you must first claim your business listing. By claiming your business, you can establish the authenticity of your business, build your customers’ trust, and increase your brand’s visibility. Additionally, it also allows you to stake an authentic claim on your business before other hungry competitors do.
2. Consistent NAP (Name, Address and Phone) Details
This is one of the most critical aspects of your business information; so you need to ensure that your business name, address and phone details are consistent across all listings down to the last letter and number, including abbreviations like “St. /Street” or “Rd./Road”.
3. Business Hours and Special Hours
List your most up-to-date business hours accurately, especially if you have changed them recently. Frequently check in on your listings to ensure that the right details are being reflected in your results. On days where your schedule is likely to change - like holidays or special hours - include holiday schedules in the listing. The listing will revert to the usual hours once the special occasion has passed.
4. Business Category
This is a crucial aspect of your Google My Business profile. Your business category defines the broad search category under which customers can find you when they search for them. So, you need to be as specific as you can. For instance, if you own a organic produce store, list it as such rather than as “grocery store”. Likewise, if you offer more than one service like IT services, then list your primary category under “IT Services”, and name the individual services like “iPhone Application Development” under the secondary categories.
Business listings with photographs are 2x times more likely to be considered reputable than those who don’t. Therefore, having relevant photographs associated with your profile can boost your click-rates by as much as 35%. Your profile should have at least 5-7 high-resolution of photographs which include:
- Interior and exterior photographs
- Photo of key staff and team in the business
- Product photos
- Photos of your staff working and interacting with each other or with customers
Your should also include a high-resolution logo, profile photo and cover photo for your Google+ profile.
6. Google Map Marker
Even after you’ve verified that your address is correct, the location on your map may not accurately indicate the address given. Therefore, you should ensure that the Google Map Marker is centered correctly on your business location. If it isn’t, drag it to the correct location to indicate the exact location of the building.
7. Payment Options
You should specify which types of payments you accept at your business: credit/debit cards and payment gateways. Profile accuracy is of paramount importance in a Google profile, so every detail counts.
While writing your business’ introduction, brevity and accuracy take top precedence. Use links, subheadings and bullet-lists to allow for users to skim the content quickly. Long-winded introductions will drive them away.
Encourage your customers to leave reviews of your business, because reviews are an effective way for potential customers to view you as a reliable and trustworthy business. It has been proven that customers tend to rely more on other customers’ experiences over advertising and promotional campaigns. The more positive reviews you get, the higher your ranking will be.
Engaging with your customers is a key factor that influences your business’ reputation. Therefore, responding to reviews - both good and bad, alike - is a good practice. There are, of course, certain effective ways to respond to negative reviews, but ignoring them altogether is never a good idea, neither is going on the defensive - or offensive, for that matter.
11. Google Plus Activity
Business profiles with active Google Plus pages tend to attract a higher volume of organic traffic and higher ranking. You should monitor and update your Google Plus page frequently, engaging actively with users who visit your page. Post status updates, special offers, photographs, news and customer testimonials to keep your page active.
12. Include a 360o Virtual Tour
Hire a Google Approved Photographer to come to your business space and take high-resolution photographs of the interiors, and create a 360o view. Remember, the more transparent you are, the higher your trust level will be.
By optimizing your Google My Business profile to be complete and accurate, you can ensure that your business will gain a higher visibility in local results, which in turn, will lead to higher conversions and higher customer retention rates, as well.