It staggers me still to see so many businesses around me in Surrey that have not claimed their GMB (Google My Business) listing(s).
Google (and the SEO community) do a pretty good job of publicising GMB. So surely this is old old news and there can’t seriously be businesses out there that still don’t know about GMB.
I see countless businesses large and small throughout Surrey, discovered online or whilst out and about and looked up later when back at my desk that have not claimed their GMB listing(s). I cannot believe these businesses would not want more leads so conclude that they must still be unaware of the benefits or how to go about capturing them (or both). And some of these businesses are digital marketing consultants and agencies!
So, here is my grist to the mill, hopefully to nudge a few more businesses in the right direction and get all the benefits of an optimised GMB listing.
1. Get control of Google’s official record of your business.
You must get control of your business listing if it exists or create it if it doesn’t. If you don’t claim your GMB listing, somebody else might (or might have already!). Here’s where to start with managing your Google My Business account.
2. Get seen online by more people
Managing your GMB listing is your first step towards growing your local business in Google and also offline.
“Help your listing appear when people are searching for your business or businesses like yours on Google Search and Maps. Google My Business makes it easy to create and update your listing — so you can be found, and bring customers in.” – Google.
3. Get more leads
Claimed listings get more leads, according to Google. Unclaimed listings are highlighted with an “Own this business?” message from Google which makes it look as though the business owners are disinterested. Listings which have been completed, have images and reviews and evidence of interaction with users are likely to get more leads than those that are incomplete or incorrect.
4. Reply to your Google reviews
You cannot reply to your reviews in Google unless you have control of your GMB listing. You should reply to your reviews – good and bad. Replying to your reviews is a sign that you take your customer service seriously and want to listen to the views of your customers.
5. Get more reviews
Business that respond to their reviews get more reviews and more business. Don’t wait until you get that first c**p review before you rush out in a blind panic on a damage limitation exercise.
6. Advertise critical data about your business
With GMB, you get free advertising of key information about your business, including your business name, phone number, opening hours (including special holiday hours), location, directions, website address, reviews and more.
7. Get better rankings
Listings with more content in the form of reviews, images, opening hours etc. get ranked more highly in the Local Pack. Improve your chances of appearing – or appearing more frequently and higher – in Google’s Local Pack, Google Maps, Local Finder, Knowledge Panel etc. Not sure what those mean? Read our explanation
8. Add Google my Business posts
Update and engage your visitors by using Google posts. Boost visibility and possibly improve Local Pack rankings.
9. Add a business description (new feature, 2018)
It’s now possible to add a description about your business. It can be up to 750 characters and may sometimes appear in the Knowledge Panel in Google’s local business search results. See example below. That’s a lot of free space so full advantage should be taken of this new feature. There has long been criticism of the limitations of the business categories available in GMB because some businesses have not been able to be accurately reflected. The new business description provides Google with much more information and should help to address the category limitations.
10. Add details of services (new feature, 2018)
It’s now also possible to add details of your services directly into the GMB dashboard. Each service description can be up to 1,000 characters (see below).
11. Get access to your GMB stats (GMB Insights)
You can get vital information about how often your business appeared in Google’s local business search results and how many times users interacted with it. But you can only do that if you have control over your listing. You can find out how many times people clicked on the link for directions to your business, clicked on the link to call directly from mobile or clicked on the link to visit your website. If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.
12. Get Google Analytics data
Use Google Analytics to track all the website visits generated by your GMB listing. You can do this by adding campaign tracking code to the link to your website in the GMB dashboard. You can only do this if you have control of your listing. Read our explanation about how to track website visits generated by your GMB listing.
13. Enhance or defend your brand
Control – or at least heavily influence – what is shown for brand searches (searches on your business name) and see what might happen if you don’t. See example at beginning of post!
14. Upload rich media
Post videos, photos, logo and other images to help engage with your users and to satisfy their need for information about your business. Post photos of staff, owners and premises (inside and out) to increase the confidence of potential customers. Media can appear elsewhere in google e.g. image search and bring users back to your business.
15. Improve your AdWords performance
You can display your business address alongside your AdWords ads by linking your GMB account to your AdWords account. This is vital for optimising your mobile ads if you want to drive local customers to your business when they’re on the move near you, using their mobile to find outlets like yours.
16. Get a free website
If you don’t have a website, you can use GMB’s free website builder to create a one-page website in literally a few seconds. It comes with free hosting too, so is completely free.
17. Receive text messages from customers
Get text messages from customers via your GMB listing. At time of writing, this feature has been launched in some countries but not in the UK yet.
18. Use GMB’s Q&A feature
Take advantage of the Questions and Answers section and, if claimed, complete the set-up to receive notification of new questions.
19. Get bookings via GMB
Enrol with a scheduling provider and take advantage of the bookings option so that customers can book an appointment easily.
With the proliferation of new services features in GMB, it is taking up more and more space in the search results. Users no longer have to visit your website to find out key data about your local business. They can discover you, contact you or visit you without visiting your website. I have read cases online about businesses that are getting more leads via the their GMB listing than via their website. This trend may account for why some local businesses are experiencing a decline in organic website traffic but an increase in revenue or leads.
If you have read this far, then you should also read this excellent post from Mike Blumenthal, in which he posits that Google is your new home page.
This is what you should do next:
1. Add your comment below (include any additional items of your own and I’ll consider adding them to the above list) and/or
2. Sign-up for regular updates from our blog and/or
3. Contact us for help with your Local SEO and/or
4. Share this post on social media (and, even better, link to it).