If you don’t already know (and you should if you have a local storefront or business), Google My Business is the best way for your business to showcase detailed, accurate information on Google’s search engine platform. Going through the process to “claim” your business (meaning you name and confirm yourself as the owner/manager) is the first step to controlling your business’ online information.
In episode 22 of Made You Click, Director of Marking Success, Allison Gibbs, and Marketing Services Manager, Stephanie Fisher, discuss not just Google My Business, but also the basics of local SEO, as well as how and why it’s so meaningful for your business.
Why Google My Business?
When someone searches for a business, especially by its exact name, search engines like Google automatically pull up not just the business, but information about it right there on the search engine page. This offers viewers quick, simple access to the details they’re looking for. If you aren’t on Google My Business, Google will create this automatically, often with inaccurate results.
When you claim your business on Google, you’ll need to make sure everything correlates precisely as it is on your website, or Google could identify errors on both your business profile and your website.
“Make sure that your business name and your address matches your website perfectly,” Stephanie says. “If there’s any kind of spelling or punctuation that’s different from your website, that’ll be flagged.”
Not only that, but you’ll need to claim each location of your business if you have more than one so that Google can properly organize and categorize each one as part of the same entity. “Take Mojo for example,” Stephanie explains. “Each of [our three locations] will have its own Google My Business listing.”
Google My Business Best Practices
To really take your Google My Business profile to the next level and show your potential customers and prospective team members that you are a professional organization, there are a number of best practices to consider. From adding pictures of your office and storefront to creating a post, it’s a good idea to take advantage of multiple strategies.
“This adds visual interest to your listing when it shows up,” Stephanie says. “You’ll want to keep that regularly updated and Google will send you alerts every two weeks to tell you how many clicks and interactions your posts got.”
Scour the Web
Now that you’ve claimed your business and all its locations, taken pictures of your beautiful office and team, and made sure to post some promos and events, it’s time to get to work elsewhere. That’s right; Google isn’t the only meaningful website when it comes to local SEO.
“Another thing we always recommend is to scan your listings across the internet, not just Google My Business but Yelp, Facebook, Yellowpages, Angie’s List,” Stephanie says. “Anywhere your business shows up on a directory on the internet, it’s very important that information is accurate across all those sites.”
This includes your name, hours, and location, as well as digital information like your URL, which needs to be consistent on all these types of sites. There are plenty of tools, like Moz Local, that can help you automate these practices; it’s just up to you when it comes to how much time, money, and energy you want to devote.
Optimize Your Website
If this all seems overwhelming, a good place to start is your website. Your website absolutely needs to be optimized and organized with accurate, up-to-date information. If it’s not, you’re missing out on potential clients, customers, and even employees. Without a current website, updating your Google My Business can be a real headache.
Taking it a step further, you should create landing pages for each location. “Each location should have its own page on your website,” Steph says. “The URL should include the city where your location is. That’s just another indication to Google that the locations belong to you.”
Be Vocal Online
Next on Steph’s list of SEO 101 is: you should always be vocal online, giving your customer base and audience an understanding that you will be there for them in good times and bad. One of the easiest ways to do this is by responding to reviews on Google and Yelp or wherever else your customers are leaving reviews.
“It’s a great free PR opportunity,” Steph says. “[You can] really show people what your tone is like. We always recommend never using a canned or copy/paste reply. Always personalize that reply to the reviewer and respond to any details.”
Many companies make the mistake of ignoring the negative reviews, as they can be frustrating and even saddening to find them. However, just as you would for someone calling in with a complaint, it’s vital you respond amiably. A thoughtful, kind review can turn a negative review around and can even garner new audience for your business and brand; people truly respect open, honest dialogue.
A new-ish feature of Google My Business that’s often overlooked is the Q&A section. This is essentially a gold-mine of collected questions asked by potential (real) customers who expect that the business will answer them. Most businesses are not aware of this and therefore leave the answering up to the chance of someone trolling your page with incorrect or less than helpful information.
One of the best things you can do for your Google My Business profile is to create the questions and answers section with your own FAQs to ensure that each question is answered correctly. If you add commonly asked questions and answers, chances are that you’ll stay ahead of the game and have quality, helpful content ready and waiting for your potential customers to read.
Why do all of this? Google My Business Questions & Answers show up in search results. So when you’re answering these questions on your Q&A it can be helpful to throw in a keyword or two.
When it’s all said and done the answer with the most “likes” will appear highest/first in the answer bank so make sure to encourage “liking” the answers that you’ve provided to ensure the less-than-helpful answers are way at the bottom. If a user-provided answer is incorrect or slanderous you can also report this to Google for removal.
For more details on SEO 101 and Google My Business, be sure to check out the entire podcast below. Curious about how we can help your website and local SEO? Contact us today! We’d love to discuss your needs.