[This article was written by Garrett Smith.]
Google My Business (GMB) is one of the most useful tools available for business owners who run small-to-midsize businesses. Equipped with many insightful features, Google has taken its position as the most popular search engine and use it to give business owners a solid platform to work with.
Google is used over 3 billion times a day, making it the most popular search engine on the web. Some of the most popular searches are what Google calls “Local Searches,” where users enter queries like “best restaurants near me” or “thrift stores Chicago.” For smaller and medium sized businesses, local search is where Google My Business can really help you shine and reach new potential customers. In today’s blog, we will help you learn more about how you can make the most out of Google My Business to boost your business’s visibility online.
What is Google My Business?
Google My Business is a tool that Google developed and rolled out in June of 2014. Since then, its features have been expanded to create numerous outlets for business owners to provide potential customers with great information. Perhaps more importantly, Google has used Google My Business profiles to give users a place to view unbiased business information in the form of online reviews.
According to Google’s support team, the goal of Google My Business has always been to:
- Manage Your Information
- Interact with Customers
- Understand and Expand Your Presence
- Help Businesses Go Mobile
As you’ll see in this guide, all of the features built into Google My Business help you do just that all while staying a step ahead of competitors who may be slow to adopt online reputation management techniques through GMB.
The Most Useful Google My Business Features for Small-to-Midsize Businesses
There are many features within Google My Business, each with a different approach to helping you connect with your current and potential customers. When you’re just getting started with Google My Business, it can be overwhelming to narrow down what you should do first to make the most out of your profiles.
Claiming Your Google My Business Profile
Unless you’re a brand new business, you’ll have to go through the process of finding and claiming your Google My Business profile.
The first step to this would be doing a quick Google search to see if a business listing appears for your company. This profile, if unclaimed, will have a “Claim This Business” option for you to click on.
After inputting basic business information, you’ll move through the verification steps to grant you access to the profile. Google will give you the option to receive a call at the number that is already on the profile or to receive a postcard with a verification code. Many business owners choose to get a call to keep things easy, since the call will come through in less than 30 seconds.
Once you’ve completed that verification step, congratulations! You’ve claimed your Google My Business profile.
Updating Your Information
Once you’ve claimed your Google My Business profile, it’s time to update the information on it. This step serves two purposes: to make sure that the information your profile displays is correct and that it is attractive.
This means you should double check your business category, address, phone number, website, open hours. But it also means that you should update the photos on your profile so that they are a great representation of your business.
Google also allows business owners to update videos, which is perfect for people who have a “walkthrough” of the business or a commercial of some sort to display on their profile as well.
Reviews on Google My Business
Perhaps the most important feature on Google My Business are the reviews. Users can leave reviews for businesses they visit by rating them on a scale from 1-5 stars and adding in a written review.
Business owners should make it a priority to gain more reviews on their GMB profile so that potential customers can get the most realistic picture of their business and how it compares to other competitors.
To make the most out of this feature, you could also use a reputation management tool to solicit reviews from customers. As long as you have their phone number or email saved, you can send out bulk messages that route customers to your Google My Business profile to leave their review. In many cases, business owners choose to use these tools in conjunction with asking for reviews in-person while the customer is still at your location.
Google My Business Q&A
One of the newer features of Google My Business is the Q&A feature. This allows users to submit questions that the business owner can respond to. Keep in mind, however, that other users can also answer these questions. That’s why it’s important to consistently manage your GOogle My Business profile.
You can also upload common questions (and their answers) directly from your account. If you commonly get asked about parking, you can upload that Q&A so people who may contact you with that exact question can get the answer directly from your profile.
Google My Business Posts
Posts is a feature that gives business owners extra “advertising” space – except this type of advertising is free!
Through Google My Business Posts, you’ll be able to create updates that will be featured as a part of your profile. So, when someone is viewing your Google My Business profile, you can update them about sales, weekly specials, or special events that you are involved with.
In a sea of competitors, these posts can help you stand out as many people have been slow to use this feature. To make your posts pop even more, you can use free graphic design tools like Canva to create images that accompany your posts.
Over time, Google has developed numerous tools to help business owners expand their online presence and reach as many potential customers as possible. Other tools, like Google Analytics and Adwords, can be used alongside Google My Business to best manage your business’s online reputation.
Garrett is the President & CEO of RepCheckup, an online review management software.. He has been helping businesses thrive through sales and marketing since 1999.