What is Google My Business and How Can it Help Me?
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Every business owner knows they need to have visibility on Google. But your regular business profile is likely not doing much to drive web traffic or generate leads. Opening a free Google My Business account can be a boon for your business if you spend some time finessing your account and regularly add value to it.
What exactly is a Google My Business (GBM) account, how can you sign up for it, and what are the steps you should take to optimize it?
What is Google My Business?
Once you have a business profile on Google, you can enhance it to better manage your online presence. By providing useful information to online search engine users, you offer the kind of content that Google explicitly states will help SEO. As you fill in more data about your local business – as well as update your account to keep the content fresh – Google will reward you with higher ranked map search results.
How to Sign Up for Google My Business
It’s easy to get started and open a Google My Business account:
- Check to see that you have opened a standard Google account for your business.
- This is the account that gives you access to Gmail, Google Docs, Google Sheets, etc. It should be an account dedicated to your business, not your personal account.
- Make sure you have a Business Profile
- Your Business Profile is your free listing that shows up on Google Maps, when someone searches for local results on Google, and it also appears on the right-hand panel of Google.
- Sign up for a Google My Business Account
- Go to google.com/business
- Select “Manage now”
- Fill in the basic information about your business like your business name, address, phone number, website, etc.
- Request to claim your business profile by searching for your Business Profile on Google Maps. On the right-hand panel, you’ll see your business featured with a question that asks, “Own this business?”
- Once you click on “Own this business” you’ll be taken to a screen that lets you manage your business by filling in pertinent information.
- You’ll then need to verify it’s your business by answering some questions that prove you are the rightful owner of the account.
How to Optimize Your Google My Business Account
After you claim ownership of your Business Profile and are verified, experts say you should follow these steps to optimize your account:
- On the left-hand panel of your account page, there’s a list of items you can click on and complete. Fill in as many of these as you can. You may need to update some of them from time to time, like holiday hours, for example.
- Your business name and address must match your other listings on Google, and the business name must also match your physical signage.
- Write a description of your business that’s personal and unique so that you stand out from your competition.
- Choose a category that’s specific enough to allow you to be discovered in searches. You can also add secondary categories if necessary.
- If you offer special features like free Wi-Fi or validated parking, include that information as Attributes.
- Add photos that are an accurate representation of your business – and change them out occasionally.
- Get your first reviews by asking loyal customers to give their feedback. Then, you’ll want to make it easy for new customers to leave reviews.
- Post regularly to your profile. What you post will depend on what you sell or offer, but some examples include announcements, sales, promotions, special offers, giveaway, new product information, etc.
- Take control of your Q&A section by coming up with a list of your own questions and answering them comprehensively. If you can incorporate keywords into the questions, that’s even better. Then set up alerts so you can respond to questions quickly.
- Add descriptions of products and services you offer. If your pricing is competitive, you may want to include that information as well.
- Enable messaging so that people can get in touch with you directly from your profile.
- Keep your profile current because potential customers are looking for updated, relevant information. If your profile looks outdated or inaccurate, they may click away and seek out a competitor.
How Can Optimizing Your Google My Business Profile Help Your Business?
- Your business will show up in more Map searches and you’ll improve your ranking for regular searches. Improved ranking means more site visits and the potential to develop leads into purchases.
- You’ll increase your odds of showing up in the Google 3-pack – the three businesses that appear above organic search results when someone searches for a business “near me.”
- If you accumulate good reviews, your positive star-rating may be the deciding factor that motivates consumers to visit your business.
- By providing useful and relevant information, you’ll earn the trust of potential customers and give current customers a reason to return.
- The more value you provide for consumers, the more you can stand apart from your competitors.
- GMB is aligned with Google, and that means you can access Google analytics to see how your profile is performing and where you need to make changes. You can even compare your profile to others in your category to see what’s working well and what needs improvement
No Downsides to Using Google My Business
Google My Business will pay off for you if you attend to your profile regularly and continue to provide useful information to your regular and potential customers. The only thing it will cost you is your time, but it’s certainly time well spent – especially during a period when local businesses are struggling.