Bizzuka is proud to manage the digital marketing efforts for companies with national and international reach.
But for me, helping local and regional businesses compete with larger corporate brands is especially rewarding. It’s an exciting challenge, and it’s one of the biggest parts of my day-to-day work here with the company.
I believe one of the most important things a small business can do to compete is to have an optimized website that can be easily found by potential customers. There are a lot of on-site and off-site components to this—some of them more time intensive and impactful than others.
For my money, the single easiest thing a business owner can do is to create a Google My Business (GMB) listing.
If you have a physical storefront and you want to be found on Google Maps and Google search, GMB is a must. The payoff will be big, and in this post I’ll show you how to do it in 15 minutes (or less).
Over the last several years, Google has encouraged business owners to use several services (Google Places, Google+ Local). Now, Google My Business combines many of the older features in a single, easy-to-use dashboard that lets you manage how your business is presented on Google search, maps, Google+ and other Google properties.
Four factors determine how your GMB business listing will appear when an Internet user is searching a keyword:
- Relevance: How relevant is your business category/listing to the search phrase used by the user?
- Prominence: Traffic to your business listing. How established is your business online?
- Distance: How close is your storefront from where the search is being made.
- Search history: How many times has your listing been clicked on by users searching with the given keyword.
According to Google, there are a few things you can do to get your listing ranked higher:
- Make sure your listing is in the right category. You can use more than one category to target the right audience, but you shouldn’t repeat a general category and a specific category. For example, don’t use both “Restaurant” and “Italian Restaurant.” But if your Italian restaurant also has an espresso bar, use both “Italian Restaurant” and “Coffee Shop.”
- Share your listing URL with customers via your Google+ page, particularly when you update the listing info or add new photos. From your listing dashboard, you can go to “share an update” in the bottom-left corner to do this.
- Get good reviews from happy customers. You can encourage customers to review your business by clicking “Write a review” from your listing (as shown in the example below):
Set Up Your Google My Business Profile:
GMB is not only one of the most important things you can do to boost your business visibility online—it’s also something you can set up in a few minutes.
Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to do it.
1. To get started, you’ll need a Google account. Get one here if you don’t already have one.
2. Got your account info? Great. Now go to the Google My Business start page and click “start now.”
3. You’ll be prompted to enter your business name and physical business address. If you have multiple locations, just pick the main one for now; you can enter the other locations later.
You should see the option to claim an existing listing or create a new one (“add your business”). If you claim an existing listing, you’ll have to vouch that you are authorized to manage the business; you’ll be presented with several ways to verify this. Note: If you’re creating a new listing and you are a service provider or a home-based business without a storefront, you can enter your home address and check the box that says “I deliver goods and services to my customers at their location.” You’ll then be prompted to specify your service area.
Oh, one more thing, if Google doesn’t recognize your address, you may need to adjust your “pin” on the map so it shows exactly where the entrance to your business is.
4. After you have verified your business info and confirmed that you are authorized to make changes, your GMB listing and Google+ profile will be created. You’ll see a “Welcome to Google My Business!” message. You can click “skip the tour” or “get started” to go straight to your dashboard.
5. Here is where your business info lives. Click the red “edit” button in the upper right-hand corner.
6. Add a description of your business in the “introduction” system, using the keywords and keyword phrases that describe what you do. Remember: You maximize your local search performance with your Google My Business listing. The more complete your business listing is, the higher it will rank. Make sure your hours are accurate for each day. Make sure your phone number and website are listed.
7. You’ll be prompted to upload interior photos, exterior photos, “photos at work,” photos of your team providing the service you offer and more. Use attractive, compelling images. I believe faces and “action” shots always perform better than static shots of your building or your product sitting on a shelf.
8. As I mentioned earlier, choose your categories carefully. List in multiple categories if possible, but only if each category you choose accurately reflects what you do. You can see available categories here.
9. Your GMB dashboard is where you’ll respond to reviews, which you should ALWAYS do, whether they are good, bad or neutral. See also: Guidelines for representing your business on Google.
10. The last step will cost you a few bucks, but it’s particularly useful for hotels, restaurants and other businesses where the atmosphere is an important draw. You can click “add virtual tour” to use images taken by a Google-certified photographer or agency. This lets you have your business interior shown on Google Search, Google Maps, and Google+. A “Certified Street View Pro” will create a high-quality virtual tour to show off your business. For some business, these virtual tours are incredibly helpful. Google says searchers who view hotel listing with a virtual tour are twice as likely to be interested in booking a reservation there. And among 18-34 year-olds in particular, prospects are 130% more likely to book based on a tour.