Google My Business Is Your Underrated Digital Marketing Solution
Google My Business (GMB) pages are a perfect tool for shopping. A quick glance at a GMB page can save us from showing up to closed restaurants, visiting the gym at deaded crowded peak hours, or hiring that creepy locksmith. We adore GMB pages as shoppers, but it’s just as excellent a digital marketing solution. Without further ado, here’s how to use Google My Business pages to your advantage with online marketing.
Even if your business set up a GMB page long ago, if you haven’t done much to it since, this article will still be useful to you, so keep reading (or just skip to optimization).
The Basics of Google My Business
GMB works together with your business’s website to give shoppers access to the information they want to find, like address, hours, and reviews.
Why? Because Google is all about customer experience. GMB listings are meant to display all the information shoppers need to narrow down their search and decide whether a business can meet their specific shopping needs. These pages appear in Google search, Google maps, and on Google+.
Your Business Information Made Easy
A neat and tidy GMB page makes it easy for customers to find the basic information that they need to make a visit. GMB pages list the address, phone numbers, website, and hours of operation for every business. With a good GMB page, shoppers don’t have to navigate to your actual website in order get the information they need to visit.
GMB Auto-Updates Your Business Details
Something not many businesses may know is that Google My Business can automatically update information across all linked websites as you change it. Having all your information in one place is very useful when the time comes to change that information.
Extra Audience Data and Insights
The GMB-AdWords Connection
A strong SEO strategy can help you rank well during local business searches, but even the most solid SEO strategies are complemented by a highly-specialized PPC plan . Your business’s GMB page can be linked to your AdWords campaign, your ads will appear with a link to your physical location. This can also display your ads in the Google maps search results.
Level Playing Field
Because Google wants to provide the user with the best, most relevant, most helpful results, they’ve leveled the playing field. Smaller businesses can rank just as well (if not better) than huge companies. GMB results will always rank on what is the best for the shopper.
How Google My Business Pages Rank
Just as standard websites rank in the Google search results, GMB pages also rank in search results and on Google Maps. The difference is that GMB page rankings are driven by factors specific to local search. The top ranking factors for GMB pages are relevance, distance, and prominence.
Relevance relates to how well your business fits the shopper’s search intent. That means a user searching for “dog day-care” should see your kennel business in their local search results, but someone looking for a “gluten-free muffins” should not. Naturally, relevance is an incredibly important factor for all search, and local is no exception.
The next primary local ranking factor used by GMB is distance. Obviously, in local searches, distance is one of the most important details. Shoppers conduct local searches because they’re looking to do business within a certain distance. If your business is outside that distance, you shouldn’t expect to rank.
The third GMB ranking factor to be aware of it prominence. Prominence signifies the activity around your business. Is your business a fixture of the community, with tons of reviews, sponsored events, local newspaper articles, etc? If so, the chances are that your prominence is already relatively high. If not, there are several things you can to do help. Getting solid quality links (local business directories and publications are perfect) to your site is always one of the best tactics for improving SEO ranking. You can also make regular updates and optimization on your GMB to keep Google’s algorithms (and users) aware that your business is up and running.
Because of this, Google My Business pages are the biggest driver of local SEO success.
So now that we’ve got all the basics of GMB covered, let’s dive in to the ways that GMB can be an effective digital marketing solution.
Categories, Attributes and Features
One of the aspects of GMB that makes it an effective digital marketing solution is the ability to add multiple categories for one business. The key to providing that relevant experience is making sure that you are ranking in searches for all the services you provide. If, for example, you were the owner of the Golden Sands Resort and Spa, and the only category your establishment is listed under is “Resort” your other services are missing out on potential business. Ideally, you should be selecting categories that fit every service you provide. This could include “Hotel,” “Spa,” “Salon,” and potentially many more.
A Recent Change [June 2018]:
Google recently made a change to their GMB local pack listings. The local pack, the local results that show up on Google’s search results page, can now show different business categories next to a business’s name depending on the user’s search query. This means it is most important than ever to list all your potential services, but also take heart – if your business is one of the best choices for that user, there’s now an even better chance you’ll be the one to rank.
GMB ‘Attributes’ is another tool to utilize for better representing your products and services to the public. Attributes allow your business to list all languages spoken, the payment options available, and even the types of products you offer. Similarly, to the categories, the efficacy of GMB as a digital marketing solution is largely based in the quantity and quality of information that you can provide. To that end, we highly recommend taking the time to go through all your attributes and carefully adding anything that applies.
Apart from the standard categories and attributes, Google My Business is full of additional tools that make it an attractive digital marketing solution. The following are a few features to consider adding to your GMB page.
Does your business make appointments regularly? If so, this feature is one to check out. Expanded appointment booking options allow users to schedule an appointment (linked to their Google account) without having to visit the actual website or get on the phone.
Messaging is a phenomenal tool for connecting directly with your customers. This options is displayed directly beside your contact information and lets shoppers reach out. Shoppers can send you a message, question, or request while browsing, and the message will be delivered via your messaging system or Google Allo. The chat feature doesn’t need someone constantly monitoring it. During times that you aren’t around, you can turn off the chat feature or set up auto-replies. When active, a small icon will appear beside your other contact information and let customers know you can be contacted immediately.
Google Question and Answers
Do you often get people asking the same questions? Q&A lets you answer your shopper’s most common questions. A Q&A section not only helps you understand common shopper frustrations and desires, it shows new customers and shoppers see your commitment to customer experience.
If you don’t have a blog, or you do, but hardly use it, Google Posts can help display the content you want in the same page as the rest of your GMB information. Google Posts can display images, copy, event names, and call-to-action buttons on posts about specials, promotions, sales events, and products. This feature helps make GMB pages particularly useful.
GMB is a powerful digital marketing solution once you invest some real time and attention. Let’s keep the action going. Whether you’ve updated your categories or you’ve just skipped here for some advice, here are some of the best ways to optimize your GMB page to maximize online and in-store traffic.
Heads Up: Everything you put on your GMB must be accurate. Dishonest or otherwise false information will tank your reputation and possibly your ranking.
Use Your Full Business Name
Always post your full business name on your GMB page. This helps to establish the legitimacy of your business, helps users who aren’t familiar with your business, and improves the overall efficacy of your GMB page. Imagine if your dog kennel is called Big Bob’s Dog Kennel. Your loyal customers and tight-knit community might always refer to your business as “Big Bob’s,” but putting just “Big Bob’s” on your GMB page could turn away customers or lower your ranking.
Offer All The Information
The more information you offer up front, the better. GMB is about the users experience, and using it as an successful digital marketing solution means following that lead. Fill in every option for information. We’ve said it before this section, but it’s worth saying again: All the information you show on your GMB page must be correct.
Keep Your Information Correct
Consistency is key to successful digital marketing, and has to be present on your Google My Business page. This covers everything from making sure that your hours reflect the actual operating times you keep (every day) to certifying that the phone number you show is actually the one that gets answered every time.
Make Your Business Look Good
One of the most important aspects of using GMB as a digital marketing solution showcasing your business with photos. Upload high-quality images of your business, products (like food or nail art) and employees. Consider implementing even more effective visual content like the Virtual Tour — a 360 swipe-able interactive image of the inside of your business.
You can help boost your rankings by adding in important keywords or search phrases to your GBM page. While keywords additions to your GMB copy can help drive more traffic, overdoing it will result in annoyed users and poor ranking.
Manage Your Reputation on Reviews
Reviews are an essential part your digital marketing. Apart from being essential for shoppers, they also boost your ranking. If your reviews aren’t curated, you are almost certainly losing out on traffic and business. Even something as simple as thanking positive reviewers and offering to help fix the concerns mentioned in negative reviews can make all the difference.