Nobody would argue that Google is the most powerful search engine on the planet. To supplement their ever-evolving search technology, Google also has a host of other tools to help your small businesses. Among these many tools is an absolute gem that most businesses entirely under-utilize.

This tool is called Google My Business, and it can mean the difference between getting noticed online, and being lost in obscurity. While Google My Business has some benefit for all businesses, it is particularly powerful when it comes to local businesses and location-based marketing strategies.

In this article, we will briefly discuss the key features of Google My Business, and then walk through the basic steps of setting up your account.

Google Maps

If you’ve ever used Google to search for local businesses, you have probably noticed that the top results are often Google Maps Listings. Ever wonder how the top results ended up in those positions? You guessed it, from utilizing Google My Business.

Google mapsThe world of SEO is ever changing. It used to be enough for your website to show up in the first page of search results for a particular search term. But in the current search environment, searchers are using varying devices to access search results, and more often than not, customers are searching for local businesses via mobile apps.

Furthermore, searchers often care less about your website. They want to find quick and easy information in a familiar format, such as Google Maps. If you aren’t on Google Maps, you are virtually invisible to customers, especially those searching on the go.

Business Information Page

In addition to incredible search visibility, Google My Business provides you with an information page for your business… a mini website, if you will. Google knows exactly the types of information that searchers want to know about local businesses, and they provide a clean, uniform way for you to display things like business hours, menu and description of services, prices, photos, and customer reviews.

The beauty of the information you provide on your page can be formatted for search on a desktop, a smartphone browser, or search within Google Maps itself. Wherever customers are searching for you, they will find all the right information in a familiar format.

Social Proof

One of the most important components of Google My Business is the ability to collect what marketers call social proof, or feedback about your business from non-biased third parties. This includes reviews, photos, and experiences shared by customers who have visited your place of business.

Social proof can have a huge impact on your business. When searching for the best dry cleaner, for example, the amount of social proof is often the determining factor in deciding between multiple options.

Customers want to get to know you and trust you before they ever set foot in your business. This can be accomplished with a robust Google My Business listing with a lot of social proof.

A word of warning here. Inherent with any review system is the need to religiously monitor the reviews and contributions made by visitors to your business. You must work hard to eliminate reasons for customers to post negative content, while constantly promoting and requesting positive feedback.

If you do receive negative reviews, you must address the issue privately, as well as publicly (through Google My Business) in a positive way. One negative review that is not addressed properly can be devastating. Likewise, a number of positive reviews can me more customers for you.

How to Start

  1. Click here “Google My Business
  2. Follow the link and instructions to set up your account
  3. Add or Claim your Business. This includes waiting for Google to mail you a verification postcard to the address you provide. Your listing will not be live until you verify your address with this code.
  4. Complete your business profile, including logo, contact info, hours and any other information pertinent to searchers.
  5. Add photos, videos, updates, article posts, and other content. This can be done on an ongoing basis, similar to other social media platforms. Beautifully, you can also ask customers to add photos and other content directly from their phones.
  6. Ask for reviews, and monitor all reviews coming in.
  7. Watch your business become popular on Google and popular around town!

Read more articles on Small Business Resources

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