Learn how to dominate local SEO through Google My Business
Are you using Google My Business?
For those unfamiliar, Google My Business (not to be confused with Google+) is a free platform that Google created to help businesses manage the search results that show when someone searches your business name. This is where businesses manage the contact information, open hours, reviews, and pictures that show in Google search results.
Recently, Google added the ability for business owners to post updates to their Google My Business listing, allowing you to share photos, announce sales or specials, showcase new products, and list upcoming events.
These Google My Business posts show up when someone searches your business’s name on Google, giving you an easy way of occupying more real estate in the search results, and drawing more attention and traffic.
History of Google My Business
Launched in June 2014, the focus of Google My Business was to allow an easy way for local businesses as well as national brands to be found on Google. It was a huge change from the sponsored listings and directory listings of the past on Google. Google My Business allowed business owners to get the visibility they needed on Google, in a way that was simple to manage.
Google My Business now allows entrepreneurs to manage their business’s name, address, phone number, website, reviews, pictures, service areas, opening date, instant messaging, and even let customers use the AI-powered Google Assistant to book with you.
Listings on Google My Business can only be created for businesses that either have a physical location that customers can visit, or that travel to visit customers where they are. Brands, organizations, artists, and other online-only businesses aren’t eligible for Google My Business listings.
Why Google My Business is important
Despite this, many local businesses have yet to claim their free Google My Business listing, giving those that do a chance to stand out from the crowd.
To create a Google My Business account, visit https://www.google.com/business.
Next, input the basic information of your business.
Then, you will have to verify your account by submitting a code that is mailed to your business address via physical postcard. This step is necessary to unlock all Google My Business features.
After your company information is added, you will be able to access your account to start personalizing your listing.
Google My Business requests your name, address, and phone number (otherwise known as “NAP”) to begin the listing. You must ensure that the information provided on Google My Business matches the information on your website exactly, as well as your Facebook page and any other online listings. Inconsistencies in your business’s information across the internet will negatively impact your search ranking.
Filling out your company’s information is especially important because anyone can suggest an edit to your business listing, including competitors.
When someone clicks on “Suggest an edit”, it gives them the opportunity to make some pretty dramatic changes to your listing.
Many times, these “suggestions” are immediately made live on Google, even if you don’t approve them. That’s why it is of utmost importance to proactively monitor and manage your Google My Business listing.
When was the last time you tried a new restaurant without reading some reviews first?
Reviews are becoming increasingly paramount for local search. Good reviews lead to more sales, but even bad reviews present an opportunity.
How to get more Google reviews
To share your public Google My Business listing, first pull up your listing on Google Maps. You can do this by clicking the “View on Maps” link on the Home page of your Google My Business account.
Then click the Share button, and send the link to your customers.
Responding to reviews
After you start to gather reviews on your listing, you need to respond to them. All of them.
The good, the bad, and the ugly.
Why? Well, 44.6% of people said they would be more likely to visit a business if the owner responded to negative reviews.
If you are receiving 5-star reviews, thank your customers for taking the time to leave their feedback.
If you receive less-than-stellar reviews, do not be defensive or hostile. Rather, thank the customer for the feedback, and ask how you could have improved the experience if that wasn’t already made clear.
You can manage your customer reviews by going to the Reviews section in Google My Business.
Questions & Answers
Similar to Reviews, Google My Business allows people to ask questions about the business that anyone can view.
However, anyone can also answer those questions, not just the owner.
Keep a close eye for any questions that come in so you can answer them quickly and keep some control over the narrative.
What if your customers have questions that aren’t answered on your website? They can simply call the number listed in the search results, right?
It turns out that most people much prefer messaging over calling when given the option. Some people even have a crippling fear of making phone calls.
That is one of the reasons why Google My Business introduced it’s messaging feature, allowing potential patrons to ask questions and receive direct support via instant messaging.
To enable the messaging feature, it requires downloading the Google My Business mobile app, which can be found inside of your Google My Business account
In addition to messaging your customers one-on-one, the Google My Business mobile app also allows you to also manage your business profile, share photos and posts, and check analytics.
Google My Business Posts
Google posts were first introduced in 2016 as “Candidate Cards” in the 2016 presidential election. Google described these as non-ad privileges, giving 2016 Republican and Democratic candidates a place to speak directly to the public in Google search.
Google stated that during one of the Republican debates “political search interest spikes 440 percent on average during live televised debates as people turn to the web to learn more about the candidates and their platforms.” The then-new Candidate Cards allowed candidates to speak directly to voters and control some of the content that showed when their name was searched on Google.
Proving to be both appealing and informative to viewers, Google then expanded these cards to celebrities and sports teams.
In June 2017, Google brought these posts to local businesses as a way of attracting new customers and building relationships with existing customers. Google My Business posts have proven effective in promoting sales, events, emergency updates such as school closings, or sharing job openings.
Types of posts
Google My Business has 4 different post types.
- What’s New posts: Posts that provide general information about your business. You can include a photo/video, link, Call-To-Action button, and other information. For example, a restaurant could make a post to promote a new menu item.
- Event posts: Posts that promote an event your business is involved with or supports. Event posts require a title, start/end dates and time, and may include a photo/video, Call-To-Action button, and other information. For example, a bookstore may advertise a local author’s book signing or a book club meeting.
- Offer posts: Posts that provide promotional sales or offers from your business. Offer posts require a title and start/end dates and times. A “View offer” Call-To-Action button is automatically added to the post. You can also include a photo/video, coupon code, link, and terms and conditions with the post. For example, a pizza parlor may advertise a 20% off large pizzas for a week.
- Product posts: Posts that emphasize a specific product your business sells. Product posts require a title and photo or video. You can also include a Call-To-Action button and other information. For example, an electronics store may promote a new phone for sale.
In addition, you can also add an optional Call-To-Action button on each post that links to whatever destination you choose.
Google My Business has a few different Call-To-Actions button options.
- Order Online
- Learn More
- Sign Up
- View Offer (only available for Offer posts)
Google My Business posts can be text only, image only, link only, or any combination of these. Links can be added with or without a Call-To-Action button.
Here is an example of an Event post with a “Learn More” Call-To-Action button.
Google My Business gives you insights into how many people viewed and clicked on each of your posts.
Additionally, Google My Business shows the queries that people used to find your business on both search and maps, an extremely valuable insight. Queries can be filtered by the last week, month or quarter.
Expiration of posts
Google My Business posts expire after 1 week, meaning 7 days after you post something, it will no longer show in Google’s search results.
The only exception to this is Event posts, which expire after the listed date of the event.
Posting on Google My Business is a no-brainer for any local business that wants to stand out in Google search results. But because Google My Business posts expire after 7 days, it means that at least once a week, you have to remember to log back into Google My Business and post something again.
No need to worry though. Below, you’ll discover 4 different tools that support Google My Business posts scheduling.
This allows you to reap the benefits of being active on Google My Business, without the hassle of going back in week after week to manually post something when your previous update expires.
OneUp is a social media scheduling tool that supports Google My Business, in addition to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Google+.
Cost: OneUp starts at $3/month for up to 10 accounts, with a 7-day free trial (no credit card required upfront).
Connecting your Google My Business account
When you sign up, you can connect your Google My Business account from the Accounts page in OneUp.
Schedule a post
Click Schedule a Post to either post now or schedule it for a future time. You can add text, a link, and an image.
Then add your Call-To-Action button and a link.
Here is what that post looks like on the Google search results page.
Set posts to automatically repeat
In addition to just scheduling posts, OneUp allows you to set Google My Business posts to automatically repeat at set intervals — such as once a week or once a month.
You can choose to have the post repeat indefinitely, or choose for it to stop after a certain date or number of times posted.
Sendible is a social media tool designed for agencies. They support Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Google+, and Google My Business.
Cost: Sendible plans start at $29/month, with a 30-day free trial (credit card required upfront).
Add your Google My Business account
From the Add Services page, you can connect your Google My Business account.
Schedule a post
Click Compose to schedule a post. You can add your message, link, and an image.
With Sendible, you can schedule your post to repeat with a lot of options for how it will repeat, such as only on specific days of the week.
3. Social Report
Social Report is a social media management platform designed for larger teams. They support a wide range of social platforms, including Google My Business, Facebook, and YouTube.
Cost: Social Report plans start at $49/month for up to 5 brands, with a 30-day free trial (credit card required upfront).
To get started, click Connect Profiles to choose from a large list of accounts that you can connect to Social Report.
Schedule a post
Click Schedule a Post to pull up Social Report’s scheduler. You can compose your message, add a link, and an image.
Set posts to automatically repeat
With Social Report, you can choose how often you would like your post to be repeated, choosing from an interval of minutes, hours, days, or weeks.
4. Social Pilot
Social Pilot labels itself as a “Social Media Management Tool for Teams and Agencies”. They support a number of social networks including Google My Business, LinkedIn, and Twitter.
Cost: Social Pilot plans start at $30/month, with a 14-day free trial (no credit card required upfront).
Connecting your Google My Business account
From the Accounts page, click Connect Location to link your Google My Business account to Social Pilot.
Schedule A Post
Click Add Post to bring up the post scheduler. Social Pilot allows you to add text, a link, and an image in your Google My Business post.
Repeat your posts
Social Pilot allows you to schedule your posts to be repeated up to 10 times, and you can choose how many days you want in between each repeating post.
Google tends to look favorably upon businesses that are using Google My Business, so you might be shooting yourself in the foot by ignoring it. The tools mentioned above make it easy to maintain a consistent presence on Google My Business, which may help your business stand out from the competition, improve search rankings, drive more traffic, and ultimately acquire more customers.