Google has been the go-to for everyone’s internet searches for decades. It became a verb, to “Google” something, and now, it’s the business standard when you think of search engines. Nobody holds a candle to Google, and they’ve somehow found ways to improve their already phenomenal name. It’s called Google My Business, or GMB, and it’s one of the most effective tools in driving website traffic and customers for local businesses.
Where Did GMB Come From?
GMB has only existed since 2014. While Googling a business at any point before 2014 still yielded results, their accuracy was questionable at best. This wasn’t due to any insincerity on Google’s end, but rather an impossible task to fill. That service was originally called Google Places for Business, and evolved into GMB.
The difference between GMB and its predecessor is extensive, yet simple: users can now verify their own businesses, and categorize them amongst Google’s three different sections, depending what they represent. There are options for:
- Service Area
Depending on what traffic you’re looking to get (digital or physical) you can select one of the three options. If you’ve been a business owner for a while, and you’re not too keen on exactly what category you fall into, you should research exactly what will be most profitable, and most importantly, correct for your business.
Selecting Your Business Type
We talked about what types of businesses are on GMB, but how do you go about properly selecting which one to use for your business, or your clients’ business? Between the three main options, you’ll need to know exactly what you’re getting into.
Storefront: When you have a physical shop, and you can expect customers to enter, spend money on-premises, and exit with a product, this is the option you need. While it might sound like the most basic explanation possible, it’s different from Serve Area, which we’ll get into next.
This option is good for: restaurants, clothing boutiques, tax offices, and more.
Service Area: It’s just as it sounds; if you’re servicing a certain area, and don’t travel beyond those parameters, this is what you’ll want to select. If you don’t have a storefront, or you accept payments on-site or mailed in, then you wouldn’t be considered a storefront.
This option is good for: plumbers, electricians, landscapers, and more.
Brand: If you’re trying to establish your logo and name online, this is not only a quicker option than either Storefront or Service Area, since there’s no physical location to input, but it’s one of the best tools online to establish yourself with Google, and those searching for your brand name and services.
This option is good for: digital marketing agencies, domain registration services, and more.
Case Studies and Success
You can either trust the success stories on the GMB information platform, or scour online. There’s no reason to assume Google’s reviews on their GMB page are manufactured, but it’s always nice to get responses from other users.
While there isn’t much to find in terms of a legitimate case study, there are users from trusted blogs and websites all around the web that swear by it. Even some YouTube tech stars have described it as “revolutionary” and “the next big thing in business.” It’s an undeniably helpful tool, when you use it right.
Some users have had their accounts blocked. No matter what website you go onto, if you have an account, you’re at fear of being blocked for ignoring the Terms & Conditions page that we’re all guilty of skipping past. While it’s not anything out of the ordinary, the GMB terms will list exactly what you’d expect to find hidden within. Information regarding proper use, liability, and what happens when you don’t adhere to everything you’re about to agree to: blocked accounts.
Don’t kiss this absolutely essential marketing tool goodbye. Read the terms, and understand what you’re agreeing to.
Whether it’s a review that’s been placed on a business, or a rating, you can manage them quickly. Google sends you notifications par your specifications, but predominately, you’ll want review notifications to respond to your clients in a quick, concise manner. If you’re a marketer that’s managing multiple businesses, this is an absolutely crucial tool that can set you apart from your competitors in terms of quality.
Why It’s A Necessary Implementation
Google has always been around for properly searching for local businesses, but what you may not have known is more often than not, those would come through Google AdWords campaigns, as opposed to their new method: location.
Everything asks for your locations nowadays. New apps you download, websites, and more. It’s become paramount in determining local results, as opposed to national or global results. When you pull up Google’s homepage on your smartphone or tablet when you’re on-the-go, and search for anything that ends in “near me” or in your specific city, GMB comes into play. It uses your location and follows three basic guidelines to administer results.
Relevance: This solely depends upon how well your specific business fits into the intent of the potential customers’ search. If they’re looking for a deli in your home town, and you’re the only one there, you have nothing to worry about. When you’re using GMB for your business, you’ll need to be very specific when it comes to keywords and your business model.
Distance: The globe isn’t 100% covered for location-based services. There have been times when those in certain areas search for a product or business near them, and their results appear for somewhere in another state, a hundred miles away from them. With GMB, you’re getting a more narrow scope for error, so long as you’ve input all the proper information about your listing.
Prominence: This is strictly based around activity, and your listing. Reviews, events that sponsor your products or services, and far too many to count. If you can get quality backlinks to your website, and that website is connected to your listing, then you’re well on your way to appearing through prominence in local search results.
Google’s Street View Inside Your Business
One fantastic addition to GMB is the ability to give your potential customers a three-sixty view of the inside of your business. We’re all familiar with Google’s street view option. When potential clientele search for your physical business, you can use the free web page that GMB offers you to apply a moveable, three-sixty visual of your business.
For this option, you need to contact Google and hire an approved photographer through them. They outsource this work through an intensive interview process for photography companies, and build trust with them to give consistent, efficient results. It’s a next-level step up for your business visibility.
Analytics Built Right In
Google has always been famous for the cutting-edge analytic options, and GMB is no exception. You get a detailed graph of how potential customers are interacting with your business listing, pertaining to reviews and other interactions. You can get a better understanding of the clientele’s locations based on what part of town they’re in when they enact Google Maps to begin a destination route to a physical business. You even get details about which photos you’ve posted that are getting the most views and feedback. This is especially handy when the business in question is a restaurant, or another location where their clientele is based on the quality of their products.
When potential customers are searching for a café, and yours is within their search parameter, and ranks high enough through relevance and prominence, your chances are that much higher of coming up. In late 2016, GMB launched an entirely new option to better enhance your visibility through searches.
When a customer searches for a local business, they may include their specific parameters, or unique attributes, directly into the search field. These often include if a business has free Wi-Fi, their availability on holidays, and more. Utilizing these unique attributes are a surefire way to appear higher in results when they’ve been narrowed down by the searcher. Let’s be honest: who isn’t on the hunt for free Wi-Fi?
Boost Your SEO With GMB For Local Businesses
GMB is proving to be a phenomenal tool for local SEO results. It focuses on three factors for garnering local results, but there are still more properties that go into it, including account activity, data and verification procedures. There’s a detailed list below with everything you need to know about keeping your SEO up-to-date and effective with GMB.
- Claim: Google has had information online for ages related to businesses, even if yours hasn’t tried to make an account on GMB or its predecessor. All you need to do is search for your business as specifically as you can, pinpoint it, and claim your business. Next, you’ll need to focus on verifying everything.
- Verification: Claiming your business is a big deal. Google doesn’t make it easy for just everyone to do it. Provide every single means of applicable verification. Not only will this guarantee that you have access to your own business listing, but you’ll also be ranked higher. Google wants to promote the more legitimate businesses; more verification means more search engine power.
- 100% Bulletproof Profile: Every single scrape of data needs to be on your GMB profile. It’s not important; it’s critical. Once your profile is 100% complete, you’ll be ore likely to pop-up in results.
- Opening Times: If you’re a physical business with a storefront, or professional service which can be contacted by phone, then this is absolutely necessary. Nobody wants to rely on third-party websites to list times, because they’re often inaccurate, and not official. Put your own times in the proper areas to appear like an actual business, and not a half-finished result page.
- Third-Party Website Citations: Select well-regarded business directory websites, and get as many as you can. It will show Google that you’re consistently the same business and same level of professionalism across the internet. This can be slightly time-consuming, and some premium listings ask for a one-time fee, but they’re ultimately worth it if you can properly select them. If you choose websites that often get flagged as spam, then you’re not choosing the right services. Be selective. Research these websites.
It’s also worth mentioning that you can now converse with your clients through their reviews on your GMB page. You can respond to them, and he highlighted as the business owner, and stay on top of negative reviews by publicly offering compensation or some form of remedy for the situation, thereby keeping your reputation sturdy. GMB is not a “set and forget” feature. You need to stay on top of reviews, positive and negative, and your data. This is where digital marketing companies can find one of the best ways to keep their clients happy; it’s a platform for constant monitoring and updated information about a business.
Google My Business is extremely effective, if you know what you’re doing. It can just as easily be used as a tool to keep your potential clients away. In increasing numbers, people use the internet to make decisions for them every single day. Whether it’s services like Yelp, or other review websites, people are taking less of a human element in selecting where they’re going to eat, or shop. This is where SEO comes in to save the day.
We can’t provide better reviews, but proper optimization using GMB can be a life or death tool when it comes to business marketing, and visibility. The beauty in all of this is Google doing all of the legwork for you. Their services take care of ranking by selecting complete and accurate profiles with 100% of the data fields filled out. Where it’s based upon proximity to the searcher, your only tasks are setting it up properly, and keeping the information current with you or your clients’ business. Any changes? Adjust the GMB page appropriately.