Small Businesses Can Attract Local Customers With This Free Tool
Most local businesses know they need to have an optimized website to come up in Google searches, but there’s another tool which enables business owners to manage how they appear online across Google and promote their goods or services locally.
One of the simplest ways to gain traffic and customers is by claiming and optimizing your Google My Business (GMB) listing. Known also as your Business Profile, this listing highlights your best features, your business’ operating information, reviews, posts, and much more. It enables potential customers to quickly find and learn about your company or practice. And best of all—it’s completely free!
How to Show Up in Local Searches
The more visible you are and the more often your business shows up in search results — the better the chances are of getting the right attention. A large percentage of Google searches have local intent, meaning a lot of the searches are done by people looking for places nearby or within a short distance to where they are at that time.
According to a 2020 BrightLocal survey, 93% of consumers used the internet to find a local business in the last year. Local search is an integral element of a successful digital marketing campaign, and Google My Business is an increasingly important factor in that area. If you create a robust profile with lots of information and images, you will rank higher for local searches.
The two primary ways people search locally are using Google Maps or simply within their browser. A Google My Business listing is critical for ranking in maps and can also indirectly help your website ranking. A verified and optimized GMB profile also stands a better chance of being in the local 3-pack, putting your business at the top of the search results. The local 3-pack is the listing of three businesses that you see first in the search results when searching for terms using keywords like “near me” or by entering your location. These top three results focus on businesses that are most relevant to your search.
Ranking well on Google Maps is monumental for local businesses. SEO Tribunal reports that 97% of people learn more about a business online than they do anywhere else and 84% of Google users conduct local searches on a regular basis.
Creating Your GMB Profile
Google your business name and an “own this business?” prompt should appear on the right side of your screen. If you don’t see this prompt, it could mean someone has claimed it. You can request ownership through Google to reclaim your business. And if you don’t have an account at all, you can create one here.
Creating and verifying your profile can be done in a matter of hours but make sure to complete every section of your Google My Business account. Make sure your contact information is accurate, as you could miss potential customers by having the wrong phone number or address listed. Also make sure to keep all your information as consistent as possible with what is displayed on your website. Google likes when things match up and can be verified.
Here are the absolute must-haves for any GMB profile:
- Your Business Name
- Phone Number
- Hours of Operation
The next step should be to write a business description. Your business description is what distinguishes your business from others. It helps consumers better understand what your company or practice is all about and why they should choose you over competitors. You only have 750 characters so make them count. Most importantly, make it clear what you do or sell. Then add in what makes your practice or business unique.
You’ll then be asked to select primary and secondary categories. The whole point is for Google to connect you with consumers who need your services, so choose only the categories that specifically match your business.
A Picture is Worth 1,000 Words
Photos allow potential customers to actually visualize your business and determine whether it’s a good fit for their needs. It’s important to add lots of high-resolution, original photos (not stock images). Photos should include the front of your building, inside your office or waiting room, your staff, and visuals of what you do or sell… at a minimum. Remember to include your logo in the images.
Consumers give more consideration to local results that have images.
According to Google, customers are 42% more likely to request driving directions to a business if its Business Profile has photos, and 35% more likely to click through to its website.
Even though your Google My Business listing will naturally collect photos over time from customers, it’s still important to actively upload your own new photos weekly, or at least monthly, to help with SEO. Adding photos regularly signals to Google that you’re active with your profile and it’s up-to-date, which positively impacts your ranking.
Rave Reviews Are Key on Google
Reviews are absolutely vital for small businesses! Positive reviews are the #1 influence on consumer buying, according to key insights from a SOCI marketing summit. 54% of consumers want a minimum of 4 stars to consider frequenting a business.
Consumers are consulting online reviews more than ever before, reading an average number of 10 reviews before feeling able to trust a business. 87% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses in 2020—up from 81% in 2019 according to a 2020 BrightLocal survey.
Reviews can be an incredibly useful tool for attracting new customers, but make sure your most current review is a glowing, positive one as 73% of consumers only pay attention to reviews written in the last month.
According to the 2020 Local Consumer Review Survey, the industries for which reviews are most important are:
- Medical / Healthcare practices
- Hotels / B&Bs
These categories are all important for different reasons as you don’t want to buy a high-ticket item like an automobile without doing your research, but also you don’t want to trust your health to a practitioner who is not well-reviewed.
Make it a priority to collect and respond to reviews. You can ask for reviews from your clients in person, through email or a written letter, or through a reputation management service. Encourage Google Reviews from valued customers you feel will leave a 5-star positive one.
Verify Your GMB Account & Keep Posting
Once you have verified your Google My Business account, you can begin creating posts. There are two options on how to verify your listing— you can instantly verify by an automated phone call, which is the recommended method, or you can opt to receive a postcard to your address.
Google posts are a great way to enhance your GMB listing and let you share content straight to your page. You can post a link to a current blog on your website, a seasonal message with an attractive photo, or about upcoming events your business is having. There are so many possibilities and again, this is more free advertising that also helps your business be even more searchable.
Publish Google posts frequently, at least twice a month to get a bump in your page rankings.
GMB helps with local SEO, offers you a chance to engage with your customers through reviews or posts, and provides useful insights about your customers. It’s a free and valuable tool. Not claiming and optimizing your Google My Business listing is a missed opportunity to attract local customers and grow your business.
Most local searchers are looking for directions, contact information, reviews, photos and more.
With GMB, you get more than a business listing. Your free Business Profile lets you easily connect with customers across Google Search and Maps. If you need help setting up or adding images and posts to your GMB page, or would like to more effectively promote your local business and acquire new customers, schedule a free 1-hour consultation with Precision Marketing Partners today!