Prospective customers find your information in a variety of ways. According to SEO Tribunal, 97% of people get more info about a local company online than anywhere else. This is why so many companies run marketing campaigns to show up higher in organic search engine results (through SEO) or run ads on popular Websites (with Display Ad Retargeting).
There’s one place that prospects often look for information, however, that doesn’t cost you a penny.
Modern businesses keep their details updated on their Google My Business listing. This area of Google shows up when you search for a company by name, or when you search for services in the Maps (it’ll show you a list of nearby companies).
Regardless of how customers make their way to this listing, it’s essential that you are keeping yours up-to-date and optimizing it by 2021 standards. Here is our guide to staying on top of GMB so that you’re putting your company’s best foot forward in the search results.
Step One: Claim What’s Yours
Before you go to Google My Business to set up your listing, it’s important to check if your listing already exists. Even if no one at your company has ever set this up, it’s possible that Google already created a location based on a variety of data they have (it is Google, after all!). What you want to avoid is creating an additional listing and clogging up your local area with multiple listings for one company.
Sign into Google My Business with a Google account that your team will know to use. Then, when it prompts you to ‘Find and manage your business,’ search for your company. If yours shows up, you can claim it there.
Note that it’s possible that someone else is managing your listing. Before you assume the worst, it may just be that it was in another account of yours or a past marketing company of yours managed it. Either way, you can always ‘Request Access’ to the listing. Google will send a request to whomever is managing your listing, and if that person doesn’t respond in a week (they often don’t!) ‘ the listing is yours!
Step Two: Update Your Info
One of the most important steps to optimizing your profile is to add accurate info to the listing. While this process can seem simple, we want to outline some important bits to get right:
- Address: If your company does business at a specific location (meaning you have an office, showroom, etc.) add the address where people can find you. If your business works within a Service Area, you can choose not to add an address, and instead add a list of under 20 cities/counties. Google will create a map of your Service Area to give prospects an idea of where you serve.
Strategy tip: Are you interested in showing up high in Google Maps results? Note that Google will give preference to companies that are physically close to the searcher or the search term area. Having an address may give you preference over a Service Area business.
- Special hours: This area lets you adjust hours for specific dates (holidays, professional days) so that you don’t have to sign in to GMB every time your business is closed. Be proactive and let Google know which holidays you will be closed for. This will minimize surprises when a prospect wonders whether to drive to your location or give you a call.
- Shortname: This field lets you create an easy-to-remember link for when you want to direct customers to your listing so that they can find your location or leave you a review. Google even suggests options for you based on your company name.
Market Hardware has a shortname, which makes it easier to ask our clients to leave reviews! See below:
- URL and Appointment links: Considering that all online marketing strategies should be leading prospects to your Website, it’s key that you get this one right. Make sure you add the correct link to your homepage when submitting your URL; there shouldn’t be an ‘https’ or a ‘www’ out of place!
Your appointment link is a great opportunity to send customers to a place where they can contact you. Even if you don’t set appointments over the Web, at least link them to a page where you have a contact form ‘ or even just a page with your phone number prominent.
Step Three: Verify
For any number of reasons, Google will ask you to verify that your information is correct and that your business really is what you say it is. The most common verification method is a Google Postcard. Google will have you email a postcard to your company’s physical address with a 5-digit numerical code. If you are a Service Area Business, Google will ask for your home address ‘ which they will not publish ‘ to send a card to. Once you receive it, you just redeem the code on GMB and you’ll be all set!
If you’ve already verified your listing this way before, it’s possible that Google will have you re-verify (again, for a number of reasons that are never made clear) via an automated phone call or email.
Step Four: Maintain
While it may not seem like much will change with your business’ information once you publish it to Google My Business, there is still some maintenance to be done. For starters, Google launched a whole batch of COVID-19-related prompts to further inform your customers of how you do business. You can let the world know about whether you require masks, offer online service, and more.
Another thing you’ll need to maintain is the information itself. Google will alert you when users have contributed new information to your listing via the ‘Suggest an edit’ link that exists on all listings. Google may even try to force your hand and ask that you ‘Accept all changes for this location.’ If you leave the suggestions alone for too long, Google may update your listing without your approval. This is why you should be checking your GMB listing continuously, accepting and denying changes as they come.
Step Five: Post
Our last tip is one of the newer functions of GMB. With ‘Posts,’ you can add eye-grabbing updates near the bottom of your listing to share what your business has going on. You can add regular updates (or COVID-19 updates) like you would on Facebook, or go a step further and add products and offers. Making a bold offer is a great way to break through the search engine traffic and send prospects to your site.
Updating and maintaining your business information on Google My Business is yet another way to clearly paint a picture of your company online for customers to see. We hope this guide helps you and your operation get noticed in Google’s results. If you have any questions, call the Web Marketing experts at Market Hardware!